Special Report

The 50 Highest Grossing Film Directors of All Time

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Men and women become directors in various ways. Some learn movie-making as screenwriters, cinematographers, or film editors. Some apprentice to well-established directors of an earlier time. Some get their start with music videos or TV episodes.

Along the way, they develop their own vision for their art. But they also learn what it takes to manage budgets, moody actors, accidents and other unpredictable events on the set, and meddling studio heads. Just as with actors, directors who can reliably navigate the process and reliably bring in a profit are termed “bankable” — and thus are most likely to be able to get financing for films they want to make. (See who won the Oscar for Best Director every year since the Oscars began.)

To determine the 50 most bankable directors working in English-language cinema, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on box office and production budget from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Directors were ranked based on the average return-on-investment ratio of worldwide box office to production budget for their body of work. (These are the 100 top-grossing movies of all time.)

Only directors with at least three films with available ROI data and who have directed a film in 2018 or later were included. Average user ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, are weighted according to the number of reviews and are current as of November 2021.  

Click here to see the 50 most bankable directors

The directors on our list can all boast a track record of success. For some, it has come through earning a reputation for memorable movies in a particular genre. Eli Roth and William Brent Bell have made their mark in horror films, and James Wan is credited with inventing the torture porn genre with his “Saw” film series. Directors Spike Lee and Steve McQueen have built their careers on movies that demand moviegoers understand the plight of minorities in America.

Other directors have made bankable films in multiple genres, like Steven Spielberg, whose triumphs have ranged from action films like the Indiana Jones franchise to historically based movies like “Lincoln” and “Schindler’s List” to the sci-fi classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.  

At their core the most bankable directors are those who know how to tell a story.

To determine the 50 most bankable directors, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on box office and production budget from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Directors were ranked based on the average return-on-investment ratio of worldwide box office to production budget for their body of work. Only directors with at least three films with available ROI data and who have directed a film in 2018 or later were included. Average user ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, are weighted according to the number of reviews and are current as of November 2021.  

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50. Jake Kasdan
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.33
> Movie with highest ROI: Bad Teacher (2011)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.4/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 58%

Jake Kasdan, son of noted writer-director Lawrence Kasdan, made his directorial debut in 1998 with the detective story “Zero Effect.” His most profitable film to date is “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.”

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49. Lee Daniels
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.37
> Movie with highest ROI: Precious (2009)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 65.8%

Lee Daniels’ movies have focused on the underdog. His most famous film, “Precious,” was about an inner-city African-American girl who triumphs over physical abuse. It won two Academy Awards, and Daniels was nominated, but did not win, for Best Director.

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48. Charles Martin Smith
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.40
> Movie with highest ROI: Air Bud (1997)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 68.8%

Charles Martin Smith carved out an acting niche as a nebbishy man who’s thrust into risky situations – he was the doomed accountant in “The Untouchables.” As a filmmaker, he directed Disney’s “Air Bud,” which was a hit.

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47. Raja Gosnell
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.47
> Movie with highest ROI: Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 5.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 26.7%

Raja Gosnell was a well-respected film editor who worked on such successes as “Pretty Woman,” “Good Morning, Vietnam,” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” before he directed his first film, “Home Alone 3.” Gosnell has also directed The Smurfs movie franchise.

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46. Judd Apatow
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.47
> Movie with highest ROI: Knocked Up (2007)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 75.9%

Television writer and producer Judd Apatow’s films have an improvisational quality to them. He struck gold in his directorial debut with the film “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” starring Steve Carell. His next movie, “Knocked Up,” is the film with the highest return on investment for him so far.

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45. Tom Shadyac
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.52
> Movie with highest ROI: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 38.8%

Tom Shadyac began his comedy career as a joke-writing wunderkind for Bob Hope. He co-wrote the smash hit “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” starring Jim Carrey, in 1994. Among his other credits are “Bruce Almighty,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Liar Liar.”

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44. Guy Ritchie
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.53
> Movie with highest ROI: Snatch (2000)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 60.7%

British director Guy Ritchie announced himself to the movie industry with a Cockney take on the gangster genre in the film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” in 1999. He’s probably best-known, though, for “Snatch.”

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43. Lasse Hallström
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.56
> Movie with highest ROI: A Dog’s Purpose (2017)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 43.6%

The former director of videos for the pop group ABBA, Hallström burst onto the movie scene in 1985 with “My Life as a Dog,” which gained two Oscar nominations. His other notable films include “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “Dear John.”

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42. Paul Feig
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.62
> Movie with highest ROI: Bridesmaids (2011)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 74.2%

Paul Freig is an actor, writer, producer, and director who’s known for television fare such as “The Facts of Life” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show.” His big-screen directorial debut came in 2011 when his raunchy comedy “Bridesmaids” became a huge hit. His follow-up film, the female cop buddy movie “The Heat,” starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock, was successful as well.

