Here are the biggest box office hits of the 2010s. With streaming services rising in prominence this decade, it’s apparent people’s movie viewing habits have drastically changed from 10 years ago. At the same time, audiences have shown they’re still more than willing to make the trek to the theater to catch a new film – especially if it’s from one of Hollywood’s most popular franchises. This decade saw the Marvel Cinematic Universe establish itself as the industry’s premier powerhouse, the return of Star Wars, and much more.
As of this writing, 43 movies in history have grossed $1 billion or more globally. When the 2010s started, that number was only at 7. That means the films on this list aren’t just the biggest smashes of the past decade; they’re some of the highest-grossing films of all-time. Without further ado, here are the 15 biggest box office hits of the 2010s (and yes, Disney will be quite prevalent in this space).
15. Incredibles 2
Box office: $1.242 billion ($608.5 million domestic)
In the 2000s, Pixar was widely known for crafting heartfelt original stories, but they frequently visited the sequel pool in the 2010s. After years of clamoring, the highly-anticipated Incredibles 2 arrived in summer 2018, and it did not disappoint. While it may not have been as fresh as its groundbreaking predecessor, many felt it was a strong followup that made the wait well worth it. Viewers were certainly glad to see the superhero family back in action. Its opening weekend of $182.6 million was a record for animated films, and larger than some live-action comic book films. If Pixar ever decides to make an Incredibles 3, there’s guaranteed interest.
14. Beauty and the Beast
Box office: $1.263 billion ($504 million domestic)
As if the Mouse House didn’t make enough money from their various subsidiaries, they struck another goldmine by producing remakes of some of their most beloved animated classics. There will come a time when this well dries up, but for now they’re reaping the benefits. Beauty and the Beast is by far one of the most successful of the bunch, overcoming a lukewarm critical reception to illustrate nostalgia is a powerful box office force. In the United States, this was the second highest-grossing movie of 2017, ahead of Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and others.
Box office: $1.274 billion ($400.7 million domestic)
Before Frozen came out, Disney’s in-house animation department was struggling to keep up with Pixar, which was an unstoppable behemoth at this point. Even a critical darling like the original Wreck-it Ralph could only muster $186.8 million domestically during its run in 2012. Of course, Frozen was the smash hit Disney Animation needed, becoming their biggest title yet. The film absolutely seized the zeitgeist when it came out, thanks in large part to its omnipresent soundtrack. The upcoming sequel is expected to be just as big of a draw.
12. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Box office: $1.308 billion ($417.7 million domestic)
When the first Jurassic World (more on that film in a bit) went on its record-breaking run in the summer of 2015, it was obvious the new trilogy Universal was planning would see the light of day. Last summer, Fallen Kingdom came out, and though it didn’t receive the best reviews, audiences showed they still crave dinosaur action. In 2018, it ranked among the four highest-grossing films worldwide and domestically, being the rare non-Disney film to position at the top of the charts.
11. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Box office: $1.332 billion ($620.1 million domestic)
The Last Jedi’s box office numbers obviously pale in comparison to The Force Awakens, but that doesn’t takeaway how impressive they are. With the sequel trilogy now in full swing, audiences couldn’t wait to see how the story continued; The Last Jedi scored the second-largest December opening weekend of all-time ($220 million) and quickly became the biggest film of 2017 worldwide and domestically. And unlike The Force Awakens, which ran unopposed for holiday tentpole dollars, The Last Jedi went toe-to-toe with a feisty competitor in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Box office: $1.341 billion ($381.4 million domestic)
Before the MCU became the juggernaut it is and before Star Wars came back, Harry Potter was the defining film series of this generation. For 10 years, audiences came to the theater to be transported to the Wizarding World, knowing everything was building up to this installment. Like most final entries in popular series, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 proved to be a monumental success. It was the only Harry Potter movie to cross the $1 billion plateau (though many of its predecessors came very close) and brought about a massive void in WB’s film slate. Looking at Harry Potter’s numbers, it’s no surprise they brought the franchise back five years later with the Fantastic Beasts prequel series.
9. Black Panther
Box office: $1.346 billion ($700 million domestic)
At the outset of 2018, many people would have predicted Avengers: Infinity War would be the biggest movie of the year. That turned out to be true… at the worldwide box office. Domestically, Black Panther reigned supreme by surpassing even the rosiest expectations. With a perfect February release date, Black Panther rode a perfect storm of facing minimal competition and receiving exceptional word-of-mouth. This film left a sizable impression on pop culture, becoming the first comic book adaptation to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Marvel has a new cornerstone hero to build around.
