Dec 16, 2022 - Economy

The highest-grossing films of all time

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in 1997's "Titanic." (Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images)

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio dancing in a scene from "Titanic." Photo: 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Only 11 films have held the title of highest-grossing films of all time.

Driving the news: "Avatar: The Way of Water" opened this week and hopes to become the 12th.

  • The first "Avatar," released in 2009, is the world's current all-time box office champion, a mantle that goes back more than 100 years.

1915: Despite controversy, "The Birth of a Nation" becomes the first film to earn more than $10 million (the equivalent of nearly $300 million today).

1939: "Gone with the Wind" blows by "The Birth of a Nation."

  • When adjusted for inflation, "Gone with the Wind" remains the highest-grossing film of all time, according to Guinness World Records.

1965: "The Sound of Music" ends "Gone with the Wind's" long run at the top.

1967: "Gone with the Wind" takes back the crown after a re-release on 70 mm film.

1972: "The Godfather" becomes the fastest film to $100 million worldwide on its way to overtaking "Gone with the Wind."

1973: "Jaws" moves into the top spot and is considered the first summer blockbuster, according to Guinness.

  • Steven Spielberg's film debuted in more than 400 theaters with a record $7 million weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

1977: "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope" overtakes "Jaws," earning more than $300 million worldwide during its original release.

1982: Spielberg is history's box office king once again as "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" surpasses $600 million worldwide.

1993: "Jurassic Park" shatters the previous record with more than $970 million worldwide, proving only Steven Spielberg can beat Steven Spielberg.

1997: Moviegoers cry countless tears as James Cameron's "Titanic" becomes the first film to earn $1 billion worldwide.

2009: Like Spielberg, Cameron breaks his own record with "Avatar," the world's first $2 billion earner.

2019: Marvel reaches its peak powers as "Avengers: Endgame" earns a worldwide total of nearly $2.8 billion.

  • "Endgame" is one of 10 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to earn more than $1 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

2021: "Avatar" takes back the title of the highest-grossing film thanks to a re-release in China.

Films with the highest all-time worldwide box office grosses
Data: The Numbers; Chart: Axios Visuals
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