An opening weekend can make or break a film and often dictates whether or not it will be profitable for the studio that produced it. With Avengers: Infinity War exceeding expectations and shattering box office records, there’s no better time to look at some of the other films that have had record-setting opening weekends at the box office.
Unsurprisingly, comic book movies dominate the list and 9 of the 15 films featured are properties that are owned by Disney proving that their acquisitions of the Marvel and Star Wars franchises were a smart move for the media giant.
Without further ado, here is Goliath’s list of The 15 Biggest Box Office Opening Weekends Of All Time.
15. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Opening Weekend: $158,074,286
The second installment in the Hunger Games series, Catching Fire takes place months after the first film as we catch up with Katniss Everdeen and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark as they return home after winning the annual Hunger Games. The film received positive reviews and is generally seen as an improvement over the first, with Jennifer Lawrence being praised for her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen.
The film had an impressive opening weekend, earning $158 million at the domestic box office and crushing the competition, with Thor: The Dark World coming in a distant second with $14 million (to be fair, that film was in its third weekend). The Hunger Games: Catching Fire would go on to earn $865 million at the worldwide box office on an estimated $140 million budget.
14. The Dark Knight (2008)
Opening Weekend: $158,411,483
The Dark Knight is the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and a sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins. The film sees Christian Bale reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman and features an outstanding performance from Heath Ledger as The Joker. The Dark Knight is now widely considered not just the best Batman film, but one of the best superhero films ever.
Released in the summer of 2008, The Dark Knight had an impressive opening weekend, beating the closest competition, Mama Mia!, by $130 million. The film cost an estimated $185 million to produce and went on to earn over $1 billion worldwide, making it the most successful superhero film to date.
13. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Opening Weekend: $160,887,295
Directed, produced and co-written by Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises is the third and final film in the Dark Knight Trilogy. Released in July 2012, The Dark Knight Rises would become the most financially successful film in the trilogy powered by a strong opening weekend, where it earned $160 million at the domestic box office.
The film features Christian Bale reprising the lead role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, as well as a returning cast of Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Gary Oldman as James Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. The Dark Knight Rises picks things up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with the mercenary Bane forces an older Bruce Wayne to resume his role as Batman and save Gotham City from nuclear destruction. The film was well-received by critics and although it wasn’t quite as good as its predecessor, it was viewed as a proper send-off for the series.
12. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)
Opening Weekend: $166,007,347
Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice hit theaters in March 2016 and was generally panned by critics and moviegoers alike. The film got off to a great start with an encouraging $166 million opening weekend, but experienced one of the greatest declines in box office history, making around $50 million in the second weekend of its release. It seems that the excitement of fans being able to see two of the biggest superheroes in pop culture go head-to-head quickly dissipated after a flood of negative reviews hit.
Critics felt that the film lacked the proper tone, with the screenplay and pacing in particular being sticking points, though it did receive some praise for its visual style and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of an older Bruce Wayne/Batman. Produced with an estimated budget of $300 million, the film would go on to earn an impressive $874 million at the global box office, but far short of what Warner Bros. had anticipated.
11. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)
Opening Weekend: $169,189,427
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the eighth and final installment in the Harry Potter film series based on J.K. Rowling’s highly popular fantasy novels . The film continues the plotline of Harry Potter’s quest to find and destroy Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes in order to stop him once and for all, and wrap up the long-running franchise. The film was well-received by critics and fans, and would go on to receive several award nominations at the Academy Awards.
The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a massive financial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 2011 as well as the highest-grossing Harry Potter film. With an opening weekend of nearly $170 million at the domestic box office, the film beat out the likes of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon ($21,328,545) and Horrible Bosses ($17,777,464).
10. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Opening Weekend: $174,144,585
Iron Man 3 is the third film in the Iron Man franchise that features Robert Downey Jr. in the title role as billionaire genius Tony Stark a.k.a Iron Man. Iron Man 3 picks up after the events of the first Avengers film and follows Tony Stark as he deals with post-traumatic stress disorder in the aftermath of the mass destruction of New York City. While Iron Man 3 has proven to be a divisive entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is now the highest-grossing film in the franchise with a $1.2 billion worldwide box office take.
Iron Man 3 was the second-highest-grossing film of 2013, compelled by a strong opening weekend of $174,144,585 at the domestic box office. The film was able to beat out the likes of Pain and Gain, 42, and Oblivion all of which failed to surpass the $8 million mark on that particular weekend.
9. Beauty And The Beast (2017)
Opening Weekend: $174,750,616
Beauty And The Beast is a romantic musical film starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the lead roles. A remake of the 1991 Disney animated film of the same name, which was itself an adaptation of an eighteenth-century fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast debuted on February 23, 2017, and received generally favorable reviews from critics, with many praising Watson and Stevens’s performances as well as the ensemble cast, visual style, and musical score.
The film grossed over $1.2 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing live-action musical film of all time, and the second highest-grossing film of 2017. Beauty And The Beast had an impressive opening weekend, with nearly $175 million domestically beating out Kong: Skull Island, Logan, and Get Out.
