Special Report

Most Popular Movie Released the Year You Were Born

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Cinema has been in a state of constant evolution ever since the first moving images were created in the 19th century, thanks mostly to advances in technology. One can only imagine how audiences from the early 20th century might react if they saw the latest Star Wars movie.

Yet despite the technological advancement in filmmaking, some trends have remained largely the same — especially when it comes to audience preferences. Though some other genres sometimes manage to steal moviegoers’ hearts, audiences consistently are drawn to action, suspense, and adventure on the screen — and so studios consistently produce films to match these tastes.

24/7 Tempo determined the most popular movie released each year since 1930, based on domestic box office sales and Internet Movie Database user ratings. These illustrate how tastes have both changed and, in some ways, stayed the same.

Click here to see the most popular movie released the year you were born.

While not every film on the list would be considered action or adventure, the majority would – starting with 1930’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Modern audiences’ appetite for these genres is mostly satiated by big budget blockbusters, including a number of different superhero movies and Star Wars films. Action and adventure films are often ranked among the best movies of all time, when accounting for audience ratings.

Film franchises have largely dominated the domestic market starting in the 1970s. In addition to the six Star Wars movies on the list, all three Lord of the Rings films also are on the list as well as both “Alien” and “Aliens.”

Interestingly, despite the list’s nearly 90-year span, a few directors appear several times, illustrating they are best at capturing the public’s interest. With six movies, Steven Spielberg has the most movies on the list, followed by Alfred Hitchcock with five. Christopher Nolan has four, as does animation director Clyde Geronimi for his Disney films.

To determine the most popular movies released each year since 1930, 24/7 Tempo created an index based on the domestic box office gross and the number of total Internet Movie Database user ratings for its 5,600 top-rated movies. For cases in which the domestic box office gross was unavailable, we chose the movie with the highest number of votes. Domestic box office data comes from IMDb and is not adjusted for inflation.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1930
> Most popular movie: All Quiet on the Western Front
> Director: Lewis Milestone
> Starring: Lew Ayres, Louis Wolheim, John Wray
> Domestic box office: $3,270,000

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1931
> Most popular movie: Frankenstein
> Director: James Whale
> Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff
> Domestic box office: $12,000,000

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1932
> Most popular movie: Freaks
> Director: Tod Browning
> Starring: Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1933
> Most popular movie: King Kong
> Director: Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack
> Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot
> Domestic box office: $10,000,000

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1934
> Most popular movie: It Happened One Night
> Director: Frank Capra
> Starring: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1935
> Most popular movie: Bride of Frankenstein
> Director: James Whale
> Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, Colin Clive
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1936
> Most popular movie: Modern Times
> Director: Charles Chaplin
> Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Henry Bergman
> Domestic box office: $160,000

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

1937
> Most popular movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
> Director: William Cottrell, David Hand, Wilfred Jackson
> Starring: Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell, Lucille La Verne
> Domestic box office: $184,930,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1938
> Most popular movie: The Adventures of Robin Hood
> Director: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
> Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone
> Domestic box office: $3,980,000

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1939
> Most popular movie: Gone with the Wind
> Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
> Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell
> Domestic box office: $198,680,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

1940
> Most popular movie: Pinocchio
> Director: Norman Ferguson, T. Hee, Wilfred Jackson
> Starring: Dickie Jones, Christian Rub, Mel Blanc
> Domestic box office: $84,250,000

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Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

1941
> Most popular movie: Citizen Kane
> Director: Orson Welles
> Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore
> Domestic box office: $1,590,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

1942
> Most popular movie: Casablanca
> Director: Michael Curtiz
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid
> Domestic box office: $1,020,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1943
> Most popular movie: Shadow of a Doubt
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotten, Macdonald Carey
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1944
> Most popular movie: Double Indemnity
> Director: Billy Wilder
> Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
> Domestic box office: $5,720,000

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1945
> Most popular movie: Spellbound
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov
> Domestic box office: $7,000,000

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

1946
> Most popular movie: It’s a Wonderful Life
> Director: Frank Capra
> Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
> Domestic box office: $7,270,000

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1947
> Most popular movie: Miracle on 34th Street
> Director: George Seaton
> Starring: Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne
> Domestic box office: $2,650,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

