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Even as cinema-going audiences decrease, blockbuster movies continue to break box office records across the world. And while box office numbers have always been a measurement for a movie’s success, those numbers have yet to hit a plateau as cinema has progressed. On the list of the 20 highest grossing movies of all time, almost all of them were made in the last decade, and all of them broke $1 billion dollars at the worldwide box office.
Take a look at Marvel’s 2018, for example: Black Panther succeeded everyone’s high expectations, and surpassed Titanic’s numbers in the domestic box office to become the third highest-earning movie in the country. It was only bested by Avengers: Infinity War, which dropped a few months later and made a billion dollars in just 11 days, becoming the fastest movie to accomplish that feat.
As a matter of fact, nearly every movie on this list is either part of a successful franchise (Harry Potter, Star Wars) or generated so much hype that sequels were all but guaranteed (Avatar, Frozen). Of course, these movies aren’t exactly bargains to make. Those perfectly executed battle scenes or furiously fast car chases cost studios dearly, and as a result the “highest grossing movie” metric is more a measure of a film’s success with audiences than its profitability. Take a look for yourself: your favorite movie might not be on this list, but I dare you to say you actively didn’t enjoy any of them.
Note: for this list we’ve used the cumulative worldwide box office as measured by Box Office Mojo.