Highest Grossing Movie Directors of All Time
Wed, April 14, 2021

Highest Grossing Movie Directors of All Time

Directing a movie is not an easy thing to do. Whether films are new or old, or whether directors are tasked with taking charge of a new franchise, movies are required to be handled by people with the right skills, with boundless reserves of creativity and passion for the project / Photo by: Archie424 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Directing a movie is not an easy thing to do. Whether films are new or old, or whether directors are tasked with taking charge of a new franchise, movies are required to be handled by people with the right skills, with boundless reserves of creativity and passion for the project. 

When all of these things come together, the result is usually an amazing piece of work. Of course, when a movie reaches such a success level, it makes not only the actors and producers a bunch of money, it also adds to a director’s credential and overall gross. 

In Hollywood, here are the top-earning movie directors of all time. 

Steven Spielberg 
Total Gross: $4.44 billion 
Highest Grossing Film: “E.T.” ($431 million)

His biggest accomplishments in the movie industry are also the most memorable. “E.T.” may be the highest-grossing film of his career but director Steven Spielberg has already created a lot of iconic movies. According to Screen Rant, an online entertainment website, his extensive movie catalog includes “Jaws” (1975), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), the “Indiana Jones” movies, “Schindler’s List” (1993), “War of Worlds” (2005) and many more. 

He has made 31 movies and is one of the most well-known directors in the world. 

His biggest accomplishments in the movie industry are also the most memorable. “E.T.” may be the highest-grossing film of his career but director Steven Spielberg has already created a lot of iconic movies / Photo by: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

 

Michael Bay 
Total Gross: $2.32 billion 
Highest Grossing Film: “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” ($402 million) 

Having most of the Transformers movies under his belt, director Michael Bay’s name and success are pretty much widespread. His work on Transformers really launched his career, and according to business magazine Business Insider, his work on “Revenge of the Fallen” was the one that made the most money out of all his work. 

He also worked on “Bad Boys” back in 1995, and worked on its sequel, “Bad Boys II” in 2003, as well as on “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” (2016). He’s always been critiqued for his “bombastic” and “unabashed maximalism” in his movies, but there is no denying that his influence has clearly been felt, especially since his style “has been copied by everyone following his footsteps.” 

Peter Jackson 
Total Gross: $2.13 billion 
Highest Grossing Film: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” ($377.8 million)

According to Vanity Fair, Peter Jackson might not be on the same level of Steven Spielberg (as a filmmaker source explained to Vanity Fair that no one has a track record like that of Steven Spielberg), Jackson’s success for “The Return of the King” was still an incredible feat. Jackson’s expertise also makes him a “unicorn” director: a director who has the ability to write and produce their own bankable films. 

His being attached to the Hobbit trilogies have also given him a huge advantage in the world of filmmaking, nearly making him a household name. 

Jackson’s success for “The Return of the King” was still an incredible feat. Jackson’s expertise also makes him a “unicorn” director: a director who has the ability to write and produce their own bankable films / Photo by: Aidan via Wikimedia Commons

 

Robert Zemeckis 
Total Gross: $2.09 billion 
Highest Grossing Film: “Forrest Gump” ($423 million)

Granted, “Forrest Gump” didn’t really age well since 1994, director Robert Zemeckis has also directed some really memorable movies as well. He worked with “Forrest Gump” actor Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” (2000), worked on the “Back to the Future Trilogy” that ran from 1985 to 1990, “The Polar Express” of 2004, “Beowulf” in 2007, “Flight” in 2012, “The Walk” of 2015, and “Allied” in 2016. 

According to Screen Rant, he is now working on live-action but occasionally dips into the special effects world which he came to be defined by. 

James Cameron 
Total Gross: $1.97 billion 
Highest Grossing Film: “Avatar” ($760 million) 

Screen Rant pegs director James Cameron’s international gross at $4 billion, which is bigger but not that much further from his domestic gross. In the span of his career, he has already made about 14 films. Cameron’s track record in Hollywood is very impressive, too, despite him having made relatively fewer movies. Cameron was the genius behind the transcendent “Titanic” of 1997, and “Avatar” of 2009, which Screen Rant described as a “special effects extravaganza that forced the industry to take technology driven cinema more seriously.” 

Honorable Mentions: Up-and-Coming Directors 

Rian Johnson

In the lineup of hot up-and-coming directors that may one day be the next Spielbergs and Jacksons of modern cinema leads Rian Johnson, which entertainment magazine Vanity Fair describes as someone who easily “hopscotched from his $450,000 Sundance indie 'Brick' to the $30 million 'Looper' to the holy grail of a Star Wars film." 

Jordan Peele 

From previously being better known as one half of the comedy duo Key and Peele on Comedy Central, in which he co-starred with fellow comedian Keegan Michael-Key, Vanity Fair stated that Jordan Peele ascended to filmmaking fame when his work on “Get Out” caught tremendous attention from horror aficionados. The $250 million pull of the movie showed its incredible potential, considering it was made on a $4.5 million budget.