Special Report

The Highest-Grossing Action Movies of All Time

With its fearless heroes (and anti-heroes) and reliance on recurring tropes, modern action movies, one might argue, pick up where classic Westerns left off. Consider 1970s blockbusters like “Star Wars” (later subtitled “Episode IV – A New Hope”) or “Superman,” which introduced new types of epic showdowns and intrepid protagonists while expanding upon the theme of good versus evil. (Can you answer these real Jeopardy! questions about “Star Wars?)

These films gave birth to lucrative franchises, and many others followed. It should come as no surprise that many of the most successful blockbusters of the past five decades have been franchise installments. Examples include everything from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” to “The Matrix Reloaded” to “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Not every title is a critical darling or even a fan favorite, but most have made killings at the box office nevertheless. (The action genre makes a strong showing on our list of the most successful R-rated movies of all time.)

Click here to see the highest-grossing action movies of all time

While the action genre might be cooling off a bit, it remains ubiquitous around the globe. Often touting spectacle over substance, these types of movies make for easy draws both domestically and abroad. Directors such as James Cameron and Ryan Coogler certainly hope the trend continues as they unleash upcoming installments in the respective “Avatar” and “Black Panther” franchises later this year.

To determine the highest-grossing action movies of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on global box office from Opus Data, a product of Nash Information Services. Action films – as defined by genre classification on IMDb, an online movie and TV database owned by Amazon – were ranked based on lifetime global box office, adjusted for inflation. Global box office figures were adjusted for inflation using historical ticket prices from the National Association of Theatre Owners. Ratings on IMDb and audience and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, are current as of October 2022. Director credits come from IMDb.

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

50. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.09 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (751,134 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (769,129 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 88% (77 reviews)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

49. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.12 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (630,265 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (105,994 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 84% (461 reviews)
> Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

48. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.12 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.6/10 (1,091,157 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (749,662 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (83 reviews)
> Directed by: James Cameron

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

47. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.12 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.2/10 (593,501 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (943,425 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 74% (246 reviews)
> Directed by: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

46. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.13 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (486,557 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (50,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (456 reviews)
> Directed by: Jon Watts

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

45. Captain Marvel (2018)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.14 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.8/10 (555,612 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 45% (102,769 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 79% (546 reviews)
> Directed by: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

44. Aquaman (2018)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.15 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.8/10 (470,338 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 73% (25,000 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 65% (412 reviews)
> Directed by: James Wan

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

43. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.17 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (649,828 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (1,151,886 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (274 reviews)
> Directed by: Sam Raimi

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

42. Men in Black (1997)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.17 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (566,880 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (1,049,748 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (91 reviews)
> Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

41. Superman (1978)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.18 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (175,405 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (286,271 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (73 reviews)
> Directed by: Richard Donner

Source: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

40. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.19 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.3/10 (588,232 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 51% (2,265,043 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 63% (261 reviews)
> Directed by: Sam Raimi

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

39. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.21 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.6/10 (527,137 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 54% (200,081 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 33% (277 reviews)
> Directed by: Rob Marshall

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

38. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.21 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (960,289 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (827,431 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (89 reviews)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

37. Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.21 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (787,472 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 66% (33,683,838 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 79% (302 reviews)
> Directed by: George Lucas

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

36. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.23 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.5/10 (417,866 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 51% (652,276 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 53% (81 reviews)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

35. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2013)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.24 billion
> IMDb user rating: 5.6/10 (314,352 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 50% (224,320 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 17% (214 reviews)
> Directed by: Michael Bay

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

34. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.25 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (1,691,212 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (1,213,749 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 87% (374 reviews)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

33. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.25 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.5/10 (577,774 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 81% (2,334,231 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 77% (257 reviews)
> Directed by: David Yates

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

32. Captain America: Civil War (2015)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.25 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (780,717 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 89% (185,642 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (428 reviews)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

31. Incredibles 2 (2017)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.27 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.6/10 (295,596 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 84% (19,037 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (389 reviews)
> Directed by: Brad Bird

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

30. The Dark Knight (2008)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.27 billion
> IMDb user rating: 9.0/10 (2,626,545 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (1,831,566 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (346 reviews)
> Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

