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Biggest opening weekend box office winners of all time

  • Biggest opening weekend box office winners of all time

    A movie’s greatness can be measured against a variety of standards. Did it win the praise of critics? Win any gilded statues during awards season? Did it star a shirtless Ryan Gosling? In general, a good unit for measurement is the amount of money that the movie brought in.

    Using data sourced from Box Office Mojo, here are the biggest opening weekend box office winners of all time. Based on this data, it seems the best chance to have a big opening weekend is to release a sequel in a franchise. Of the 50 films on this list, only eight were individual films or the first film in a franchise. Of those eight, none of them are original screenplays: all are based on literary or illustrated characters. Did your favorite make the list?

    RELATED: 100 best films of the 21st century, according to critics

  • #50. Toy Story 3

    Opening weekend gross: $127,945,100

    Share of total revenue: 26.2%

    Opening theaters: 4,028

    Release date: June 18, 2010

    The third installment of this childhood favorite is the only film of the “Toy Story” franchise to appear on this list. Theaters were filled, and tissue boxes emptied, as movie-goers watched what happened after Andy gets ready for college while all but one of his toys get handed off to a daycare center. Buzz Lightyear would be proud: box office-wise, this film definitely went to infinity and beyond.

  • #49. Minions

    Opening weekend gross: $128,202,000

    Share of total revenue: 34.5%

    Opening theaters: 4,301

    Release date: July 10, 2015

    Following “Despicable Me 2” but preceding “Despicable Me 3” is “Minions”—the spin-off that capitalized on the hilarious, eponymous sidekicks in the first movies. The movie functions as a prequel, following the Minions as they attempt to find an evil villain to serve. This opening weekend shows that well-shaped periphery characters can bring in the bucks.

  • #48. X2: X-Men United

    Opening weekend gross: $129,686,000

    Share of total revenue: 39.8%

    Opening theaters: 3,741

    Release date: May 2, 2003

    The second of 11 films in the X-Men franchise so far (including “Deadpool” and “Deadpool 2”), “X2: X-Men United” brought the X-Men together to fight a mutant assassin. The result? Almost $130 million in one weekend, and the promise of a long career for Hugh Jackman’s signature Wolverine abs.

  • #47. Spider-Man 2

    Opening weekend gross: $129,750,100

    Share of total revenue: 23.6%

    Opening theaters: 4,152

    Release date: June 30, 2004

    The second film in the Spider-Man franchise, “Spider-Man 2” had a tremendous opening weekend in 2004. Peter Parker battles scientist-turned-villain Doc Ock—ranked his “biggest opponent” by IGN.

  • #46. Alice in Wonderland (2010)

    Opening weekend gross: $133,479,700

    Share of total revenue: 34.7%

    Opening theaters: 3,728

    Release date: March 5, 2010

    One of the few films on this list that isn’t a part of a franchise, “Alice in Wonderland” follows 19-year-old Alice as she journeys back down the rabbit hole. It was the most profitable of many successful collaborations between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, and garnered widespread acclaim for its fantastical costumes.

  • #45. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

    Opening weekend gross: $133,505,600

    Share of total revenue: 27.1%

    Opening theaters: 4,234

    Release date: June 24, 2009

    The second film in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” franchise, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” was nominated for a barrage of “Sequels that Should Never Have Been Made” and “Worst Movie of the Year” awards, despite an impressive opening weekend. The movie sees Optimus Prime and Bumblebee protecting Sam from the Decepticons. Prime and Bee should have been protecting the film from being panned by critics, as none of the other “Transformer” films would ever open this well again.

  • #44. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

    Opening weekend gross: $134,234,300

    Share of total revenue: 36.1%

    Opening theaters: 4,151

    Release date: Nov. 21, 2014

    The first installment of the third Hunger Games book, “Mockingjay - Part 1” follows Katniss as she leads a rebellion in District 13 and sets off to rescue Peeta. No saving was necessary at the box office, as “Mockingjay: Part 1” grossed a worldwide cumulative $755 million. Who wouldn’t volunteer for that?

  • #43. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

    Opening weekend gross: $137,890,900

    Share of total revenue: 37.5%

    Opening theaters: 3,855

    Release date: June 4, 2004

    The third installment in the franchise, “Prisoner of Azkaban” took the film's scary themes to a new level with Dementors. In this blockbuster, escaped convict Sirius Black is after Harry, who learns more about his own past. It was the only film in the series directed by Alfonso Cuarón.

  • #42. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

    Opening weekend gross: $138,999,600

    Share of total revenue: 33.9%

    Opening theaters: 3,682

    Release date: Nov. 15, 2002

    Following the immense success of the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” finds Harry solving the mystery of whispering walls and petrified Hogwarts residents. Fan favorites Dobby and Moaning Myrtle appear in this film—a big draw for fans of the series.

  • #41. The Matrix Reloaded

    Opening weekend gross: $139,107,500

    Share of total revenue: 32.6%

    Opening theaters: 3,603

    Release date: May 15, 2003

    In this sequel to “The Matrix,” Neo has 72 hours to save Zion from 250,000 machine probes that are coming to destroy it. It took less than 72 hours for “The Matrix Reloaded” to make $139 million. One-part Keanu Reeves and one-part time constraints is a great recipe for a blockbuster film.

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