Success can come from the most surprising places in the box office world. And while the movies we’re about to discuss have their own claims to fame in one way or another, they share a shocking common thread. Believe it or not, these movies made more than $100 million at the domestic box office!
Driving Miss Daisy (1990) - $106.6 mil.
While it was popular enough to become an Academy Award winner for Best Picture in 1990, it was also a bit of a pop culture reference for some time. But the movie actually broke the $100 million ceiling in its run between 1989 and 1990.
Dick Tracy (1991) - $103.7 mil.
In the wake of Batman mania, everyone wanted their comic book blockbuster. Disney was certainly no exception, and tried to strike it rich with two potential four-panel crowd pleasers: Dick Tracy and The Rocketeer. While the latter film has the better pop culture appraisal, Warren Beatty’s vanity project was the one that actually looked like somewhat of a success on paper.
A League Of Their Own (1992) - $107.5 mil.
Culturally, director Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own is an unquestionable hit. However, this Geena Davis-led ensemble picture was actually a box office smash in its own way. Opening in second against Batman Returns, this all-American baseball dramedy made some serious bank, and didn’t need a set of ridiculous movie-based happy meal toys to do it either.
In The Line of Fire (1993) - $102.3 mil.
Clint Eastwood was a box office powerhouse, both as an actor and director. In his days as a dramatic lead, $100 million runs may not have been as surprising for movies like Unforgiven. Well, prepare to be shocked, as Eastwood’s acclaimed western didn’t cross the $100 million mark… but his secret service thriller In the Line of Fire totally did in 1993.
The Flintstones (1994) - $130.5 mil.
Whether it was Jurassic Park stirring up dinosaur mania, or the trend of adapting old TV shows into movies revving up, The Flintstones was a rock solid hit. Though there was only ever one sequel produced, the domestic picture for this John Goodman-starring film was clearly rosy enough to get that follow-up done… six years after the fact.
Pocahontas (1995) - $141.6 mil
Not a lot of people talk about Disney’s Pocahontas, except if it’s to question whether or not the movie’s way of reinterpreting history was a smart move. That wasn’t enough to stop the film from running away with almost $150 million in 1995's box office, sitting behind only Toy Story in terms of the highest grossing animated films of the year.
Ransom (1996) - $136.5 mil.
Mel Gibson was on fire in the ‘90s, and it wasn’t just Lethal Weapon movies pushing him ahead. Case in point: Ransom reunited him with Lethal Weapon 3 co-star Rene Russo, pitted him against Gary Sinise, and saw the whole thing directed by Ron Howard. Apparently that was ‘90s enough to nab a huge windfall that was way more than the bounty that was put on those kidnappers.
George Of The Jungle (1997) - $105.3 mil.
Poor Brendan Fraser’s diet-based memory issues during the production of George of the Jungle are a frightening story to read in hindsight. So knowing that the live-action adaptation of that iconic cartoon was a hit that cracked the $100 million mark is a beautiful fact that honors his dedication. Still, you could bet more people caught this one on VHS when all was said and done.
Deep Impact (1998) - $140.5 mil.
We can sit here all day and argue the Armageddon vs. Deep Impact debate. What can’t be argued is that Michael Bay’s high flying melodrama was the clear winner in terms of box office. That said, director Mimi Leder’s more cerebral and emotional approach to impending asteroid disaster was a pretty solid performer in its own right.
Runaway Bride (1999) - $152.3 mil.
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts will always be remembered for Pretty Woman, which itself was a box office hit. Though their reunion in Runaway Bride wasn’t as huge of a smash, it did rake in some serious cash on the back of the on-screen pair teaming up yet again. Remember when box office hits could still be made on that sort of stunt casting?
Dinosaur (2000) - $137.7 mil
Yes kids, that opening day attraction from Disney’s Animal Kingdom actually was linked to a movie! In fact, some could say that Dinosaur’s $137.7 million domestic box office was the reason why Countdown to Extinction was renamed after this CGI adventure. Think twice before you bet against dinosaurs at the box office.
Spy Kids (2001) - $112.7 mil.
Spy Kids is another one of those franchises that has such a cult following it’s still thought of very fondly to this day. And yet most people wouldn’t have imagined that the first film broke the $100 million barrier upon its 2001 release. But as sure as Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas are one of the most attractive pairs of movie parents, that’s what happened.
Road To Perdition (2002) - $104.5 mil.
When released in 2002, Road To Perdition was a shock for audiences, as Tom Hanks was playing one of his rare anti-heroic roles in his career. Director Sam Mendes’ sophomore directing effort looked like it fell behind by contemporary standards, but it did better than you’d expect in the long run. Kind of amazing for Paul Newman’s final live-action performance, and the first pairing of future James Bond Daniel Craig and his Skyfall director.
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) - $105.8 mil.
Rom-coms used to be severely bankable, and it wasn’t until the modern era that this genre seemed to taper off at the movies. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was one of those hits that kept the party going in the early aughts, as Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey became a team that people loved to see in action. These two are overdue for a rematch if you ask us.
Troy (2004) - $133.4 mil.
Even a movie as “disastrous” as Troy can break $100 million. A massive historical epic that wasn’t received with much warmth, the Brad Pitt-led film was undone by its massive budget. On the plus side, the film that made Pitt Jacob Elordi’s first celebrity crush is probably notable to many a movie fan for that very same landmark.
Chicken Little (2005) - $135.4 mil.
Before purchasing the Pixar brand, Disney’s computer generated efforts did pretty well in an era where the studio was looking to potentially compete with their would-be rival. Chicken Little is one of the movies that seemed to prove that the Mouse House could have made it on its own; as it managed to surpass $100 million domestically. A feat that would certainly not happen with the 2011 debacle Mars Needs Moms.
