Highest-Grossing Romantic Comedy Movies of All Time
Mon, April 19, 2021

Highest-Grossing Romantic Comedy Movies of All Time

Nia Vardalos and Ian Gomez starred and wrote the scripts in their movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one of the most popular rom-com movies of 2002 / Photo by: Jesse Grant via Wikimedia Commons


Romantic comedy movies are staples in the industry. They are the simplest movies to digest and the ones that resonate with the audience quicker than any. They use predictable tropes and therefore do not have any problems connecting with the crowd. In the past few years, there have been many successful romantic comedy movies that have made their mark on audiences around the world. 

Here are some of the most unforgettable romantic comedy movies of all time. 

“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002)

Domestic Gross: $241.4 million 

Starring Nia Vardalos, who also wrote the script for the movie and played a starring role, and Ian Gomez, the film was a sleeper hit, according to ReelRundown, a website created by film and TV buffs. The movie didn’t become a big hit right away, instead, it grew on audiences and eventually pulled in $241 million. It may not have reached the top of the US box office, the success of the film even outside the states is notable, especially since it was made on a $5 million budget and grossed about $500 million in total when the domestic gross and international sales were combined. 

“What Women Want” (2000)

Domestic Gross: $182.8 million 

When you pitch a movie with the title “What Women Want,” it’s a no-brainer that many people would want to see it to understand what it is really that women want. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that the movie became such a big hit. It stars Nancy Meyers and Mel Gibson as well as Helen Hunt, and the story follows “a chauvinistic ad exec (Gibson) who acquires the gift to hear what women are thinking,” writer Reel Rundown. 

It was produced on a $70 million budget and eventually grossed $182 million domestically, making it a hit. To top it all off, it also amassed some $374.1 million in worldwide gross. It doesn’t have a fairly high rate on Rotten Tomatoes, though, which is only at 54%, but its performance in the box office was nonetheless commendable. 

“Hitch” (2005) 

Domestic Gross: $179.4 million 

For the third spot, Entertainment Weekly lists “Hitch,” a movie that made money in large part because it starred the most “bankable man in Hollywood.” Directed by Andy Tennant, it starred Will Smith opposite Eva Mendes’ intelligent journalist character and quickly pulled $179 million. The worldwide gross was no less impressive, reaching upwards of $368 million. It’s got a higher Rotten Tomatoes score than “What Women Want,” at least. 

There’s an interesting tidbit of fact about the movie, too. Will Smith shared that the lead actress was supposed to be white but because producers worried that would be taboo, they opted for a Hispanic female lead.  

Directed by Andy Tennant, the 2005 movie Hitch starred Will Smith opposite Eva Mendes’ intelligent journalist character and quickly pulled $179 million / Photo by: Walmart via Flickr


“Pretty Woman” (1990)

Domestic Gross: $178.4 million

Seriously, what more can you ask for when Richard Gere and Julia Roberts are in the same movie? This hit from 1990 may seem like wishful thinking--the story itself can come across as a fantasy sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less heartwarming and utterly human. In the story, Richard Gere is a businessman who “hires an escort for a week for social and business functions,” while Julia Roberts takes the job on account of her not-so-wonderful-fate as a Hollywood sex worker. 

There’s some socio-political comments spliced in the movie, too, stemming from Roberts’ character’s state in life, not to mention that piano scene. All in all, many people can agree that it was a good movie, just as its $463 million worldwide gross. 

Richard Gere in the movie "Pretty Woman" is a businessman who “hires an escort for a week for social and business functions,” while Julia Roberts takes the job on account of her not-so-wonderful-fate as a Hollywood sex worker / Photo by: U.S. Embassy New Delhi via Flickr


Honorable Mention: “500 Days of Summer” (2009) 

Domestic Gross: $60 million

It only made half of what the above films were making but “500 Days of Summer” was an unforgettable movie for many reasons. Though it’s hard to pinpoint them, what makes the movie so effective in its themes (i.e. expectations versus reality, a look at heartbreak and failed relationships) is how honest it was with these themes. You can only make so many heartbreaking movies without it being too cliche, except this movie ensures that we all know where the story is going from the start. 

According to Entertainment.ie, it begins, aptly enough, with an introduction: “This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.” Anyone who refuses to touch back on that while watching the movie is then thrown into lead actor Tom’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shoes, where they feel his frustrations so acutely before circling back after the veil on the unreliable narrator is revealed and we see all along that it was, in fact, not a love story. 

The movie deserves an honorable mention in the list in part because it does a little bit of breaking the mold on the classic romantic trope. Instead of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” fantasies, we get a girl who is just like everyone else--a human. She is her own self and we are thrust into the realization that holding her to an impossible fantasy is not only selfish but irresponsible, for both ourselves and for her.