The 10 Highest-Grossing Movies of 2019

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The 10 Highest-Grossing Movies of 2019

It’s no surprise that nine out of the 10 highest-grossing movies of 2019 so far are based on existing properties, whether sequels, extensions of a franchise or adaptations of a game or comic book. So that makes it all the more impressive what Jordan Peele and Universal Pictures has accomplished with Us. With a budget of just $20 million, the horror film has already grossed more than a quarter billion dollars worldwide, beating out Disney live-action remakes and every non-Marvel superhero film.

But then there’s Marvel. It looks like there will now be a Marvel movie playing in theaters from now until the real world needs a superhero to save us from the end of days. Disney is just printing money with each new installment, none more so than Avengers: End Game, which has broken just about every box office record: highest opening weekend gross worldwide ($1.2 billion), widest domestic release (4,662 theaters), highest market share in a weekend (89.7%). It’s less than $100 million away from surpassing Avatar’s worldwide gross of $2.787 billion and second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens domestically.

Below we’ve listed the 10 highest-grossing movies at the U.S. box office as of the end of May. That leaves off films like The Wandering Earth and Alita: Battle Angel, which performed better worldwide. We’ll update this list throughout the year.

Here are the highest-grossing movies of 2019 so far:

john-wick-3-movie-poster.jpg 10. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Domestic Gross: $111 million
International Gross: $186 million
Release Date: May 17, 2019
Director: Chad Stahelski
The promise of John Wick: Chapter 2 is in superposition. Depending on how one comes into John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, from which angle, that promise is simultaneously fulfilled and squandered. Chad Stahelski’s third and by no means last entry in the saga of laconic gentleman terminator John Wick (Keanu Reeves), the Baba Yaga of every gangster’s worst nightmares, either lives up to previous entries as far as setting the standard for visceral, eardrum-squelching violence, or it fails to take the series in the direction presaged by the apocalyptic cliffhanger of the previous chapter. No, every living human in New York is not a secret assassin, plunging John Wick into a race against time through a Dantean Hell of his own devising, but John Wick does pretty much murder everybody in the City before traveling to Morocco, where he murders even more people, before returning to New York, where he continues decimating the urban center’s population. As Continental Manager Winston (Ian McShane) puts it, John Wick needs to decide whether he’s the boogie man or, simply, a man. Whether John Wick is a videogame or something more existential. He chooses both: By the time we reach the final action spectacle, during which the forces aligned against John Wick wear the kind of body armor requiring an exorbitant amount of kill shots and then, halfway through the melee, a weapon upgrade, we’ve lapsed completely into the realm of the first-person shooter, realizing we’ve already made our way through numerous, ever-increasingly difficult levels and boss battles with an impeccable kill/death ratio. The limitless beauty of the John Wick franchise, crystalized in Chapter 3, is that alluding to videogames when talking about the movie doesn’t matter. None of this matters. As videogames and action movies parabolically draw closer and closer to one another, John Wick 3 may be the first of its kind to figure out how to keep that comparison from being a point of shame. Accordingly, each action set piece is an astounding feat, from the first hand-to-hand fracas in narrow library stacks, to a comic knife fight amidst cases of antique weapons, to a chase on horseback and, later, a chase on motorcycles care of katana-wielding meanies. John Wick 3 revels in its ludicrous gore without losing sight of the very real toll of such unmitigated havoc. It’s as much a blast of blood and guts as it is an immersive menagerie of pain, a litigation of the ways in which we imbibe and absorb and demand violence, in which we hyperstylize death. Every gun shot, body blow, shattering jaw and gut slicing rings out sonorously from the screen, so that even if yet another faceless henchperson loses their life, leaving this mortal plane unnoticed, at least the act of violence that ended them will be remembered. —Dom Sinacola / Full Review


