When making this list, we had to make a decision whether to use simply the highest-grossing movies of all time or to adjust for inflation which would allow older movies to have a fighting chance. Without the adjustment, the movies included recent releases. But adjusted for inflation, the results got a lot more interesting and so we decided to go with those classics.
Here are the highest-grossing movies of all time:
20.) The Lion King
This Disney animated film follows a young lion named Simba. His father, Mufasa is the king of their kingdom.
This movie takes you through the tragic events of Simba’s life and how he was able to rise to the top.
19.) Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
The first Star Wars movie shows viewers the beginnings of Anakin Skywalker and how he is a young boy trying to figure out his place in the world.
He is a 9-year-old boy with talented powers who is being trained by a young Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobi.
18.) Jurassic Park
In Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, paleontologist Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler and mathematician Ian Malcolm take a tour an island theme park filled with dinosaurs.
They were created from prehistoric DNA. While the park’s designer and owner, John Hammond, assures everyone that the facility is safe, they find out otherwise when some predators break free and start hunting them.
17.) Avengers: Endgame
In Marvel’s final movie in this universe, the remaining Avengers try to recover the destruction of Thanos and how they can save the world.
There is an epic battle that the entire universe has been waiting for.
16.) Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
In the final movie of the trilogy, Luke Skywalker battles Darth Vader to save his friends in the Rebel Alliance.
With the help of the Ewoks, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the rest of the team defeat the evil emperor that has been terrorizing the galaxy.
On the alien world of Pandora live the Na’vi. They are beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved.
Because the planet’s environment is poisonous, human/Na’vi hybrids, called Avatars, must connect to human minds to allow for free movement on Pandora.
This drama is about an aristocratic Jew living in Judaea who suffers the wrath of a childhood friend, now a Roman tribune.
Although he is forced into slavery on a galley and compelled to witness the cruel persecution of his family, he survives.
13.) Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
In the second installment of the trilogy, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca are attacked by the Imperial forces.
While Han and Leia escape, Luke, travels to Dagobah to find Yoda, a Jedi master.
12.) 101 Dalmatians
In this Disney animated classic, Dalmatian Pongo is tired of his single-dog life. He finds another Dalmatian, Perdita, who he falls in love with. He manipulates his owner, Roger, into meeting Perdita’s owner, Anita. The two fall in love and marry, which keeps Pongo and Perdita together.
When Perdita gives birth to 15 puppies, Anita’s friend, Cruella De Vil wants to buy them all. Roger declines so Cruella De Vil hires people to steal the puppies so they can be made into fur coats.
11.) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens
Thirty years after defeating the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and the First Order. Finn, a defector, meets Ray, a scavenger, who has a droid with a secret map.
The duo must find the Resistance, who needs the map to locate Luke Skywalker.
10.) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
In Disney’s first animated film, a wicked queen orders the murder of her stepdaughter, Snow White. Later, the queen discovers Snow White is alive and hiding in a cottage with seven dwarfs.
Disguising herself as an old woman, the queen gives poisoned apple to Snow White, who falls into a death-like sleep that can be broken only by a kiss from the prince.
9.) The Exorcist
In the most profitable horror movie ever made, this tale of an exorcism is based loosely on actual events. When young Regan starts acting strange, like levitating, speaking in tongues, her mom seeks medical attention.
She hit a dead end with no leads. However, a local priest thinks her daughter may be possessed by the devil. The priest requests he performs an exorcism.
8.) Doctor Zhivago
During the Russian Revolution, Yuri Zhivago is a young doctor who has been raised by his aunt and uncle following his father’s suicide. Yuri falls in love with Lara, who has been having an affair with her mother’s lover.
Because of this, Yuri ends up marrying his cousin. When he and Lara meet again years later, the love is still there.
When a young woman is killed by a shark near the New England tourist town of Amity Island, police chief Martin Brody wants to close the beaches. The mayor overrules him because he fears he will lose the tourist revenue.
A ship captain and Ichthyologist offer to help Brody capture the killer shark.
6.) The Ten Commandments
Enjoying a life of ease in the court of Egypt’s pharaoh, Moses finds out about his Hebrew heritage. Then, he discovers God’s expectations of him.
Moses devotes his life to try and liberate his people from captivity.
The historical aspect of the film melts into the background of the doomed romance and dramatic visual depictions of disaster. The main plot is the love story between Rose, a fallen aristocrat who is betrothed to an older man, and Jack, a penniless artist who won his steerage level ticket in a poker game.
It’s wonderfully sappy and melodramatic but what really makes this good is the modern-day framing of the 1912 romance.
4.) E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
Classic sci-fi is not usually known for being heartwarming but this one definitely is. And it even has a nice educational message about being friends with people even if they look a little bit different and come from outer space. E.T. is the nickname that is given to a friendly extra-terrestrial by Elliot, the lonely pre-adolescent who finds him abandoned by the mother ship and takes him in.
The story of their friendship and the attempts to get E.T. back home really are sweet and E.T.’s awkward attempts to communicate are refreshing after sci-fi movies full of aliens who just happen to speak perfect English. Fortunately E.T. manages to pick it up a little bit or we wouldn’t have the adorable “E.T. phone home!” moment.
3.) The Sound of Music
Nuns, song, dance, and Nazis. The movie is a wholesome Rogers and Hammerstein musical based on the true story of a family of Austrian singers who fled to Italy when the father was inducted into the German navy during WWII. Thanks to the movie version, which stars Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music is one of the most well known classic Broadway musicals.
As in Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews manages to pull off the wholesome-bordering-on-saccharine governess while still being kickass enough to stand up to the Nazis. How could a movie like that not be awesome?
2.) Star Wars: A New Hope
It’s safe to assume that any American alive today and over the age of twelve has seen it for themselves. And if you haven’t you’ve probably seen sequels or parodies and heard it quoted everywhere. Although it was a sensation when it was originally released in 1977, it has somehow continued to maintain both its popular appeal and its cult following, perhaps due in part by a brilliant strategy of sequel releases and merchandising.
It’s a clear battle between good and evil and we don’t think we’re giving any spoilers when we tell you that the good guys win. At least until the next book, movie, comic book or other spin-off is released.
1.) Gone With the Wind
Let’s face it, this movie will bother today’s viewers, as it should. The portrayal of slavery and Southern plantation life are problematic to say the least but we’re going to put that aside for a minute to discuss the Hollywood phenomenon that this movie created.
Gone With the Wind stars a self-absorbed rich Southern Belle living on her own plantation. But they are about even in how sweepingly epic they are. It used a $4 million dollar budget, had over fifty speaking roles and burned actual sets during the siege of Atlanta. And it case it still wasn’t epic enough, they made Clark Gable the romantic lead.
Did you enjoy the highest-grossing movies of all time? Click the next button to see the worst-rated movies on Rotten Tomatoes.