Who said Hollywood is dead?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has blasted into theatres with a vengeance, and by tonight will become the highest grossing domestic film of all time, leaving all previous records looking like the Death Star after a rebel attack.
By the time theatres close tonight, the movie will surpass the previous record of $760.5 million, leaving it’s next closest rival, Avatar, in the dust. And it shows no signs of slowing down.
But it wasn’t the only big winner – 2015 was a big year for Hollywood. Three of the highest grossing films of all time premiered this year, helping boost North American box office numbers to a new record, with a hefty take of more than $11 billion.
Here’s a look back at Hollywood’s 10 biggest (domestic) moneymakers of all time.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Total gross: $760.5 million +
J.J. Abrams has taken the helm of the popular Star Wars franchise, and proven he can make a hit with the fans. The movie is poised to slide into into the top slot for highest grossing domestic film – and it’s still in theatres.
We don’t know the exact sales figures yet, but as of Tuesday night the film had pulled in $758,000,000. With an average take of about $8 million per weekday, it’s a shoe in for first place.
That’s after crushing virtually every other record available. The film had the biggest domestic opening weekend and global opening weekend at $248 and $529 million respectively. That’s without having even opened in China yet.
The film took opening weekend records in 18 other countries as well, including the U.K., Germany, Australia, and Russia.
The last milestone for the film to conquer will be highest grossing film of all time, worldwide. Avatar still holds the record at $2.78 billion, with The Force Awakens still lagging at $1.5 billion.
Disney bought the 39-year-old franchise from George Lucas in 2012 for $4-billion, and looks set to easily recoup that investment.
2. Avatar (2009)
Total gross: $760,507,625
Until today, the James Cameron space epic had reigned unchallenged as Hollywood’s biggest film.
The film was hailed as a technological marvel, both for its use of motion capture and computer generated effects, and its stereoscopic 3D filming technique. That second element helped the film’s release lead a wave of 3D popularization, including the installation of 3D projectors in a number of theatres. It still sits as the #1 ranked 3D film of all time.
The film was released to positive reviews, smashing records, and displacing another of Cameron’s films, Titanic, for the top slot.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Cameron says he’s aiming to release a sequel in December of 2017.
3. Titanic (1997)
James Cameron holds down two of the top three slots with 1997’s historical epic. Titanic reigned unchallenged at the box office for 12 years, until being dethroned by Avatar in 2009.
The film was the most expensive ever produced at the time, but proved to be cinematic gold. It was a critical smash hit, earning 14 Oscar nominations and winning 11, tying the record for most Academy Awards for a single film.
Titanic was the first film to take in more than a billion dollars, earning $1.84 billion worldwide. A later 3D version of the film pushed the gross to $2.18 billion worldwide, making it the second film (after Avatar) to crack two billion globally.
4. Jurrassic World (2015)
Total Gross: $652,270,625
You know it’s a big year when the second most popular film pulls in more than half a billion dollars. The fourth installment in the Jurrassic Park franchise packed theaters this summer, and proved once again that reboots are profitable business.
Until The Force Awakens steamrolled across the box office landscape, it held the record for biggest ever opening weekend, pulling in more than $208,000,000. If Star Wars hand’t made an appearance, it would easily have stood out as the biggest film of the year.
Unsurprisingly, a sequel is scheduled for 2018.
5. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Total Gross: $623,357,910
Another franchise hit, The Avengers was Disney’s first foray into the Marvel universe. It proved to be box office gold, and formed the template for a string of followup superhero films and spinoffs, all of which have also proven to be box office successes to greater or lesser degrees. Indeed, one of its sequels, this year’s Avengers: The Age of Ultron, also cracked the top 10 list of all time earners.
It is widely credited with bringing the “cinematic universe” formula to the big screen, in which characters appear in their own films along with crossovers into team-up blockbusters.
DC Comics’ upcoming Batman vs. Superman project and the upcoming rapidfire release of a Star Wars trilogy offset by standalone films look to be profiting on the same principle.
At the time of its release, it too set a box office opening weekend record, raking in more than $207,000,000. During its run, it became the first Marvel film to pull in more than a billion dollars worldwide.
6. The Dark Knight (2008) – $534,858,444
7. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) – $474,544,677
8. Star Wars (1977) – $460,998,007
9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $459,005,868
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $448,139,099