The Highest Earning Black Movies of All-Time

Big Momma's House - One of the Highest Earning Black Movies of All-Time

Let’s celebrate the success of black cinema together! Recently, black movies have been on the rise in the film industry and one way to measure their success is through box office earnings. 

Today, let’s discover the top highest-earning black movies of all time and highlight the importance of black filmmakers. We’ll explore their contributions to the film industry, and the impact of representation. With their artistic talent and commercial success, black movies have left a lasting impact on audiences around the world.

The Top 10 Highest-Earning Black Movies of All-Time

1. Black Panther – $1.3 Billion

“Black Panther” (2018) is a superhero film based on the same-named Marvel Comics character. Directed by Ryan Coogler, the movie stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the king of the African kingdom of Wakanda. 

The film also features a talented ensemble cast including Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Freeman, Danai Gurira, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Winston Duke, and Angela Bassett. The movie explores the themes of identity, leadership, and tradition, and was celebrated for its representation of black culture and African heritage.

The film was a critical and financial success, grossing over $1.3 billion worldwide. In addition to its box office success, “Black Panther” was also highly regarded by audiences and critics, receiving numerous award nominations and wins. 

As a result of its success, the Marvel Cinematic Universe became one of the biggest franchises in the film industry. Both fans of the comic book genre and those who appreciate well-made films will appreciate “Black Panther” for its cultural significance and top-notch special effects.

2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – $859 million

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” directed by Ryan Coogler in 2022, triumphantly continues the saga of the groundbreaking “Black Panther” (2018). This Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel delves deeper into the rich heritage and struggles of Wakanda following the loss of King T’Challa. The film features returning favorites and introduces new characters, beautifully balancing action, emotion, and cultural depth.

Already a cinematic phenomenon, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” grossed an impressive $859 million globally, distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. Running for 2 hours and 41 minutes, the film honors Chadwick Boseman’s legacy while exploring themes of leadership, resilience, and unity, securing its place as a powerful and significant work in the superhero genre.

3. Men in Black 3 – $654 million

“Men in Black 3,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld in 2012, marks the return of the iconic duo, Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones), in their timeless black suits. This sci-fi action comedy takes a twist with time travel, sending J back to the 1960s to save a younger K (Josh Brolin) and the future of the agency. The film blends humor, history, and heart, continuing the legacy of the Men in Black franchise.

Grossing over $654 million worldwide, “Men in Black 3” was a commercial success, distributed by Columbia Pictures. Its 1 hour and 46 minutes runtime entertains with intergalactic adventures, quirky alien encounters, and the enduring camaraderie of J and K. The film skillfully balances action and comedic elements, ensuring its place in the beloved Men in Black series.

4. Hancock – $629 million

“Hancock,” directed by Peter Berg in 2008, presents a unique twist on the superhero genre with Will Smith starring as the titular character. This action-comedy film portrays Hancock as a misunderstood, reluctant hero with superpowers, whose reckless actions often cause more harm than good in Los Angeles. Despite his powers, Hancock’s cynical attitude and public image are far from heroic.

The film was a hit, grossing over $629 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it runs for 1 hour and 32 minutes, combining action-packed scenes with an exploration of Hancock’s complex character. “Hancock” stands out for its unconventional take on the superhero narrative, blending humor, drama, and a journey towards redemption.

5. Men in Black – $589 million

“Men in Black,” a 1997 sci-fi action comedy directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, introduces us to the secret world of Agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith). This dynamic duo polices extraterrestrial interactions on Earth, all while sporting the coolest black suits. The film combines a mix of otherworldly adventures, humor, and state-of-the-art special effects, as the agents tackle an intergalactic crisis.

A massive hit, “Men in Black” grossed over $589 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it runs for an engaging 1 hour and 38 minutes. With its blend of sharp humor, thrilling action, and groundbreaking visuals, “Men in Black” became an instant classic, spawning sequels and solidifying its place in the realm of iconic sci-fi films.

6. I Am Legend – $585 million

“I Am Legend,” a 2007 post-apocalyptic thriller directed by Francis Lawrence, stars Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville, the last human survivor in a desolated New York City. Neville, a brilliant scientist, is not only battling the infected remnants of humanity but also his own isolation while searching for a cure. The film is a gripping exploration of survival, loneliness, and the human spirit.

