Appealing to fans of all ages, action movies entertain with larger-than-life stunts and mind-blowing special effects not seen anywhere else. They typically require a massive production budget, but often pay it back several times over with enormous box-office earnings.
With the exception of one film, all of the most successful action movies over the past 10 years have been part of a larger franchise — such as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the “Fast & Furious” saga. This long-running trend spans decades, dating back to at least the first “Batman” in 1943.
Over the past decade, there have only been two years — 2010 and 2020 — where action movies didn’t gross more than $2 billion at box offices domestically, according to The Numbers. Looking back even further, there have only been three years — 1998, 1999 and 2020 — since 1995 where this genre didn’t gross at least $1 billion per year at domestic box offices.
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Simply put, action movies mean big money for the entertainment industry. Here’s a look at the 10 most successful films in this genre over the past 10 years.
Last updated: Oct. 19, 2021
‘Iron Man 3,’ 2013
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.22 billion
When terrorist The Mandarin destroys Tony Stark’s world, he sets out on a quest to rebuild and seek vengeance. Starring Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow, “Iron Man 3” was shown in 4,253 theaters domestically, averaging a 6.2-week run in each.
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‘The Fate of the Furious,’ 2017
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.24 billion
In “The Fate of the Furious,” the crew is tested like never before when Dominic Toretto is seduced by a mysterious woman who brings him into a dark and dangerous world. Featuring a star-studded cast led by Vin Diesel, Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson, the film earned $125 million during its first week in theaters.
‘Jurassic Word: Fallen Kingdom,’ 2018
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.31 billion
When the dormant volcano on the island erupts, Owen and Claire embark on a mission to save the remaining dinosaurs. Starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” grossed seven times its $170 million production budget at box offices worldwide.
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‘Black Panther,’ 2018
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.34 billion
T’Challa, heir to Wakanda, steps up to lead his kingdom to a new future, but must first deal with a challenger from the past. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o, “Black Panther” is the all-time highest-grossing film over George Washington’s birthday weekend, bringing in $202 million at domestic box offices over the three-day holiday weekend.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron,’ 2015
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.40 billion
Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, but things go terribly wrong in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” The film, starring Robert Downey Jr., scored the highest-grossing May Day of all time at domestic box offices, grossing $84.4 million on the first day of the month.
‘The Avengers,’ 2012
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.52 billion
Earth’s top superheroes are forced to come together and start fighting as a team to save humanity from Loki and his alien army. Featuring a star-studded cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, “The Avengers” is the all-time highest-grossing film on a May weekend at domestic box offices, earning $207.4 million the weekend it was released.
‘Furious 7,’ 2015
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.52 billion
Starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, Deckard Shaw is out for revenge on Dominic Toretto and his family in the name of his comatose brother. “Furious 7” grossed $147.2 million domestically during its opening weekend.
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‘Jurassic World,’ 2015
- Worldwide box-office gross: $1.70 billion
Built on the site of the original Jurassic Park, a new theme park creates genetically modified hybrid dinosaur the Indominus Rex, that escapes and embarks on a killing spree. “Jurassic World” — starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard — holds the title for all-time highest-grossing weekend at domestic box offices for a live-action film, earning $208.8 million its first weekend in theaters.
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‘Avengers: Infinity War,’ 2018
- Worldwide box-office gross: $2.04 billion
The Avengers and their allies must sacrifice everything to stop Thanos from destroying the world. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, “Avengers: Infinity War” grossed $257.7 million domestically during its opening weekend.
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‘Avengers: Endgame,’ 2019
- Worldwide box-office gross: $2.80 billion
“Avengers: Infinity War” left the universe in ruins, so the Avengers unite once more to undo the devastation caused by Thanos and reestablish a sense of normal. Featuring a starry cast — including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo — “Avengers: Endgame” is the highest-grossing film of all-time at box offices worldwide.
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All financial information was sourced from The Numbers.