Box Office: Highest-Earning Summer Releases Since 2000

1:34 PM 7/1/2016

by Natalie Stone

THR examines the films that came out on top at the worldwide box office.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Beginning with the first Friday in May through Labor Day weekend in August, Hollywood studios compete in a fierce, multi-billion dollar race to see which movie will emerge on top of the summer box office.

Loyalty is a common theme, explaining why studios scramble to build franchises. Installments in the Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter franchises each made the list twice (factoring in sequels) over the past 16 summers, beginning in 2000.

The top summer earner to date is Jurassic World, not accounting for inflation. The Universal reboot grossed $1.670 globally following its release in June 2015 and presently ranks as the fourth top-grossing title of all time among any movie after Avatar ($2.788 billion), Titanic ($2.187 billion) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.068 billion), again not accounting for inflation. (All three of the latter movies opened outside of summer.)

So far this summer, Marvel and Disney's Captain America: Civil War is the victor with worldwide earnings of $1.148 billion. The other big player is fellow Disney release Finding Dory, which crossed $300 million domestically in its first 12 days, a record for an animated film. Civil War is likely to win the summer 2016 crown, but don't entirely rule out Dory.

Below is every top-earning summer release since 2000, according to Box Office Mojo (grosses were not adjusted for inflation).

  • 2000: Mission: Impossible II

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 24, 2000
    Studio: Paramount

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $215,409,889
    Foreign: $330,978,216
    Worldwide: $546,388,105

    The film beat out Gladiator ($457 million worldwide) and Dinosaur ($349 million worldwide).

  • 2001: Shrek

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 16, 2001
    Studio: Dreamworks

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $267,665,011
    Foreign: $216,744,207
    Worldwide: $484,409,218

    The film beat out Pearl Harbor ($449 million worldwide) and The Mummy Returns ($433 million worldwide).

  • 2002: Spider-Man

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 3, 2002
    Studio: Sony/Columbia

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $403,706,375
    Foreign: $418,002,176
    Worldwide: $821,708,551

    The film beat out Star Wars Episode II — Attack of the Clones ($649 million worldwide) and Men in Black II ($441 million worldwide).

     

  • 2003: Finding Nemo

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 30, 2003
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $380,843,261
    Foreign: $555,900,000
    Worldwide: $936,743,261

    The film beat out The Matrix Reloaded ($742 million worldwide) and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ($654 million worldwide).

     

  • 2004: Shrek 2

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 19, 2004
    Studio: Dreamworks

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $441,226,247
    Foreign: $478,612,511
    Worldwide: $919,838,758

    The film beat out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban ($796 million worldwide) and Spider-Man 2 ($783 million worldwide).

  • 2005: Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 19, 2005
    Studio: Fox

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $380,270,577
    Foreign: $468,484,191
    Worldwide: $848,754,768  

    The film beat out War of the Worlds ($591 million worldwide) and Madagascar ($532 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: July 7, 2006
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $423,315,812
    Foreign: $642,863,913
    Worldwide: $1,066,179,725

    The film beat out The Da Vinci Code ($758 million worldwide) and Cars ($461 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2007: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 25, 2007
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $309,420,425
    Foreign: $654,000,000
    Worldwide: $963,420,425

    The film beat out Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($939 million worldwide) and Spider-Man 3 ($890 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2008: The Dark Knight

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: July 18, 2008
    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $534,858,444
    Foreign: $469,700,000
    Worldwide: $1,004,558,444

    The film beat out Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($786 million worldwide) and Kung Fu Panda ($631 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2009: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    Worldwide gross: $934M

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: July 15, 2009
    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $301,959,197
    Foreign: $632,457,290
    Worldwide: $934,416,487

    The film beat out Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs ($886 million worldwide) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($836 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2010: Toy Story 3

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: June 18, 2010
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $415,004,880
    Foreign: $648,167,031
    Worldwide: $1,063,171,911

    The film beat out Inception ($825 million worldwide) and Shrek Forever After ($752 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: July 15, 2011
    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $381,011,219
    Foreign: $960,500,000
    Worldwide: $1,341,511,219  

    The film beat out Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($1.1 billion worldwide) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($1 billion worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2012: Marvel’s The Avengers

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 4, 2012
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $$623,357,910
    Foreign: $896,200,000
    Worldwide: $1,519,557,910

    The film beat out The Dark Knight Rises ($1 billion worldwide) and Ice Age: Continental Drift ($877 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2013: Iron Man 3

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: May 3, 2013
    Studio: Disney

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $409,013,994
    Foreign: $806,426,000
    Worldwide: $1,215,439,994

    The film beat out Despicable Me ($970 million worldwide) and Fast & Furious 6 ($788 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2014: Transformers: Age of Extinction

    Courtesy of Photofest

    Release date: June 27, 2014
    Studio: Paramount

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $245,439,076
    Foreign: $858,614,996
    Worldwide: $1,104,054,072

    The film beat out Guardians of the Galaxy ($773 million worldwide) and Maleficent ($758 million worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

  • 2015: Jurassic World

    Courtesy of Universal

    Release date: June 12, 2015
    Studio: Universal

    Domestic gross (not adjusted): $652,270,625
    Foreign: $1,018,130,012
    Worldwide: $1,670,400,637

    The film beat out Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.4 billion worldwide) and Minions ($1.15 billion worldwide).

    Read THR's review.

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