If there’s one thing the eighties will be remembered for, it’s fun. As it turned out, all those wacky styles, creativity and raunchy attitude ultimately unchained plenty of timeless classics. Whether we are talking about movies, music or fashion, the ’80s brought some serious stuff to the table, and right now we will be focusing on the film industry.
With such blockbusters as the Indiana Jones series, E.T. or Ghostbusters, the decade has cemented itself as one of the most fruitful and prolific years in the history of the seventh art. So to give you an input of what the ’80s movies were all about, we decided to go with some cold, hard facts and figures and bring you the list of 10 highest grossing movies of the ’80s based on domestic box office earnings. Check it out below.
10. Top Gun – $176.8 million
The story of pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchel gets to kick off our Top 10 with a hefty sum of over $175 million grossed. Cool airplanes, a love story, dramatic death of a friend, the ultimate victory and survival, this film has it all, so it’s no wonder that even today you might see or even know someone who wears a Top Gun t-shirt just like it’s still 1986.
Apart from legendary Tom Cruise in the main role, the movie also features Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer and Meg Ryan as some of the starring actors.
9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – $197.2 million
As the second installment of the massively successful Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade already had a well established name to be built upon, but also some pretty big shoes to fill. Released in 1984 as a prequel to 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, the film fetched praises from around the world, ultimately grossing almost $200 million.
Despite earning the title of a cinematic classic, the movie was met with several unfavorable reviews upon the initial release, as some of the critics attacked the violence portrayed in it, as well as the controversial display of Indian culture and Hindu religion.
8. Back to the Future – $210.6 million
As the first movie to cross the $200 million mark, 1985 box office bomb Back to the Future told the world a story of Marty McFly, a cool rock ‘n’ roll dude with a knack for guitar playing and skateboarding (and hoverboarding!). As if the regular problems of a 17-year-old weren’t enough, Marty got mixed up in some serious time traveling business with an eccentric scientist named Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown.
Chances are you already know how the story goes, whether you are an 80’s kid or a teen of the 2010’s. Starring Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd, the film was even named as the tenth best movie of the science fiction genre by the American Film Institute.
7. Beverly Hills Cop – $234.8 million
Eddie Murphy is just one of those guys that can make you laugh to tears, and 1984’s “Beverly Hills Cop” is no exception. With impressive earnings of just under $235 million, the series’ first installment eventually became the biggest hit of the year.
The adventures of a cheeky Detroit detective Axel Foley launched Murphy to global superstardom, earning the movie the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture along the way. Back then, everyone wanted to be as cool as Foley, so it’s no wonder that Beverly Hills Cop t-shirts were basically selling like hotcakes.
6. Ghostbusters – $238.6 million
Just as epic as its chart topping theme song, the globally renowned Ghostbusters are a part of possibly the most fruitful year of the decade. Not only did it give us other film classics such as Beverly Hills Cop, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid or Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but it also unleashed music classics such as the Footloose theme or Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
You probably know all there is to know about this gem, so get that Ghostbusters t-shirt out of your closet and give the world a dose of an ’80s classic.
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark – $242.4 million
Indiana Jones strikes again! The iconic whip-wielding, Fedora hat-wearing hero returns to our list, making the series become the second one to have two of its installments featured in the Top 10.
The movie came out in 1981 as Indy’s big screen debut, propelling both the starring actor Harrison Ford and the character of Indiana onto the very top of the cinematic world, grossing a total of over $240 million.
4. Batman – $251.2 million
Allow us to introduce you with the world’s favorite vigilante superhero billionaire playboy, the one and only – Batman. One of the most popular Batman incantations saw its release in 1989, featuring the infamous Joker as the main villain character.
With Michael Keaton starring as Batman, legendary Jack Nicholson as the dreaded Joker and Kim Basinger playing the role of Vicki Vale, the movie went on to gross over $250 million.
3. The Empire Strikes Back – $290.2 million
The second (chronologically fifth) part of the epic Star Wars franchise gets to crack open the Top 3. With its first installment in 1977, the series attracted legions of followers, so it’s no wonder that Star Wars t-shirts are ranked among the best selling movie shirts even today, over three decades later.
Apart from a well-known storyline, the movie also features one of the most famous film quotes of all time. You probably guessed it, it’s *switch to Darth Vader voice* “I am your father.”
2. Return of the Jedi – $309.1 million
We are still looking at the time that passed long ago, in a galaxy far, far away… except this time around it’s episode six, or Return of the Jedi we are talking about. Released two years after The Empire Strikes Back, the film managed to top its predecessor by almost $20 million, cashing in an astonishing sum of $310 million.
Apart from a peculiar character named Jabba the Hut, Episode Six also saw the final demise of the Dark Side, with Darth Vader ultimately redeeming himself for the wrongs he had done.
1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial – $399.8 million
This brings us to the very top of our list and the iconic E.T. With the story of lovable alien, Steven Spielberg brought tears of joy and sadness to millions of people around the globe. What you possibly didn’t know is that the story was written by Melissa Mathison, who had been married to Harrison Ford for over two decades, with their relationship ending with a divorce in 2004.
The movie scored big-time, ultimately earning $399.8 million domestically and a whopping figure of almost $800 million worldwide, making E.T. not only one of the highest grossing movies of the 80’s, but of all time.