Steven Spielberg just became the highest-grossing movie director of all time and the first to cross the $10 billion threshold in total box-office receipts, thanks to a strong showing from Ready Player One. Here now, courtesy of People, are the top five highest-grossing movie directors of all time, as of this writing.
As mentioned above, Spielberg became the first director to achieve a lifetime gross of over $10 billion. It’s hardly surprising; he’s been at it for parts of five decades, and some of his movies are in any list of the highest-grossing movies of all time: Jaws, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, and so on. He’s also produced a few clunkers — does anyone remember BFG? — bit in a five-decade career, not everything is going to be a winner.
Over $3 billion behind Spielberg in box-office receipts, coming in at $6,502.7 billion as of this writing, is Peter Jackson. Jackson, of course, is the man behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was followed by the Hobbit trilogy. Unlike Spielberg, who essentially came from nowhere in the 1970s to forge a new era in filmmaking, Jackson had been grinding it out for years as a director before he hit it big with his Tolkien epics. Some of his earlier works include Braindead (aka Dead Alive), Heavenly Creatures, and Forgotten Silver, among others.
Just a few million behind Jackson is Michael Bay, at $6.451 billion, is the man behind summer popcorn flicks such as the Transformers franchise, as well as The Rock, Armageddon, and similar explosion-driven action flicks.
Coming in at $6.139 billion is the man behind the two highest-grossing movies of all time: Titanic and Avatar. Not unlike Speilberg, Cameron essentially came out of nowhere — albeit a decade after Spielberg — to forge a new era in filmmaking, with such genre-defining classics as The Terminator and Rambo: First Blood Part II.
“Who?” you may be asking. Though not a household name like the men above, Yates has brought in some bank, thanks mostly to his involvement with several films in the Harry Potter franchise and its spinoff, the Fantastic Beasts franchise. His lifetime gross amounts to $5.347 billion.
Who’s After Yates?
That question is difficult to answer. Excluding People’s list published this week, the next most-recent list dates to August 2017, courtesy of Business Insider. Rounding out the bottom portion of the top ten, according to that list, are Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), Ron Howard (Apollo 13), Tim Burton (Alice In Wonderland), and Clint Eastwood (American Sniper).
That List Seems Like It’s Populated Exclusively By White Men
And that’s because it is. It’s hard to say who’s the top-grossing female director over the course of her entire career, as such a list doesn’t seem to exist. So instead, we’ll just say that the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a woman was, perhaps aptly, 2017’s Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, according to Deadline.
As for the highest-grossing black director: again, it’s hard to say, thanks to the lack of such a list. But the highest-grossing movie ever directed by a black director is 2017’s Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele, according to Looper.