Special Report

Highest-Grossing Movies That Never Hit No. 1 at Box Office

When filmmakers set out to craft a movie, many probably have two main goals — win awards and turn a profit. Reaching the top of the charts to become the highest grossing film of any given week is a welcome bonus, and a huge accomplishment.

It’s impossible for every movie to reach the top. But just because a film doesn’t hit No. 1 at the weekend box office doesn’t mean it can’t turn into a massive financial and critical success. Many movies that have been praised by fans and critics alike don’t stand a chance at being No. 1 at the box office because they are overshadowed by blockbuster films and franchises.

To determine the highest grossing films that were never No. 1 at the weekend box office, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on domestic annual and weekend box office grosses from film industry site The Numbers.

While they didn’t reach the coveted No. 1 spot, most of the movies on the list did, however, reach the still formidable second position at the weekend box office. Six of them never made it past the third position. Ranking as high as No. 4 at the weekend box office was as good as it got for three of the movies on the list. Still, even though they missed out on the top spot, most of the movies on the list were nominated for several prestigious awards, including Oscars.

Movies make money in several ways, including selling branded products and TV broadcast and streaming rights. But the largest source of revenue is still from theaters. 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.

Methodology

To determine the highest grossing films that were never No. 1 at the weekend box office, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on domestic annual and weekend box office from film industry site The Numbers. We listed the films with the highest total domestic box office grosses that never reached the No. 1 position at the weekend box office. Additional data on domestic box office used to determine the year’s top top grossing movie also came from The Numbers. Data on IMDb audience score and Rotten Tomatoes audience score were collected March 2021.

Click here to see the highest-grossing movies that never hit No. 1 at box office