Robots and Aliens and Wizards, Oh My!
Third place went to the sixth Harry Potter film with $301 million, only failing to top the very first one in its success. Fourth place was Pixar's Up with $293 million, besting last year's WALL-E (hey, kids love 'em some Ed Asner). And fifth place went to New Moon with $287 million, although I can't help but wonder how this sequel might've done if the above-mentioned Potter sequel didn't move from last Thanksgiving and effectively give the original back its fan base.
Surprises are in store hereafter, as the sixth-ranking The Hangover took in a remarkable $277 million to become the biggest R-rated comedy of all time. I may not think the flick's all that, but hey, it was cheap to make, had a hell of a hook and was powered throughout the summer by good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. (I fully expect this spring's Hot Tub Time Machine to lift its marketing campaign in coming months out of hopes of emulating its success. I can just see the blurbs comparing the two now...)
In eighth place was the biggest sports drama of all time (Rocky inflation notwithstanding), The Blind Side, with $209 million. Star Sandra Bullock also boasted the sixth-biggest rom-com of all time with The Proposal ($163 million), as well as the 107th-biggest with All About Steve ($33 million, what-WHAT!).
On the low-budget sleeper-success end of things, District 9 and Paranormal Activity were each cleverly marketed to grosses above $100 million, while some would argue that the hastily-assembled This is It was the biggest concert film ever with its $72 million domestic/$252 million worldwide take. I never did see the film, but I think that a film cobbled together from outtakes and fundamentally intended to never be released beyond the man's own collection constitutes some sort of exception.
But maybe that's just me.