glass.jpg 9. Glass
Domestic Gross: $111 million
International Gross: $247 million
Release Date: January 18, 2019
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
For a movie that’s supposedly a sequel 18 years in the making, Glass sure does feel like it was put together in a hurry. After the (mostly justified) success of Split, and a post-credit sequence that placed it in the heretofore unexplored Unbreakable Cinematic Universe, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan took advantage of the biggest hit he’s had since his heyday by tying it to one of the films that made his name in the first place. There’s a reason the Shyamalan brand had faded before then. Here we get bewildering little backstory on any of our main characters, particularly David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the man who could not be killed who, in the end of Unbreakable, turned out to be a superhero. (With a particularly strange Kryptonite of water.) Dunn has apparently just been hanging out with his son (played again, and played well, by Spencer Treat Clark) at their security firm, with the boy acting as dispatcher to his father’s nighttime excursions to beat down robbers and miscreants. Dunn is tracking quite the miscreant in James McAvoy’s Kevin/The Beast/24 Other Personalities, and the movie kicks off with a clumsily staged fight between them, two of the protagonists of two of Shyamalan’s most successful movies battling each other so quickly one wonders why the director’s firing his narrative bullets so quickly. Inevitably, the police capture both men and put them in a facility for the criminally insane, along with Samuel L. Jackson’s Mr. Glass (who has apparently just been chilling there for 18 years, waiting for someone to show up), where they are studied by a psychologist (Sarah Paulson) who, get this, specializes in people who mistakenly think they are superheroes. When Unbreakable came out, Shyamalan’s big twist—that this actually was just a real-life comic book origin story—had real zest and a clever kick: He tricked us into watching a different genre movie than the one we thought we were watching. But Glass is a comic book movie by a guy who does not seem to like comic books…or even read them. For a while, Shyamalan pretended he had shed his old ways and had become a more focused, less self-absorbed filmmaker. That was just another role he was playing. He’s back to his old tricks again. We grew sick of those tricks years ago. —Will Leitch / Full Review


dumbo.jpg 8. Dumbo
Domestic Gross: $113 million
International Gross: $349 million
Release Date: March 29, 2019
Director: Tim Burton 
It makes sense for Tim Burton to be tapped to direct a live-action adaptation of Disney’s beloved animated classic about the bullied baby elephant with gigantic ears whose “disability” turns out to be what makes him extraordinary. Throughout his career, Burton has been drawn to telling the stories of melancholic outcasts and social rejects who build a world. Add to this the film’s setting, an early-20th-Century small traveling circus full of all of the whimsical tropes that come packaged with such things—snake charmers, wild animal trainers, clowns, strong men, etc.—and the project has Burton’s name written all over it. However, Burton begins on the wrong foot here by treating the material as the kind of grand spectacle that worked well for recent Disney live-action remakes like Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book. Those movies had issues, but matching the grandiosity of their adventure and thrills-filled originals wasn’t one of them. The 1941 Dumbo is a more low-key and intimate story, barely a feature at 60 minutes, with an almost aggressively streamlined and episodic story structure that adopted a cartoonish tone that slid between bizarre and downright psychedelic. But it was a hit because it had heart, and showed an extraordinary amount of compassion for its protagonist. The 2019 Dumbo unwisely pushes its titular hero into the background in favor of human characters who lack depth, and an action-heavy script that runs out of steam barely after the first act is over. The premise of a bunch of 1919 circus freaks whimsically conspiring to save an elephant from captivity should be an easy layup for Burton, but he just goes through the motions here with a paint-by-numbers Disney climax. —Oktay Ege Kozak / Full Review


detective-pikachu-movie-poster.jpg 7. Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Domestic Gross: $122 million
International Gross: $360 million
Release Date: May 10, 2019
Director: Rob Letterman
Starring Ryan Reynolds as a PG version of Deadpool and wide-eyed baby angel Justice Smith, Pokémon Detective Pikachu tosses together the Pokémon fanbase with lightly grizzled noir cinema, a coming-of-age story and a dash of family drama. While that may seem like a meal with too many ingredients, the result is rather filling. Tim Goodman (Smith) exists at that stage of early adulthood when friends slip away to different corners of the globe, and one’s direction in life must be decided. Tim contents himself with the life he’s built as a junior insurance adjustor. When he learns his policeman father has been killed in the line of duty, he travels to the literal urban jungle of Ryme City, where humans and Pokémon live side by side in adorable harmony. Of course, his father’s death isn’t cut and dry. Soon, with the help of his father’s Pokémon partner, Pikachu, Tim becomes an investigator in his own right, navigating the not-so-mean streets of Ryme City and learning to dream bigger than he ever dared before. Visually the film builds on Pikachu’s love of noir by creating a neon noir world. Instead of relying on shadows and inky blacks to create mystery, cinematographer John Mathieson (Gladiator) uses the neon glow of city signs to banish nearly all shadows from the frame. Blacks create a nice contrast but only reach a complete lack of light in a car crash scene. Lighting the film’s darker moments with neon makes the transition to the sunnier, more family-focused moments a smooth one. And really: The cute factor of this film cannot be overstated. This film is fantasy, and the results are magical. It completely skips the uncanny valley in favor of a wickedly fun, albeit unnatural look, capturing the spirit of its source material as effectively as a well-aimed Poké Ball. —Joelle Monique / Full Review


