Box Office Top 10: The Highest-Grossing Movies Released in August

Image Courtesy Disney

As the summer movie season (such as it is) rolls on, Boxoffice Pro presents the ten highest-grossing films ever released in August.

Note: this list is ordered by domestic revenue earned during a film’s original theatrical run and does not take into account admissions, re-releases, or figures adjusted for inflation. 

#1: Guardians of the Galaxy

It may not have sounded like a recipe for success: a ’70s music soundtrack and Parks and Recreation co-star Chris Pratt in his first lead role. Not to mention that two of the five main characters are a giant tree and a talking raccoon. Yet Guardians of the Galaxy earned a galactic $333.1 million upon its release in 2014. 

To this day, James Gunn’s superhero movie boasts the highest total-to-opening-weekend multiple (at 3.53x) of any Marvel Cinematic Universe installment released on a Friday, indicating strong word of mouth over time rather than pre-release hype. (Spider-Man: Far From Home technically earned a higher multiple, but its Tuesday release lowered its opening weekend and thus artificially inflated its multiple.)

2017 sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn’t keep the August release date, moving up to May. The characters appeared again in April 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and a third installment is supposedly in the works, though it has not yet officially been announced by Disney.

#2: Suicide Squad

The title ragtag group led by Will Smith’s Deadshot took on Jared Leto’s Joker in this darker take on the superhero genre. Starting with $133.6 million, an August opening weekend record to this day, David Ayer’s 2016 film ultimately earned $325.1 million.

Spinoff Birds of Prey, focusing on Robbie’s character Harley Quinn, ditched the August release date for February 2020, underperforming with only about one-quarter of its predecessor at $84.1 million. (Its earnings were only slightly dampened by the COVID-19 pandemic, as it was already out of the box office top 10 by the time cinemas shut down.)

Sequel The Suicide Squad is scheduled to keep the August spot with an August 6, 2021 release. (Note the word “the” in the title, differentiating it from its predecessor.) 

#3: The Sixth Sense

“I see dead people.” And a lot of people saw Haley Joel Osment see dead people, as M. Night Shyamalan’s 1999 supernatural thriller earned $293.5 million. That made it the second-highest earning film of the year domestically, behind only Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and ahead of such juggernauts as Toy Story 2 and The Matrix. Impressively, Sense would actually be the top film on this list if adjusting for ticket price inflation. 

#4: Signs

Shyamalan notched a second film on this list with his 2002 paranormal thriller. Starring Mel Gibson as a man who notices strange crop circles appear in his family’s fields, the title earned $227.9 million—a promising sign. Shyamalan’s most recent film was 2019’s Glass, which earned $111.0 million. His untitled next project is scheduled for release on July 23, 2021. 

#5: The Bourne Ultimatum

All four Matt Damon “Jason Bourne” films were summer movies, but only 2007’s third installment came out in August. (The order went June, July, August, then back to July.) Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum was also the highest grossing of the four, to the tune of $227.4 million. That beat 2002’s The Bourne Identity with $121.6 million, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy with $176.2 million, and 2016’s Jason Bourne with $162.4 million. 

#6: Rush Hour 2

By far the highest grossing of the three installments in the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker action comedy trilogy was 2001’s second installment; its $226.1 million comes in well ahead of its predecessor’s $141.1 million. Moreover, Rush Hour 2 would be the #3 film on this list if adjusting for ticket price inflation.

After the original film came out in September, Brett Ratner’s sequel moved up a month to August. The third installment came out in August of 2007 but was unable to replicate its predecessor’s financials and earned only $140.1 million.

#7: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [2014]

Based on the hit comic book characters of Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo, and Rafael, 2014’s adaptation from Jonathan Liebesman was hardly in the sewer with $191.2 million. (Although 1990’s original film adaptation of the same name earned less in pure dollars, it would have earned more if adjusting for ticket price inflation.)

2016’s sequel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows ditched August for a June release, earning less than half its predecessor with $82.0 million. 2017’s all-CGI version TMNT went with a March release and earned even less, with $54.1 million.

#8: The Fugitive

Starring Harrison Ford as a man on the run after being falsely accused of murdering his wife and Tommy Lee Jones as the law enforcement official pursuing him, 1993’s thriller ran all the way to $183.8 million. That was good for the #3 film of the year, behind only Jurassic Park and Mrs. Doubtfire. And if adjusting for ticket price inflation, it would have ranked #2 on this list.

#9: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The only one of the three 2010’s Apes films to come out in August was 2011’s first installment, as 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes both came out in July. (As did 2001’s Planet of the Apes, for that matter. 1968’s original Planet of the Apes was released in February.)

Rupert Wyatt’s Rise finished middle of the pack within its trilogy at $176.7 million, falling behind middle installment Dawn ($208.5 million) but ahead of capper War ($146.8 million).

#10: Crazy Rich Asians

Among the most unexpected box office smashes of the past decade, Jon M. Chu’s romantic comedy adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel didn’t necessarily start off with a bang given its modest opening weekend. Riding off word of mouth, the film only declined -6.4 percent in its sophomore frame, one of the mildest drops for a wide release in modern box office history. Then it only eased -11.5 percent in its third frame, again one of the mildest such drops.

At the end of its run, it has amassed a crazy rich $174.5 million. A sequel based on the second novel in Kwan’s trilogy, China Rich Girlfriend, has been rumored but not yet announced by Warner Bros.

Image Courtesy Disney
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