It was a commercial success, grossing over $585 million worldwide. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film runs for a captivating 1 hour and 41 minutes. “I Am Legend” stands out for its poignant narrative, Smith’s powerful performance, and its hauntingly beautiful portrayal of a deserted urban landscape. The movie’s blend of intense drama and sci-fi elements has cemented it as a memorable entry in the genre.

7. Men in Black II – $441 million

“Men in Black 2,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld in 2002, reunites the formidable duo of Agents J (Will Smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) in another extraterrestrial escapade. This sequel to the 1997 hit sees the agents battling a new alien threat while rediscovering the secrets of their past. The film brings back the original’s blend of sci-fi action, deadpan humor, and quirky aliens, all wrapped up in slick black suits.

It was a box office success, grossing over $441 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, “Men in Black 2” runs for a brisk 1 hour and 28 minutes, offering a fun-filled, action-packed journey that continues the legacy of the Men in Black franchise with its unique blend of comedy and otherworldly intrigue.

8. Bad Boys for Life – $426 million

“Bad Boys for Life,” the third installment in the “Bad Boys” franchise, directed by Adil & Bilall in 2020, marks the thrilling return of detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence). This action-packed film blends high-stakes police work with the duo’s signature humor as they confront new threats in Miami. The chemistry between Smith and Lawrence is as dynamic as ever, delivering both intense action sequences and laugh-out-loud moments.

The film achieved significant success, grossing over $426.5 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, “Bad Boys for Life” runs for 2 hours and 4 minutes, offering a blend of nostalgia and fresh adventures, proving that the Bad Boys haven’t lost their touch. It’s a fitting continuation of the beloved series, combining the essence of the original films with a more mature perspective on friendship and legacy.

9. Django Unchained $426 million

“Django Unchained” is a 2012 American drama Western film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film stars Jamie Foxx, Samuel L. Jackson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and Kerry Washington. 

The story follows Django (played by Foxx), a freed slave rescuing his wife from a cruel plantation owner (played by DiCaprio). It earned $426,074,373 worldwide, with the majority of its earnings coming from international markets. 

“Django Unchained” has become a Western classic for its captivating story, standout performances, and bold cultural themes.

10. Hitch – $371 million

“Hitch,” a 2005 romantic comedy directed by Andy Tennant, stars Will Smith as Alex ‘Hitch’ Hitchens, New York City’s premier “date doctor.” Smith charms as the smooth-talking matchmaker who helps men woo the women of their dreams. However, his own romantic prowess is put to the test when he meets Sara Melas (Eva Mendes), a gossip columnist skeptical of his methods. The film weaves humor and heart, showcasing Smith’s comedic talent.

“Hitch” was a box office hit, grossing over $371 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it runs for a delightful 1 hour and 58 minutes, offering a clever, feel-good story about love, vulnerability, and the art of dating. The film’s blend of witty dialogue, relatable characters, and romantic escapades has made it a favorite in the rom-com genre.

11. Rush Hour 2 – $347 million

Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan electrify the screen once again in “Rush Hour 2,” a 2001 action-comedy film directed by Brett Ratner. This sequel to the hit 1998 film “Rush Hour” takes the dynamic duo of Detective James Carter and Inspector Lee to Hong Kong for a vacation that quickly turns into a high-stakes criminal investigation. Known for its perfect blend of Tucker’s comedic timing and Chan’s martial arts expertise, “Rush Hour 2” is a whirlwind of action and laughs.

The film was a box office triumph, grossing over $347 million worldwide. Distributed by New Line Cinema, it runs for 1 hour and 30 minutes of non-stop entertainment, combining hilarious cultural exchanges with thrilling action sequences.

“Rush Hour 2” not only cemented Tucker and Chan’s status as a legendary comedic pair but also solidified the franchise’s position in the action-comedy genre. Its success led to another sequel, further expanding the global appeal of the “Rush Hour” saga.

