Every Best Picture Oscar-Nominated Movie That Made Over $1 Billion At The Box Office
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Every Best Picture Oscar-Nominated Movie That Made Over $1 Billion At The Box Office


  • Only 9 of the 53 films that earned over $1 billion were nominated for Best Picture, with just 2 winning.
  • Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King are the only $1 billion movies to win Best Picture.
  • Popular films like Avatar, Joker, and Black Panther, despite earning over $1 billion, did not win Best Picture.



Not every movie that wins big at The Academy Awards is a hit with audiences, with just a few of the movies that earned over $1 billion ever getting nominated. The Academy Awards highlight some of the biggest and best films ever made, with the Best Picture award specifically designed for this purpose. Since the awards began nearly 100 years ago, hundreds of movies have been nominated to win the category, with many all-time great movies and classics receiving recognition through the awards.

However, 53 movies have made more than $1 billion at the box office, which is a clear indication that they found favor with general audiences and had many moviegoers returning to watch films multiple times. Despite this, of the 53 films to earn this tremendous level of recognition, only nine of those films have been nominated for a chance at winning Best Picture. And of those nine nominees, just two of those films won the category. Indicating that Hollywood critics and the public clearly have some differences in taste when it comes to what makes a good movie.

9 Titanic (1997)

Box Office Total: $2,223,048,786


Titanic is the 1997 blockbuster romantic/disaster epic based on the events surrounding the sinking of the legendary “unsinkable” vessel. Flashing back to the past and forward to the present, the film primarily follows the stories of the well-to-do and somewhat timid Rose and the poor but lively Jack, star-crossed lovers who meet aboard the doomed ship. In addition, the film tells true and fictionalized accounts of the passengers of the RMS Titanic, with an older Rose recounting her tale to the crew of a research ship. 

James Cameron’s flagship movie, Titanic, elevated his career from a seasoned and respected director to one of the all-time greats. The movie earned several accolades and is honored for being the first movie in history to earn more than $1 billion on its initial release. It also won 11 different categories at the Oscars, with one prominent accolade being the Best Picture win. This kicked off a tradition for Cameron managing to snag nominations for Best Picture, and creating multi-billion dollar films which continues to this day.

8 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003)

Box Office Total: $1,121,386,981

Aragorn releasing the ghost army in Lord of the Rings Return of the King

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

The final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King concludes the epic saga of the Fellowship’s quest to destroy the One Ring and put an end to Sauron’s reign of terror. As Frodo and Sam continue on their way to Mordor and Mount Doom, accompanied by Gollom, the rest of the Fellowship work to defend Minas Tirith from Sauron’s forces. The film’s ensemble cast includes Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Vigo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, and Dominic Monaghan. 

Six years later, another legendary film director was privileged to share that same honor when Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King also earned over $1 billion and won the Best Picture award. The concluding chapter in the LotR trilogy closed the franchise and was a phenomenon, with all three entries released back to back in consecutive years. Each entry was also privileged to be nominated for the award, but The Return of the King was the first to cross the threshold for $1 billion and take home the win.

Movie Title

Total Global Box Office

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings


The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King



10 Best Picture Winners That Flopped At The Box Office

The Oscars may decide on the Best Picture in any given year, but audiences don’t always agree, and that can clearly be seen at the box office.

7 Avatar (2009)

Box Office Total: $2,923,706,026

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully wearing an Exopack in Avatar


Avatar is a sci-fi action/adventure film created by James Cameron and released in 2009. Set in the fictional world of Pandora in the distant future, humans seek a rare mineral found on the planet but find a race of highly-intelligent beings directly in their mining path. To attempt to communicate and work with them, scientists create body replicas called “avatars,” and one man will change the destiny of both races using an avatar of his own.

However, after the previous two entries, none of the other titles have managed to snag the win, with each one losing out to other nominees, all of which were less financially successful. In 2010, James Cameron once again managed to make another milestone in film history with the first movie to earn more than $2 billion at the box office, Avatar. The epic film managed to excel both domestically and with audiences around the globe, making it the highest-earning film in cinema, and thanks to a short re-release which brought that total even higher, it remains so to this day.

6 Toy Story 3 (2010)

Box Office Total: $1,068,879,522

Woody being made to wave goodbye by Andy in Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3

The third installment in the Toy Story franchise, Toy Story 3, continues the story of Woody and Buzz as they come to terms with the inevitable. With their owner, Andy, growing older and no longer playing with his toys, Woody, Buzz, and co. are given a new lease on life when they end up in a local daycare center. However, things there aren’t as they seem, and the toys must work together to find their way home.

Toy Story 3 had an incredible run at the box office, appealing to families, young adults nostalgic towards the franchise, and young kids. Thanks to these factors, the film managed to pull in just over $1 billion at the global box office, and with the compelling storytelling, it earned a nomination for Best Picture. This was an even more impressive feat because the Oscars created a separate category for Best Animated Picture meaning Toy Story 3 was deemed impressive enough to land in the bigger category. And despite losing Best Motion Picture, it managed to win Best Animated Picture.

