The biggest grossing movie of all time is Avatar. Directed by James Cameron, the film grossed $2,782,185,928 when it was released in 2009. The science fiction epic also won three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.
Ranked second to Avatar is Titanic, also directed by James Cameron. Released in 1997, the film grossed $1,843,201,268. The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King is at number three. This New Line Cinema production film took in $1,119,110,941 in its 2003 release.
At number four is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Released in 2006, this Walt Disney film took home $1,066,179,725. Number five is the animated film Toy Story 3. This 2010 film grossed $1,063,161,943.
The sixth biggest grossing movie of all time is Walt Disney Pictures’ Alice in Wonderland. The film came out in 2010 and earned $1,024,299,722. At number 7 is the Dark Knight. This film came out in 2008 and earned $1,001,921,825. Number eight is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Based on the popular book by J.K. Rowling, the film grossed $974,733,550 in 2001.
At number nine is Pirates of the Caribbean: at World’s End. This 2007 film earned a total of $960,996,492. Rounding off the top ten is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Current estimates put its earnings at $951,462,162. The film came out in 2010.
Biggest Earning Films by Year
The biggest blockbuster for 2010 is Toy Story 3 with $1,063,143,492. For 2009 it is Avatar ($2,778,527,559). The Dark Knight is 2008’s biggest earner with $1,001,921,825. For 2007, it is Pirates of the Caribbean: at World’s End. For 2006 it is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest with $1,066,179,725.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the biggest blockbuster for 2005 with $895,921,036. Shrek 2 was the top earner in 2004 with $919,838,758. The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King is the biggest blockbuster for 2003 with $1,119,263,306. For 2002, it is the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers ($925,282,504).
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was the top grosser for 2001. Mission: Impossible II was the biggest hit of 2000 with $546,388,105.
Note that this list of the biggest grossing films of all time does not account for inflation. It is very difficult to compare movie earnings from earlier periods (i.e., 1920s) due to different ticket prices.