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?
#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.
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.2018 All rights reserved.