Here Are The Highest-Grossing Films From 1977 To 2022
Most people who read Billboard have some idea of what the year’s most popular albums and songs were, but they may be less familiar with the year’s most successful films. Thankfully, boxofficemojo.com has all of that data going all the way back to 1977.
What do we learn from looking at the highest-grossing films of each year since Jimmy Carter became president and Elvis Presley died? The extent to which sequels and franchises have come to dominate the market stands out clearly. Only four of the top-grossing movies of the year weren’t part of established franchises (or did not spark a franchise or a reboot of some kind). The Extra-Terrestrial, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ghost, and Titanic are the four films that can be watched on their own.
Star Wars dominates this roundup because it has had six films that opened the year with the most money. The Batman franchise comes in second, with four films debuting at the top of their respective categories. Spider-Man has made it to third place with three films that have all been among the highest grossing of the year.
Only James Cameron and George Lucas have directed three films that ended the year as the best of the year. When it comes to year-end champions, Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Tony Scott, Steven Spielberg, Andrew Stanton, and Robert Zemeckis are all tied for second.
As far as film composers go, John Williams is unrivalled. Ten of the year’s highest grossing movies all had music composed by the legendary composer. A total of four times apiece for Danny Elfman and Alan Silvestri, their scores for their respective films have been named Best Score at the Oscars. (Hans Zimmer will be included in that group if Top Gun: Maverick, for which he collaborated with Harold Faltermeyer and Lady Gaga on the score, wins the year’s top prize at the box office.)
Only Lucas and Williams have worked together on three year-end box office winners. The duos Spielberg and Williams, Robert Zemeckis and Alan Silvestri, Tom Scott and Harold Faltermeyer, James Cameron and John Williams, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman, and Andrew Stanton and Timothy Newman have all worked together on two year-end hits.
With over $664 million in domestic (U.S. and Canada) gross, Top Gun: Maverick is currently leading the pack for all of 2022. Nonetheless, it is far too soon to declare Maverick the highest-grossing film of the year. The follow-ups to the year’s other two biggest hits—Avatar and Black Panther—will both be released later in 2018.
Release date of November 11 has been set for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. On December 16, you can watch Avatar: The Way of Water. If you think that’s too late for a film to have a shot at being the year’s highest grossing, just think back to last year, when a film that was released on December 17 (Spider Man: No Way Home) made enough money in the final two weeks of the year to end up as the year’s highest grossing.
Since 1977, when Annie opened on Broadway, Laverne & Shirley was the most popular TV show, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours topped the Billboard 200, let’s take a look back at the year-by-year top domestic box office performers in the United States and Canada.