Big Surprise: Top Grossing Movies of the Decade Are Basically All Franchise Films


Here’s another list for you to digest as we approach the end of the decade. Jason Kottke recently took a look at the list of highest-grossing films from 2000-2009 courtesy of Wikipedia, and makes the observation that only one movie in the top 20 is based on an original screenplay. The rest of the movies are all adaptations of books or sequels to existing franchises.

Now, it’s pretty easy to jump on this list and whine and moan about how it means there is nothing original in Hollywood anymore. While I agree that there is a problem with studios valuing brand over concept, don’t forget, we are talking about the movies that made the most money here. OF COURSE familiar characters and titles are going to attract more viewers than strange and unfamiliar ones… doesn’t that make sense? A lot of people don’t even see movies at the theatre, so they don’t discover something until it hits TV or DVD. The first installment is the one that introduces the concept, attracts a following and then builds the franchise. Even the first movie from an existing property needs to build an audience — notice that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Spider-Man are the only movies on this list that are the first in their series?

Anyway, I’m not saying it’s good, but it’s certainly not surprising. Unfortunately it’s this trend that has also resulted in the whole toy and board game movie debacle. Maybe we need a few brand-based movies to fail so that people realize that good stories are also important. Check out the top 20 grossing movies of the decade after the jump. What do you think, is it depressing or deserving?

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
3. The Dark Knight
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
6. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
8. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
9. Shrek 2
10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
11. Spider-Man 3
12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
13. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
14. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
15. Finding Nemo
16. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
17. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
18. Spider-Man
19. Shrek the Third
20. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Henrik

    I had no idea Pirates made more than Batman

  • Teo

    surprised to see ice age:dawn of the dinosaurs up there – i didnt know it did so well

  • kyriacos

    surprised that spiderman 2 made less money than both spiderman 1 and 3..
    its like people tent to not go to a movie when they read a good review..

  • Well thats what this decade was all about in terms of mainstream film

  • Niklas

    there is a lot of Harry Potter on that list. Im a little surprised Finding Nemo is Pixars top movie though.

  • Nick D

    Seeing Transformers 2 on here is upsetting.

  • this picture makes it look like harry has quite the dandruff problem

  • Thecowbellhasspoken

    I know prisioner of azkaban still made shit tons of money, but it hurts me to see that’s it’s made the least in the series (and less than crapformers 2) becase it was freakin awesome and imagintive, easily the best potter film to date.

    Also spiderman 2 was the greatest of that series by far, and pirates 3 was god awful, 2 was a fun movie though.

    And while I don’t think money equals quality, but let’s do our best to keep crappy twilight movies off this list.

  • Thecowbellhasspoken

    Wow I didn’t even mention how much money I put into dark knight and batman begins ticket sales!

    It’s quite sad honestly you guys don’t wanna know

  • Chris

    I do admit, this list does have some pretty damn good movies. But I would really be interested in a list that factors in how much the movie cost, because a movie like Paranormal Activity is a major better success than most of these.

  • alex

    this is completely fake
    titanic #1
    Dark Knight #2

  • Sharon

    pretty sure Titanic was made before 2000. Isn’t this a list of movies 2000 – 2009.

  • Hayley

    sorcerer’s stone….not philosophers

  • Goon

    it was only Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, Hayley. Funny though for the movie at any mention of ‘philosopher’ they also did a second take saying ‘sorcerer’ which they used for the US release only.

  • stevie_baby

    Not sure why they changed “Philosopher’s Stone” to “Sorceror” in the US. So pointless.

    Though I am disappointed that Transformers 2 did so well. What a piece of shit.

  • Melissa

    I actually have every movie that’s on this list.

    I always found it interesting that Harry Potter is like the biggest franchise ever yet the first movie Philosopher’s Stone is the highest grossing in the series. Deathly Hallows has a good chance of reaching a billion but so far Part 1 is at 927 million.

    And I agree too that it’s pointless changing Philosopher to Socerer in the US. Philosopher actually sounds better. I live in Ontario so I’ve always called it that anyway.

  • Melissa

    And I agree with another comment that mentioned that Prisoner of Azkaban made the least in the series. I’m actually disappointed with that cause it’s my favorite in the whole franchise. It’s such a great movie, I love the dark image that’s set in it.