The Highest-grossing Movies of All Time

"Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter," comic book movies and Disney films reign in this top 75 countdown. Newsweek
75. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Total worldwide box office gross: $792.9 million. Director: Steven Spielberg Universal

If there’s two trends that define the world of modern movies, it’s the number of prequels, sequels and remakes on offer, and the number of money those prequels, sequels and remakes bring in. And on both fronts, the numbers keep rising. Of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all time, only six are original creations. The rest are either adaptations of novels, superhero comics, remakes of older films or just the sequels and prequels to other box office behemoths.

The Marvel franchise has released 19 films in the last 10 years, with a worldwide gross of $13.5 billion. The Fast and the Furious franchise is at 8 and counting, taking home a total of $5 billion.

For Hollywood, the safest bets are on old favorites, which come complete with a guaranteed fan base and a bank of nostalgic memories. Even when those films disappoint—as they often do—the ensuing anger and controversy still makes money for the production company. Twenty of the top 50 highest grossing movies belong to just four franchises and, with the exception of Harry Potter, none of them show any sign of slowing down.

Indeed, there is no film safe from a remake or retelling. Perhaps no movie best exemplifies this than the recent sequel-of-sorts to Jumanji, which absolutely nobody asked for. As David Ehrlich wrote in IndieWire: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is further proof that even the stalest whiff of brand recognition has become preferable to originality.” But that predictability is profitable: the movie has made a stunning $954.6 million at the box office.

The shrinking pool of original successes is coupled with another worrying trend: the stranglehold that a select few production companies have on the industry.

Take Disney. In 2006, it acquired animation rival Pixar. In 2009 it bought Marvel, home of your favorite superheroes. In 2013 it bought Lucasfilm, adding Star Wars to its portfolio. This year it is set to complete a takeover of 21st Century Fox. Like a villain in one of its films, one senses Disney won’t be satisfied until it owns them all….

74. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017). Total worldwide box office gross: $794.9 million. Director: Joachim Ronning, Espen SandbergWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
73. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). Total worldwide box office gross: $796.7 million. Director: Alfonso CuaronWarner Bros.
72. Shrek the Third (2007). Total worldwide box office gross: $799.0 million. Director: Chris Miller DreamWorks
71. Coco (2017). Total worldwide box office gross: $806.8 million. Director: Lee UnkrichWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
70. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016). Total worldwide box office gross: $814.0 million. Director: David Yates Warner Bros.
69. Independence Day (1996). Total worldwide box office gross: $817.4 million. Director: Roland EmmerichFox
68. Spider-Man (2002). Total worldwide box office gross: $821.7 million. Director: Sam RaimiSony
67. Wonder Woman (2017). Total worldwide box office gross: $821.8 million. Director: Patty JenkinsWarner Bros.
66. Inception (2010). Total worldwide box office gross: $828.3 million. Director: Christopher NolanWarner Bros.
65. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012). Total worldwide box office gross: $829.7 million. Director: Bill Condon Summit Entertainment
64. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009). Total worldwide box office gross: $836.3 million. Director: Michael Bay DreamWorks Pictures
63. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). Total worldwide box office gross: $848.8 million. Director: George LucasFox

If there’s two trends that define the world of modern movies, it’s the number of prequels, sequels and remakes on offer, and the number of money those prequels, sequels and remakes bring in. And on both fronts, the numbers keep rising. Of the 50 highest-grossing movies of all time, only six are original creations. The rest are either adaptations of novels, superhero comics, remakes of older films or just the sequels and prequels to other box office behemoths.

The Marvel franchise has released 19 films in the last 10 years, with a worldwide gross of $13.5 billion. The Fast and the Furious franchise is at 8 and counting, taking home a total of $5 billion.

For Hollywood, the safest bets are on old favorites, which come complete with a guaranteed fan base and a bank of nostalgic memories. Even when those films disappoint—as they often do—the ensuing anger and controversy still makes money for the production company. Twenty of the top 50 highest grossing movies belong to just four franchises and, with the exception of Harry Potter, none of them show any sign of slowing down.

Indeed, there is no film safe from a remake or retelling. Perhaps no movie best exemplifies this than the recent sequel-of-sorts to Jumanji, which absolutely nobody asked for. As David Ehrlich wrote in IndieWire: “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is further proof that even the stalest whiff of brand recognition has become preferable to originality.” But that predictability is profitable: the movie has made a stunning $954.6 million at the box office.

The shrinking pool of original successes is coupled with another worrying trend: the stranglehold that a select few production companies have on the industry.

Take Disney. In 2006, it acquired animation rival Pixar. In 2009 it bought Marvel, home of your favorite superheroes. In 2013 it bought Lucasfilm, adding Star Wars to its portfolio. This year it is set to complete a takeover of 21st Century Fox. Like a villain in one of its films, one senses Disney won’t be satisfied until it owns them all….