12. Beverly Hills Cop – $316 million

“Beverly Hills Cop,” a 1984 action-comedy classic directed by Martin Brest, stars Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a wise-cracking Detroit cop with a knack for trouble. Foley heads to Beverly Hills to solve his best friend’s murder, where his down-to-earth style clashes with the city’s posh environment. Murphy’s electrifying performance drives the film, blending street smarts with unorthodox methods.

The film was a blockbuster, grossing over $316 million worldwide. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, it runs for 1 hour and 45 minutes of non-stop action and laughs. “Beverly Hills Cop” not only cemented Murphy’s status as a comedy icon but also became a defining film of the 80s, blending action, humor, and a killer soundtrack. It’s a quintessential buddy-cop film that transcends the genre, making it a timeless piece of cinema.

13. The Pursuit of Happyness – $307 million

“The Pursuit of Happyness,” directed by Gabriele Muccino in 2006, stars Will Smith as Chris Gardner, a struggling salesman who becomes homeless with his young son, portrayed by Smith’s real-life son, Jaden. This biographical drama is a compelling narrative of resilience and determination, as Gardner pursues a life-changing professional opportunity in the face of daunting challenges.

The film was both a critical and box office success, grossing over $307 million worldwide. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it runs for an inspiring 1 hour and 57 minutes. “The Pursuit of Happyness” is celebrated for its poignant storytelling, Smith’s powerful performance, and its moving portrayal of a father’s unwavering love and perseverance against all odds, resonating deeply with audiences globally.

14. Beverly Hills Cop II – $299 million

“Beverly Hills Cop II,” directed by Tony Scott in 1987, sees the return of Eddie Murphy as the charismatic Detroit detective Axel Foley. Back in the affluent world of Beverly Hills, Foley reunites with his old friends, Detectives Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton), to unravel a series of high-profile robberies. This sequel amps up the action, humor, and Murphy’s iconic street-smart sass.

The film was a box office success, grossing over $299 million worldwide. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, it runs for an exhilarating 1 hour and 43 minutes, blending thrilling action sequences with Murphy’s quick-witted comedy, solidifying the franchise’s status in the action-comedy genre. “Beverly Hills Cop II” not only entertains with its fast-paced plot and Murphy’s performance but also captures the essence of 80s Hollywood glamor, making it a memorable follow-up to the original hit.

15. Coming to America – $288 million

Eddie Murphy stars as Prince Akeem of Zamunda in “Coming to America,” a 1988 American romantic comedy film directed by John Landis. As Prince Akeem travels to Queens, New York in search of a wife with intelligence and strength of character, he breaks away from the tradition of arranged marriage. Murphy plays multiple characters in the film, showcasing his versatility as an actor.

The film grossed over $288 million worldwide, with $128 million domestically and $160 million internationally. Paramount Pictures distributed it, and it earned $21 million domestically. It is a well-balanced mix of humor and romance lasting 1 hour and 57 minutes.

“Coming to America” has become a cultural icon and a staple of 1980s American cinema. With its talented cast, charming and witty script, and relatable themes of finding true love and finding one’s identity, this film is a success. 

Several sequels and spin-offs have since followed, cementing the film’s place in pop culture history. Plus, this timeless classic has been ranked highly in a variety of genre and keyword rankings, including comedy and romance.

16. Scary Movie – $278 million

You might be surprise to see this on a list of the highest earning black movies of all time, but “Scary Movie”, a horror comedy film released in 2000, was kind of “Get Out” before “Get Out”.

The film is directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans and stars Anna Faris, Jon Abrahams, and Regina Hall. The film is a parody of popular horror movies such as “Scream”, and “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. 

The film follows a group of teenagers who are stalked by a bumbling serial killer after disposing of the body of a man they accidentally killed. “Scary Movie” was financially successful, with a worldwide box office gross of $278,019,771, 56.5% of which came from the domestic market. The film had a budget of $19,000,000 and an opening domestic gross of $42,346,669. 

The film was distributed by Miramax and was rated R by the MPAA for its strong language and horror themes. The film’s success can be attributed to its ability to appeal to a wide audience, with its blend of horror and comedy elements, as well as its talented cast and director. The film is also part of a franchise, with several sequels released in the following years.

