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The 15 Highest Grossing Movies Of 2021, According To Box Office Mojo

While every movie on the list of highest-grossing movies of 2021 might have made over $1 billion any other year, only one movie managed to reach that figure this year. However, there’s an asterisk next to 2021, and it’s unfair to weigh these box office grosses against other years. Because of the global pandemic, figures are much lower than they ordinarily would have been. Film buffs are lucky they even got any movies this year, as studios could have just as easily delayed them by another year.

RELATED: 10 Highest-Grossing Western Movies Of All Time, Ranked

But thankfully, cinemas eventually reopened, and blockbuster movies started arriving bit by bit. Between one of the most groundbreaking sci-fi flicks of recent times, a couple of MCU movies, and some huge overseas surprises, the highest-grossing movies of 2021 are a bizarre list.

Updated on January 29th, 2022 by Shane Redding: 2021 ended with a box office surge, seeing several big releases draw audiences back to the theaters during the holidays. The late-year rush was enough to bump several films out of the top 10 grossing movies for the year and the most anticipated film of the year was even able to generate enough interest to dethrone the previous champ and claim the year’s top spot.

15 Sing 2 – $243 Million


The Sing 2 characters standing together

  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

The first Sing movie holds a box office record as the highest-grossing movie to never be number one at the box office on any weekend of its release and Sing 2 appears to be following its footstep.

The family-friendly film was a popular choice around the holidays, racking up an impressive gross, even though it has only been able to finish as high as second in any of its weekends in release so far primarily thanks to stiff competition at the box office.

14 A Quiet Place Part II – $297 Million


Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part 2 (1)

  • Available to stream on Paramount+

When the pandemic first shut down theaters, the highly-anticipated horror sequel A Quiet Place Part II was one of the first films to have its release date affected. With an extra year of waiting to build the excitement, audiences flocked back to theaters to see the continued adventures of the Abbott family.

The film was a critical hit and received positive word of mouth that helped fuel the film’s commercial gain. While the film grossed $43 million less than the original, given the unique challenges and circumstances it was facing, the sequel still has to be considered a big box office success.


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13 Free Guy – $332 Million


Free Guy: Every Video Game Weapon & Vehicle Cameo

  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

With an all-star cast, creative premise, and fun tone, the action-comedy Free Guy was a crowd-pleasing surprise hit that took the box office by storm at the end of summer. Benefitting from strong positive reviews and weak competition in the box office lull of August, the film was able to rack up an impressive financial haul during its first few weeks in theaters.

With a sizable budget and big names involved, the film managed to become the highest-grossing American release of 2021 that was not a sequel or based on existing intellectual property.


12 Black Widow – $380 Million


Black Widow Famous Pose

  • Available to stream on Disney+

The projections for Black Widow were a lot higher than what it finally made for several reasons. She isn’t just any unknown Marvel hero, but one who has previously appeared in seven MCU movies. It was also the first MCU movie in two years, so it should have had fans flocking to multiplexes.

RELATED: The 10 Highest-Grossing Movie Trilogies, Ranked According To Box Office Mojo

However, Disney gave the film a day-and-date release on Disney+. If Black Widow was released exclusively in theatres, it surely would have been a lot higher on the list of highest-grossing movies of the year. However, in an enduring pandemic world, $380 million is still a great result.


11 Dune – $398 Million


Dune Jessica Silgar Paul

  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

The box office performance of Dune could have gone either way. It comes after several failed attempts to adapt the source material and one of the strangest novel-to-movie adaptations. And director Denis Villeneuve’s epic but lingering sci-fi movies have had a rocky relationship with the box office, as Blade Runner 2049 was an infamous box office bomb.

However, the waves of star power in the movie all but confirmed the film was going to be a huge hit. And visually, the movie is a cinematic masterpiece and one of the most beautiful sci-fi movies of recent times. It would have looked bad on Warner Bros. if the movie wasn’t a hit, as they had the audacity to start the movie with the title card Dune: Part One.


10 Eternals – $402 Million


Eternals cast characters

  • Available to stream on Disney+

With director Chloé Zhao at the helm, fans knew that Eternals would be a different kind of MCU movie. The end result was a polarizing film that shook up the established formula and became a hot topic of conversation among filmgoers with some praising its visuals and fresh approach while others found it overly ambitious.

Love it or hate it, there was no denying that there was widespread interest in seeing the unique film and the curiosity was enough to push the divisive blockbuster into the top 10 grossing films of the year.


9 Shang-Chi And The Legend Of Ten Rings – $432 Million


Shang-Chi's sister running the underground fight club.

  • Available to stream on Disney+

It’s an incredible feat that a completely unknown Marvel property to general audiences was still able to beat Black Widow at the worldwide box office. The movie was the MCU’s real return to the big screen when it came to fanfare, as audiences loved the martial arts action sequences and Chinese folklore.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings made $432 million, and what’s more impressive is that the film didn’t even play on a single screen in China. If the movie had have been screened in the country, who knows how much the final gross would have skyrocketed to, as, according to NBC News, Shang-Chi was made with China in mind.




