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The Biggest Box-Office Hit the Year You Were Born

These films were the biggest global box-office hits of each year. Did your favourites make the cut?

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Biggest Box Office Movie of 2021 - Spider-Man No Way HomePhoto: Sony Pictures Entertainment

2021: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Global box office: $1.89 billion

Tom Holland may be the third Spider-Man we’ve had in the past 20 years, but audiences simply can’t get enough of the web-slinging superhero. Back in 2019, the franchise reached a new high, with Spider-Man: Far From Home bringing in a cool $1.2 billion. Last year, that franchise record was smashed with No Way Home, which pairs Holland’s wide-eyed Peter Parker with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange for maximum MCU mayhem.

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Top Box Office Movies 2020 - The Eight HundredPhoto:

2020: The Eight Hundred

Global box office: $461 million

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020’s top-grossing film is measured not in the billions, but in the millions. The Eight Hundred is a Chinese military drama set in Shanghai in 1937. A group of 800 Chinese soldiers are fighting a last-ditch battle against the Japanese army, who have them completely surrounded in a warehouse. Box office take aside, The Eight Hundred is also noteworthy for being the first non-Hollywood, non-English language film to come in #1 at the box office.

Check out the best drama movies on Netflix right now.

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Avengers: EndgamePhoto:

2019: Avengers: Endgame

Global box office: $2.8 billion

With half of the universe wiped out, the remaining Avengers take one final stand against the supervillain Thanos in the grand conclusion to Marvel Studios’ 22-film franchise. Avengers: Endgame is the highest-grossing film of all time.

Would you believe these classics never won Best Picture?

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Avengers: Infinity WarPhoto:

2018: Avengers: Infinity War

Global box office: $2 billion

The Avengers have fought and destroyed otherworldly foes before, but nothing could have prepared them for Thanos (Josh Brolin): a seemingly unstoppable supervillain on the hunt for the most powerful objects in the universe, the Infinity Stones.

These Best Original Score winners are worth watching for the soundtrack alone.

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Star Wars: The Last JediPhoto:

2017: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Global box office: $1.3 billion

The eighth installment in the main Star Wars franchise, The Last Jedi picks up where The Force Awakens left off: Rey (Daisy Ridley) develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), who is disturbed by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares for battle with the First Order.

Every Star Wars fan should know these inspiring Star Wars quotes by heart!

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Captain America: Civil WarPhoto:

2016: Captain America: Civil War

Global box office: $1.15 billion

When politicians move to install a new system of accountability for superheroes, the Avengers are split into two groups: one led by Captain America (Chris Evans), who believes superheroes should be free to defend humanity without interference, and the other led by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who supports government oversight.

Check out these inspiring Marvel movie quotes to live by.

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Star Wars: The Force AwakensPhoto:

2015: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Global box office: $2.07 billion

Nearly 40 years after the original film, we return to a galaxy far, far away as newcomers Rey, Finn, and Poe join veteran rebels (yes, Han Solo and Chewbacca make a comeback) in the fight against Kylo Ren and his First Order. Clearly, the world was ready for more intergalactic action!

These mind-blowing Star Wars facts make watching the films even more enjoyable!

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Transformers: Age of ExtinctionPhoto:

2014: Transformers: Age of Extinction

Global box office: $1.1 billion

As Chicago lies in ruins, a new group of humans, led by Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg), helps Optimus Prime and the Autobots rise up to meet their most fearsome challenge yet: a worldwide war of good versus evil.

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Frozen (2013)Photo:

2013: Frozen

Global box office: $1.28 billion

The courageous Anna (Kristen Bell) joins forces with a mountaineer and his reindeer sidekick to find her sister, Snow Queen Elsa (Idina Menzel), and save their kingdom from winter’s deadly grip.

Check out the best things to watch on Disney Plus right now.

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The AvengersPhoto:

2012: The Avengers

Global box office: $1.52 billion

Marvel’s greatest heroes unite to defeat Loki and his evil alien army before they take over Earth and everyone on it. And when you put Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye in a battle of epic proportions, you better believe it’s going to be as witty as it is action-packed.

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2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2

Global box office: $1.34 billion

The final installment of the Harry Potter series was a bittersweet moment for fans. Yes, the adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione reached an inevitable end, but at least it was a satisfying one, equal parts thrilling, visually stimulating, and touching. The only question that remains (and will never be unanimously answered) is whether the movies were better than the books.