aladdin.jpg 6. Aladdin
Domestic Gross: $129 million
International Gross: $268 million
Release Date: May 24, 2019
Director: Guy Ritchie
I haven’t really been a fan of Disney’s live-action remakes, but Aladdin is a rip-roaring action/fantasy/musical that manages to exist on a relatively independent and distinguished tonal field. The basic story beats and the songs are of course transplanted, but at least an effort is put forth to serve a wholly invigorating and enchanting piece of family entertainment that provides something new to fans and newcomers alike. True to its ambition of presenting an epic adventure, this Aladdin runs a whopping forty minutes longer than the 1992 version, yet almost none of it is filler. Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) is given as much agency and focus as the titular character (Mena Massoud), the beloved plucky street rat who falls in love with her and decides to use a certain magic lamp with a certain resident genie (Will Smith) to become a prince so he can marry her. Of course, the palace’s evil vizier Jafar (Marwan Kenzari) is also after the lamp. Will Jafar snatch the lamp from Aladdin and become the bloodthirsty tyrant of the land, or will Aladdin defeat him with the help of his buddies, the twitchy monkey Abu and the kindly magic carpet? Of course the answer is clear for anyone with a passing knowledge of the animated film. But some changes, even tiny ones, give us new perspectives on the story. As a Middle-Eastern immigrant myself, I’d be lying if I said the sight of such characters being portrayed by actors who match their ethnicity in such a giant budget Hollywood blockbuster didn’t make me feel a sense of due progress. Yet of course all of that is for naught if the talent can’t deliver. The cast of relative newcomers passes that test with flying colors. Which brings us to Smith’s genie. It’s impossible to top the 100-jokes-a-minute singular power and vigor of Robin Williams’ voice performance, so Smith doesn’t even try. He wisely stays in his lane by letting his trademark swagger and cool magnetism inform the character. After the trailer was released, his blue motion capture CG representation as the genie in his true form understandably garnered some unintentional laughs. The body looks fine, but the face resembles an awkwardly applied Snapchat filter. With music that breathes new life to beloved songs with an emphasis on percussion and horns, and production designer Gemma Jackson’s luscious world building that borrows from various Middle-Eastern cultures as added pedigree, Aladdin is the rare remake that actually gives us a whole new world. —Oktay Ege Kozak / Full Review


shazam-movie-poster.jpg 5. Shazam!
Domestic Gross: $139 million
International Gross: $362 million
Release Date: April 5, 2019
Director: David F. Sandberg
The best thing one can say about Shazam! is that, following on the fins of the wonderfully extravagant and amazingly stupid Aquaman, the latest DC movie is one more sign to assure the proletariat that the imprint has permanently dislodged its head from the asshole of Zack Snyder’s Murderverse. While Wonder Woman mused that, hey, maybe a DC movie need not labor over traumatized backstories and hypermasculinized mommy issues, and Aquaman suggested that blockbuster movies can have things like “color” and “humor,” Shazam! synthesizes those mommy issues into a positive treatise on family, doubling down on the jokes and bright primary shininess. The plot, by-the-numbers, floats somewhere between a Spielberg coming-of-age adventure, a Big reboot and a late-’80s horror comedy—think The Monster Squad in that it’s intended for kids but is too old for its ostensible demographic. If only Shazam! were as much a herald as its DCEU forebears, for better or ill, a sign of something new and exciting to come. It’s not. It is, despite its surprisingly gruesome violence, little more than another superhero movie that will make more money than the GDP of a small island nation. Leaning real hard into the jokes about horny teenage boys and meta-skewerings of superhero films, Shazam! can’t help but comment on its genre ad nauseam, though, unlike Deadpool, it never risks arguing against its own existence. It’s, more often than not, a very funny movie, and a superhero film with a budget under $100M is a (sigh—sorry, Mom) refreshing development for the genre. Plus, a diverse cast is always welcome, even if headlined by Zachary Levi, who must realize how goddamn lucky he is to get the one remaining superhero role where it conceptually pays off to be a generically attractive white guy. —Dom Sinacola / Full Review