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41. Steve McQueen
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.69
> Movie with highest ROI: 12 Years a Slave (2013)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 89.8%

British filmmaker Steve McQueen likes to upset the status quo, and his “12 Years a Slave” was an unflinching look at slavery in America. It also was a critical and box-office triumph, winning Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director for McQueen.

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40. Todd Phillips
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.73
> Movie with highest ROI: The Hangover (2009)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 53.9%

Todd Phillips cut his directorial teeth helming documentaries about punk rockers and frat houses. He became a top comedic director with the film “Old School” in 2003, and hit movie paydirt with “The Hangover.” Phillips has directed, produced, and written the sequels to that film.

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39. Peter Hedges
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.75
> Movie with highest ROI: Pieces of April (2003)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 68.9%

Peter Hedges’ movies look at life through the perspective of the outsider. His most successful film is “Pieces of April,” a comedy/drama about a somewhat dysfunctional family trying to celebrate Thanksgiving.

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38. Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.80
> Movie with highest ROI: Bad Moms (2016)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 39.9%

Jon Lucas and Scott Moore wrote the screenplay for the hit “The Hangover” in 2009. Directorial success came seven years later with “Bad Moms,” which spawned a sequel.

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37. Ang Lee
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.83
> Movie with highest ROI: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 65.8%

The Taiwan-born Lee, with two Best Director Oscars to his name, has had great success with film credits such as “Sense and Sensibility,” “Brokeback Mountain,” and “Life of Pi.” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is perhaps greatest success, combining romance with an appreciation for the martial arts.

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36. Rawson Marshall Thurber
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.90
> Movie with highest ROI: We’re the Millers (2013)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 56%

Rawson Marshall Thurber broke through as a director with the comedy “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Greater success came later with the sleazy romp “We’re the Millers,” featuring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston.

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35. Anne Fletcher
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$4.96
> Movie with highest ROI: Step Up (2006)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.4/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 34.6%

One of the queens of the rom-com, Anne Fletcher has boasted success with films such as “The Proposal” and “The Pacifier.” “Step Up,” her most profitable film, led to a sequel.

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34. Andrew & Jon Erwin
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.22
> Movie with highest ROI: I Can Only Imagine (2018)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.5/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 42.4%

“I Can Only Imagine,” a Christian-themed movie about family conflict and redemption, holds the highest Rotten Tomatoes audience score, 92, of any film directed by the Erwins.

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33. Steven Soderbergh
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.24
> Movie with highest ROI: Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 75.5%

Steven Soderbergh has enjoyed success helming such well-received films as “Erin Brockovich” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” and won the Best Director Oscar for “Traffic” in 2001. But his breakthrough movie came in 1989, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape,” which won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

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32. Spike Lee
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.30
> Movie with highest ROI: She’s Gotta Have It (1986)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 75%

A motion picture industry provocateur, Spike Lee has become one of the most important storytellers about the African-American experience. The five-time Oscar-nominated Lee finally won in 2019 for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film “BlacKkKlansman.” “She’s Gotta Have It” was his breakthrough success in 1986.

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31. Jon M. Chu
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.34
> Movie with highest ROI: Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 5.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 54.6%

Jon M. Chu helped burnish his directorial credentials with two of the four sequels to the dance-themed “Step Up.” However, his Singapore-based rom-com “Crazy Rich Asians” became one of the biggest box-office hits of 2018.

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30. Robert Zemeckis
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.38
> Movie with highest ROI: Back to the Future (1985)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 66.8%

Robert Zemeckis has a knack for knowing what will appeal to American movie-goers. “Forrest Gump,” which tells the story of post-war America through the experiences of a mentally challenged man, played by Tom Hanks, was a huge hit. Zemeckis and Hanks rejoined to make “Cast Away.” He struck box-office gold with his sly animation motion picture “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.”

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29. Nicole Holofcener
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.52
> Movie with highest ROI: Lovely & Amazing (2001)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 85.4%

Nicole Holofcener is known for making well-crafted and nuanced movies about human relationships. At 85.4%, her films have one of the higher Tomatometer score averages on the list. She also has directed episodes of television shows such as “Gilmore Girls” and “Sex and the City.”

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28. Tim Story
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.68
> Movie with highest ROI: Think Like a Man (2012)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 5.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 32.9%

Tim Story earned a reputation for telling insightful urban stories in movies such as “Barbershop.” He branched out to adapt the Marvel comic book series “The Fantastic Four” in 2005 and did the rom-com “Think Like a Man” in 2012.

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27. Rian Johnson
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.80
> Movie with highest ROI: Brick (2005)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.4/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 89.8%

After years of making short films, Johnson broke through with the teen-themed thriller “Brick” in 2005. He was director/screenwriter for megahit “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” His take on the murder-mystery genre “Knives Out” holds a Rotten Tomatoes critics rating of 97%.