8 Godzilla Vs. Kong – $468 Million


Kong holds up Mechagodzilla's head at the end of Godzilla Vs. Kong

  • Available to stream on HBO Max

Godzilla vs. Kong is one of the biggest event movies of the year and full of great action scenes, but nobody knew if that was enough to get people to leave their homes. The release of Godzilla vs. Kong was more of an experiment than anything. It was one of the first movies to hit theatres after they reopened, and it was the film that studios would use to gauge how they should go about releasing their movies.

The result was overwhelming, and Godzilla Vs. Kong pulled off something unbelievable. Despite the world situation and rules and limitations, with many people still not comfortable visiting a theatre, GVK still pulled in a massive $468 million. What’s more unbelievable is that in the midst of everything, it was able to make a whole $80 million more than its predecessor, Godzilla: King of the Monsters.


7 Venom: Let There Be Carnage – $502 Million


Venom opening his mouth wide in Let There Be Carnage

  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

Just like the first movie, critics hate Venom: Let There Be Carnage, but that didn’t stop the sequel from becoming a massive success. Let There Be Carnage is one of those cases where movie critics and fans were divided, and the follow-up gave fans everything they loved about the original and more.

Director Andy Serkis capitalized on the odd couple comedy between Eddie and the symbiote, and the CGI battles were on another level. And if one scene helped the movie gross $502 million more than any other, it’s the post-credits scene that throws Venom into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


6 Detective Chinatown 3 – $686 Million


Tang, Qin, Noda, and Jack walk through the street in Detective Chinatown 3

The crime movie Detective Chinatown 3 is the first of three Chinese movies released this year to make the top 10 highest-grossing list, which has never happened before.

RELATED: The 10 Highest-Grossing Comedy Franchises Of All Time, According To Box Office Mojo

The movie has broken several records, including having the highest opening weekend in a single market of all time, as it made almost $400 million in its opening weekend in China. It’s a fun slapstick action movie, which the domestic market would probably love, but it hasn’t made as much of a splash in English-speaking territories.


5 F9 – $726 Million


Vin Diesel as Dom Toretto in F9

  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

Again, F9 would have made literally hundreds of millions of dollars more if not for the global pandemic. But Universal thankfully decided against delaying the movie anymore, as it had already been delayed by a year, and gave the fans what they wanted.

The studio was still able to make more than any other movie would have in the same situation, and that’s largely down to how audiences were dying to see the crew go into space. That’s one thing the series succeeds in more than other franchises, as the producers listen to what the fans want, whether they’re being ironic or not, and they give them exactly that. And with that mindset, the Fast and Furious series will always be a huge moneymaker.


4 No Time To Die – $774 Million


  • Available to rent on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube

No Time To Die is another movie that has been finished for a good year. It has just been sitting around, gathering dust, and waiting to be released. But the movie was worth the wait, as it’s the perfect ending to Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond and, in a lot of ways, it’s unlike any other Bond movie.

Fans flocked to multiplexes to find out how the five-movie story arc would be wrapped up, which led to a huge $774 million worldwide gross. However, though it sounds strange that a movie so successful could actually lose money, there have been reports that with the budget and marketing costs totaled up, No Time To Die is still $100 million in the red.


3 Hi, Mom – $822 Million


The family sit together on the couch in Hi, Mom

Hi, Mom is a huge success story for Chinese cinema, as the popularity of the comedy-drama was based mostly on word of mouth and it’s the highest-grossing female-directed movie of all time too. However, although Hi, Mom is officially the second highest-grossing movie of 2021, it may not entirely be the truth.

The idea that the movie made $822 million worldwide is a little hard to believe, as it hasn’t even had a release in any territories outside of China yet. On top of that, China has had a track record of inflating the box office numbers of their movies. According to the LA Times, Hollywood studios even audited China’s box office in 2017, and this has led many to question the accuracy of the country’s 2021 movies’ stats, including Detective Chinatown 3.


2 The Battle Of Lake Changjin – $903 Million


A group of Chinese soldiers walk over mountains in The Battle of Lake Changjin

Ranking second on the list of highest-grossing movies of 2021 is yet another Chinese movie, The Battle of Lake Changjin, and the movie’s gross is even more interesting than Hi, Mom. It’s the most expensive Chinese film to date, as it had a huge budget of $200 million. But the risk paid off, as it’s the highest-grossing Chinese movie ever made.

The movie is a three-hour war epic that depicts Chinese soldiers fighting American troops, and it has been largely shrugged off as propaganda, especially as it was government-sponsored. However, the movie still somehow managed to overcome its notoriety, and despite being riddled with historical inaccuracies, it has made over $900 million.


1 Spider-Man: No Way Home – $1.7 Billion


Spider-Man battling Green Goblin in No Way Home.

  • Currently available in theaters

Driven by the popularity of the brand and online rumors swirling about returning characters, Spider-Man: No Way Home quickly became the most anticipated movie of the year for many fans. When the final product somehow managed to live up to expectations, audiences flocked to see the film over and over again.

Considering the hype surrounding the movie and the overwhelmingly positive response from critics and audiences alike, it is no surprise that No Way Home was able to become the lone film to cross the billion-dollar threshold and claim the crown as the top-grossing movie of 2021. The film currently ranks as the 6th highest-grossing movie of all time.

NEXT: The 10 Highest Grossing Movie Remakes Of All Time, Ranked According To Box Office Mojo

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