The 1990s were the early days of huge movie rental retailer Blockbuster. People still watched movies on videotape, as the DVD had not been widely adopted. Broadband, which allowed movies to be distributed over the internet, would not be wired throughout America until 2005. The fact that most of the current forms of movie distribution did not exist meant people watched full-length movies on the big screen, inside theaters.
To identify the biggest box office hit of the 1990s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed box office data from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services, as updated in April 2021. Rankings for box office success were out of 4,230 movies for which data was available. The actors and directors for each movie come from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon.
Some of the movies of the 1990s are considered classics now. They are that old. Even sequels of the movies made during that period are old now. People in their early 20s never saw them in theaters.
The biggest box office hit of the 1990s was “Titanic,” released in 1997. Here are some of the details:
- Domestic box office: $659.4 million
- Box office rank: number eight out of all movies in the database
- Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane and Kathy Bates
- Director: James Cameron
DiCaprio became one of the biggest movie stars in history. Cameron would direct “Avatar” in 2009, and it would become arguably the biggest box office hit of all time. Winslet is the lead of the new TV detective series “Mare of Easttown.” So, most of the major players in the movie did OK.