British talent in film-making is a double-edged sword. So much of the home-grown talent gets sucked up by Hollywood – in acting and the technical crafts – which means the British industry lacks funds to make what it wants to make. However, there are still plenty of blockbusters that rock the box office both sides of the Atlantic and around the world. Here are the top 21 highest grossing British productions according to box office sales (not adjusted for inflation.)
1 Star Wars : the Force Awakens (2015)
The most eagerly anticipated movie ever. For fans it did not disappoint. Those who had seen the originals back in the 1970s were able to reconnect to the franchise and a new legion of fans was also born. Despite the franchise being owned by Disney, this Star Wars movie counts as a British production because it was entirely directed from Pinewood studios. Takings to dat £123.0 million.
2 Skyfall (2012)
The third in the Craig series in which James bond has to regain both the trust of his peers and his abilities. This movie grossed £102.9 million, and even though it had numerous winks to James Bond fans, it was actually the weakest of the re-boot series yet, with more plot holes, irregular logic and unrealistic occurrences than ever before, showing that it truly is a James Bond movie after all. It is the highest grossing British movie and it gained its prestige from the previous two versions and was still positively reviewed, which is why it did so well. Fab theme song though!
Bond's most recent adventure didn't reach the dizzying heights of Skyfall but has still managed to pull in £95+million. Spectre is one of the most expensive movies ever made - it cost a massive £245 million. It was purported to be Daniel Craig's last outing but the rumor mill is rife that he's been made an offer he can't refuse to reprise his role in another installment of our favorite secret agent's escapades.
4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II (2011)
The Deathly Hallows - Part I had started bringing the overarching threads to a close and the production values shot up, so when part II came out, fans were falling over themselves to watch it. Part II brings the series to an exciting climax and many people were sad to see the end of the epic tale of Harry and co.
5 Mamma Mia (2008)
Despite a predominantly non-British cast, this is a British movie. Top of the list of wedding movies that will make you say ‘I do’ has got to be Mamma Mia! The smash hit movie of the smash hit stage show based on the amazing music of ABBA is all about the impending nuptials of a young woman and her one true love. With catchy tunes and a glorious Greek island setting to boot, Mamma Mia will have you researching just how to have a sun kissed musical wedding of your very own!
6 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
Released as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US, this is one of the movies that stuck very closely to the book, and it was a big fan pleaser as a result. This movie helped to bring a lot of non-readers to the franchise and introduced us to the cast that has enriched our lives for many years now.
7 The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Not the best Nolan version of Batman by a merry mile, we all know which the best one was. The Nolan Batman trilogy shone a whole new light on the Batman series, which had become a joke up until this point. It added a dark and brooding tone that was a shocking as the dark and fetish tone the first two Batman movies had. The first had a silly bad guy that didn’t hold true to the quasi-real feel of the premise; after all, Batman is the one superhero that you can become if you get rich enough. However, the unfulfilling bad guy in this one was soon remedied by its far superior sequel, but then smashed to pieces again with this movie.
8 Casino Royale (2006)
This was our first look at the new version of James Bond, as the series beforehand had been struggling for ideas for a long time, and it really worked. It worked by stripping away the silly and camp elements of James Bond and simply focusing on the man himself (who wouldn't want to focus on Daniel Craig?) It worked and it worked very well.
9 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
This movie was not as strong as some of the later movies, but it helped to establish the movie as a kid’s film, while also adding a darker and livelier tone so that the adults didn’t have to roll their eyes as hard while watching it with their kids. At this point, we started to see parents take an interest, which helped expand the viewer base. Oddly enough, it wasn’t reviewed all that well at the time, but has since seen its approval rating rise now that the “Will it live up to the first movie?” question is not as potent.
10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2011)
It has a few poor reviews because the movies shifted in tone and there were a lot of people that didn’t like that idea. There were also a lot of people that were heavily invested in the characters at this point, which meant no amount of poor reviews would keep them from watching it. However, this is the first movie where production values, direction and yes, even the acting improved dramatically over the previous movies.
11 The Full Monty (1997)
If you cannot get any money, then take your clothes off. Can you imagine if they made this movie about women? In this South Yorkshire (England) romp, you see a series of grounded and gritty actors have to deal with real life in a city where industry is dying and is leaving a series of under qualified people in its wake.