This is the best Harry Potter movie, according to Rotten Tomatoes.

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Toy Story 3Photo:

2010: Toy Story 3

Global box office: $1.06 billion

Adventurous for young viewers, nostalgic for young-at-heart viewers, and tear-jerking for everyone. In the third film in this classic series, our small but mighty heroes once again must find their way home before their owner Andy leaves for college. It just goes to show that some toys were made to be more than toys.

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Still from Avatar (2009)Photo:

2009: Avatar

Global box office: $2.78 billion

James Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy takes place on the moon Pandora, where one man tries to stop his fellow humans from colonizing the planet and drive out the natives he has come to love. The film’s use of stereoscopy—making 3D images look more real by adding depth—is considered a technological breakthrough for the industry.

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The Dark KnightPhoto:

2008: The Dark Knight

Global box office: $1 billion

Consistently named one of the best superhero movies ever made, The Dark Knight takes viewers into the chaos of Gotham as Batman attempts to save his city from the Joker. Heath Ledger posthumously won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as the Joker. (He is the second actor to ever receive this award after death.)

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Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's EndPhoto:

2007: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Global box office: $963 million

Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) join forces with Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) to free Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) from Davy Jones.

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's ChestPhoto:

2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Global box office: $1.07 billion

Captain Jack Sparrow returns in the sequel to the first Pirates film, The Curse of the Black Pearl, as he and his swashbuckling friends search for the heart of Davy Jones—with the fate of their souls at stake. Talk about a lot to lose. Do you think Captain Jack ever used pirate jokes to ease the tension?

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2005: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Global box office: $897 million

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) return for their fourth year at Hogwarts. A tournament between the three schools of magic is underway, and Harry is forced to participate.

Here are 20+ hilarious Harry Potter jokes every muggle should know.

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Shrek 2Photo:

2004: Shrek 2

Global box office: $920 million

Typically, sequels are never as good as the first movie, but Shrek 2 is definitely not ogre-rated. In this animated comedy, Shrek and Fiona continue their love story by going to meet Fiona’s parents in the Kingdom of Far Far Away.

These are the best comedies on Netflix Canada right now.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingPhoto:

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Global box office: $1.12 billion

This movie was based off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s book and was produced, written, and directed by Peter Jackson. This acclaimed film won 11 Academy Awards and brought in over $1 billion worldwide.

Did you catch these hidden messages in the Lord of the Rings trilogy?

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersPhoto:

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Global box office: $923 million

The Two Towers is famous for two reasons: the 40-minute Helm’s Deep battle sequence and the addition of CGI character Gollum (Andy Serkis). Nearly 20 years later, the two achievements have yet to be surpassed!

Check out 12 movies that are better than the books they’re based on.

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2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Global box office: $975 million

Based off of the first book in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, this film follows a young wizard, Harry Potter, through his adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Did you spot these hidden messages in the Harry Potter books?

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Mission: Impossible 2Photo:

2000: Mission: Impossible 2

Global box office: $546 million

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) leads his team on a mission to capture a deadly virus before it’s released by a gang of international terrorists, one of them being a former IMF agent gone rogue. Directed by John Woo (Face/Off).

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Star Wars: The Phantom MenacePhoto:

1999: Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace

Global box office: $984 million

This film is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, set 32 years before the original film. The premiere of the film was highly attended by the following that the Star Wars saga had created.

Test your knowledge with these real Jeopardy! questions about Star Wars.

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Bruce Willis in ArmageddonPhoto:

1998: Armageddon

Global box office: $554 million

When an asteroid threatens to destroy Earth, the only way to stop it is to drill into its surface and detonate a nuclear bomb. This leads NASA to contact renowned deep-sea oil driller Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), who agrees to helm the dangerous space mission provided he can bring along his own ragtag crew.

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Titanic (1997)Photo:

1997: Titanic

Global box office: $2.13 billion

Titanic shares the fictional love story of Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater, while outlining the true story of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The budget for the film was a record-breaking $200 million, but the 11 Oscars that it won and over $2 billion it brought in worldwide made up for it.

Don’t miss these mind-blowing facts about the real Titanic.

