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The 25 Highest-Grossing Movies of 2020

Ellen Gutoskey
Ben Schwartz's Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020).
Ben Schwartz's Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog (2020). / Paramount Pictures and Sega of America
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Between intermittent shutdowns and straight-to-VOD releases, the movie theater industry has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic. While drive-in theaters have offered a safe alternative for some avid viewers, many others have chosen to simply stay home. There’s even been a surplus of unsold movie theater popcorn.

In short, it’s no surprise that The Numbers’ list of 2020’s highest-grossing movies seems a little strange—and not just because the earnings are so low, though that’s certainly true. Bad Boys for Life (2020) finished first with about $204 million, which is nearly $654 million less than 2019’s top earner Avengers: Endgame (2019). In fact, Bad Boys for Life wouldn’t have made 2019’s top 10.

All revenue differentials aside, the films themselves make for an eclectic list. John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween came in 13th place, thanks in part to its resurgence at drive-in theaters throughout October. And Robert Downey Jr.’s Dolittle (2020), despite having been widely lambasted by critics, took the eighth spot. It’s far from the only poorly received flick on the list: Fantasy Island (2020), inspired by the eponymous TV series that ran in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has a critics’ rating of 7 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Culture Mix’s Carla Hay compared it to a “tangled, rotting ball of yarn that keeps gathering dust balls of bad ideas on top of more bad ideas.”

In these (and many other) cases, release date likely played an important role in box office success. Dolittle and Fantasy Island debuted in theaters in January and February 2020, respectively—before the pandemic interrupted daily life. Of last year’s 25 highest-grossing movies, 18 hit theaters in late 2019 or early 2020.

See The Numbers’ list below, and find out which films just missed the cut here.

  1. Bad Boys for Life (2020) // $204,417,855
  2. 1917 (2019) // $157,901,466
  3. Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) // $146,066,470
  4. Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) // $124,736,710
  5. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) // $124,496,308
  6. Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020) // $84,158,461
  7. After We Collided (2020) // $82,386,475
  8. Dolittle (2020) // $77,047,065
  9. The Invisible Man (2020) // $64,914,050
  10. The Call of the Wild (2020) // $62,342,368
  11. Onward (2020) // $61,555,145
  12. Tenet (2020) // $57,929,000
  13. Halloween (1978) // $47,274,000
  14. Little Women (2019) // $37,593,127
  15. The Gentlemen (2020) // $36,471,796
  16. Just Mercy (2020) // $35,733,621
  17. Knives Out (2019) // $35,244,610
  18. The Croods: A New Age (2020) // $34,558,715
  19. Parasite (2019) // $29,518,856
  20. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) // $28,500,000
  21. Frozen II (2019) // $26,934,045
  22. Fantasy Island (2020) // $26,441,782
  23. The New Mutants (2020) // $23,855,569
  24. Like a Boss (2020) // $22,169,514
  25. Unhinged (2020) // $20,831,465

[h/t The Numbers]

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