1948
> Most popular movie: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
> Director: John Huston
> Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston, Tim Holt
> Domestic box office: $5,010,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1949
> Most popular movie: White Heat
> Director: Raoul Walsh
> Starring: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1950
> Most popular movie: Sunset Blvd.
> Director: Billy Wilder
> Starring: William Holden, Gloria Swanson, Erich von Stroheim
> Domestic box office: N/A

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios

1951
> Most popular movie: Alice in Wonderland
> Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
> Starring: Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Richard Haydn
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1952
> Most popular movie: Singin’ in the Rain
> Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
> Starring: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds
> Domestic box office: $8,820,000

Source: Courtesy of RKO Radio Pictures

1953
> Most popular movie: Peter Pan
> Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
> Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried
> Domestic box office: $87,400,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1954
> Most popular movie: Rear Window
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey
> Domestic box office: $36,760,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Productions

1955
> Most popular movie: Lady and the Tramp
> Director: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
> Starring: Barbara Luddy, Larry Roberts, Peggy Lee
> Domestic box office: $93,600,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1956
> Most popular movie: The Ten Commandments
> Director: Cecil B. DeMille
> Starring: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter
> Domestic box office: $93,740,000

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Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1957
> Most popular movie: 12 Angry Men
> Director: Sidney Lumet
> Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1958
> Most popular movie: Vertigo
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Bel Geddes
> Domestic box office: $3,200,000

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1959
> Most popular movie: Ben-Hur
> Director: William Wyler
> Starring: Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Stephen Boyd
> Domestic box office: $74,700,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1960
> Most popular movie: Psycho
> Director: Alfred Hitchcock
> Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
> Domestic box office: $32,000,000

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

1961
> Most popular movie: 101 Dalmatians
> Director: Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske, Wolfgang Reitherman
> Starring: Rod Taylor, Betty Lou Gerson, J. Pat O’Malley
> Domestic box office: $144,880,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1962
> Most popular movie: To Kill a Mockingbird
> Director: Robert Mulligan
> Starring: Gregory Peck, John Megna, Frank Overton
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1963
> Most popular movie: The Great Escape
> Director: John Sturges
> Starring: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
> Domestic box office: $12,100,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

1964
> Most popular movie: Mary Poppins
> Director: Robert Stevenson
> Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
> Domestic box office: $102,270,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1965
> Most popular movie: The Sound of Music
> Director: Robert Wise
> Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
> Domestic box office: $163,210,000

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1966
> Most popular movie: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
> Director: Sergio Leone
> Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
> Domestic box office: $6,100,000

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Source: Courtesy of Embassy Pictures

1967
> Most popular movie: The Graduate
> Director: Mike Nichols
> Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross
> Domestic box office: $104,950,000

Source: Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

1968
> Most popular movie: 2001: A Space Odyssey
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
> Domestic box office: $56,950,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1969
> Most popular movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
> Director: George Roy Hill
> Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
> Domestic box office: $102,310,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1970
> Most popular movie: Love Story
> Director: Arthur Hiller
> Starring: Ali MacGraw, Ryan O’Neal, John Marley
> Domestic box office: $106,400,000

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1971
> Most popular movie: A Clockwork Orange
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates
> Domestic box office: N/A

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1972
> Most popular movie: The Godfather
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola
> Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan
> Domestic box office: $134,970,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1973
> Most popular movie: The Exorcist
> Director: William Friedkin
> Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair
> Domestic box office: $232,910,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1974
> Most popular movie: The Godfather: Part II
> Director: Francis Ford Coppola
> Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall
> Domestic box office: $57,300,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1975
> Most popular movie: Jaws
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
> Domestic box office: $260,000,000

Source: Courtesy of United Artists

1976
> Most popular movie: Rocky
> Director: John G. Avildsen
> Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
> Domestic box office: $117,240,000

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1977
> Most popular movie: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
> Director: George Lucas
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> Domestic box office: $322,740,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1978
> Most popular movie: Grease
> Director: Randal Kleiser
> Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
> Domestic box office: $188,760,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1979
> Most popular movie: Alien
> Director: Ridley Scott
> Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt
> Domestic box office: $78,900,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1980
> Most popular movie: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
> Director: Irvin Kershner
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> Domestic box office: $290,480,000

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1981
> Most popular movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman
> Domestic box office: $248,160,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1982
> Most popular movie: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
> Domestic box office: $435,110,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1983
> Most popular movie: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
> Director: Richard Marquand
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> Domestic box office: $309,130,000

