The Top 10 Movie Production Companies of All Time
The Production Studios Which Make Movies Possible!
What would the world be like without movies? Well, the quick answer would be a lot less entertaining. Movies make us laugh, cry, jump with joy and grab the nearest pillow in fear.
The production companies fund the making of movies and offer the resources and manpower required to make it all possible. It is exciting to look back over the past hundred years and look at the great films that have been produced by some of the most influential production companies in the world.
The following list has the five major production companies as well as five minor ones that have reshaped the film industry forever. The rankings are based on research as well as personal opinions over which have had the largest impact over the years and which have offered the best library of movies.
The 10 Best Film Production Companies
- Warner Bros.
- Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group
- Walt Disney Studios
- Universal Pictures
- 20th Century Fox
- Paramount Pictures
- Lionsgate Films
- The Weinstein Company
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
- DreamWorks Pictures
#1- Warner Bros. Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment was founded in 1923 and has created some of the best movies which have innovated the industry, such as The Jazz Singer introducing synchronized sound. The studio is owned by Time Warner.
Warner Bros. also owns other divisions and subsidiaries such as:
- New Line Cinema
- Castle Rock Entertainment
- Turner Entertainment
- Warner Bros. Animation
- DC Films
Warner Bros. is an unstoppable production company that has not only created some great movies but also some great film franchises. Among these are Harry Potter, The Matrix and Batman.
There was no doubt in my mind that Warner Bros. was going to be number one on this list. It has proven that it can deliver on great movies while also obtaining some great subsidiaries and divisions to add to the already successful Warner Bros. Pictures.
Warner Bros. at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time (as of this writing), 11 of these were produced by Warner Bros. One of these, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, barely cracks the top of the list at number 10.
Top Box Office Films for Warner Bros.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 - Ranked at 10 with $1,341,511,219.
- The Dark Knight Rises - Ranked at 22 with $1,084,939,099.
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Ranked at 33 with $1,021,103,568.
- The Dark Knight - Ranked at 34 with $1,004,558,444.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Ranked at 35 with $974,755,371.
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 - Ranked at 41 with $960,283,305.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Ranked at 42 with $958,366,855.
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Ranked at 43 with $956,019,788.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Ranked at 45 with $939,885,929.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Ranked at 46 with $934,416,487.
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Ranked at 49 with $896,911,078.
#2- Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group
Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group is a division of Sony Entertainment, a part of the larger Sony conglomerate. The studio's largest subsidiary is Columbia Pictures, which was acquired in 1989 from Coca-Cola for $3.4 billion. Their other divisions include:
- TriStar Pictures
- Screen Gems
- Sony Pictures Classics
- Sony Pictures Animation
- Destination Films
- Affirm Films
Sony is considered to have the biggest studio today, which begs the question of why they weren't chosen for the number one spot. In my opinion, they are not the best production company, at least not out of this list. However, they have produced some great movies over the years as well as some franchises like Spider-Man, Men in Black and Resident Evil.
Their biggest asset may very well be Columbia Pictures, which has been producing movies since 1924. Sony certainly have the power to change any industry they enter into and the film industry is no exception.
Sony Pictures at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, two have come from Sony.
Top Box Office Films for Sony Pictures
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - Ranked at 40 with $960,630,695.
- Spider-Man 3 - Ranked at 50 with $890,871,626.
#3- Walt Disney Studios
Walt Disney Studios is the entertainment unit of The Walt Disney Company. The studio has produced some great movies over the years that have impacted many peoples lives, especially younger audiences.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is a division that creates animated feature films and shorts. A few of the great movies they have produced are Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Peter Pan and Frozen.
Most of its live-action productions are done under its major studio subsidiary Walt Disney Pictures. Their films include Pirates of the Caribbean, Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book.
In the 1980s, the collection of film units in the studio made them become one of Hollywood's Big Six movie studios. This was largely due to the library produced by Touchstone Pictures as well as the clever marketing used by Walt Disney Studios.
Walt Disney Studios also owns these other subsidiaries and divisions:
- Lucas Film
- Marvel Studios
Walt Disney Studios are only improving in their abilities to provide the latest and greatest movies. Their great franchises include Pirates of the Caribbean, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lion King.
Walt Disney Studios at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, a whopping 21 of them have come from Disney. They also have five spots in the top 10 from recent films. This success can be attributed to their acquisition of the Marvel and Star Wars films.
Top Box Office Films for Walt Disney Studios
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Ranked at 3 with $2,068,223,624.
- Avengers: Infinity War - Ranked at 4 with $1,917,981,205.
- The Avengers - Ranked at 6 with $1,518,812,988.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ranked at 8 with $1,405,403,694.
- Black Panther - Ranked at 9 with $1,345,059,695.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Ranked at 11 with $1,332,539,889.
