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Sci-Fi Success: The Highest Grossing Films

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Success in filmmaking is subjective, but sales are a good place to start. Financial returns reflect public interest in a film, and high earnings give producers the incentive to make more movies like it. Revenues are thus an important metric of success for science fiction films.
Science fiction is any work exploring the possibilities of science, space travel, time travel, or alternative lifeforms. Many films combine sci-fi with other genres. Superhero films, for example, usually also qualify as science fiction, especially when the protagonist’s powers come from technology or scientific enhancements. The following movies are, adjusted for inflation, the highest-earning sci-fi films.

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20. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)- $474,599,567

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staticflikr.com

This film shows Batman’s final battle to save Gotham.

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19. Back to the Future (1985)- $486,655,934

vimeocdn.com

vimeocdn.com

This portrays a time-traveling adventure and the paradoxes it unleashes.

18. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)- $500,106,226

Wikimedia.org

Wikimedia.org

This movie shows Anakin Skywalker’s final days before becoming Darth Vader.

17. Spider-Man 2 (2004)- $507,054,974

youtube.com

youtube.com

A tale of love, power, and science gone wrong, this film follows Spider-Man’s continuing adventures.

16. Batman (1989)- $530,707,421

Wikimedia.org

Wikimedia.org

This film introduced Batman to the big screen, showing his battle with the Joker.

15. Ghostbusters (1984)- $576,147,288

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imgur.com

“Ghostbusters” explores the rise of four scientists who defend humanity from ghosts.

14. Independence Day (1996)- $583,938,193

youtube.com

youtube.com

This movie shows humanity’s last-ditch effort to save the planet from an alien armada.

13. Spider-Man (2002)- $585,756,409

youtube.com

youtube.com

“Spider-Man” describes the origin of the titular character and his nemesis, the Green Goblin.

12. The Dark Knight (2008)- $626,080,555

deviantart.net

deviantart.net

This film follows Batman in a high-tech fight against the Joker.

11. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)- $627,524,656

streetfoodcinema.com

streetfoodcinema.com

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” portrays a lineman desperate to contact an alien race.

10. Jurassic World (2015)- $652,198,010

jurassicworld.com

jurassicworld.com

This film explores the risks of genetic engineering through the lens of a dinosaur exhibit gone out of control.

9. The Avengers (2012)- $660,081,224

mentalfloss.com

mentalfloss.com

This film brings together a team of superheroes to protect the earth from aliens.

8. Jurassic Park (1993)- $760,802,636

schmoesknow.com

schmoesknow.com

The tale of a science expedient gone wrong, “Jurassic Park” pits humans against dinosaurs.

7. Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999)- $761,329,663

wikia.net

wikia.com

“The Phantom Menace” introduces Anakin Skywalker, the boy who will one day become Darth Vader.

6. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)- $784,006,776

wikia.com

wikia.com

“Return of the Jedi” displays the final battle between the Rebels and the Empire.

5. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)- $814,319,243

movieboozer.com

movieboozer.com

This film follows the Rebels in their attempt to escape a relentless Empire.

4. Avatar (2009)- $832,120,706

flipboard.com

flipboard.com

This film tells of an alien tribe that defends their planet from a human mining corporation.

3. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)- $936,662,225

denofgeeks.com

denofgeeks.com

“The Force Awakens” follows a renewed attempt to save the galaxy from the Dark Side of the Force.

2. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982)- $1,133,175,867

cnbc.com

cnbc.com

1. Star Wars Episode IV- A New Hope (1977) — $1,385,311,97

inverse.com

inverse.com

The film that started it all, “A New Hope” introduced Jedi, the Force, Darth Vader, and the Empire, paving the way for one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

Superman (1978)- $460,765,735

blogspot.com

blogspot.com

This film tells of an alien raised on earth who possesses extraordinary power.

Men in Black (1997)- $460,416,977

mindreels.com

mindreels.com

This film introduces the Men in Black, government agents who protect the earth from aliens.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)- $459,005,868

youtube.com

youtube.com

In this film, the Avengers battle and a self-aware robot, Ultron.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)- $451,973,742

solarmovie.com

solarmovie.com

The human-friendly Autobots resist the evil Decepticons in this sci-fi thriller.

 

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)- $450,775,367

family-flix.com

family-flix.com

This film follows Anakin Skywalker as he moves toward the Dark Side of the Force.

Iron Man 3 (2013)- $424,084,233

comicsalliance.com

comicsalliance.com

Genius inventor Tony Stark takes down genetically-enhanced terrorists in this Marvel Comics adaptation.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)- $420,740,887

wikia.com

wikia.com

This film portrays a conflict between humans stranded on a dinosaur-infested island.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)- $412,347,448

youtube.com

youtube.com

This film follows Spider-Man in his battle for love, success, and morality.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)- $408,084,349

staticflikr.com

staticflikr.com

This film examines the Avengers’ first great ideological schism.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)- $404,196,961

youtube.com

youtube.com

This movie shows the battle between two futuristic robots, one who protects humanity and the other dead-set on destroying it.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)- $393,614,858

staticflikr.com

staticflikr.com

This film follows the continuing war between humans and their AI oppressors.

Transformers (2007)- $391,169,383

mrmoviefilmblog.com

mrmoviefilmblog.com

This movie describes the first encounter between humanity and the Transformer battle-bots.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)- $374,609,364

vimeocdn.com

vimeocdn.com

“Dark of the Moon” describes the battle between robot factions for technological supremacy.

Iron Man (2008)- $374,051,130

staticflikr.com

staticflikr.com

“Iron Man” portrays the rise of Tony Stark, a genius businessman-turned high-tech superhero.

Deadpool (2016)- $363,070,709

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staticflikr.com

This film follows Deadpool, a wise-cracking mutant superhero who makes his own rules.

Armageddon (1998)- $362,324,957

quotesgram.com

quotesgram.com

“Armageddon” describes humanity’s effort to avoid an asteroid apocalypse.

Batman Forever (1995)- $356,639,597

hollywoodreporter.com

hollywoodreporter.com

In this film, Batman battles comic-book nemeses Two-Face and the Riddler.

Signs (2002)- $330,754,439

moviequotesandmore.com

moviequotesandmore.com

Humans fend off alien invaders in this sci-fi horror adventure.

Inception (2010)- $312,600,38

slantmagazine.com

slantmagazine.com

This heist film describes high-tech specialists who plant ideas in people’s dreams.

I Am Legend (2007)- $311,582,688

youtube.com

youtube.com

This film follows a devoted scientist trying to save humanity in post-apocalyptic New York.