Special Report

The Highest-Grossing Movie Every Year Since 1930

Movies make money in several ways, including selling branded products and TV broadcast and streaming rights, which has been on the rise in recent years. But the largest source of revenue is still from theaters.

The film production industry is certainly very lucrative but also very risky. There is no guarantee a movie will become a blockbuster, though several factors increase its chances of success, including casting A-list actors. 

24/7 Tempo reviewed domestic box office data from film industry site The Numbers to determine the top box office movie every year since 1930. Films were ranked based on the total reported domestic box office within a given year. 

For most of Hollywood’s history, the movies that have made the most money in the year they were released were musicals, historical films, and crime dramas. Since the Star Wars series, however — the first of which came out in 1977 — fantasy and adventure movies have been at the top of the box office. 

Franchise films — especially in the superhero genre — have been among the highest-grossing movies of the 21st century. These are the biggest box office hits since 2000.

Click here to see the highest-grossest movie every year since 1930

To determine the top box office movie the year you were born, 24/7 Tempo reviewed domestic box office data from film industry site The Numbers. Films were ranked based on the total reported domestic box office within a given year. Additional box office earnings from rereleases of films in later years were not considered. Box office data was adjusted for inflation using historical ticket prices from the National Association of Theatre Owners and the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Supplemental data on IMDb rating and Rotten Tomatoes audience score were collected in April 2021.