- Frozen - Ranked at 12 with $1,290,000,000.
- Iron Man 3 - Ranked at 15 with $1,214,811,252.
- Captain America: Civil War - Ranked at 17 with $1,153,304,495.
- Toy Story 3 - Ranked at 23 with $1,066,969,703.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - Ranked at 24 with $1,066,179,725.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Ranked at 24 with $1,056,057,273.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Ranked at 26 with $1,045,713,802.
- Finding Dory - Ranked at 29 with $1,028,570,889.
- Alice in Wonderland - Ranked at 31 with $1,025,467,110.
- Zootopia - Ranked at 32 with $1,023,784,195.
- The Lion King - Ranked at 37 with $968,483,777.
- The Jungle Book - Ranked at 38 with $966,550,600.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End - Ranked at 39 with $963,420,425.
- Finding Nemo - Ranked at 44 with $940,335,536.
#4- Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is owned by Comcast through its subsidiary NBCUniversal. Founded in 1912, it is the oldest American film studio.
Universal Studios has produced some timeless classics over the years. Their major box office hits include Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Jaws, which were all directed by Steven Spielberg.
A division of the studio is Universal Animation Studios which creates animated feature films and TV series. Their feature films include The Land Before Time, An American Tail and Balto.
Another division is Illumination which was founded in 2007 by Chris Meledandri. The animation studio became a success with Despicable Me, which earned a worldwide gross of $546.1 million. This created a franchise which has generated over $3 billion at the box office.
Other division and subsidiaries include:
- Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Dreamworks Animation
- Focus Features
- Working Title Films
Universal Studios have not gained their enormous success solely through the help of Steven Spielberg, who has worked extensively with the studio. They have a vast movie library with some successful franchise like The Fast and the Furious, The Bourne Identity and Hannibal.
There is no doubt that Universal Studios is one of the most influential movie production studios in the world. They also have a memorable and iconic logo.
Universal Studios at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, seven of them have been produced by Universal Studios. Two them, Jurassic World and Furious 7, are in the top 10.
Top Box Office Films for Universal Studios
- Jurassic World - Ranked at 5 with $1,671,713,208.
- Furious 7 - Ranked at 7 with $1,516,045,911.
- The Fate of the Furious - Ranked at 14 with $1,238,764,765.
- Minions - Ranked at 16 with $1,159,398,397.
- Despicable Me 3 - Ranked at 27 with $1,034,799,409.
- Jurassic Park - Ranked at 28 with $1,029,939,903.
- Despicable Me 2 - Ranked at 36 with $970,761,885.
#5- 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox is one of the Big Six studios. It was owned by New Corporation from 1984 to 2013. That company split into News Corp and 21st Century Fox, the latter of which currently owns the studio.
The studio was founded in 1935 and became successful and well-known for their musicals and association with Shirley Temple. Their biggest contemporary hit is Avatar, which currently hold the record for highest grossing film of all time with over $2.7 billion.
20th Century Fox have produced some amazing and successful franchises. Among them are Ice Age and X-Men. They also produced the Star Wars films prior to their acquisition by Disney. Their original animation division, 20th Century Fox Animation, was started in 1994 to compete with Walt Disney Animation Studios, who at the time was making hugely successful movies like Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. Their main production unit was Fox Animation Studios. They had some success in 1997 with Anastasia. It was critically acclaimed, but was often mistaken for a Disney movie. However, it did make nearly $140 million on a $53 million budget. The studio followed up with Titan A.E. The film made roughly $37 million on a $75 million budget. In total, the film lost the studio $100 million. This led to Fox Animation Studios shutting down in 2000.
On the flip side, 20th Century Fox has seen much more success from Blue Sky Studios, which they obtained in 1997. The studio focuses on computer animation features such as Ice Age, Robots and Rio.
20th Century Fox also own these other divisions and subsidiaries;
- Fox Searchlight Pictures
- 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Fox Star Studios
- Zero Day Fox
In late 2017, The Walt Disney Company announced their plans to purchase 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion. Pending approval, the deal is expected to be finalized by 2019.
20th Century Fox at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, only two were produced by 20th Century Fox. However, one of them is the most profitable film of all time at the box office.
Top Box Office Films for 20th Century Fox
- Avatar - Ranked at 1 with $2,787,965,087.
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace - Ranked at 30 with $1,027,044,677.
#6- Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures is another member of the Big Six. They are owned by media conglomerate Viacom.
The study was founded in 1912 and they have produced some of the greatest movies ever. Their most successful movie ever is Titanic, which has gathered a worldwide gross of over $2 billion.
Over the years, Paramount Pictures have produced some great movie series such as Mission Impossible, Indiana Jones and Transformers.
Among the divisions owned by the studio is Paramount Animation, which was started in 2011 after DreamWorks Animation departed the studio. Paramount Animation was announced as a division dedicated to the creation of animated feature films that could compete with the likes of DreamWorks, Walt Disney and Pixar.