29. Skyfall (2012)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.28 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (695,281 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (374,955 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (389 reviews)
> Directed by: Sam Mendes

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

28. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.28 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (649,900 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (2,738,491 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 44% (228 reviews)
> Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

27. Spider-Man (2002)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.30 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.4/10 (812,882 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 67% (34,297,354 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 90% (247 reviews)
> Directed by: Sam Raimi

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

26. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.30 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.2/10 (408,776 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 55% (257,887 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 35% (263 reviews)
> Directed by: Michael Bay

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

25. The Fate of the Furious (2016)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.31 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.6/10 (232,033 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (44,578 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 67% (314 reviews)
> Directed by: F. Gary Gray

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

24. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2017)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.34 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.1/10 (315,726 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 48% (30,820 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 47% (433 reviews)
> Directed by: J.A. Bayona

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment

23. Star Wars Ep. VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.36 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (628,244 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 42% (224,249 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (486 reviews)
> Directed by: Rian Johnson

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

22. Black Panther (2017)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.36 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (753,201 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 79% (88,211 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (528 reviews)
> Directed by: Ryan Coogler

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

21. Star Wars Ep. VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.38 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (1,046,826 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 94% (1,014,641 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 83% (98 reviews)
> Directed by: Richard Marquand

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

20. Iron Man 3 (2012)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.40 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (845,214 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (486,612 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 79% (329 reviews)
> Directed by: Shane Black

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Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

19. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.44 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.8/10 (1,857,612 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (1,355,751 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (235 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

18. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.45 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.8/10 (1,652,112 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 95% (1,341,428 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 95% (256 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

17. Top Gun: Maverick (2020)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.48 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (410,776 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 50000% (99 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 96% (447 reviews)
> Directed by: Joseph Kosinski

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

16. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.49 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (716,872 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 72% (1,847,651 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 53% (228 reviews)
> Directed by: Gore Verbinski

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

15. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.56 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.3/10 (857,246 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (290,702 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 76% (379 reviews)
> Directed by: Joss Whedon

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

14. Independence Day (1996)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.69 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.0/10 (574,769 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 75% (977,835 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 67% (79 reviews)
> Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

13. Furious 7 (2014)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.70 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.1/10 (389,826 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (195,369 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 81% (279 reviews)
> Directed by: James Wan

Source: Courtesy of New Line Cinema

12. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.70 billion
> IMDb user rating: 9.0/10 (1,829,628 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 86% (34,679,773 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (275 reviews)
> Directed by: Peter Jackson

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

11. The Avengers (2011)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.75 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.0/10 (1,382,515 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (1,137,866 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 91% (365 reviews)
> Directed by: Joss Whedon

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

10. Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.86 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.5/10 (801,852 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 59% (1,211,282 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 51% (235 reviews)
> Directed by: George Lucas

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

9. Star Wars Ep. V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.87 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.7/10 (1,282,261 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 97% (1,059,301 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (108 reviews)
> Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

8. Jurassic World (2014)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.87 billion
> IMDb user rating: 6.9/10 (641,158 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 78% (226,798 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 71% (358 reviews)
> Directed by: Colin Trevorrow

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

7. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $1.91 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.3/10 (738,329 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 0% (00 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (420 reviews)
> Directed by: Jon Watts

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

6. Avengers: Infinity War (2017)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $2.09 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (1,064,847 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (61,835 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 85% (488 reviews)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

5. Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $2.24 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (926,366 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 85% (236,831 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (448 reviews)
> Directed by: J.J. Abrams

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Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

4. Jurassic Park (1993)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $2.31 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.2/10 (981,994 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 91% (1,072,490 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 92% (133 reviews)
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

3. Avengers: Endgame (2018)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $2.81 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.4/10 (1,111,239 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 90% (75,958 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 94% (553 reviews)
> Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

2. Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope (1977)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $3.19 billion
> IMDb user rating: 8.6/10 (1,354,898 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 96% (864,033 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 93% (135 reviews)
> Directed by: George Lucas

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1. Avatar (2009)
> Global box office, adjusted for inflation: $3.55 billion
> IMDb user rating: 7.8/10 (1,239,880 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes audience score: 82% (1,383,476 votes)
> Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score: 82% (320 reviews)
> Directed by: James Cameron

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