Every movie that has surpassed $1b at the box office — Ros Tibbs

If there’s one place filmmakers hope to thrive when it comes to a movie they have worked tirelessly on, it is the box office. They might tell you otherwise, but often their fingers are crossed. The charting of how many tickets sold and in how much time following opening night is something many big-time directors hope to smash as it can land their name and the movie they’ve worked on in the history books.

Furthermore, the most elusive dream of all is to hit that one billion mark or even go beyond. Outdoing an initial budget by this much through ticket sales is a guarantee that your movie will live long in the memory, and offer you creative control moving forward. With historical documentation beginning on March 3rd, 1922, the box office has been cited as a critical report on a film’s success for over 100 years. Since the 75-year mark, films have been hitting the $1 billion milestone. 

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water is a recent film that has made waves by earning $1 billion at the box office. The epic science-fiction sequel to the original 2009 Avatar film, the highest-grossing film of all time with $2.922 billion, was released on Friday, December 16th, 2022 and experienced a worldwide opening of $441.7 million. As of Monday, January 2nd 2023, Cameron’s film has a total earning of $1.401 billion, making it number 11 in the highest-grossing list of movies of all time and the second highest-grossing film of 2022, right behind Top Gun: Maverick

This result is a massive relief for the director, who initially claimed he would cancel the rest of the Avatar franchise if the second film flopped. “The market could be telling us we’re done in three months, or we might be semi-done, meaning: ‘OK, let’s complete the story within movie three, and not go on endlessly,’ if it’s just not profitable,” Cameron shared with Total Film before Avatar: The Way of Water’s release.

“We’re in a different world now than we were when I wrote this stuff, even,” the filmmaker added. “It’s the one-two punch — the pandemic and streaming. Or, conversely, maybe we’ll remind people what going to the theatre is all about. This film definitely does that. The question is: how many people give a shit now?”

With that in mind, we’re exploring everything you need to know about box office smash hits below.

The billion dollar movie box office explained:

How many movies have made $1 billion at the box office

Cameron’s Avatar films are two of 51 movies that have achieved the goal of $1 billion at the box office. Ranging from epic love stories to blockbuster comic book adaptations, there are a plethora of high-quality movies on the list. As expected in contemporary film culture, the MCU has contributed many of these titles. The Avengers or Spider-Man movies have a large and dedicated fanbase eager to see every instalment on the big screen to appreciate the expensive green screen visuals fully. 

The MCU is rivalled by the Star Wars cinematic universe in the most additions to the list, with the latter instalments of the franchise racking in high earnings despite being poorer in quality. However, both these franchises have earned Disney a total of $27.3 billion through the box office alone, through Star Wars‘ input of $4.8 billion and Marvel’s whopping $22.5 billion.

Other titles include average blockbusters such as the Fast and Furious movies or spy flicks. However, families greatly influence the box office as these 51 movies also include stand-alone Disney animations and other family-animated films. 

Book adaptations also perform successfully at the box office, as evident in Peter Jackson’s cinematic adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring books, which also broke Academy Award records. Furthermore, J.K Rowling has achieved success in having her children’s book series Harry Potter adapted into movies that made $1 billion.

What was the first movie to make $1 billion at the box office?

As previously mentioned, it took 75 years of recorded box office revenue to see the first movie ever to gross a billion dollars, so what was the movie that crossed the line? 

Again, this accolade goes to Cameron as his 1997 epic blend of romance and disaster, Titanic, was the first movie to make $1 billion at the box office. This successful feature was inspired by the tragic Titanic sinking of 1912 and starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in their break-out roles as two lovers who meet on the ship. 

Titanic was released on Friday, December 19th, 1997, and with a budget of $200 million, it was once the most expensive movie ever made. This factor caused huge anticipation towards box office reception, as Cameron and the studio accepted the fact that they could be responsible for the most significant box office disappointment of all time.

However, with each passing week, Titanic beat features such as The Godfather Part II, Scream 2, and Tomorrow Never Dies. Eventually, the film made history by making $1.84 billion through ticket sales. This love story remained the highest-grossing film of all time for 13 years until Cameron surpassed his own film through Avatar.

Following a 3D re-release to commemorate the real Titanic’s sinking, the film made an extra $343.6 million, pushing the total earnings to $2.195 billion. This addition made Titanic the second film to gross more than $2 billion worldwide after Avatar, making Cameron a filmmaker who is synonymous with box office success.

Every movie to have made $1 billion at the box office:

Toy Story 3 (Lee Unkrich, 2010)- $1.067 billion

Zootopia (Bryon Howard & Rich Moore, 2016)- $1.042 billion

Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley, 2019)- $1.073 billion 

Top Gun: Maverick (Joseph Kosinski, 2022)- $1.488 billion 

Black Panther (Ryan Coolger, 2018)- $1.344 billion 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (David Yates, 2011)- $1.342 billion

Avengers: Endgame (The Russo Brothers, 2019)- $2.798 billion 

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)- $1.006 billion

Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton, 2016)- $1.029 billion

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (J.J Abrams, 2015)- $2.066 billion

Spider-Man: No Way Home (Jon Watts, 2021)- $1.916 billion

Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird, 2018)- $1.243 billion

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003)- $1.146 billion

Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012)- $1.109 billion

Jurassic Park (Steven Spielberg, 1993)- $1.046 billion

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)- $1.333 billion

The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)- $1.519 billion

Spider-Man: Far From Home (Jon Watts, 2019)- $1.132 billion

Captain America: Civil War (The Russo Brothers, 2016)- $1.153 billion

Frozen (Chuck Buck & Jennifer Lee, 2014)- $1.282 billion 

The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012)- $1.081 billion

Titanic (James Cameron, 1997)- $2.202 billion

Avengers: Infinity War (The Russo Brothers, 2018)- $2.048 billion

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards, 2016)- $1.058 billion

Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)- $2.922 billion

Furious 7 (James Wan, 2015)- $1.516 billion

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Chris Columbus, 2001)- $1.007 billion

Captain Marvel (Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck, 2019)- $1.128 billion

Iron Man 3 (Shane Black, 2013)- $1.215 billion

Avatar: The Way of Water (James Cameron, 2022)- $1.401 billion

Frozen II (Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)- $1.45 billion

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon, 2015)- $1.403 billion

Beauty and the Beast (Bill Condon, 2017)- $1.305 billion

Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow, 2015)- $1.672 billion

Joker (Todd Phillips, 2019)- $1.074 billion

The Fate of the Furious (F. Gary Gray, 2017)- $1.239 billion

Aquaman (James Wan, 2018)- $1.148 billion

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson, 2012)- $1.017 billion

Despicable Me 3 (Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda)- $1.035 billion

Aladdin (Guy Ritchie, 2019)- $1.051 billion

Minions (Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda, 2015)- $1.159 billion 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Gore Verbinski, 2006)- $1.066 billion

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (J.J. Abrams, 2019)- $1.074 billion

The Lion King (Jon Favreau, 2019)- $1.663 billion

Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton, 2010)- $1.025 billion

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (George Lucas, 1999)- $1.027 billion

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (J.A. Bayona, 2018)- $1.31 billion

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (Michael Bay, 2011)- $1.124 billion

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Rob Marshall, 2011)- $1.046 billion

Jurassic World Dominion (Colin Trevorrow, 2022)- $1.003 billion

Transformers: Age of Extinction (Michael Bay, 2014)- $1.104 billion

 -Source: Far Out Magazine


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