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1984
> Most popular movie: Ghostbusters
> Director: Ivan Reitman
> Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver
> Domestic box office: $238,630,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1985
> Most popular movie: Back to the Future
> Director: Robert Zemeckis
> Starring: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson
> Domestic box office: $210,610,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1986
> Most popular movie: Aliens
> Director: James Cameron
> Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Carrie Henn
> Domestic box office: $85,160,000

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1987
> Most popular movie: Full Metal Jacket
> Director: Stanley Kubrick
> Starring: Matthew Modine, R. Lee Ermey, Vincent D’Onofrio
> Domestic box office: $46,360,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1988
> Most popular movie: Die Hard
> Director: John McTiernan
> Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia
> Domestic box office: $83,010,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1989
> Most popular movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody
> Domestic box office: $197,170,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1990
> Most popular movie: Home Alone
> Director: Chris Columbus
> Starring: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern
> Domestic box office: $285,760,000

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Source: Courtesy of Orion Pictures

1991
> Most popular movie: The Silence of the Lambs
> Director: Jonathan Demme
> Starring: Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Lawrence A. Bonney
> Domestic box office: $130,740,000

Source: Distributed by Miramax Films

1992
> Most popular movie: Reservoir Dogs
> Director: Quentin Tarantino
> Starring: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen
> Domestic box office: $2,830,000

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1993
> Most popular movie: Jurassic Park
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
> Domestic box office: $402,450,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1994
> Most popular movie: Forrest Gump
> Director: Robert Zemeckis
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
> Domestic box office: $330,250,000

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

1995
> Most popular movie: Se7en
> Director: David Fincher
> Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
> Domestic box office: $100,130,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1996
> Most popular movie: Independence Day
> Director: Roland Emmerich
> Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
> Domestic box office: $306,170,000

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1997
> Most popular movie: Titanic
> Director: James Cameron
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
> Domestic box office: $659,330,000

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

1998
> Most popular movie: Saving Private Ryan
> Director: Steven Spielberg
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
> Domestic box office: $216,540,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1999
> Most popular movie: The Matrix
> Director: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
> Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
> Domestic box office: $171,480,000

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures

2000
> Most popular movie: Gladiator
> Director: Ridley Scott
> Starring: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen
> Domestic box office: $187,710,000

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

2001
> Most popular movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom
> Domestic box office: $315,540,000

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

2002
> Most popular movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Viggo Mortensen
> Domestic box office: $342,550,000

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

2003
> Most popular movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
> Director: Peter Jackson
> Starring: Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen
> Domestic box office: $377,850,000

Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

2004
> Most popular movie: Shrek 2
> Director: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
> Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
> Domestic box office: $436,470,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2005
> Most popular movie: Batman Begins
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe
> Domestic box office: $206,850,000

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

2006
> Most popular movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
> Director: Gore Verbinski
> Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
> Domestic box office: $423,320,000

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2007
> Most popular movie: Transformers
> Director: Michael Bay
> Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
> Domestic box office: $319,070,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2008
> Most popular movie: The Dark Knight
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
> Domestic box office: $534,860,000

Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

2009
> Most popular movie: Avatar
> Director: James Cameron
> Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
> Domestic box office: $760,510,000

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

2010
> Most popular movie: Inception
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
> Domestic box office: $292,580,000

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2011
> Most popular movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
> Director: David Yates
> Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
> Domestic box office: $381,010,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2012
> Most popular movie: The Avengers
> Director: Joss Whedon
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
> Domestic box office: $623,360,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2013
> Most popular movie: Iron Man 3
> Director: Shane Black
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow
> Domestic box office: $409,010,000

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2014
> Most popular movie: Interstellar
> Director: Christopher Nolan
> Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
> Domestic box office: $188,020,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Co.

2015
> Most popular movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
> Director: J.J. Abrams
> Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
> Domestic box office: $936,660,000

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2016
> Most popular movie: Rogue One
> Director: Gareth Edwards
> Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk
> Domestic box office: $532,180,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2017
> Most popular movie: Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi
> Director: Rian Johnson
> Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Mark Hamill
> Domestic box office: $620,180,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2018
> Most popular movie: Black Panther
> Director: Ryan Coogler
> Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o
> Domestic box office: $700,060,000

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2019 (*so far this year)
> Most popular movie: Avengers: Endgame
> Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
> Domestic box office: $805,260,000

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