There are a couple ways to look at this at this list. We could shoot for the highest grossing films of all time, and include everything made by James Cameron, or shift to legitimate profit, and consideration of percentages based on profitability over budget. These films aren’t merely big budget blockbusters, they’re cultural events. Sure, films with budgets that are up over $100 million are built for spectacle, and they’re oftentimes forgotten, but a film made for $5 million grossing almost $370 million worldwide? That’s exceptional. Here are the 11 most profitable films of all time.
This won’t be the only film directed by Steven Spielberg on this list. It’s crazy to think the film that made Spielberg almost ended Spielberg. It was an enormous risk to shoot JAWS, and it almost cost Steven Spielberg his career. Shooting on open water in a way that had never been done before, the production fell way behind, and busted the budget at the seams. It was more of an undertaking that anyone could have imagined, but Steven continued to persevere through his sleepless nights, and take some serious directing risks while on set. He could have painted this one by number, but he opted to create a new visual language, and unique pace for film of this nature. It resulted in a 1,308 percent profit. Accounting for inflation: $471 million gross from a $34 million budget. This film made people afraid of the ocean.