Movie Title

Total Global Box Office

Toy Story


Toy Story 2


Toy Story 3


Toy Story 4


5 Black Panther (2018)

Box Office Total: $1,336,494,320

Black Panther

Black Panther is the eighteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sees the titular hero return after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Set in the fictional nation of Wakanda, Black Panther sees the succession of T’Challa as the nation’s new king. However, when a mysterious soldier with ill intentions arrives with proof of his claim to the throne, the future of Wakanda is thrown into jeopardy.

Black Panther remains the only MCU movie to receive a nomination in the Best Picture category at the Oscars. The film served as a precursor to the studio’s highest-earning films of all time, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, but neither of those were selected for the category despite releasing in 2018 and 2019 at the height of the studio’s popularity. Black Panther is an outstanding film that deserves the recognition it got, but it also highlights a gap in how the most popular films are not the same as those selected for the Oscars.

4 Joker (2019)

Box Office Total: $1,064,085,246

Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck smiles at the cheering mob in Joker


Directed by Todd Phillips, Joker acts as an origin story for Batman’s most iconic villain. Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a down-on-his-luck clown who is trying to become a successful stand-up comedian. When things don’t go according to plan, and Arthur feels Gotham is oppressing him and others with mental illness, Arthur sparks a violent revolution within the city. Alongside Phoenix stars Zazie Beetz, Robert De Niro, and Frances Conroy. 

Another outstanding film in the superhero genre, Joker, enjoyed incredible success and praise upon its release. From the performance of the leading man, Joaquin Phoenix, to the direction of Todd Phillips and every other detail, Joker is a masterpiece in cinema. The film managed to transcend traditional hero movies and display a gritty and dark realness that is often absent in the colorful and fantastical films that populate the genre. The story provides a new origin for the classic DC Comics villain, and earned big at the box office, along with landing two Oscar wins, and a Best Picture nomination.


Every Batman Movie That Has Won Or Been Nominated For An Oscar

Batman has consistently been a vehicle for DC to win big at the Oscars, earning many Academy Award wins and nominations.

3 Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Box Office Total: $1,468,499,044

Top Gun Mach 10

Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick is the sequel to the 1986 original film starring Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a top-tier pilot in the Navy. Thirty years after the original film’s events, Maverick is asked to head up a section of the TOP GUN program to embark on a dangerous mission. Things become personal when the program includes the son of Maverick’s late friend, forcing him to confront his past.

Another film that had the benefit of nostalgia on its side was Top Gun: Maverick. The original movie starring Tom Cruise was released in 1986, and with an almost 40-year gap between entries, several generations had close ties with the movies that brought audiences out in droves for the long-awaited sequel. The film’s success was explosive, which is reflected in the box office earnings, and it received critical recognition with a nomination for Best Picture. Maverick earned six nominations and one win for Best Sound at the Awards, but regardless, it remains a monumental success.

Movie Title

Total Global Box Office

Top Gun


Top Gun: Maverick


2 Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Box Office Total: $2,317,514,386

Jake Sully holds a gun while standing on the back of a skimwing in Avatar The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water

Ten years after the events of Avatar (2009), Avatar: The Way of Water follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their new family as they brave the world of Pandora and the struggles they endure to protect themselves and their people. Director James Cameron used The Way of Water to explore the oceans of Pandora and set the stage for the subsequent three sequels. In addition to Worthington and Saldana, Avatar: The Way of the Water sees the return of Sigourney Weaver, this time playing a character named Kiri, and Stephen Lang’s villainous Quaritch.

Cameron returns once again with another entry on this list, Avatar: The Way of Water. The long-awaited sequel became the first movie after COVID to earn $2 billion at the box office, showing its ability to bring audiences back to theaters. In addition, it became the second-fastest movie to cross the $2 billion box office figure, after Avengers: Endgame, just 39 days after its release (via Business Insider). The Way of Water had a noticeable drop in earnings from the prequel, but it did manage to win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and get nominated for Best Picture.

1 Barbie (2023)

Box Office Total: $1,435,510,498

Barbie The Movie

Arguably the best piece of Barbie movie merch you could buy is the movie itself and it’s already available via Prime Video for pre-order! Buy the movie now in UHD, SD, or HD, and you’ll be sure to get it as soon as it’s released so you can re-watch it at your leisure and own it forever! 

Finally, Greta Gerwig earns a place on this list with her outstanding contribution to film, Barbie. An incredible marketing campaign aided the film, and the viral phenomenon that was Barbenheimer also elevated interest in seeing the film, but Barbie clearly won out with the public when it came to the box office. The film is a major success, and despite only having received 8 Oscar nominations for the 2024 Academy Awards and an apparent snub to the leading lady, Margot Robbie, and director Gerwig, it’s an outstanding film that got many people talking and people into theaters to see something new.

All Box Office figures included in this article are sourced from The Numbers.

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