We are now over 20 years into the 21st century. For the film industry that means 20 Academy Awards ceremonies. It means the rise of remarkably successful franchises, which include the Avengers movies, the new Batman series, the Fast & Furious films and Tom Cruise’s Mission Impossible franchise. Many of these have produced billions of dollars in ticket sales. Few have won Oscars. They are too crude by the standards of critics. However, their producers are laughing all the way to the bank.
Interestingly, some of the most successful movies are part of franchises that reach back decades. This is certainly true of James Bond. The first movies about him appeared in the 1960s. The aging spy has not aged when it comes to ticket sales.
Also potentially very successful, to be fair, are animated features that show some originality, like “Shrek,” “Cars” and “Finding Nemo.” As 24/7 Tempo discovered when we picked the biggest box office hit of the 2000s, (comparatively) low-budget indies, part of our finalist list, do sometimes surprise everyone and rake in major profits.
To identify the biggest box office hit of the 2000s, 24/7 Tempo reviewed box office data as of April 2021 from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by consulting firm Nash Information Services. Rankings are out of 4,230 movies for which data was available. Information on casts and directors came from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an online movie database owned by Amazon.
Interestingly, the biggest box office hit of the 2000s is over a decade old, and it still has not been bested at the box office.
“Avatar” tops the list. Here are some details:
- Release: December 2009
- Domestic box office: $760.5 million
- Box office rank: number four out of all movies in database
- Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez
- Director: James Cameron