The 30 Highest Grossing Movies That Never Hit #1

Every filmmaker hopes to see their movie sitting pretty at number one, but that summit is a particularly difficult one to reach.

Some movies can be the definition of success, raking in millions at the box office, receiving positive reviews and entertaining huge audiences, but have never quite made it to number one, with other blockbusters beating them to the punch.

Here are the 30 highest grossing movies that never hit number one at the U.S. box office.

1. Sing

Sing, the animated movie about anthropomorphic animals participating in a singing competition, had the misfortune of being released a week after Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

While the 2016 family film never made it to number one, it went on to collect $270,395,425 at the North American box office, according to IMDb's Box Office Mojo.

2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding

This 2002 rom-com starring Nia Vardalos and John Corbett—about a Greek American woman who falls in love with a white Protestant—was a major sleeper hit and became the highest grossing romantic comedy ever.

Despite making $241,438,208 at the U.S. box office, it never reached number one, and held the record for the highest-grossing film never to make number one for 14 years until Sing was released.

This didn't hurt its success, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

This rather brilliantly named 2009 sequel, featuring a mix of live action and CGI, had a pretty rough road for the number one spot, seeing as it was out the same time as Avatar, which is still the highest grossing film of all time.

Still, all those Chipmunk-obsessed kids meant that it earned $219,614,612 at the box office.

4. Alvin and the Chipmunks

Two years earlier, the original live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks was released and suffered the same fate.

It was kept off the top spot by I Am Legend and National Treasure: Book of Secrets, but made $217,326,974, Box Office Mojo figures show.

5. A Star Is Born

The 2018 remake of A Star Is Born gained a lot of attention due to its soundtrack and the chemistry between stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, but this failed to lift it to number one at the box office.

It was beaten to the top by Venom but we doubt anybody was complaining. A Star Is Born made $215,288,866 at the US box office, and received eight nominations at the Academy Awards.

6. Sherlock Holmes

Just one of the aughts' takes on Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr. starred as the titular detective in this 2009 caper.

It received positive reviews and made $209,028,679 at the US box office, but had the misfortune of competing with Avatar for number one.

7. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

The second Austin Powers film didn't make it to number one, but made $206,040,086 at the U.S. box office.

It even earned the distinction of earning more in its opening weekend than the original movie did in its entire run.

8. World War Z

This 2013 action horror starred Brad Pitt as an investigator attempting to figure out how to stop a zombie pandemic.

It achieved the second-largest opening weekend for a film that did not debut in first place, having been unable to oust Monsters University from the top spot, and grossed $202,359,711 in North America.

9. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

The third installment of the Ice Age franchise didn't beat Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen to the top spot, but parents shelled out on a whole load of tickets for their children.

The 2009 movie earned $196,573,705 at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo.

10. Interstellar

Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, was a huge success upon its release in 2014, earned five Oscar nominations, and raked in $188,020,017 at the US box office.

However, while it topped the box office elsewhere, it couldn't defeat the might of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 and Big Hero 6 in North America.

11. The Day After Tomorrow

A startling look at what climate change could do to our planet, this 2004 disaster film grossed $186,740,799 at the US box office and earned plaudits for its special effects.

But it couldn't quite wrestle the top spot from... Shrek 2.

12. Dances With Wolves

Kevin Costner's directorial debut was a huge success and won the Best Picture Oscar, as well as becoming 1990's fourth highest-grossing movie with a gross of $184,208,848.

However, its November release meant that it had to settle for number two at the box office behind festive favourite Home Alone.

13. Lincoln

In 2012, film fans queued up to see Daniel Day-Lewis play Abraham Lincoln in this drama, for which the actor won an Oscar.

However, a number of films beat Lincoln to number one at the box office, including box office juggernaut The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2.

Lincoln still made $182,207,973, according to Box Office Mojo figures, and peaked at number three in the movie charts.

14. How To Train Your Dragon 2

The 2014 sequel to How To Train Your Dragon received largely positive reviews and raked in $177,002,924 at the US box office, as well as entertaining a whole host of families.

It did better at the box office than its predecessor, but was kept off the top spot by another sequel, 22 Jump Street.

15. The Greatest Showman

Considering how much we've all sang the songs from The Greatest Showman soundtrack, it might surprise you to know that the musical only ever made it to number four in the U.S. box office.

