Once the 2010s started, all bets were off at the box office. The more popular films of each year routinely crossed the $1 billion landmark at the worldwide box office. Before the decade, that was almost unheard of for a movie. Of the more than 40 films that have grossed over $1 billion, just a handful of them came before the 2010s. Here are those older movies that proved to be massive hits at the box office.
The Dark Knight
After “Batman Begins” was released in the 2000s, people were waiting in anticipation for Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker in “The Dark Knight”. The film didn’t disappoint and had long legs in 2008, earning $1.004 billion at the box office, with more than half of that coming from North America alone.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Back in 1999, the long gap between the original “Star Wars” trilogy and the prequels had come to a close with the release of “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace”. Though it didn’t get the greatest reviews, “Star Wars” fans still flocked to the theaters to see how Darth Vader got his start. Overall, the film made $1.027 billion, including $474.5 million domestically.
Before 1993, no film had crossed the $1 billion worldwide barrier until “Jurassic Park” came along. The classic film dominated to the tune of $1.029 billion in ticket sales, $402.8 million of which were domestic. Because of the success of the film adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel, “Jurassic Park” spawned several sequels, as well as the hit film “Jurassic World” that smashed records.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
There have been several “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, which kicked off in 2003 with “The Curse of the Black Pearl”. The second release came in 2006 with “Dead Man’s Chest” that became the most successful of the series. After grossing $423 million domestically, “Dead Man’s Chest” finished with a whopping $1.066 billion worldwide.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Oscar for Best Picture doesn’t tend to go to a film of this magnitude, but it did. In 2003, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy came to an end with “The Return of the King”. The film was universally praised by critics and audiences, becoming the highest grossing film of the Tolkien series. Overall, “The Return of the King” made $1.119 billion, $377.8 million domestically.
Only two films, “Avengers: Endgame” and “Avatar”, have made more money at the box office than “Titanic”. The James Cameron film was an unstoppable monster when it was released in the final weeks of 1997, and set just about every record possible at the time. “Titanic” made $659.4 million domestically, and finished with a then-record $2.187 billion worldwide.