Who is the most profitable movie director of all time? Steven Spielberg of course… But who is the second biggest money maker in Hollywood? That question isn’t as easy to answer, is it? I decided to put together a listing of the Top 10 Most Profitable Movie Directors of All Time:
Filmography: Munich, War of the Worlds, The Terminal, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, A.I., Saving Private Ryan, Amistad, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Hook, Always, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire of the Sun, The Color Purple, ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws
Total Domestic Box Office: $3.445 Billion
Per Film Average: $164.1 Million
Filmography: Beowulf, The Polar Express, Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Contact, Forrest Gump, Death Becomes Her, Back to the Future, Back to the Future Part II, Back to the Future Part III, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Romancing the Stone, Used Cars
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.799 Billion
Per Film Average: $150 Million
Filmography: American Graffiti, Star Wars, Star Wars Episode I, Star Wars Episode II, Star Wars Episode III
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.698 Billion
Per Film Average: $340 Million
Filmography: The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man, The Missing, A Beautiful Mind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, EDtv, Ransom, Apollo 13, The Paper, Far and Away, Backdraft, Parenthood, Willow, Gung Ho, Cocoon, Splash, Night Shift
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.606 Billion
Per Film Average: $100.3 Million
Filmography: Rent, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Bicentennial Man, Stepmom, Nine Months, Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, Only The Lonely, Heartbreak Hotel, Adventures in Babysitting
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.567 Billion
Per Film Average: $130.6 Million
Filmography: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Weather Man, The Ring, The Mexican, Mouse Hunt
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.308 Billion
Per Film Average: $187 Million
Filmography: King Kong, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Frighteners
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.268 Billion
Per Film Average: $253.6 Million
Filmography: Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks!, Ed Wood, Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Beetlejuice, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.267 Billion
Per Film Average: $97.4 Million
Filmography: Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Gift, For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, The Quick and the Dead, Army of Darkness, Darkman
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.247 Billion
Per Film Average: $138.5 Million
Filmography: Titanic, True Lies, Terminator 2, The Abyss, Aliens, Terminator
Total Domestic Box Office: $1.147 Billion
Per Film Average: $163.8 Million
Please Note: To simplify things, I only counted/mentioned films that played on over 500 screens.
So what do you notice while looking at this list? What do all these directors have in common?
Six out of the ten directors have helmed a trilogy (Spielberg – Indiana Jones, Zemeckis – Back tot he Future, Lucas – Star Wars, Verbincki – Pirates, Jackson – Lord of the Rings) Sam Raimi actually directed two trilogies (Spider-Man and Evil Dead).
And while Tim Burton and James Cameron have yet to direct a full-on trilogy, both filmmakers directed Part 1 and 2 of a big franchise (Batman/Terminator respectfully). Christopher Columbus has been part of the start of two franchises, Harry Potter and Home Alone. And Spielberg even directed the first two Jurassic Park films, and who knows, he might eventually helm a third film in the series.
Ron Howard is the odd man out. The only one in the bunch yet to direct a sequel (although Angels & Demons is approaching on the horizon).