Special Report

The Biggest Films Americans Actually Went to See at Movie Theaters in 2021

Movies make money in several ways, including selling branded products and TV broadcast and streaming rights. Selling rights has been on the rise in recent years, and especially in 2020 and 2021 as many movie theaters were closed. After a long pause, though, movie fans seemed eager to get back in front of the big screen.

To identify the movies Americans actually came out to the theater to see in 2021, 24/7 Tempo reviewed box office data from The Numbers, a film industry site owned and operated by Nash Information Services, LLC. Films released in 2021 were ranked based on total domestic box office as of Dec. 19, 2021. Supplemental data on worldwide box office and production budget also came from The Numbers. Data on user rating and number of user votes came from the Internet Movie Database.

It seems that in 2021, similar to previous years, movie goers flocked to theaters to see superheroes save the world. Franchise films — especially in the superhero genre – continue to be among the highest-grossing movies of the 21st century. These are the biggest box office hits since 2000.

At the beginning of this year, it was hard to imagine how much the moviegoing experience would change in the coming months. Some studios shifted to a streaming-only release strategy, and anticipated blockbusters, including the latest installment of James Bond, were rescheduled. This year saw many hybrid releases — these are the best comedies to stream right now.

Click here for the biggest movies Americans came out to the theater to see