how-to-train-dragon-hidden-world-movie-poster copy.jpg 4. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Domestic Gross: $161 million
International Gross: $518 million
Release Date: February 22, 2019
Director: Dean DeBlois
While every studio is tripping over themselves to kick-start the next blockbuster franchise before the first film is even cast, the How to Train Your Dragon crew has been building an engaging family fantasy/adventure trilogy (loosely based on the novels of Cressida Cowell) over the last ten years. The first movie was a pleasant surprise—it not only avoided Dreamworks’ then-prevalent animated family fare formula of tongue-in-cheek humor and pop-culture references, but built on its source material in a way that created a distinct fantasy world that any fan of the genre, child or adult, could enjoy. At its core, the story of Viking teen Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) befriending a rare dragon called Toothless and learning to get along with dragons in a culture that feared and hunted them was a tender allegory on young adults paving their own way in life while standing up to tradition they deem to be wrongheaded. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World revolves around Hiccup trying to find a new location that would keep the people of Berk and their dragons safe. After spending years rescuing dragons from captivity, the townspeople are understandably worried that the dragon poachers will soon retaliate, so Hiccup takes it upon himself to find the mythical Hidden World where humans and dragons can live in peace. Meanwhile, Toothless falls in love with a female night fury (dubbed a “light fury” thanks to her bright white skin). The new love interest is joined by a new antagonist, Grimmel (F. Murray Abraham), the greatest dragon hunter in the world. The developing rift—or perhaps it’s more precise to call it “drift”—between Hiccup and Toothless that provides the overall narrative glue for the film’s series of breathtaking action set pieces might provide a bittersweet tone for fans of the series. Yet it also captures the bittersweet experiences we all face when we take our final steps into adulthood. That doesn’t mean the spectacle is lacking. The visual majesty of this Viking utopia, full of foggy mountains and the clear blue sea as far as the eye can see get yet another upgrade with some new breathtaking locations. It all makes for a solid conclusion to such an endearing franchise. Given it success, it seems unlikely this will be the last film from the land of Berk and beyond. But as a closing chapter in the tale of Hiccup and Toothless, The Hidden World ends this portion of the tale on a satisfying note. —Oktay Ege Kozak / Full Review


us-peele-movie-poster.jpg 3. Us
Domestic Gross: $175 million
International Gross: $254 million
Release Date: March 22, 2019
Director: Jordan Peele 
Us clarifies what Get Out implies. Even after only two films, Jordan Peele’s filmmaking seems preconfigured for precision, the Hitchcock comparisons just sitting there, waiting to be shoved between commas, while Peele openly speaks and acts in allusions. Us, like Get Out before it but moreso, wastes nothing: time, film stock, the equally precise capabilities of his actors and crew, real estate in the frame, chance for a gag. If his films are the sum of their influences, that means he’s a smart filmmaker with a lot of ideas, someone who knows how to hone down those ideas into stories that never bloat, though he’s unafraid to confound his audience with exposition or take easy shots—like the film’s final twist—that swell and grow in the mind with meaning the longer one tries to insist, if one were inclined to do so, that what Peele’s doing is easy at all. A family comedy studded with dread, then a home invasion thriller, then a head-on sci-fi horror flick, Us quickly acquaints us with the Wilson family: calming matriarch Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o), gregarious dad Gabe (Winston Duke), daughter wise beyond her years Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph) and adorable epitome of the innocent younger brother, Jason (Evan Alex). Though far from shallow, the characters take on archetypal signifiers, whether it’s Zora’s penchant for running or that Gabe’s a big guy whose bulk betrays a softer heart, Peele never spoonfeeding cheap characterizations but just getting us on his wavelength with maximum efficiency. Us isn’t explicitly about race, but it is about humanity’s inherent knack for Othering, for boxing people into narrow perspectives and then holding them responsible for everyone vaguely falling within a Venn diagram. Regardless of how sufficiently we’re able to parse what’s actually going on (and one’s inclined to see the film more than once to get a grip) the images remain, stark and hilarious and horrifying: a child’s burned face, a misfired flare gun, a cult-like spectacle of inhuman devotion, a Tim Heidecker bent over maniacally, walking as if he’s balanced on a thorax, his soul as good as creased. Divorced from context, these moments still speak of absurdity—of witty one-liners paired with mind-boggling horror—of a future in which we’ve so alienated ourselves from ourselves that we’re bound to cut that tether that keeps us together, sooner or later, and completely unravel. We are our undoing. So let the Hitchcock comparisons come. Peele deserves them well enough. Best not to think about it too hard, to not ruin a good thing, to demand that Us be anything more than sublimely entertaining and wonderfully thoughtful, endlessly disturbing genre filmmaking. —Dom Sinacola / Full Review


