The highest-grossing films of the 2000s

The 2000s truly broke the mould for cinema. Huge records were broken by visionary films that would change the game forever. But how much money did they rake in? We got our calculator out to find the highest-grossing films of the 2000s!


15) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Box office: approx. £659 million

If you hadn’t heard of Peter Jackson before 2001, you certainly would have once the first instalment of The Lord of the Rings epics was released. Jackson secured the rights to the Tolkien’s work in 1997 with The Fellowship of the Ring being released four years later. The film featured an all-star cast including Christopher Lee, Sir Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler and Elijah Wood. The film is set in Middle Earth and follows hobbit Frodo as he embarks on a quest to destroy the all-powerful One Ring. The budget was set at $93 million but at the box office, LOTR took in an astonishing £659 million.


14) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Box office: approx. £665 million

J. K. Rowling’s wizarding creation Harry Potter is one of the best-selling book series of all-time and the movies are no different! The second instalment of the Harry Potter series, The Chamber of Secrets is just one of the films to feature in this list. Harry is back with his muggle family the Dursleys for summer when he meets a house-elf named Dobby. Dobby tries to warn Harry against going back to Hogwarts, but Harry ignores this request and when he’s back at school, strange things start happening. Released in November 2002, The Chamber of Secrets brought in £665 million at the box office.


13) Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Box office: approx. £671 million

The third instalment of the Ice Age trilogy is the highest-grossing in the series. Dawn of the Dinosaurs was released in 2009, three years after The Meltdown. Ellie and Manny, the wolly mammoths, are expecting their first baby, sending Manny into a panic to have everything perfect before the little one arrives. Sid the ground sloth decides he should start his own family, adopting three eggs he believes are abandoned that hatch into baby Tyrannosaurus Rexs. It lands Sid in trouble and the herd have to rescue him. With £671 million taken in at the box office, Dawn of the Dinosaurs earned almost ten times its budget of £68 million!


12) Spider-Man 3

Box office: approx. £674 million

The third and final instalment of the Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man series is the highest-grossing of the lot. Both Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst reprise their roles as Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson respectively, and when we meet the two in this film, things are going better than ever for them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stay that way as Spider-Man has tougher villains to defeat, including his former best friend Harry Osbourn who blames him for the death of his father. Spider-Man 3 has a huge budget of $258 million but it made that back and then some – taking in £674 million at the box office.


11) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Box office: approx. £678 million

The fourth book in the Harry Potter series was adapted and given a theatrical release in 2005. It’s Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts, and with the Tri-Wizard tournament now open, Harry’s a bit too young to compete. But the Goblet of Fire reads out his name and it cannot be undone. The Quidditch World Cup takes place and Voldemort’s Death Eaters are gaining strength – bad news for our hero Harry. The Goblet of Fire was a record breaker; it was the highest-grossing film of 2005 and at the time, the eighth highest-grossing film of all-time. It took in an amazing £678 million in the box office worldwide.


10) Shrek 2

Box office: approx. £696 million

Who knew a green ogre could capture our hearts? Shrek did so when Shrek 2 came out, we flocked in droves on see it. Following on from Shrek’s rescue of Princess Fiona, they travel to Far, Far Away to meet her parents. Things turn sour when the King learns Shrek is an ogre and Prince Charming sets his sights on marrying Fiona himself. The film is DreamWorks most successful film to date and the highest-grossing film in the Shrek franchise, taking in £696 million worldwide.


9) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Box office: approx. £701 million

The second film in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkein’s epic The Lord of the Rings series was released just one year after The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo and the Fellowship are continuing their quest to destroy the One Ring. Frodo and Sam come across the grotesque creature Gollum who is consumed with the ring’s power. They move closer to Mordor whilst the divided fellowship take a stand against Saruman, Sauron’s new ally. The War of the Ring had the world heading towards theatres as it took in £701 million at the box office.


8) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Box office: approx. £707 million

As we’ve seen, Harry Potter is extremely popular and the sixth instalment is the eighth highest-grossing film of the 2000s. Harry Potter finds a book marked as property of the half-blood prince when in his sixth year at Hogwarts and learns about Lord Voldemort’s dark past. Harry takes private lessons with Professor Dumbledore to find out what Voldemort’s weakness might be. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the second highest-grossing film of 2009 with a total gross of £707 million worldwide.


7) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Box office: approx. £712 million

Directed by David Yates, the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, sees Harry returning to Hogwarts for his fifth year. There is little belief of Harry and Dumbledore’s claims that Lord Voldemort is really back. The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Umbridge, won’t teach defensive spells so Harry and his friends decide to take matters into their own hands, teaching themselves magic to defeat evil. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released in July 2007 and took in £712 million in the box office.


6) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Box office: approx. £729 million

The third Pirates of the Caribbean film, At World’s End, was the most expensive film ever made upon its release with a production budget of over £227 million. Jack Sparrow needs to be rescued from the land of the dead so Captain Barbossa, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must sail off the edge of the map to find him ahead of a decisive battle. Despite the huge budget, the film was a commercial success with £729 million earned at the box office.


5) Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Box office: approx. £737 million

Our theatrical introduction to Harry Potter is the most successful in terms of box office figures. On his eleventh birthday, Harry Potter learns that his life is not quite what it seems. Having been raised by his insufferable aunt and uncle, he is visited by a giant named Hagrid who informs Harry that he’s actually a wizard. We go through Harry’s first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as he adjusts to his new life. The film rights were purchased in 1999 by Warner Bros., with The Philosopher’s Stone being released in 2001. It was the highest-grossing film of the year, taking in £737 million at the box office.


4) The Dark Knight

Box office: approx. £798 million

One of the most critically acclaimed films of the last decade and arguably Christopher Nolan’s finest hour as a director, The Dark Knight was the highest-grossing film of 2008. District Attorney Harvey Dent tries to eradicate criminal activity from Gotham City but he didn’t count on the Joker, who wreaks havoc on the city. Cinemagoers were in awe of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker who would posthumously receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The Dark Knight brought in £798 million at the box office.


3) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Box office: approx. £807 million

Following the success of the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, the sequel Dead Man’s Chest was released in 2006. Captain Jack Sparrow owes a blood debt to the infamous Davy Jones; Jack must find a way out of it or be damned for all time. Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner will be sentenced to death unless Will can get Lord Cutler Beckett Jack’s compass. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was the highest-grossing film of 2006, taking in £807 million and held the record of the highest-grossing film released by Walt Disney Studios for almost four years – losing its spot to Toy Story 3 in 2010.


2) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Box office: approx. £848 million

The final instalment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was the most successful in terms of box office numbers. The Return of the King sees the final confrontation between good and evil as Sam and Frodo try to destroy the one ring. Gandalf and Aragorn must lead the World of Men against Sauron’s army. Closing the door on the epic trilogy saw huge interest in the film, earning over £848 million at the box office and becoming the highest-grossing film released by New Line Cinema. You won’t be surprised to learn it was the highest-grossing film of 2003.


1) Avatar

Box office: approx. £1.5 billion

The rest gave it a good go, but no film in the 2000s has even come close to touching Avatar’s outstanding box office numbers. James Cameron is the mastermind behind Avatar, introducing us to the distant world of Pandora. Jake Sully is brought to Pandora to gather intel and attempt to infiltrate the Na’vi people who inhabit the world, with the use of an ‘avatar’ identity. The film was a huge commercial success; grossing £1.5 billion and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects.


Here are the highest-grossing films of the 2000s

  1. Avatar – £1.5 billion
  2. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – £848 million
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – £807 million
  4. The Dark Knight – £798 million
  5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – £737 million
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – £729 million
  7. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – £712 million
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – £707 million
  9. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – £701 million
  10. Shrek 2 – £696 million
  11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – £678 million
  12. Spider-Man 3 – £674 million
  13. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – £671 million
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – £665 million
  15. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – £659 million

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