Let’s face it – 2020 was a tough year for us – and cinema. With the ‘apocalypse’ happening and all, movie theatres shut down, mega movies were postponed (No Time To Die – we’re still waiting!), and streaming platforms took on films that eventually lost a lot of money (Mulan, we’re looking at you).
2020’s highest-grossing movies were indeed very low and the top earner made just $206 million, which is $600 million less than 2019’s top movie Avengers: Endgame.
Still, we want to take the time to list the blockbusters that came out throughout this unusual year and gave us the most thrills!
Without further ado, here are the most popular movies of 2020 with their domestic box office numbers (according to BoxOfficeMojo):
20. The Turning
“The Turn of the Screw” is one of those classic horror novels you can either adapt well or ruin entirely, and this movie unfortunately has more flaws than perks. One would think the story of a babysitter watching over creepy kids in a blatantly haunted manor would be a hit, but The Turning will mostly make you turn around and read the Henry James novel instead. Still, it managed to garner $15 million at the box office.
This thriller will make you avoid midnight swims for a while. Water pierces through the walls of a drilling station at the bottom of the ocean, forcing a team of researchers to swim through uncharted waters to survive. Small problem – sea monsters are hiding in the shadows, ready to turn them into lunchables. Nothing extremely original here, but enough thrills to have a good time!
18. The War With Grandpa
When a grandfather moves into his grandson’s bedroom, what was once a friendship turns into a war to mark one’s territory in the house. Robert De Niro in a comedy is always a thing of beauty, and although The War With Grandpa doesn’t exactly reach the level of craft that the rest of his filmography has, it will certainly give you the giggles at the end of a bad day full of pandemic drama.
17. The Photograph
This romance drama about a curator and a reporter falling in love follows the ups and downs of their passionate romance as one of them is given a job in another country. Instead of throwing clichés in our face like a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Photograph tackles relationships under a realistic, heartwarming light that makes for the perfect Valentine’s Day watch.
Involved in a road rage incident, a single mother sees her day go from bad to nightmarish when the man she exchanged insults with follows her and threatens to harm her and her son. If you love Russell Crowe when he plays good guys, you’ll be downright terrified of him in this one, but in a good way.
15. The Grudge
Yet another adaptation of the 2002 Japanese horror film of the same name (which was itself followed by an American remake in 2004), this new version of The Grudge also done well at the cinema. In this horror movie, we see a detective investigating a murder only to realize that the house where it took place hides a cruel, evil force. What might feel kind of unoriginal for some will sufficiently satisfy hardcore horror fans.
14. Like a Boss
When two close friends create a cosmetic company, they are convinced that their business – and their bond – is stronger than anything. But their friendship is put through the wringer when someone suggests buying them out. Although the movie has some extremely kitsch moments and the comedy is more often than not incredibly over the top, Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne have more than enough chemistry to make it enjoyable.
13. The New Mutants
This Marvel movie already had the odds stacked against it, let’s be honest. After its release was postponed for years, it finally came out… in the middle of a pandemic. That, and the messy plot and below average characters left Marvel fans feeling wholly unfed. That being said, people who enjoy a gritty take on superheroes and want to know what Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones did next will still find something to chew on.
12. Fantasy Island
People came out in huge numbers to see this 2020 movie, but many ended up disappointed. Like a few other titles on this list, box-office numbers don’t mean anything to critics, and this story about young, hot people being invited onto a mysterious but dangerous island where their wishes can all come true did not make as many waves as it wished to.
11. Wonder Woman 1984
After nearly four years, Wonder Woman came back on our screens to woo us once more with her fighting skills and strong moral compass. This time, she returns in 1984 facing two villains for the price of one (bonus – Kristen Wiig!). Although it didn’t receive half the praise the first installment did, this opus will give fans of the superheroine all the thrills they might need until the next one. What’s more – Chris Pine is back!
10. The Gentlemen
Ranked at the halfway mark is none other than popular movie of the year, The Gentlemen. When a marijuana kingpin tries to cash out of the drug empire he built, questionable characters immediately try to take over his “land”. With a stellar cast lead by Hugh Grant and an energetic, fun plot that keeps you hooked until the end, The Gentlemen is one more Guy Ritchie ride you’ll be happy to hop on.
