As the summer movie season (such as it is) rolls on, Boxoffice Pro presents the ten highest-grossing films ever released in July.
Note: this list is ordered by domestic revenue earned during a film’s original theatrical run and does not take into account re-releases, or figures adjusted for inflation.
#1: The Lion King (2019)
Its songs—from “Circle of Life” to “Hakuna Matata” to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”—have become modern classics. Disney’s 1994 animated musical The Lion King earned $312.9M during its original run, just missing the cut on our list of the 10 highest-grossing films ever released in June.
2019’s CGI remake shifted its release back to July, roaring to $543.6M domestically and becoming the top film ever released in that month. It spent 11 weekends in the box office top 10, tied for the most of any film released that year. Overseas it claimed $1.11B for a $1.66B global total, good for seventh place all time.
#2: The Dark Knight
“Why so serious?” 2008 superhero sequel The Dark Knight more than doubled the receipts of predecessor Batman Begins, helped by a higher budget and an Oscar-caiber performance from Heath Ledger as the Joker. The film spent 10 weekends in the top 10, riding like a knight in shining armor to $533.3M domestically.
Adding its $469.7M overseas total, The Dark Knight inched into the ten-digit club with $1.004B globally. Of the 46 films to pass that vaunted threshold, it’s one of just three that earned more than half its receipts domestically, alongside Black Panther and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Speaking of The Dark Knight…
#3: The Dark Knight Rises
2012’s trilogy-capper earned less than predecessor The Dark Knight, but still more than almost any other movie ever made. The film made good on its title by rising to $448.1M domestically. Despite its lower domestic sum, compared to The Dark Knight, its overseas total rose to $632.9M, making its overall global gross a bit higher than its predecessor at $1.08B.
Director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan’s next film Tenet is scheduled for release on July 31, making it one of the first major studio films to hit theaters after they reopen in North America.
#4: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
The highest-grossing of the five Pirates films is 2006’s second installment, which swashbuckled its way to $423.3M. That bested both predecessor The Curse of the Black Pearl and follow-up At World’s End by more than $100M.
At the time, it became only the fifth film ever to cross the ten-digit mark globally, with $642.9M overseas for a $1.07B global total. Of the other Pirates titles, only fourth installment On Stranger Tides also accomplished the feat, though at $1.05B it fell slightly behind Chest.
#5: Spider-Man: Far From Home
Between Spider-Man: Homecoming and Spider-Man: Far From Home, lead actor Tom Holland also appeared in two of the biggest films of all time, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. With the webslinger perhaps never more popular, 2019’s sequel captured $390.5M domestically.
Globally, Far From Home launched the MCU’s Spidey films into ten-digit territory. While Homecoming made $880.2M globally, Far From Home one-upped it with $1.13B, including $741.4M overseas.
The third Spider-Man installment with this version of the character is currently slated for a November 5, 2021 release.
#6: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Of the eight Potter films, none earned more than 2012’s final installment with $381.0M. The decision to split the seventh book in J.K. Rowling’s bestselling series into two films sparked a similar trend among YA book-based franchises, including Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2 from Twilight, Mockingjay Part 1 and 2 from the The Hunger Games, and Allegiant plus the later-scrapped Ascendant from the Divergent franchise.
Globally, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was the only installment to reach ten figures, with $960.5M overseas for a $1.34B global total.
The next film set in the Harry Potter universe is Fantastic Beasts 3, slated for a November 12, 2021 release.
#7: The Secret Life of Pets
2016’s animated comedy The Secret Life of Pets, following the adventures of a group of animals when their owners aren’t sound, remains one of the biggest fully original films of all time. (Meaning it’s not a sequel, prequel, reboot, spinoff, or adaptation.) The film was hardly a secret among audiences, earning $368.4M domestic and $875.5M globally.
2019’s sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2 came in at less than half its predecessor, with $158.9M domestic and $430.1M globally.
Universal Studios Hollywood was mere weeks away from opening their new attraction based on the film on March 27, when the Covid-19 outbreak closed the park.
#8: Despicable Me 2
July 2010’s animated Despicable Me followed Gru, a villain who’s trying to become a good guy. 2013’s sequel earned $368.0M domestic, best among the franchise’s four installments and beating its predecessor by more than $100M.
While it’s the top-performing of the franchise domestically, it ranks third globally with $970.8M, behind Minions with $1.16B and Despicable Me 3 with $1.03B. Which brings us to…
Focusing on the clumsy, bright yellow assistant creatures (and Halloween costume mainstays) from the Despicable Me series, spinoff Minions earned $336.4M domestic. It’s also the biggest of franchise’s four installments globally, at $1.16B.
Minions: The Rise of Gru, the franchise’s fifth installment and second installment in this spinoff, is scheduled for a July 2, 2021 release.
#10: Spider-Man: Homecoming
July 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, the first standalone film featuring Tom Holland as Spider-Man, swung to $334.2M domestic. Along with $546.0M overseas, Homecoming earned $880.2M globally.
The Tobey Maguire-starring Spider-Man trilogy saw the first film earn the most, domestically, with each subsequent installment earning less. Holland’s series is so far experiencing the opposite trajectory, with the second installment out-earning its predecessor both domestically and globally.
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