Hollywood’s Biggest Cash Cows: The 20 Most Profitable Movies of All Time

Robert Sihler

Anyone who’s ever run a business or remembers back to grade-school math knows there’s a difference between income and profit. In the movie world, there are films that earn a lot at the box office but return a disappointing profit or none at all.

On the other hand, there are movies that turn huge profits. Here are the top 20, with their budgets and gross takes.


Avatar (2009)

Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Even though ticket prices have risen since 2009, this movie remains the top grosser of all time. The special effects are stunning, and the story of a paraplegic Marine torn between his mission and the planet he calls home is irresistible.


Budget: $339,782,000, Gross Earnings: $1,553,289,931


Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame.
Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

A ruined universe remains following the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Now it’s time to set things back in order. To date, this and the previous entry are the only films to profit over $1 billion.


Budget: $475,560,000, Gross Earnings: $1,893,071,931


Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Image Credit: Lucasfilm.

Some people tried to tangle this movie up in our country’s culture wars, but everyone else just wanted to see who the Force would be with this time. It didn’t hurt to bring back old favorites from the original movies while introducing an exciting new hero.


Budget: $381,704,000, Gross Earnings: $1,223,457,761


Frozen (2013)

Bangkok, Thailand – December 8, 2019: Cute Photo Spot from Disney Animation Frozen II (2) displays at King Power Mall Rangnam. Main Characters are Price Elsa, Prince Anna and Olaf A Cute Snowman.
Image Credit: Sarunyu L/Shutterstock.

A spiteful Queen Elsa curses her homeland to perpetual winter. Her sister wants to change that. This movie riveted adults and children alike, guaranteeing blockbuster status.


Budget: $251,332,000, Gross Earnings: $1,055,931,276


Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Thanos wants to destroy the universe. The Avengers have to stop him. Not since The Empire Strikes Back has a sequel left audiences so devastated and craving resolution in the series finale.


Budget: $368,812,000, Gross Earnings: $1,128,210,275


Titanic (1997)

Sinking of the Titanic The lifeboats row away from the still lighted ship on April 15th 1912 as depicted in the British Newspaper.
Image Credit: Everett Collection/Shutterstock.

Perfect casting, stunning cinematography, and tragic inevitability made this film an instant classic. It also has an incredibly satisfying ending, hard to pull off in movies.


Budget: $386,368,000, Gross Earnings: $1,111,492,784


The Avengers (2012)

Marvel's The Avengers (2012).
Image Credit: Marvel.

Powerful heroes from around the world come together to stop Loki from enslaving humanity. This is the one that started it all, and the Avengers trilogy is the only full series on this list, so they must have done something right.


Budget: $300,290,000, Gross Earnings: $1,009,512,844


Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World Dominion.
Image Credit: Universal Studios.

Modern tech has allowed filmmakers to realistically bring dinosaurs to life, and audiences can’t get enough of it. Jurassic World features a new theme park built over the old and containing a super-dinosaur called Indominus Rex. What could go wrong?


Budget: $288,056,000, Gross Earnings: $985,206,496


Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021).
Image Credit: Sony Pictures.

Now that people know Peter Parker is Spider-Man, he needs help, and he asks for it from Dr. Strange. After a spell goes wrong, sinister beings from other worlds arrive, and Spider-Man faces a test like no other before.


Budget: $327,176,000, Gross Earnings: $998,970,469


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II (2011)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Everyone who had read the books knew what was going to happen, but it didn’t stop them from flocking to theaters to see it. As promised, the final installment was the darkest and most spectacular of them all, with Harry finally learning the truth of his past en route to a final confrontation with Voldemort.


Budget: $177,306,000, Gross Earnings: $814,490,803


Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Image Credit: Disney.

When an old foe returns to take care of unfinished business, Jake Sully has to work with allies to save their home. This long-awaited sequel packed theaters and didn’t let moviegoers down.


Budget: $556,702,000, Gross Earnings: $1,159,795,860


Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Gru is back, this time as a former bad guy and now great dad. With the help of new technology and the Minions, he helps defend against a new threat he knows all too well.


Budget: $143,056,000, Gross Earnings: $737,695,619


Furious 7 (2015)

Image Credit: Universal Studios.

Dominic Toretto and his family are responsible for Deckard Shaw’s brother being in a comatose state. Now Shaw is out for revenge.


Budget: $245,578,000, Gross Earnings: $828,335,349


Frozen II (2019)

Image Credit: Disney.