12 Quantum of Solace (2008)
It wasn’t as good as the first Daniel Craig Bond, but it was the first James Bond movie to carry a story over from the previous installment, and yet it was woven into the movie without becoming its focus. More attention was paid to the previous movie’s effect on James as opposed to its effect on the story, and that was 100% the way they should have gone with it. We also see Daniel Craig find his feet as James Bond, which helps to add a little more depth than maybe the first installment was able.
13 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
This installment has a tender slathering of darkness that was broken by a few bouts of being quite funny. It is visually stunning and was a great and emotionally satisfying movie for Harry Potter fans.
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14 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Yes, another Harry Potter movie that continues the series. If you're not careful you can miss the really important messages that are intrinsic to the of the whole Harry Potter story because the special effects are so stunning they overshadow the plot. Luckily avid fans have read the book so they can spot the important threads.
15 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
This was the most complex installment to date and things start to get darker for the whole wizarding world. There's an excellent examination of teenage angst - particularly relating to and friendship and love - perhaps made better by the growing maturity of the main young stars. It was believable and left us reeling.
16 The Dark Knight (2008)
Do not let the fact that it is number 15 on this list put you off. This has to be one of the greatest movies of the 00s, and is a great example of when clever screenwriting, consistent directing and good acting comes together in harmony. They really threw the dice when it came to this movie, especially casting the “Knight’s Tale” lead as the bad guy, but it came together beautifully. If you haven’t seen it, buy it on iTunes or rent it from Amazon and watch it tonight. Feel free to bring a whole chair, but you will only need the edge!
17 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The eleventh film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the most successful to date. Our favorite Marvel superheroes return in the sequel to the 2012 The Avengers and this too was written and directed by Joss Whedon. Primarily shot in Shepperton Studios, it grossed over $1.4 billion worldwide, putting it in the top 10 highest-grossing film in history. and the fourth-highest-grossing film of 2015. A sequel, Avengers: Infinity War, is scheduled to be released in 2018.
18 Bridget Jones's Baby
Like her original audience, our favorite haphazard diarist has all grown up and motherhood looms. Bridget remains a character women all over the world easily identify with. No Daniel Cleaver this time but Patrick "Dr. McDreamy" drops in to complicate things. As if anything could ever run smoothly (or normal ...) for Bridget Jones.
19 The Jungle Book (2016)
I am honestly at a loss as to how this is even in here. All others listed are classed as British productions or British/International co-productions. This is a Walt Disney production filmed entirely in Los Angeles. But the resource I have used has included it so there must be qualifying criteria somewhere. It is one of the highest (4th at time of writing) grossing films of 2016.
20 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
It has a surprise ending that thrilled the fans and is still well remembered. It is not a perfect movie, and it is still a children’s movie, but the new director Alfonso Cuarón allowed for more complex storytelling against the production criticisms that it may be too difficult for children to understand. His and Chris Columbus’s (previous director) opinion was that if they can understand it in the book, then they can understand it on the screen. A definite fan favorite.
21 The King's Speech (2011)
This movie was classic Oscar bait and indeed won a clutch (4). The movie sought the approval of the Royal Family and received it. How true to life it is we can only guess at.
22 The Inbetweeners Movie (2011)
Packed with outrageous sexual shenanigans, out-of-control party antics and cheeky rude humor, it harks back to the tradition of American Pie and is subsequently for people that enjoy the lewd teen genre.
23 Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
It achieved an almost cult status at the time, and yet many look back on it in the same way they look back on the Spice Girls. It wasn’t even that good in retrospect, but it was such a departure from the usual thing that women were seeing in the cinema that it worked. It was finally good to see an imperfect woman being imperfect as opposed to a Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock or Natalie Portman figure that you can tell are only acting imperfect. Renee is a good actor, but not a great one, yet many women saw a part of themselves when they saw her on the screen, which may just prove that sometimes the role makes the actor instead of the other way around.
24 Les Misérables (2013)
This movie is not for everybody, especially if you are not a fan of watching people sing. It is very camp, loud and bombastic, but does have some great performances. It also features Hugh Jackman in a more tender role, but doesn’t exploit his immense talent, which so often seems to get wasted.
25 The Inbetweeners 2 (2014)
This is another movie for the “American Pie” crowd, but they played a rather more shrewd game of hitting people with one gag after another until it lands. It has a lot of contempt for the characters, is puerile and childish, but is the sort of thing this genre crowd expects. Most agree that this one is better than the first.
This list is so obviously dominated by Harry Potter and Bond which shows where UK film making money goes. But that ain’t broken so it don’t need fixing!
Which is your favorite?
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