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26. Danny Boyle
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.83
> Movie with highest ROI: Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.5/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 74.4%

Danny Boyle has succeeded in various genres in film, including offbeat rom-com (“Slumdog Millionaire”), music-fantasy (“Yesterday”), and biography/drama (“127 Hours”). The British director got strong notices from critics with “Trainspotting,” a disturbing movie about drug addiction in Scotland.

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25. Peyton Reed
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$5.84
> Movie with highest ROI: Bring It On (2000)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 68.9%

Peyton Reed is known for directing two of the Ant Man movies, both of which have the highest Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score of any of his films. Away from the comic-book genre, Reed scored a hit with “Bring it On,” a comedy about a high school cheerleading competition, starring Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union.

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24. Doug Liman
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.07
> Movie with highest ROI: Swingers (1996)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 66.4%

In addition to producing some of the action-packed Bourne movie series, Liman also directed an action film himself, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Liman’s 1996 indie comedy “Swingers,” starring Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau, was a surprise hit

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23. Paul Weitz
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.10
> Movie with highest ROI: American Pie (1999)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.5/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 52.1%

“American Pie,” a bawdy look at teens trying to lose their virginity, had the highest return of investment for Paul Weitz. Weitz, who comes from a show business – his mother was Oscar-nominated actress Susan Kohner – can count “Little Fockers” and “American Pie 2” among his other successes.

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22. Sam Mendes
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.20
> Movie with highest ROI: American Beauty (1999)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 77.7%

“American Beauty,” a film that harpooned American suburban life and culture, was the movie with the highest return on investment for Sam Mendes. The movie was his directorial debut and it earned him an Oscar for Best Director. The British filmmaker went on to helm the James Bond films “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” and his motion picture “1917” set new standards for the depiction of the horrors of World War I.

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21. Bryan Singer
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.32
> Movie with highest ROI: Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 68.6%

After directing the well-received plot-twisting “Usual Suspects” in 1995, Bryan Singer went in the action-movie direction, helming the highly profitable X-Men series and “Superman Returns.” A more recent triumph was his direction of the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

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20. M. Night Shyamalan
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.34
> Movie with highest ROI: The Visit (2015)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 47%

M. Night Shyamalan’s films explore the supernatural with plot twists that surprise audiences. He directed and appeared in the thrillers “The Sixth Sense” and “Signs,” his biggest box-office successes.

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19. Tate Taylor
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.44
> Movie with highest ROI: Ma (2019)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 59.6%

Tate Taylor plumbed the horror and mystery genres with films such as “Ma” and “The Girl on the Train.” Taylor and Octavia Spencer, who worked together on “Ma,” also collaborated on “The Help,” a movie about Black housekeepers in Mississippi in the 1960s, which won Spencer a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

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18. Quentin Tarantino
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$6.78
> Movie with highest ROI: Pulp Fiction (1994)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 8.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 84.4%

Quentin Tarantino has made some of the most provocative and disturbing films of the past 30 years, among them “Reservoir Dogs,” “Django Unchained,” and the Kill Bill movies. His “Pulp Fiction,” a 1994 film noir, was one of the seminal films of the 1990s.

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17. Fede Álvarez
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.51
> Movie with highest ROI: Don’t Breathe (2016)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 63.4%

Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Álvarez‘s home-invasion thriller “Don’t Breathe,” is his highest-rated and most profitable film to date. The film spawned a sequel. He also directed and wrote the screenplay for “Evil Dead.”

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16. Jay Chandrasekhar
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.51
> Movie with highest ROI: Super Troopers (2001)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 26.6%

Jay Chandrasekhar’s films are long on silliness and short on critical appeal, but they resonate with audiences. He’s directed the Super Troopers franchise movies, and the first one holds the highest return on investment. He also directed the reboot of “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

15. Sofia Coppola
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.56
> Movie with highest ROI: Lost in Translation (2003)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.1/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 75.8%

Sofia Coppola became the first American woman to be nominated for a Best Director Oscar, for 2004’s “Lost in Translation,” a film about an intergenerational friendship between characters played by Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson. The film registered a 95% Tomatometer score among Rotten Tomatoes critics.

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14. Chris Columbus
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.56
> Movie with highest ROI: Home Alone (1990)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.1/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 51.5%

After writing screenplays for adventure films such as “The Goonies,” Columbus directed some of the more successful movies in the last 30-plus years, including several of the Harry Potter franchise, the Home Alone films, and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Columbus has either written, produced, or directed 13 movies that have earned more than $100 million at the box office.