Want more film recommendations? Check out our list of the most popular movies of 2018!
9. The Croods: A New Age
When the first family of cavemen meets a more evolved tribe, trying to live together might prove harder than planned. But when danger arises, the two clans have to find a way to get along and put their differences aside to survive. As heartwarming, colorful and fun as the previous installment, this lovely animation is the perfect sequel that will make you smile widely for an hour and a half.
Ah, Christopher Nolan and his Rubik’s Cubes. In Tenet, a secret agent embarks on a dangerous adventure to stop World War III from happening, no less. His only weapon against the end of the world – a word. This highly anticipated action-packed thriller is obviously as complex as one might expect of a Nolan production, with some time travel and impossible twists and turns that will make you wonder what reality even means.
In this magical adventure that will make everyone cry and laugh alternatively for over an hour, two elf brothers embark on a fantastic, unpredictable adventure through their technologically advanced fairytale land to bring their father back to life. Once again, Pixar has found a new way to tug at our heartstrings left and right, and we’re not complaining.
6. The Call of the Wild
Who would have thought Harrison Ford’s next film would have him recite lines to a CGI dog? This wonderfully-shot film tells the story of a courageous dog named Buck who must suddenly get used to a new, rough life in Alaska after previously living in comfort. Although a lot of people voiced their confusion about our computer-generated furry friend, the breathtaking scenery and Harrison’s earnest performance as a lonesome frontiersman is enough to make us forget that the main character is made of pixels.
5. The Invisible Man
This new take on the classic character sees a woman escape the claws of her abusive partner only to learn that he died that same night. But things take a nightmarish turn when she starts to suspect that he found a way to become invisible to torment her…a theory that no one around her believes. A gut-wrenching performance from Elizabeth Moss and some jaw dropping visual effects will inevitably make you watch this once again.
Stepping into a whole new world after his adventures as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. plays the iconic Doctor Dolittle. An eccentric 19th century veterinarian lives alone in a manor among countless exotic animals and is forced to break his routine to find a cure for a gravely ill Queen Victoria. Although some gags in this movie might be considered overly childish, Dolittle still has enough heart to warm ours and has thus found its way in fourth place.
3. Birds of Prey
This long-awaited Harley Quinn spin-off is a must-see for those who were far from satisfied by her role in the botched DC film Suicide Squad. Heartbroken Harley who is ditched by the Joker has to find her place in the world as a newly single woman also being hunted by almost every single crime lord in town. Of course, Margot Robbie outdoes herself by dialing up Quinn’s craziness to a hundred and gives us an ensemble cast of badass heroines we didn’t know we needed. A+ all the way.
2. Sonic The Hedgehog
It didn’t quite make it to the top grossing movie of the year, but second place still proves that it’s worth watching. After his incredible speed accidentally draws the attention of an evil genius, Mr. Robotnik, Sonic the Hedgehog must try his best to stop the latter from taking over the world with his power. This movie sparked quite the controversy last year when the people behind its visual effects had to change Sonic’s entire appearance last minute, and it kind of paid off. The iconic character is faithful to its video game likeness and Jim Carrey’s hilariously over the top take on the famous video game villain is truly the cherry on top.
1. Bad Boys for Life
The highest-grossing movie of 2020 is indeed Bad Boys for Life and for a very simple reason – nostalgia. In this long-awaited sequel, detectives Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett must join the Miami Police to stop a vengeful drug lord from killing Mike. Although one might think Will Smith and Martin Lawrence would be rusty by now, their chemistry is just as fiery as it once was. It certainly makes for a powerful new entry in the beloved franchise.
Here you have it – the 20 most popular movies of 2020 in order of least to highest-grossing.
We’ll give it to you, this year was not for the faint of hearts, but thanks to the magic of cinema (and streaming), escapism helped many of us go through the worst of it.
So, here’s to a new year and even more awesome stories to fuel us with hope until things get less weird!
What was your favorite best-selling movie out of the bunch? Let us know in the comments!