The 25 highest grossing movies of 2021

"F9: The Fast Saga" pulled ahead early on but two action franchises and two Chinese films pushed past

Published January 17, 2022 1:00PM (EST)

Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel in "F9: The Fast Saga"  (Universal/Giles Keyte)
Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel in "F9: The Fast Saga" (Universal/Giles Keyte)

This story originally appeared on Mental Floss.

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The first year of the 2020s was a strange time for the global box office, and 2021 looked only slightly more normal. Many movie theaters reopened for the first time in a year in 2021, and several big titles that were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic (including "No Time to Die," Daniel Craig's final latest, and final, outing as James Bond) finally appeared on marquees. Some releases had underwhelming ticket sales, while others smashed box office expectations.

According to Box Office Mojo, two of the three highest grossing movies of 2021 came from China. "The Battle of Lake Changjun," which was commissioned by the publicity department of the Chinese Communist Party, tells the story of Chinese soldiers defeating American troops in a battle during the Korean War. It's the most expensive Chinese film ever made, and it became the country's highest grossing film of all time with global box office earnings exceeding $902 million, which was enough to make it the second highest grossing movie worldwide in 2021.

China also claims the third slot on the list. The Chinese comedy "Hi, Mom" earned $822 million at the global box office in 2021. Some of the highest grossing English language movies last year were "No Time to Die," with a total gross of $774 million, and F9: The Fast Saga, with $726 million in ticket sales.

The top spot, however, was owned by Marvel. "Spider-Man: No Way Home," starring Tom Holland, arrived in theaters on December 17, and quickly racked up more than $1.3 billion in ticket sales to make it the top earner at the global box office. The third film in the MCU's Spider-Man trilogy earned $260 million in the U.S. in its opening weekend, making it the second-biggest domestic debut of all time behind its fellow MCU property "Avengers: Endgame." That's especially impressive considering it premiered at a time when pandemic fears are still hampering ticket sales.

After reading the list of 2021's biggest movies by box office gross, check out the other end of the spectrum with 11 movies that made less than $400 at the box office.

  1. "Spider-Man: No Way Home" // $1,372,600,664
  2. "The Battle at Lake Changjin" // $902,541,161
  3. "Hi, Mom" // $822,009,764
  4. "No Time to Die" // $774,034,007
  5. "F9: The Fast Saga" // $726,229,501
  6. "Detective Chinatown 3" // $686,257,563
  7. "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" // $501,138,437
  8. "Godzilla vs. Kong" // $467,863,133
  9. "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" // $432,233,010
  10. "Eternals" // $401,454,419
  11. "Dune" // $396,115,864
  12. "Black Widow" // $379,631,351
  13. "Free Guy" // $331,503,757
  14. "A Quiet Place Part II" // $297,372,261
  15. "Cruella" // $233,274,812
  16. "My Country, My Parents" // $221,701,823
  17. "Jungle Cruise" // $220,889,446
  18. "Encanto" // $206,346,390
  19. "Raging Fire" // $205,838,889
  20. "The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It" // $201,965,074
  21. "Chinese Doctors" // $197,143,218
  22. "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" // $184,720,032
  23. "Cliff Walkers" // $181,325,565
  24. "The Suicide Squad" // $167,400,219
  25. "Space Jam: A New Legacy" // $162,828,072

By Michele Debczak

MORE FROM Michele Debczak

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