Grossing $174,340,174, the film starring Hugh Jackman was kept off number one by Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Pitch Perfect 3.

Its soundtrack, on the other hand, spent 11 consecutive weeks at number one in the United Kingdom.

16. Mary Poppins Returns

In 2018, Emily Blunt stepped into the shoes—and borrowed the handbag—of the beloved nanny Mary Poppins in this joyful sequel, which marked one of the longest intervals between film sequels in cinematic history, at 54 years.

While it finished below expectations, Mary Poppins Returns grossed $171,958,438 and finished second behind Aquaman.

17. A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind only entered the U.S. box office at number 12 upon its release in December 2001, but in fairness, it had a lot of competition in the form of films including The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Ocean's Eleven and Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone.

However, it went on to peak at number two, earn $170,742,341 and win Best Picture at the Oscars.

18. Chicago

Chicago, the big screen adaptation of the classic musical starring Renee Zellwegger and Catherine Zeta Jones, made a huge splash and won Best Picture at the Oscars.

However, while it collected $170,687,518 at the North American box office, it only peaked at number three, behind The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Catch Me If You Can.

19. Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids broke new ground when it came to female-fronted comedies, and became the highest-grossing Judd Apatow production with a box office gross of $169,106,725.

However, another ensemble comedy held it off the top spot: the second film in The Hangover franchise.

20. Casino Royale

At the time, Daniel Craig's first outing as 007 was the highest-grossing James Bond movie, with $167,445,960 earned at the U.S. box office.

However, Bond couldn't vanquish the sheer power of Happy Feet, which held the top spot.

21. Knives Out

Knives Out breathed new life into the murder mystery genre and two sequels involving Daniel Craig as Benoit Blanc have been commissioned.

It earned $165,363,234 at the North American box office, Box Office Mojo figures show, but was held off number one by the animated juggernaut Frozen 2.

22. Kung Fu Panda 2

Jack Black returned as Master Po in this 2011 computer-animated sequel, which earned $165,249,063 at the North American box office.

It entered the box office at number three behind Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II, and peaked at number two.

23. Catch Me If You Can

Leonardo DiCaprio played alleged conman Frank Abagnale Jr in this 2002 crime biopic, which raked in $164,615,351 upon its release.

It peaked at number two, and considering it had Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to go up against, we reckon the crew would be pretty happy with that.

24. Django Unchained

For such a controversial and violent film, it may surprise you to learn that Django Unchained was released at Christmas.

Quentin Tarantino's movie was kept off the top spot by Les Misérables, but still took $162,805,434 at the U.S. box office.

25. The Polar Express

This Tom Hanks led modern Christmas classic is notable due to being the first all-digital capture film, and earned a then record-breaking $162,775,358 (for an animated film).

It peaked at number two behind another family favourite, The Incredibles.

26. Grown Ups

Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider play five high school friends who reunite decades later in this 2010 comedy.

With a gross of $162,001,186, it became Sandler's highest-grossing film, and the actor showed his appreciation by buying Maserati sports cars for his co-stars.

It was kept off the top spot by Toy Story 3.

27. Grease

Originally released in 1978, Grease - the legendary musical starring Olivia Newton John and John Travolta as mismatched high school teens in love - is still one of the top 10 highest-grossing musicals in history.

While it has grossed $159,978,870, Grease has only ever peaked at number two at the US box office, having been stalled by Jaws 2 upon its original release.

28. The Heat

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy's buddy cop movie was held off from the top spot by Monsters University when it was released in 2013.

However, it still made quite the dent at the North American box office, grossing $159,582,188.

29. The Longest Yard

In 2005, Adam Sandler starred as a washed-up quarterback who starts a prison football team in exchange for a reduced sentence in this remake of the 1974 film starring Burt Reynolds.

The comedy earned $158,119,460 at the US box office, despite mixed reviews, and peaked at number two at the box office.

Pretty impressive, considering it had Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith to contend with.

30. Over The Hedge

Featuring the voices of Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Steve Carell, William Shatner, Wanda Sykes and Nick Nolte, this family film received positive reviews upon its release in 2006, as well as doing well in the box office.

While it didn't live up to other Dreamworks titles, it earned $155,019,340 in the U.S., only behind The Da Vinci Code.