Top Ten Grossing Movies of the Past Ten Years

The list of the top-ten highest-grossing movies of the past ten years is overwhelmingly dominated by sequels. It seems America loves a familiar story and is willing to pay at the box office to spend a few more hours with their favorite characters. There are, however, some original entries on the list, usually the products of well-known directors or studios.

1. Avatar (2009)– James Cameron’s sci-fi story with a message about protecting indigenous people wowed audiences nationwide. With showings in IMAX and 3-D, the film was a technological breakthrough that combined computer-graphics and live action in ways never before seen on the big screen. 

2. The Avengers (2012)– Marvel Comics and Walt Disney Studies partnered to produce this all-star super hero adventure. Taking advantage of the interest movie-goers already showed for characters such as Iron Man and Captain America, the film combined several well-known comic characters for a new adventure.

3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Pt 2 (2011)– This last installment in the very successful Harry Potter franchise brought to a close the saga that many movie-goers had grown up with. Tying up many of loose ends developed in the prior movies, Deathly Hallows ended with the adult Harry Potter, married to Ron’s sister Ginny, putting his own twelve-year old son on the train to Hogwarts. 

4. Iron Man 3 (2012)– Another sequel, this final act in the Iron Man saga brought to a close the story of Iron Man when Tony Stark ordered the destruction of the Iron Man suits. Directed by Shane Black this installment had a slightly different visual tone than the previous two installments directed by John Favreau.

5. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)– And another sequel. This third installment of the live action film series based on Transformers toys moves the conflict between good and even from earth to the dark side of the moon. 

6. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)– The final installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy sees faithful viewers through, finally, the destruction of the ring and the dawn of the age of men. 

7. Skyfall (2012) –Proving once again that American movie-goers love familiar characters, the latest James Bond adventure cracked the ten in highest-grossing films with a more sensitive look at the title hero. 

8. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) –Yet another film to end a well-loved trilogy, this last Batman film in director Christopher Nolan’s three-part saga ends with Bruce Wayne hanging up his cape and mask and Robin picking up the reigns to continue to protect Gotham from evil. 

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)– The second film in Director Jerry Bruckheimer’s franchise based on a ride at Walt Disney World, this film, starring Johnny Depp as the endearing Jack Sparrow won an Oscar for best visual effects. 

10. Toy Story 3 (2010) – Rounding out the list is yet one more sequel, and one more third in a series, proving, perhaps that three is a magic number. Released in IMAX 3-D with the newest Dolby digital sound, this installment followed the adventures of the beloved toys, Woody, Buzz, the Potato-Heads and more after Andy has gone off to college and they’ve been sent to a daycare center.

Skyler is a freelance writer for and loves finding the best deals in town. 

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