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13. Tom McCarthy
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.68
> Movie with highest ROI: The Station Agent (2003)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 88%

Tom McCarthy has won some of the highest Tomatometer score averages of any of the bankable directors on the list. HIs film “The Station Agent,” about the friendship of a little person, a chatty vendor, and an unhappy wife, earned plaudits from critics. McCarthy’s status as director to be reckoned with was cemented with “Spotlight,” the story about the Boston Globe’s investigation into Catholic Church sexual molestation coverup of children, which won for Best Picture in 2016.

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12. David Lowery
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.78
> Movie with highest ROI: A Ghost Story (2017)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 88.8%

David Lowery’s movies hold an 88.8% average Tomatometer score. Contributing to that high score are “A Ghost Story” and “The Old Man & the Gun,” both of which scored 91% or above on the Tomatometer.

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11. Jason Reitman
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$7.98
> Movie with highest ROI: Juno (2007)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.3/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 73.3%

The son of noted director Ivan Reitman, the younger Reitman distinguished himself with the coming-of-age comedy “Juno,” which made a star out of Ellen Page. Reitman followed that with the well-received “”Up in the Air.” His more recent work includes “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” which posted a Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 95%.

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10. Eli Roth
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$9.09
> Movie with highest ROI: Cabin Fever (2002)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 5.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 48%

Profitable horror flicks like “Cabin Fever” and “Hostel” helped vault Eli Roth into the conversation as one of the most bankable directors. He also directed the remake of “Death Wish,” starring Bruce Willis, which found favor with Rotten Tomatoes audiences.

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9. Christopher Landon
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$9.56
> Movie with highest ROI: Happy Death Day (2017)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 67.8%

Dark humor pervades the send-up of slasher movies in “Happy Death Day,” from Christopher Landon. He also wrote and helmed one of the Paranormal Activity franchise films.

8. Steven Spielberg
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$10.60
> Movie with highest ROI: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.8/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 81%

Steven Spielberg is not only one of the greatest directors ever, he also is among the most bankable. The Oscar-winning director has made 12 films that have earned more than $100 million at the box office, including “Jurassic World,” “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Jaws,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” His films have grossed over $10.1 billion worldwide, according to Forbes.

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7. Damien Chazelle
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$12.06
> Movie with highest ROI: La La Land (2016)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 8.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 90.2%

Music has been an influence on Damien Chazelle’s movies, including “Whiplash,” about an aspiring jazz drummer — but none more so than the full-on musical “La La Land.” It was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, and won six, including Best Director for Chazelle.

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6. Tom Hooper
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$12.07
> Movie with highest ROI: The King’s Speech (2010)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.6/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 60.9%

Tom Hooper has carved a niche in directing serious films about serious historical figures, among them television productions about the lives of Queen Elizabeth I and President John Adams. “The King’s Speech,” Hooper’s film about the insecure Prince Albert, the future King George VI, and how he overcame his speech impediment earned a Best Director Academy Award for Hooper and was also named Best Picture.

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5. Jeff Wadlow
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$12.97
> Movie with highest ROI: Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (2018)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.2/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 21.4%

Jeff Wadlow gained a fan in Quentin Tarantino in 2013, after Tarantino saw Wadlow’s teen crime-fighting movie “Kick-Аss 2.” “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare” is Wadlow’s venture into horror.

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4. Kevin Smith
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$21.64
> Movie with highest ROI: Clerks (1994)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.9/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 54.2%

New Jersey native Kevin Smith has found success in movies about teenage angst in the suburbs. The low-budget “Clerks,” with its cast of quirky characters and snappy dialogue, won awards at both the Cannes and Sundance film festivals, and earned critical and box-office acclaim.

Source: Courtesy of Lions Gate Films

3. James Wan
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$29.68
> Movie with highest ROI: Saw (2004)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 7.1/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 64.3%

James Wan is credited with starting the so-called torture porn genre when “Saw” was released in 2004. Wan has directed four movies that have earned more than $100 million, including the horror films “The Nun” and “The Conjuring.”

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2. William Brent Bell
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$36.58
> Movie with highest ROI: The Devil Inside (2012)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 5.4/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 12.9%

Horror and the supernatural have animated William Brent Bell’s directing career. “The Devil Inside” was a surprise hit in 2012 and is his highest-grossing film. Other thrillers on Bell’s list of credits included the creepy “The Boy.”

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Source: Courtesy of Samuel Goldwyn Films and Destination Films

1. Alex Kendrick
> Avg. box office to production budget ratio: +$43.85
> Movie with highest ROI: Facing the Giants (2006)
> Avg. IMDb user rating: 6.7/10
> Avg. Tomatometer score: 34.6%

Alex Kendrick, known for “Facing the Giants,” “War Room,” and “Flywheel,” among other films, doesn’t lead this list in terms of average Tomatometer score or average IMDb user rating. However, his average box-office-to-production-budget ratio of +$43.85 blows away all other directors on the list.

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