1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, $1.146 billion
The final version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the only one to break the billion dollar barrier.
Known for its flawless action sequences, Peter Jackson’s The Return of the King won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, which was one of only two films in history to do so.
“Hours after watching the film, I can close my eyes and see these incredible battle scenes throb and throb in my skull… With tremendous energy and a passionate eye for detail, Jackson brought the regressive legend back to life- romantic.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
2. Toy Story 3, $1.067 billion
Toy Story made history when its third and final rendition became the first animated film to cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office — and for good reason.
The 2010 film concluded the much-loved trilogy and left avid fans satisfied with the final send-off of their childhood classic, hailing Pixar as the “savior of family entertainment.”
Millions loved the gripping storyline, which followed toy duo Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and it became the only title in the franchise to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, in 2011.
“It takes some kind of genius to combine a kids’ movie for adults and an adult movie for kids into one scintillating digitized package, but the folks at Pixar have done it time and time again.” Anthony Quinn, independent (UK)
3. (tie) Black Panther, $1.348 billion
Black Panther was the first big-budget superhero movie with a black hero and a mostly black cast — it was groundbreaking.
According to director of advocacy group BAME Voice4Change Kunle Olulode, the 2018 action film destroyed the idea that Hollywood couldn’t make big money from films dominated by black talent.
The 2018 Chadwick Boseman-directed film shattered box office records, took over the internet and inspired millions with its diverse portrayal, and is set to premiere a sequel this year.
“Superhero movies have long needed this kind of representation in terms of men and women of color, and for black audiences, Black Panther will no doubt be as culturally significant in the way it addresses issues of identity, race, and gender as Wonder Woman was to female fans.” Brian Truitt, USA Today
3. (tie) The Lion King, $1.006 billion
The 1994 original has established itself in pop culture as a heavyweight classic.
The coming-of-age story has captured the hearts of billions for its touching tale following the maturing journey of young Simba, propelled by remarkable moral lessons. Disney’s successor to Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast has garnered 20 nominations, including two Oscars, a BAFTA, an American Music Award and three Golden Globes.
“Started by some of the richest imagery produced by studio animators and sustained by a timeless coming-of-age narrative, The Lion King marks a dazzling – and surprisingly daring – addition to the Disney canon.” Jérémy Gérard, Variety
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, $1.342 billion
It can’t be a top five without a feature film from the world’s most beloved fantasy series, Harry Potter.
The 2011 film marked the eighth and final installment that ended up becoming the franchise’s highest-grossing entry, with 46 awards and 94 nominations.
In an epic finale, the forces of good and evil from the wizarding world battled at exhilarating stakes, which kept fans captivated for the entire 130-minute run.
“The thrilling conclusion to a phenomenal 10-year cinematic story in the narrative, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is proof that genuine cinematic excitement is its own form of magic.” Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
6. (tie) The Dark Knight, $1.006 billion
The mid-film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, starring Perth’s Heath Ledger, is widely regarded as one of the best superhero films ever made.
Ledger’s career-defining performance as the villainous joker went down in history as he became the second person to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar posthumously, following his tragic death in 2008 while the film was in post-production.
The cultural game-changer has been widely hailed with an impressive number of nominations including 159 wins and 163 nominations. Ledger’s role surpassed that of a supervillain and personified the concept of chaos that remains powerfully relevant nearly 14 years later.
Under Nolan’s direction, the film reshaped the way audiences viewed Batman and the Joker and set the tone for superhero blockbusters forever.
With undeniable cultural gravitas, the chilling film remains a notable highlight in the era of comic book adaptations.
“Placed on the border between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, it becomes darker and deeper than any Hollywood film of this comic type.” Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
6 (tie): Toy Story 4, $1.073 billion
6 (tie): Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, $1.333 billion
9: Avatar, $2.847 billion
10: Skyfall, $1.109 billion
11 (tie): Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, $2.07 trillion
11 (tie): Incredibles 2, $1.243 billion
13 (tie): Zootopia, $1.024 billion
13 (tie): The Dark Knight Rises, $1.081 billion
13 (tie): Avengers: Endgame, $2.798 billion
16: Finding Dory, $1.029 billion
17 (tie): Titanic, $2.202 billion
17 (tie): Frozen, $1.282 billion
17 (tie): Captain America: Civil War, $1.153 billion
20: Spider-Man: No Coming Home, $1.901 billion
21 (tie): Spider-Man: Far From Home, $1.132 billion
21 (tie): The Avengers, $1.519 billion
23 (tie): Jurassic Park, $1.100 billion
23 (tie): Avengers: Infinity War, $2.048 billion
25: Furious 7, $1.515 billion
26: Avengers: Age of Ultron, $1.403 billion
27 (tie): Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, $1.056 billion
27 (tie): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, $1.018 billion
27 (tie): Beauty and the Beast, $1.274 billion
30 (tie): Frozen 2, $1.450 billion
30 (tie): Captain Marvel, $1.128 billion
32: Iron Man 3, $1.215 billion
33 (tie): Jurassic World, $1.671 billion
33 (tie): Joker, $1.074 billion
35: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, $1.017 Billion
36 (tie): Minions, $1.159 billion
36 (tie): Fate of the Furious, $1.236 billion
38 (tie): The Lion King, $1.663 billion
38 (tie): Aquaman, $1.148 billion
40 (tie): Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, $1.074 billion
40 (tie): Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, $1.066 billion
40 (tie): Alice in Wonderland, $1.025 billion
40 (tie): Aladdin, $1.051 billion
44 (tie): Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, $1.027 billion
44 (tie): Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, $1.31 trillion
46: Despicable Me 3, $1.035 Billion
47: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, $1.046 billion
48: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $1.124 billion
49: Transformers: Age of Extinction, $1.104 billion
Ranking Score: Metacritic.com