Paramount Pictures also owns other divisions such as:
- Paramount Home Media Distribution
- Paramount Famous Productions
- Nickelodeon Movies
- MTV Films
Paramount Pictures at the Box Office
Of the top 50 highest grossing movies of all time, three have come from Paramount Pictures. One of them cracks the top 10 at the number two spot.
Top Box Office Films for Paramount Pictures
Titanic - Ranked at 2 with $2,187,463,944.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon - Ranked at 18 with $1,123,794,079.
Transformers: Age of Extinction - Ranked at 21 with $1,104,054,072.
#7- Lionsgate Films
Lionsgate Films is the most commercially successful mini-major movie and television distribution company in North America as well as the seventh most profitable movie studio.
Lionsgate has its origins go back to 1962 with the founding of Cinépix in Montreal. They would be purchased by the Lion Gate Entertainment Group in 1997 to form the studio as it is known today. They have succeeded through the help of other studios they have acquired such as Trimark Pictures, Vestron Pictures and Artisan Entertainment.
Lionsgate have helped produce some great movies series like Kick-Ass, The Expendables and The Hunger Games. There is no telling where Lionsgate will be in the future but I would imagine if they keep up with their smart investments they may soon make the transition to becoming a major studio. All they need is time!
Among the subsidiaries owned by the studio is Summit Entertainment, which is possibly their most successful subsidiary at the moment having produced fairly recent hits like Twilight, Knowing and Now You See Me.
Lionsgate also owns other divisions and subsidiaries which include:
- Lionsgate Premiere
- Roadside Attractions
- Pantelion Films
- Codeblack Films
Lionsgate at the Box Office
The studio does not currently have any of their films in the ranking of top 50 highest grossing films.
Top Box Office Films for Lionsgate
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: $424,668,047
- The Hunger Games: $408,010,692
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1: $337,135,885
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2: $292,324,737
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2: $281,723,902
#8- The Weinstein Company
The Weinstein Company was formed by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein in 2005. It was formed after they left Miramax, which they formed in 1979.
This studio was at one point the largest mini-major studio in Hollywood. Their successful films included Derailed, Scream 4 and 1408. They quickly gained a reputation for churning out quality films that became profitable. Their highest grossing film is Django Unchained, which received over $425 million at the box office in worldwide gross.
The studio owns Dimension Films, which was bought from Disney who owned Miramax. They have produced some great sequels to some older movies from the label such as Scary Movie 4 and 5, Scream 4 and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World.
The studio entered into some turmoil with the sexual abuse allegations toward Harvey Weinstein in late 2017. He was fired from the company and the studio declared bankruptcy on March 19, 2018. The private equity firm Lantern Capital won the assets of the studio in an auction.
The Weinstein Company at the Box Office
None of the films from The Weinstein Company crack the ranking of the top 50 highest grossing films.
Top Box Office Films for The Weinstein Company
- Django Unchained - $162,805,434
- The King's Speech - $138,797,449
- Silver Linings Playbook - $132,092,958
- Inglorious Basterds - $120,540,719
- The Butler - $116,632,095
#9- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (aka Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Metro Goldwyn Pictures and MGM) is an American media company which primarily produces movies and television programs. They were founded in 1924 and were the largest and most revered studio at the time. They were bought and sold multiple times over the years until they filed for bankruptcy in 2010. They recovered but are now considered a mini-major studio.
MGM have produced some timeless classics over the years such as Ben-Hur, The Dirty Dozen and GoldenEye. There is no doubt that a lot of MGM's success came in the later years through the ownership of the James Bond series. However, their future success or failure will depend on the box office success of their films. Time will tell if they can regain their status as a major studio.
MGM at the Box Office
MGM currently has one film on the top 50 list. It is Skyfall, which ranks in at 20 with $1,108,561,013.
#10- DreamWorks Pictures
DreamWorks Pictures is a movie studio owned by Amblin Partners. It was founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.
Some of their best films include Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator and Transformers. The studio was doing well around the turn of the millennium by winning three Academy Awards for Best Picture and having box office grosses of over $100 million. However, debt of over $400 million led to the sale to Viacom in 2005.
One of their biggest and most successful divisions was DreamWorks Animation. It brought huge financial success with movies such as Antz, The Prince of Egypt, Chicken Run and Shrek. The division was spun off in 2004 and is currently owned by NBCUniversal.
DreamWorks at the Box Office
DreamWorks does not currently have any movies on the list of 50 highest grossing films.
Top Box Office Films for DreamWorks
- Shrek 2 - $441,226,247
- Shrek - $267,665,011
- Saving Private Ryan - $216,540,909
- Madagascar - $193,595,521
- Gladiator - $187,705,427