8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Opening Weekend: $179,139,142
Captain America: Civil War is the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and the thirteenth film in the highly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film follows Captain America and the rest of the Avengers as a disagreement over international oversight fractures the group into opposing sides—one led by Steve Rogers and the other by Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Like most MCU films, Civil War was well-received and would go on to earn nearly $180 million in its opening weekend, coming out on top of films like Disney’s live adaptation of The Jungle Book. Captain America: Civil War was produced on an estimated $250 million budget and earned a total of $1.15 billion at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing film of 2016.
7. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Opening Weekend: $191,271,109
Written and directed by Joss Whedon, Avengers: Age of Ultron was released in theaters on May 1, 2015. The sequel to 2012’s The Avengers, the story picks up after the events of the first film as the team battles Ultron, an artificial intelligence obsessed with causing human extinction. The film returned the star-studded cast from the first film that included the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo.
A critical and financial success, the film would go on to earn over $1.4 billion worldwide, making it the seventh highest-grossing film of all time, yet just the fourth highest of 2015 — what a year! Avengers: Age of Ultron had a huge opening weekend, to the tune of $191,271,109 beating out the likes of Furious 7.
6. Black Panther (2018)
Opening Weekend: $202,003,951
Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Disney, Black Panther made its long-awaited theatrical debut on February 16, 2018. The film marks the eighteenth release in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), coming less than three months prior to Marvel’s latest release, Avengers: Infinity War. The film follows Prince T’Challa as he returns home to Wakanda claim the throne as King, but finds a challenge from a new adversary embattled in a conflict with global consequences.
Even by typical MCU standards, Black Panther was well-received by critics and comic book fans, and is now considered one of the best superhero films ever made. The film opened with a very successful weekend, earning over $200 million and coming out ahead of Peter Rabbit, Fifty Shades Freed, and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
5. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Opening Weekend: $207,438,708
The Avengers premiered on May 4, 2012 to excited audiences who had anticipated its release since it was announced in 2009 that Joss Whedon would head the pivotal project. The film combined the cast of highly successful Marvel properties like Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America, and brought them together to form the iconic team of superheroes to battle Thor’s mischievous brother Loki.
The Avengers had a massive opening weekend, earning $207,438,708 at the domestic box office. The film ultimately grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and became the third-highest-grossing film of all-time during its theatrical run—as well as the first Marvel production to generate $1 billion in ticket sales. The Avengers spawned a series of successful sequels all of which have made this list, with a fourth film in the works with a scheduled release in 2019.
4. Jurassic World (2015)
Opening Weekend: $208,806,270
One of the few movies on this list that isn’t Star Wars or Marvel related, Jurassic World entered theaters on June 12, 2015, and was an immediate hit. The fourth installment of the Jurassic Park series and the first installment in a planned new trilogy, Jurassic World stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard in the lead roles. Set 22 years after the events of Jurassic Park on the same fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, the film’s title refers to a dinosaur theme park that has been operating for a decade. The park plunges into chaos when a genetically created super dinosaur breaks loose and goes on a killing rampage across the island.
The film opened to $208,806,270 weekend, besting the likes of SPY and The Rock vehicle, San Andreas. Jurassic World would go on to gross $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office and currently stands as the fourth highest-grossing film of all time.
3. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
Opening Weekend: $220,009,584
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is the second installment of the latest Star Wars saga trilogy and picks up immediately from where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off. The plot follows Rey (Daisy Ridley) as she embarks on her training to become a Jedi under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamil), in hopes of turning the tide for the Resistance in the fight against Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. While critics reviewed the film favorably, fan reaction was mixed and while The Last Jedi was praised for its ensemble cast and visual effects, but criticized for tearing down storylines introduced in The Force Awakens.
Regardless, the film was a huge hit at the box office, earning an astounding $220 million during its opening weekend and coming out ahead of the animated hits Ferdinand and Coco. The Last Jedi grossed over $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2017, and the second-highest-grossing film of the Star Wars franchise.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
Opening Weekend: $247,996,675
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set three decades after Return of the Jedi, the film follows newcomers Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they search for Luke Skywalker in order to bring balance back to the force. Our heroes fight alongside the Resistance, as they battle Kylo Ren and the First Order, a successor to the Galactic Empire. The Force Awakens was generally viewed by both critics and fans as a successful reboot for the series after the disappointing prequel trilogy.
The film had a fantastic opening weekend with $247,99,675 in ticket sales, which propelled The Force Awakens into becoming the highest-grossing film in the series. With a worldwide gross of over $2 billion, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now the third-highest grossing film of all time.
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Opening Weekend: $257,698,183
Avengers: Infinity War, is the third film in Marvel’s Avengers series and finds our team of superheroes joining forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy as they attempt to stop Thanos from amassing the all-powerful Infinity Stones. The film received high praise for its visual effects, ensemble cast, and compelling story, though some felt that it was a little too long.
Infinity War smashed the previous opening weekend box office record set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015, making $257,698,183 in just three days at domestic theaters. Infinity War had some help in the fact that it didn’t have much competition during its opening weekend, going up against the Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty and the surprise hit horror film, A Quiet Place. Avengers: Infinity War has already made $1.1 billion in a little over two weeks and is well on its way to becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time.