The Break-Up (2006) - $118.7 mil.
Breaking up is hard to do, but Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston apparently made it work. The Break-Up wasn’t only a hit in the 2006 film market, but a little over half of its impressive $205.7 million haul came from the domestic homefront. At the same time, it looks like that wasn’t enough to even inspire the slightest thought of making The Break-Up 2; which was probably for the best.
Evan Almighty (2007) - $100.5 mil.
A sequel without the original lead is always a risky gamble, even if it’s something like Evan Almighty. That sort of thinking was sadly true with the Steve Carell-led movie just barely missing out on recouping its estimated budget. A lot of which came from the domestic release, which eked past the $100 million mark.
Four Christmases (2008) - $120.1 mil.
Vince Vaughn and Resse Witherspoon are probably a pair you’re surprised you didn’t think of previously. Well, don’t settle back down just yet, as their movie Four Christmases is another surprising entry that pushed past the monetary threshold we’ve set in place. Though, if it was released any earlier than its late November time frame in 2008, we may have had another Surviving Christmas level bomb on our hands.
G-Force (2009) - $119.4 mil.
Walt Disney Pictures may want to consider a legacy-quel for the CGI action-adventure G-Force. Not only is this one of our forgotten movies that won a box office weekend, but it also made more that $100 million domestically. Perhaps a Disney+ follow up is something that should, at the very least, be discussed.
Robin Hood (2010) - $105.3 mil.
Ridley Scott. Russell Crowe. Robin Hood. That sounds like a surefire win, right? Not quite, dear friend, not quite. While this new spin on an old classic jumped over the $100 million bar set for our purposes, the budget range on this movie was so wide that it’s hard to tell how much money was lost exactly.
Super 8 (2011) - $127 mil.
J.J. Abrams’ directing career was on a hot streak with Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek lighting the fuse. While those films and respective sequels kind of overshadow Abrams’ riff on Amblin movies, never forget that Super 8’s domestic grosses alone made the movie a pretty good looking success on paper.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) - $103.9 mil.
Sometimes franchises can make a pretty huge dent, even when losing their leads for the sequel. Brendan Fraser’s character gave way to Dwayne Johnson’s newbie in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island; leaving Josh Hutcherson to play against a new action/adventure heartthrob. Overall, the movie outperformed its predecessor, with a domestic gross that crossed $100 million.
Oz The Great And Powerful (2013) - $234.9 mil.
Michigan taxpayers helped out when it came to the experience that was Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Between the almost $40 million that came from state-based tax breaks, and the domestic grosses on Sam Raimi’s spin on the land of Oz, the financial picture for this flick was quite attractive. But who knows how this one shook out in the end, as studio accounting is rarely totally revealed to the outside world.
Lucy (2014) - $126.7 mil
Lucy was a movie that estimated that Scarlett Johansson, and the rest of humanity, are only using 10% of their brains. In terms of the domestic box office for this super powered action/adventure, its homegrown take blew past that figure when it came to the estimated $40 million budget. The financial success of the movie has officially outlasted its debunked scientific claim.
The Good Dinosaur (2015) - $123.1 mil.
In the history of Disney-Pixar, there have been those movies that stand out as supposed failures in that particular garden of successes. But even though The Good Dinosaur found a rewarding home video release, its domestic picture managed to push past $100 million. It wasn’t enough to make it a long run sleeper success like Pixar's Elemental, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
Ghostbusters (2016) - $128.4 mil.
Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters reboot is a scenario that could still be picked apart for numerous reasons. Its spot as a blip on the radar of the legacy franchise isn’t quite fair, especially when it managed to make almost its entire estimated budget on the shores of its origin. Seriously, go watch Ghostbusters 2016. It deserved better.
Murder On The Orient Express (2017) - $102.8 mil.
By now Kenneth Branagh’s Hercule Poirot movies are a known quantity. But in 2017, Murder on the Orient Express’ sneaky success saw the first of this Agatha Christie sleuth’s resurgence chugging along over several weeks. It was good enough to lead to two sequels, and a fan following that persists.
Mary Poppins Returns (2018) - $172 mil.
Somehow, the record for the longest gap between sequels is the most notable credit that Mary Poppins Returns has to its name. The film’s ability to make almost $200 million domestically, as well as the fact that Emily Blunt was a practically perfect Mary for the modern age, should have aged better. But perhaps time will be kinder to this movie than we thought.
The Upside (2019) - $108.3 mil.
American remakes of foreign films used to be quite the trend, as the buzz around a movie like The Intouchables almost always led to a remake like The Upside. Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston’s star power did quite a number with this one, as it not only crossed $100 million domestically, but that piece of the financial puzzle actually outperformed the international end of things.
Free Guy (2021) - $121.6 mil.
Early in the box office rebound from early pandemic theater closures, Free Guy was a movie that was pretty unpredictable when it came to box office success. Ryan Reynolds’ original comedy with director Shawn Levy pulled it off though, making the world question “premier access” streaming practices that seemed poised to complicate distribution.
The Lost City (2022) - $105.3 mil.
Could star driven rom-coms be back at the box office? The Lost City seems to support that notion, as Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum’s action/adventure romp saw over $100 million roll into its bank on the back of a surprisingly refreshing premise. Now if only we could get a sequel into the pipeline.
Elemental (2023) - $154.4 mil.
Disney-Pixar taught the world a lesson with the release of Elemental: sometimes slow and steady does win the race. Not only did this beautiful animated romance make an impressive domestic haul, it actually broke Disney+ records upon its streaming release.
The domestic box office may be fickle, but when a movie can strike it rich in the US, there’s a chance it’s in for a decent ride. Some of these movies prove that point, while others may still cause you to pause.