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Independence DayPhoto:

1996: Independence Day

Global box office: $817 million

This movie is a science fiction action film that focuses on a group of people in the aftermath of an attack by an extraterrestrial race. It was directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich, who came up with the idea for the film after questioning his own belief in aliens.

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Die Hard with a VengeancePhoto:

1995: Die Hard with a Vengeance

Global box office: $366 million

A mysterious terrorist is threatening to detonate bombs across New York City, and it’s up to John McClane (Bruce Willis)—now a full-fledged alcoholic recently suspended from the NYPD—to stop him. His partner-in-crime? An unwitting Harlem store owner (Samuel L. Jackson).

Love pulse-pounding action? These great spy movies are worth rewatching.

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The Lion King (1994)Photo:

1994: The Lion King

Global box office: $988 million

The Dane grows a mane in Disney’s all-singing, all-dancing, all-animal rendition of Hamlet. Beloved for its big and playful soundtrack, The Lion King earned Oscars for Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer, spawned a perpetually popular Broadway musical, and—for better or worse—got “Hakuna Matata” stuck in millions of kid and parent craniums alike. No worries.

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Jurassic ParkPhoto:

1993: Jurassic Park

Global box office: $1.03 billion

Dino DNA turns an ill-conceived theme park into a gauntlet of hungry velociraptors, stomping tyrannosaurs, and unhinged Jeff Goldblum laughter. Four films later, who would’ve thought that a little mosquito would spawn one of the highest-grossing media franchises of all time?

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Aladdin (1992)Photo:

1992: Aladdin

Global box office: $504 million

A meet cute in the slums of Agrabah sends a handsome thief chasing after a strong-willed princess with swords, sorcery, and, eventually, the truth. One of Disney’s finest films, Aladdin deserves a place in the pantheon for nothing less than Robin Williams’s signature role as a fast-talking genie with whom everyone—still—wishes they could be friends.

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Terminator 2: Judgment DayPhoto:

1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Global box office: $520 million

After wreaking havoc across Los Angeles in search of Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) in the original film, the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) returns as… a good guy? Terminator 2: Judgment Day was a watershed moment in the world of action movies and visual effects—and it’s rarely been equalled.

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Ghost (1990)Photo:

1990: Ghost

Global box office: $506 million

When a banker (Patrick Swayze) is murdered by his best friend and business partner over a shady business deal, his ghost must seek the help of a psychic (Whoopi Goldberg) in order to protect his girlfriend Molly (Demi Moore) from certain death.

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Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadePhoto: Paramount Pictures

1989: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Global box office: $474 million

Harrison Ford and Sean Connery join forces in the third film in the Indiana Jones franchise. This time, their adventure takes them on a quest to find the literal Holy Grail.

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Rain ManPhoto:

1988: Rain Man

Global box office: $355 million

Sleazy Tom Cruise and autistic savant Dustin Hoffman take a road trip to escape a mental institution, cheat a Vegas casino, watch Judge Wapner, and other brotherly activities. Funny and heartfelt, Rain Man won four Oscars, including a Best Actor statue for Hoffman.

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Fatal AttractionPhoto:

1987: Fatal Attraction

Global box office: $320 million

A hotshot lawyer (Michael Douglas) has a casual fling with a sexy book editor (Glenn Close), but their infidelity has dangerous consequences when Close’s character is revealed to be a violent psychotic.

Here are the true crime podcasts you should be listening to.

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Top GunPhoto:

1986: Top Gun

Global box office: $357 million

“Maverick,” “Goose,” and “Iceman” are fighter pilot trainees alternately making the skies safer and more dangerous in this military romance that made all filmgoers suddenly want their own codenames.

Test your knowledge of aviation terms with our Word Power challenge!

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Back to the FuturePhoto:

1985: Back to the Future

Global box office: $389.1 million

Marty McFly and Doc Brown have a time-traveling DeLorean (Radical!). They use it to go to high school with Marty’s parents in the ’50s (Laaaame). This pioneering sci-fi comedy has attained cult classic status for good reason.

These movies about time travel will seriously blow your mind.

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of DoomPhoto:

1984: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Global box office: $333 million

In this prequel, Nazi-fighting archaeologist Indiana Jones turns his sights on an ancient cult in India dabbling in slavery and human sacrifice. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom‘s dark tone shocked audiences in 1984, but its thrilling action sequences helped propel it to box office glory.

Check out the best action movies on Netflix Canada right now.