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Box office: $1.402 billion ($459 million domestic)
When Age of Ultron debuted in the summer of 2015, the novelty of seeing Earth’s Mightiest come together on the big screen had worn off a bit (a notion that retroactively sounds naive, considering what’s to come on this list). That explains the sizable gap between this sequel and the original Avengers movie, though anyone would be hard-pressed to call this a financial disappointment. Age of Ultron is the 10th highest-grossing film of all-time. If there were any doubts The Avengers was just a fad, Age of Ultron proved the MCU was here to stay.
7. Furious 7
Box office: $1.515 billion ($353 million domestic)
Having humble beginnings as “Point Break with cars,” Fast & Furious eventually evolved into one of the most popular film franchises ever. The unlikely renaissance began in 2011 with Fast Five, which was the first installment to top $200 million domestically. Things reached their peak with Furious 7, setting a new franchise record after only 10 days of release. Of course, the death of Paul Walker (who passed away in 2013) was definitely a factor here, since fans wanted to see his final performance and the touching sendoff the creative team came up with for Walker’s Brian O’Connor character.
6. The Avengers
Box office: $1.518 billion ($623.3 million domestic)
It seems like ages ago, but there was a point in time the Marvel Cinematic Universe was deemed too ambitious to succeed. Some felt it was risky to use second-tier comic book characters as the foundation for something that had never been attempted in film before. And it’s true Marvel experienced some growing pains in Phase 1; Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger fell well short of reaching $200 million domestically for their entire runs. But any lingering doubts about the MCU’s viability dissipated when The Avengers came out and became the first film in history to earn $200 million in a single weekend. The rest, as they say, is history.
5. The Lion King
Box office: $1.654 billion ($543.3 million domestic)
Like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin before it, The Lion King served as further evidence Disney’s remakes are largely critic proof (apologies to Dumbo). Despite being a technical marvel, the general consensus was this new version sapped the original of much of its appeal due to the photorealistic animal characters. But that didn’t stop viewers from flocking to the theater en masse, giving the Mouse House another wildly successful tentpole in the summer of 2019. Lion King is one of five Disney releases just this year to make $1 billion globally.
4. Jurassic World
Box office: $1.670 billion ($652.2 million domestic)
After Jurassic Park III underwhelmed with just $368.7 million worldwide, the franchise went on ice for a while. The layoff proved to be beneficial, as soft reboot Jurassic World brought the property back in a massive way. It was a little surprising when the delayed sequel started its run by breaking Avengers records, but Universal wasn’t going to complain. While it wasn’t considered an all-time summer classic like the transcendent original, audiences were more than happy to go back and be thrilled by dinosaurs once more. It also didn’t hurt that Jurassic World featured Chris Pratt at the height of his popularity – though that’s hardly the main reason why the film was such a smash.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
Box office: $2.048 billion ($678.8 million domestic)
Concerns the MCU couldn’t succeed were long gone by the time Infinity War arrived. The franchise had already made household names out of Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy by that point, so of course a film that combined all of the surviving heroes was a box office lock. Marvel had been teasing Thanos since 2012, making Infinity War a long-awaited payoff fans craved. Getting a jump start on the summer movie season (Disney shifted the release up to April to prevent the spread of spoilers), Infinity War quickly soared up the all-time charts.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Box office: $2.068 billion ($936.6 million domestic)
When Revenge of the Sith premiered in 2005, everyone (including George Lucas) thought the Star Wars saga was over. That’s why it was such a surprise when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and immediately went to work on a new slate of Star Wars films, including the mythical sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars movie in 10 years; the hype and circumstances surrounding its release can never be replicated. As the main attraction over the always-lucrative holiday season, The Force Awakens broke just about every record in the book. Its all-time domestic mark will likely stand for years to come.
1. Avengers: Endgame
Box office: $2.797 billion ($858.3 million domestic)
In its first five days, Endgame grossed an astonishing $1.2 billion worldwide, a figure many movies would like to see for its entire theatrical run. From that moment, it became clear this was no ordinary blockbuster; Endgame was an unprecedented generational cinematic event the likes of which will never be seen again (even The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t really come close). This was the culmination of the Infinity Saga, tying up more than a decade’s worth of storylines and character arcs into a cohesive and emotionally satisfying package. It really wasn’t any surprise when it surpassed Avatar to become the highest-grossing movie ever. The MCU will continue with Phase 4 and beyond, but it’ll be a long, long time before they approach anything in the ballpark of Endgame again.
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