25 Highest Grossing Films of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

“Avengers: Endgame,” the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, topped all expectations on its opening weekend, posting a record estimated three-day domestic gross of $350 million, and $1.2 billion at the global box office in only five days in release, according to Box Office Mojo. That opening smashed the previous record of $257.69 million set by “Avengers: Infinity War” just last year. “Avengers: Endgame” accounted for 90% of the overall weekend market share.

If “Avengers: Endgame” continues to do well, it is on track to be the first film to cross that $1 billion threshold. The Avengers franchise has been hugely successful — with its total domestic gross of nearly $7.63 billion, it is the top grossing movie franchise of all time. Individual MCU films, too, often rank among the top grossing movies.

Today’s most successful blockbusters bring in unprecedented sums of money at the box office. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” released in 2015, grossed nearly $1 billion domestically.

These financial wonders represent a philosophy prevalent among Hollywood studios: go big or go home. One massively profitable film can earn more than hundreds of smaller movies combined.

A lucrative initial release does not necessarily indicate that a movie’s reputation will endure, however, and this staying power is often key to even greater economic prosperity. While a film’s primary release almost always grosses more money than subsequent releases of the same movie, 18 of the top 25 grossing films have had multiple theatrical releases as reissues or special editions, adding to their total all-time gross. We have included gross totals of all releases adjusted for inflation.

The oldest of the highest grossing films, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” gained more than 64% of its total domestic gross in subsequent releases following its initial theatrical run in 1937. The animated classic’s excellence has drawn audiences in again and again throughout the years, resulting in nearly $1 billion in overall ticket sales.

Another method for drawing in crowds is for studios to release sequels to popular films. The top grossing movies include four entries to the massively popular Star Wars franchise – in addition to the 1977 original – as well as “Jurassic World,” the 2015 follow-up to “Jurassic Park.” Additionally, movies like “The Godfather” (1972) and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) were followed by sequels that undoubtedly drove the profitable rereleases of the original films.

To identify the top grossing films of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed gross domestic movie theater ticket sales for U.S. films from movie ticket tracking website Box Office Mojo. Ticket prices are inflation-adjusted to the estimated 2019 average ticket price of $9.03.