captain-marvel.jpg 2. Captain Marvel
Domestic Gross: $426 million
International Gross: $1.13 billion
Release Date: March 8, 2019
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
It remains, when you think about it, absolutely insane that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured two new movies, one of which introduces an entirely new character, in between two halves of a nearly six-hour epic where half the cast dies in Part One. Talk about your flex moves! One thing Captain Marvel has going for it that Ant Man and the Wasp didn’t is that it gives us a lead character we can care about and (even more importantly) an actor who rises to the occasion. In many of these Marvel origin stories—and by my count, this is the eighth one since the original Iron Man—the movie goes through great pains to explain to us why we should care about this new character, why, with everything else we have to keep track of, we should readily agree to adding one more to the mix. Captain Marvel, like many MCU movies, sometimes labors under the weight of having to tell its own story while still connecting to the larger, ongoing saga, but it has no issues with justifying its main character: We see in her eyes, from the first second, what’s different about her. The movie has us on her side before she ever says a word. The key is Brie Larson, an instantly, almost subconsciously empathetic actress who finds a new, fascinating gear here as Vers who, when we first meet her, is a Kree warrior fighting in outer space with an elite force led by her trainer, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Vers has no memory of her past, but it returns to her when, in the midst of a battle, she’s dumped onto a distant planet that turns out not only to be Earth, but also her home planet and in the year 1995. She ends up, rather conveniently, running into future S.H.I.E.L.D. head Nick Fury (a digitally de-aged, and convincingly so, Samuel L. Jackson) and a series of Air Force pilots who provide clues to her past through a supersecret initiative called “Pegasus.” The film is otherwise entertaining and exhausting in the equal measures we have come to expect from modern Marvel movies—if you’ve seen one bad guy bent on galaxy domination, you’ve seen them all. But this movie isn’t about the supporting characters, or the setting, or even how well its big action set pieces play out. It’s all about whether or not they can sell this Captain Marvel as someone who even the mighty Avengers can call to someday help them save the world. —Will Leitch / Full Review


avengers-endgame-movie-poster.jpg 1. Avengers: Endgame
Domestic Gross: $805 million
International Gross: $2.69 billion
Release Date: April 26, 2019
Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Where does one begin? When it comes to Avengers: Endgame, that question is not so much an expression of wanton enthusiasm as a practical challenge in evaluating the destination toward which Kevin Feige and company have been steering story and viewer alike for the past 11 years and 21 films. Though there have been plenty of three-hour-plus movies and even a few 20+ entry movie franchises, there’s really nothing to compare with what Disney and Marvel Studios have pulled off, either in terms of size, quality and consistency of cast (a moment of silence for Edward Norton and Terrence Howard), or in how narrow the chronological window, all things considered, those movies were produced. Though we’ve praised it often, casting remains the cornerstone of the MCU. Whether by pitch-perfect distillations of decades-old comic book characters (Captain American, Thor, Spider-Man) or charisma-fueled reinventions of same (Iron Man, Ant-Man, Star-Lord), the MCU’s batting average in terms of casting is not only practically obscene, it’s a crucial ingredient in ensuring the thematic and emotional payoff (and box office payday) of Endgame. Moviegoers have been living with these actors, as these characters, for over a decade. For many, this version of these characters is the only one they know. This is why the sudden ashification of so many heroes at the end of Infinity War hit even the most cynical comic book veterans right in the feels and left less hardened viewers confused and distraught. It’s also why, as Avengers: Endgame opens (after another swift kick to the stomach just in case we’ve forgotten the toll of that snap), the audience cares about not just what the surviving heroes are going to do, but how they are doing in general. It gives the film an emotional resonance that’s unusual not only in pulpier genre offerings but in films in general. This connection makes the quiet moments as valuable to the viewer as the spectacle, and for all the fireworks in the third act, Avengers: Endgame is very much a film of quiet moments and small yet potent emotional payoffs. Comic book fans know the thrill of following all your favorite characters through a multi-issue storyline that culminates in a “universe at stake” ending. Now, thanks to 21 movies in 11 years and one massive, satisfying three-hour finale, moviegoers do, too. —Michael Burgin / Full Review

You can also check out The Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time (Worldwide).

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