17. Creed III – $275 million

Michael B. Jordan returns to the ring in “Creed III,” the latest installment in the acclaimed Creed franchise, a continuation of the Rocky saga. Jordan not only stars as Adonis Creed, the determined and talented boxer, but also makes his directorial debut, showcasing his multifaceted skills.

With its release in 2023, “Creed III” followed Adonis Creed’s ongoing journey in and out of the boxing ring, exploring themes of legacy, family, and perseverance. His co-star in this installment is Jonathan Majors, who plays Creed’s childhood friend that was sent to jail before he had a chance to pursue the life of boxing that Adonis did.

The film’s anticipation was high, given the success of its predecessors, which collectively grossed over $387 million worldwide. Distributed by MGM, “Creed III”, it ultimately registered $275 million at the box office, while delivering intense boxing action and heartfelt drama, resonating with both sports enthusiasts and moviegoers seeking a powerful story of triumph and resilience.

18. Bad Boys II – $273 million

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunite in “Bad Boys II,” a high-octane 2003 action-comedy film directed by Michael Bay. The sequel to the 1995 hit “Bad Boys,” this movie sees the charismatic duo of Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett tackling the dangerous world of drug trafficking in Miami. Known for its explosive action sequences and comedic chemistry between the leads, “Bad Boys II” delivers an entertaining blend of humor and adrenaline-pumping thrills.

The film grossed over $273 million worldwide, with a significant domestic and international box office presence. Distributed by Columbia Pictures, it runs for 2 hours and 27 minutes, offering a roller-coaster ride of action-packed scenes and laugh-out-loud moments.

“Bad Boys II” solidified the franchise’s place in the action-comedy genre and contributed to the lasting appeal of Smith and Lawrence as a dynamic on-screen duo. The film’s success led to further sequels, extending the legacy of the “Bad Boys” series in Hollywood.

19. Rush Hour 3 – $258 million

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return in “Rush Hour 3,” the 2007 installment of the beloved action-comedy series directed by Brett Ratner. In this globe-trotting adventure, the dynamic duo finds themselves in Paris, unraveling a conspiracy involving the Chinese Triad. Known for its blend of Tucker’s humorous quips and Chan’s acrobatic fight scenes, “Rush Hour 3” continues the franchise’s legacy of thrilling action and comedic chemistry.

The film grossed over $258 million worldwide, distributed by New Line Cinema. With a runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes, it packs in high-speed chases, laugh-out-loud moments, and cross-cultural camaraderie, solidifying the Rush Hour franchise’s status in the action-comedy genre.

20. Us – $256 million

Jordan Peele’s “Us,” a 2019 American horror film, masterfully blends psychological thrills with social commentary. This chilling narrative follows the Wilson family, led by Lupita Nyong’o in a stunning dual role, as they confront terrifying doppelgängers of themselves. Peele’s direction weaves a complex tapestry of suspense, horror, and deeper meanings about identity and society.

“Us” captivated audiences globally, grossing over $256 million worldwide. Distributed by Universal Pictures, its 1 hour and 56 minutes runtime is filled with tension, thought-provoking themes, and masterful storytelling.

The film has been lauded for its innovative approach to horror, with Nyong’o’s performance earning widespread acclaim. “Us” cements Peele’s status as a visionary filmmaker and has become a significant work in contemporary horror cinema.

21. Get Out – $255 million

“Get Out” is a horror mystery thriller movie released in 2017 and directed by Jordan Peele. In the movie, Daniel Kaluuya plays a young African American man who visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the weekend, where he becomes agitated by their reception.

It earned $255,745,157 worldwide against a budget of $4,500,000, receiving critical acclaim for its handling of racial tension and cultural themes. Internationally, it earned 31.1% of its gross, while domestically it earned 68.9%. 

The movie received an R rating and had a running time of 1 hour 44 minutes. It has been re-released in 2018, 2020, and 2021. “Get Out” has a cultural alignment that has resonated with audiences worldwide, making it one of the most successful horror mystery thrillers of its time.

