Here are the 10 biggest box office hits of the 2010s (and yes, Disney will be quite prevalent in this space).
1. Avengers: Endgame
Box office: $2.797 billion ($858.3 million domestic)
In its first five days, Endgame grossed an astonishing $1.2 billion worldwide, a figure many movies would like to see for its entire theatrical run. From that moment, it became clear this was no ordinary blockbuster; Endgame was an unprecedented generational cinematic event the likes of which will never be seen again (even The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t really come close). This was the culmination of the Infinity Saga, tying up more than a decade’s worth of storylines and character arcs into a cohesive and emotionally satisfying package. It really wasn’t any surprise when it surpassed Avatar to become the highest-grossing movie ever. The MCU will continue with Phase 4 and beyond. But it’ll be a long, long time before they approach anything in the ballpark of Endgame again.
2. Star Wars: The force awakens
Box office: $2.068 billion ($936.6 million domestic)
When Revenge of the Sith premiered in 2005, everyone (including George Lucas) thought the Star Wars saga was over. That’s why it was such a surprise when Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 and immediately went to work on a new slate of Star Wars films, including the mythical sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars movie in 10 years; the hype and circumstances surrounding its release can never be replicated. As the main attraction over the always-lucrative holiday season, The Force Awakens broke just about every record in the book. Its all-time domestic mark will likely stand for years to come.
3. Avengers: Infinity War
Box office: $2.048 billion ($678.8 million domestic)
Concerns the MCU couldn’t succeed were long gone by the time Infinity War arrived. The franchise had already made household names out of Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy by that point. So of course a film that combined all of the surviving heroes was a box office lock. Marvel had been teasing Thanos since 2012, making Infinity War a long-awaited payoff fans craved. Getting a jump start on the summer movie season (Disney shifted the release up to April to prevent the spread of spoilers), Infinity War quickly soared up the all-time charts.
4. Jurassic World
Box office: $1.670 billion ($652.2 million domestic)
After Jurassic Park III underwhelmed with just $368.7 million worldwide, the franchise went on ice for a while. The layoff proved to be beneficial, as soft reboot Jurassic World brought the property back in a massive way. It was a little surprising when the delayed sequel started its run by breaking Avengers records. But Universal wasn’t going to complain. While it wasn’t considered an all-time summer classic like the transcendent original. Audiences were more than happy to go back and be thrilled by dinosaurs once more. It also didn’t hurt that Jurassic World featured Chris Pratt at the height of his popularity – though that’s hardly the main reason why the film was such a smash.
5. The Lion King
Box office: $1.654 billion ($543.3 million domestic)
Like Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin before it. The Lion King served as further evidence Disney’s remakes are largely critic proof (apologies to Dumbo). Despite being a technical marvel, the general consensus was this new version sapped the original of much of its appeal due to the photorealistic animal characters. But that didn’t stop viewers from flocking to the theater en masse, giving the Mouse House another wildly successful tentpole in the summer of 2019. Lion King is one of five Disney releases just this year to make $1 billion globally.
6. The Avengers
Box office: $1.518 billion ($623.3 million domestic)
It seems like ages ago, but there was a point in time the Marvel Cinematic Universe was deemed too ambitious to succeed. Some felt it was risky to use second-tier comic book characters as the foundation for something that had never been attempted in film before. And it’s true Marvel experienced some growing pains in Phase 1; Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger fell well short of reaching $200 million domestically for their entire runs. But any lingering doubts about the MCU’s viability dissipated when The Avengers came out and became the first film in history to earn $200 million in a single weekend. The rest, as they say, is history.
7. The Furious
Box office: $1.515 billion ($353 million domestic)
Having humble beginnings as “Point Break with cars,” Fast & Furious eventually evolved into one of the most popular film franchises ever. The unlikely renaissance began in 2011 with Fast Five, which was the first installment to top $200 million domestically. Things reached their peak with Furious 7, setting a new franchise record after only 10 days of release. Of course, the death of Paul Walker (who passed away in 2013) was definitely a factor here, since fans wanted to see his final performance and the touching sendoff the creative team came up with for Walker’s Brian O’Connor character.
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Box office: $1.402 billion ($459 million domestic)
When Age of Ultron debuted in the summer of 2015, the novelty of seeing Earth’s Mightiest come together on the big screen had worn off a bit (a notion that retroactively sounds naive, considering what’s to come on this list). That explains the sizable gap between this sequel and the original Avengers movie, though anyone would be hard-pressed to call this a financial disappointment. Age of Ultron is the 10th highest-grossing film of all-time. If there were any doubts The Avengers was just a fad. Age of Ultron proved the MCU was here to stay.
9. Black Panther
Box office: $1.346 billion ($700 million domestic)
At the outset of 2018, many people would have predicted Avengers: Infinity War would be the biggest movie of the year. That turned out to be true… at the worldwide box office. Domestically, Black Panther reigned supreme by surpassing even the rosiest expectations. With a perfect February release date, Black Panther rode a perfect storm of facing minimal competition and receiving exceptional word-of-mouth. This film left a sizable impression on pop culture, becoming the first comic book adaptation to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Marvel has a new cornerstone hero to build around.
10. Harry Potter and the deathly hallows – part 2
Box office: $1.341 billion ($381.4 million domestic)
Before the MCU became the juggernaut it is and before Star Wars came back. Harry Potter was the defining film series of this generation. For 10 years, audiences came to the theater to be transported to the Wizarding World, knowing everything was building up to this installment. Like most final entries in popular series, Deathly Hallows – Part 2 proved to be a monumental success. It was the only Harry Potter movie to cross the $1 billion plateau (though many of its predecessors came very close) and brought about a massive void in WB’s film slate. Looking at Harry Potter’s numbers, it’s no surprise they brought the franchise back five years later with the Fantastic Beasts prequel series.