Audiences just weren’t ready to let it go, and they made this sequel a smash success. This time, Elsa is out to find out the origin of her powers. Doing so will help her save her kingdom.


Budget: $226,594,000, Gross Earnings: $808,225,203


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006).
Image Credit: Disney.

The swashbuckling fun returns with this sequel with a cliffhanger ending. Who can forget Jack Sparrow’s final doomed plunge into the maw of the Kraken? And the on-screen chemistry between Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley is so strong that for a minute, we actually believe Elizabeth Swann is going to forsake Will Turner for Sparrow.


Budget: $293,790,000, Gross Earnings: $293,790,000


Minions (2015)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Supervillain Scarlet Overkill and her husband recruit 3 Minions to help them do their dirty work. That, of course, is taking over the world.


Budget: $704,384,861, Gross Earnings: $141,424,000


The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight (2008)
Image Credit: Warner Bros Entertainment.

Easily among the top contenders for best sequel in movie history, this movie kept up the intensity from start to finish. Heath Ledger, in his final role, is absolutely iconic as the sadistic, psychopathic Joker who “just want[s] to watch the world burn.”


Budget: $263,340,000, Gross Earnings: $800,349,682


The Lion King (2019)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Many were skeptical that the studio could pull off this CGI remake of the animated classic. Some said they shouldn’t even try. They did pull it off, though, and audiences were wowed at how realistic and beautiful everything looked.


Budget: $341,924,000, Gross Earnings: $875,106,437


Toy Story 3 (2010)

Toy Story 3
Image Credit: Disney/Pixar.

Until 2019, this was the end of the series, and what an end it was. The bittersweet finale left even adults fighting tears back, and it ranks among the greatest and satisfying movie endings of all time.


Budget: $794,373,144, Gross Earnings: $267,398,000


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Starting with the 4th installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the series took a notably darker turn, and this 5th installment kept it going. Shortly after the shocking loss of a loved character, we come to learn who is the only person Voldemort ever feared.


Budget: $202,594,000, Gross Earnings: $706,576,489

Critics Agree: These 12 TV Shows Are the Absolute Worst

The Secret Life of an American Teenager
Image Credit: Brendavision.


What’s the worst show you’ve ever watched? Not just a bad show. Not a show you found boring, or didn’t like, or couldn’t get into. I mean the worst of the worst.

If you’re critical (like I am), it can be hard to narrow down the list, so I pulled some fantastic fan suggestions for this one instead.

Critics Agree: These 12 TV Shows Are the Absolute Worst

19 Hyped-Up Movies That Were Actually Terrible

Brid Box.
Image Credit: Netflix.


So, you know how there’s always this buzz around those hyped-up movies, right? Like, the ones that everyone’s talking about, the trailers that give you goosebumps, and the anticipation that’s through the roof?

Yeah, those. But here’s the kicker- sometimes, they turn out to be total duds.

19 Hyped-Up Movies That Were Actually Terrible

Prepare to Ugly Cry: Here Are the 12 Saddest Movies of All Time

Image Credit: Working Title Films.


Get the tissues ready (you’re going to need them) because we tracked down fan answers to “what is the saddest movie you have ever seen?” and there’s some real tear-jerkers on this list.

Apparently we love sad movies because there were so many suggestions out there that it was hard to narrow down this list to only 12. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, either. Some of these films are so depressing that you might just regret ever watching them. Put on one of these movies the next time you’re in need of a good cry!

Prepare to Ugly Cry: Here Are the 12 Saddest Movies of All Time

No More Cliffhangers: 21 Shows on Netflix That Actually Finish Their Stories

The End of The World.
Image Credit: Netflix.

Are you in the mood for a lazy day and some binge-watching? There’s nothing better than winding down with a couple episodes of your favorite television show. But with so many options out there, where should you start?

No More Cliffhangers: 21 Shows on Netflix That Actually Finish Their Stories

12 TV Shows That Stopped Being Great After Only One Season

Ariana Debose HBO Westworld Season 4 - Episode 8.
Image Credit: John Johnson/HBO.


It’s not unusual for shows to eventually go downhill or for them to be bad from the start and get worse, but these TV shows stopped being great after only one season. No more, no less.

That’s not to say these shows aren’t worth watching (at least some of them) but if you’re thinking of checking some of them out it might be a good idea to quit after season 1!

12 TV Shows That Stopped Being Great After Only One Season
We didn’t just pull these numbers from thin air. Here’s our source!

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