10 Most Profitable Movies of All Time

Elena Cozlovschi
·6 min read

In this article we take a look at the 10 Most Profitable Movies of All Time. Click to skip ahead and jump to the 5 Most Profitable Movies of All Time

What exactly makes a movie good - the plot, the special effects or the message - the everlasting question that we’ll try to figure out based on the 10 most profitable movies of all time.

And does most profitable also mean earning the best return on investment? Mmm… Looks like not exactly.

Today we’re used to streaming tv services, 20 genres of movies and up to 14D cinema - whatever mind-blowing experience that is. But how did it all actually start? Well, quite modestly history says, with a 2 second foundation stone, called Roundhay Garden Scene by Louis le Prince. And that early triumph pathed the way to a new era, the world can be divided in before and after those 2 seconds of glory.

Since 1888 the motion picture industry has emerged into an umbrella of multi-billion industries. Back in the days movies used to earn their buck mainly from the cinema tickets sold. That’s why there are several ways to calculate the most profitable movies. And before we go to our 10 most profitable movies of all time countdown and their actual return on investment, here are some memorable top mentions:

This is how the highest grossing movies by inflation for 2019 look like - note the surprising earning differences with the main ranking:

Bronze and silver go to the same motion picture company and director, the brilliant James Cameron, Disney’s 20th Century Studios for Avatar (2009) with $3,257,000,000 raised and Titanic (1997) with $3,425,291,642 - based on the most relevant data (including the centennial 2012 3D re-release version - $343.6 million and the 2017 20th anniversary re-release). The masterpiece got Kate Winslet an Oscar for Best Actress, leaving America’s sweetheart Leo DiCaprio in the shadows for another almost 2 decades. But I guess that just made him work harder to our delight. And the gold goes to...drum roll please - the legendary 1939 starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.

Fun Activities for Work Parties
Fun Activities for Work Parties

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Margaret Mitchell’s magnum opus has earned back in the days a considerable amount of $390,525,192, the equivalent of today’s almost 10X record amount of $3,706,000,000 adjusted by inflation. And with good reason - a leading example of the Golden Age of Hollywood and world cinema, it stays till date a nation wide beloved.

Quite impressing amounts, huh? But there’s one sure way the media producers secure even more with. Franchises - the perfect money making aggregate, once it’s got you hooked you won’t give up until the end, willingly giving up your fair earned dollars to be among the first to see it so you can brag to your friends. Know it, been there. There have really been some amazing options to choose from. Let’s see the top 3 highest-grossing movie franchises to hit the jackpot:

At number 3 J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World earned Warner Bros. $9,244,985,290 for a total number of 10 movies - 8 Harry Potter adaptations and another 2 Fantastic Beasts installments. Good news - 3 more pictures already in production.

Second ranking, yet definitely not second best - the Guinness World Records title detainer "Most successful film merchandising franchise - Star Wars. Really, is there any human on Earth having a tv, PC or smartphone to not have seen at least one of the twisted Star Wars plot series? George Lucas - the film’s director, producer and screenwriter sold his production company Lucasfilm to Disney in 2012. The total 12 movies have earned $10,315,843,646 in box office.

The mind blowing amount of $22,588,202,270 placed the Marvel Cinematic Universe at the top of the table. No magic, they earned their buck on a fair 23 movies work - to our happily ever after chilling time.

So far so good, let’s also mention the most profitable movies of all time from Bollywood. I’ll be short, I promise. The best of Bollywood as of October 2020 is the 2015 Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Bahubali - The Conclusion 2 (2017) and number 1 - Dangal from 2016.

We’ve also prepared 10 Most Profitable TV Shows in 2020 for you, as well as 16 Most Profitable Movies Based on Return on Investment.

Seems like we’ve already disclosed all the best, but hold tight, the best is yet to come!

And nope, Joker is not the most profitable movie of all time, though it’s got it’s fair piece of the pie - around $1billion according to Box Office Mojo.

To get the most recent and trustworthy data for you we’ve sailed the net and got best sourced from Numbers for you. Here we go with those one and two billion dollar masterpieces countdown - the 10 Most Profitable Movies of All Time:

10. Frozen II (2019)

Walt Disney Animation Studios (NASDAQ:DIS)

Total Box Office - $1,447,265,743, Domestic Box Office - $477,373,578.

Our top 10 return on opener is the lowest on budget - with $150,000,000 investment this 2019 giant already pooled Disney 964% return.

dean bertoncelj/Shutterstock.com

9. The Avengers (2012)

A Marvel Cinematic Universe, owned by Disney (NASDAQ:DIS)

Total Box Office - $1,515,100,211, Domestic Box Office - $623,357,910

First of the Avengers franchise series, ranking number 4 at the most profitable franchises and the absolute winner at the per movie average - $1,942,594,250. The closure movie of Marvel’s Universe Phase One was the most profitable movie of the year. Yep, these guys know how to make profit, this franchise made basically twice as much as any other franchise in the history of cinema, even their one company’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, which have a medium $1 billion as average.

8. Furious 7 (2015)

Distributed by Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:UVV)

Total Box Office - $1,518,722,794, Domestic Box Office - $353,007,020

The final film starring Paul Walker was dedicated to his memory. The soundtrack “See You Again” performed by Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth is a tribute to Paul and brotherhood, at the end of the day “How could we not talk about family when family's all that we got?”

furious, diesel, vin, 7, print, theater, foot, actress, tcl, and, photograph, actor, crew, usa, ceremony, chinese, red, event, celebrity, cast, entertainment, angeles, carapet, los, hand
furious, diesel, vin, 7, print, theater, foot, actress, tcl, and, photograph, actor, crew, usa, ceremony, chinese, red, event, celebrity, cast, entertainment, angeles, carapet, los, hand

Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com

7. The Lion King (2019)

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (NASDAQ:DIS)

Total Box Office - $1,654,409,423, Domestic Box Office - $543,638,043

The king of the jungle earned daddy Disney the least return on investment on our list, a modest 636%. A photorealistic computer-animated remake of the 1994 traditionally animated production is a bliss both for the eye and mind. Delight yourself and feel your lion heart within along this mesmerizing production - "while others search what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give".

6. Jurassic World (2015)

Distributed by Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:UVV)

Total Box Office - $1,669,943,967, Domestic Box Office - $652,270,625

The Jurassic series has been one of the best things to happen to paleontology. An example of when movies inspire life - the young people to watch it grow became the breakthrough paleontologists to picture and redefined the Dinosaur - now the intelligent, energetic and active animal. The next movie promises to bring back the oldies - Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. Looking forward to seeing where it leads.

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Disclosure: No Positions. 10 Most Profitable Movies of All Time is originally published on Insider Monkey.