Honorable Mention

Below, we wanted to include some movies that didn’t make the top 20 highest-grossing Black movies, but were notable performers, especially for the time and circumstances in which they were released.

Straight Outta Compton $201 million

The 2015 American biographical drama “Straight Outta Compton” was directed by F. Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright who produced the film with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. This film explores the formation and rise of the legendary hip-hop group NWA and its impact on the music industry. 

O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins plays Dr. Dre, and Jason Mitchell plays Eazy-E. The movie grossed over $201 million worldwide against a budget of $28 million. Both audiences and critics praised the film’s authentic portrayal of the NWA story and the actors’ performances. 

In addition to depicting life in Compton, the film revolutionized the hip-hop genre. It also portrayed young black men’s struggles in the ghetto and the challenges they faced in their pursuit of success and freedom of expression.

Despite its R rating and themes of gang violence, drug use, and police brutality, audiences were drawn to this powerful portrayal of NWA history and its musical talent. A well-received soundtrack featuring classic NWA tracks and new songs by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube contributed to the film’s success.

Big Momma’s House – $173 million

“Big Momma’s House” (2000) is a comedy-crime movie directed by Raja Gosnell. The movie stars Martin Lawrence as an FBI agent who disguises himself as a large grandmother, “Big Momma”, to protect a beautiful woman and her son from a robber. 

The movie was distributed by Twentieth Century Fox and had a domestic box office revenue of $117,559,438, with a domestic opening of $25,661,041. With a budget of $30 million, the movie was financially successful, grossing a worldwide total of $173,959,438. 

It lasted 1 hour and 39 minutes and was rated PG-13. Those seeking a mix of action and comedy as well as Martin Lawrence fans will enjoy the film. A successful franchise was spawned by the movie, which was well-received by audiences.

Ride Along – $154 million

The 2014 action-comedy “Ride Along” was directed by Tim Story and written by Jason Mantzoukas, Greg Coolidge, Matt Manfredi, and Phil Hay. The film stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as Ben and James. 

Ben is a security guard engaged to James’ sister, who is a top police officer, and wants to prove himself. During their 24-hour patrol of Atlanta, they encounter various challenges and adventures.

The film was produced with a budget of $25 million and was distributed by Universal Pictures. It grossed $134,938,200 domestically and $19,530,702 internationally for a worldwide total of $154 million. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube’s chemistry in the film was also praised by critics.

Its success can be attributed to the popularity of the lead actors, the well-written script, and the timing of its release. Additionally, the film’s PG-13 rating allowed it to appeal to a wide range of audiences, while its action and comedy elements provided a balance of excitement and humor. 

Bad Boys – $141 million

While it’s not even above the $200 million mark, we’d be remiss not to mention the original installment of a franchise that would go on to produce 2 sequels that would eventually become 2 of the highest grossing Black movies of all-time. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence originally starred in “Bad Boys”, a 1995 action-comedy-crime thriller directed by Michael Bay. They are assigned to protect a witness to a murder while investigating a case of stolen heroin. Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) distributed the film with a $19 million budget. 

It was released domestically on April 7, 1995, and had a domestic opening of $15,523,358. It grossed over $65,807,024 domestically and over $75,600,000 internationally for a worldwide total of $141,407,024. 

Stir Crazy – $101 million

The 1980s American comedy, “Stir Crazy” is a crime film was produced by Columbia Pictures and directed by Sidney Poitier. The film stars Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder as two best friends, Skip Donahue and Harry Monroe, who are set up and wrongfully accused of a crime. 

In prison, the two friends use their wit and humor to escape from prison and clear their names. With its unique blend of comedy and crime, the film grossed over $101 million worldwide at the box office. “Stir Crazy,” starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, has become a comedy classic with its dynamic duo.

Final Thoughts

The highest-earning black movies of all time represent the diversity and impact of black filmmaking. From historical dramas to action-packed comedies, these films have raised awareness about important social and political issues and have proven to be commercially successful. 

As Black filmmakers continue to shape the cultural landscape and push the boundaries of what is possible in film, BlackOakTV hopes to be a part of it, by continuing to build on our catalog of Black movies and independent films that we believe can inspire future generations and making an indelible impact on the world of cinema.

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