Top Ten Highest-Grossing Romantic Comedies of All Time
Romantic comedies have become staple films in Hollywood, with many of our favorite actors and actresses appearing in lead roles. While rom-coms are very popular, not all movies are mega-successes. Let's take a look at the top ten highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time.
Note: This represents the highest-grossing romantic comedies domestically in North America, as well as worldwide totals.
1. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
The 2002 independent romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding was directed by Joel Zwick and written by Nia Vardalos, who also starred in the lead role. It tells the story of Fotoula "Toula" Portokalos, a Greek woman who falls in love with a non-Greek, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. The film was a sleeper hit, and went on to become the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time, grossing an impressive $241.4 million in North America. Though it never reached the top spot at the U.S box office, it went on to earn a worldwide total of $368.7 million against a budget of $5 million, becoming the most successful rom-com in film history.
Did You Know? The film was originally developed by Nia Vardalos as a one-woman stage show. The play was based on Vardalos's own family in Winnipeg, Canada and her personal experience marrying a non-Greek man (actor Ian Gomez).
Budget: $5 million Domestic Box Office: $241.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $368.7 million Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
2. What Women Want (2000)
The 2000 romantic fantasy comedy What Women Want was directed by Nancy Meyers and starred Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. The film tells the tale of a chauvinistic ad exec (Gibson) who acquires the gift to hear what women are thinking. Hunt portrayed his co-worker and and later love interest. It was a mega box-office success, and went on to gross $182 million in North America and a worldwide gross of $374.1 million against a $70 million budget. The film inspired a loose remake, What Men Want, which was released in 2019.
Did You Know? When Mel Gibson was waxing his legs in the bathroom, he actually did wax his legs, and it did not hurt him nearly as much as it did his character in the movie. Gibson kept taunting all the women on-set, saying, "Come on, this doesn't hurt at all!"
Budget: $70 million Domestic Box Office: $182 million
Worldwide Gross: $374.1 million Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
3. Hitch (2005)
The 2005 American romantic comedy Hitch was directed by Andy Tennant and featured Will Smith, Eva Mendes and Kevin James. The film centers on Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Smith), a professional dating consultant who's profession is teaching men how to win over women. With a budget of $55-70 million and one of Hollywood's most bankable and popular leading men in the starring role, it's no surprise Hitch went on earn an impressive $368.1 million.
Did You Know? According to Will Smith, the female lead was initially supposed to be Caucasian, but the producers were nervous it would be taboo to make the lead couple interracial. They also did not want the lead to be black in fear of alienating white audiences. They ultimately decided on a Hispanic female lead.
Budget: $55-70 million Domestic Box Office: $179.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $368.1 million Rotten Tomatoes: 68%
4. Pretty Woman (1990)
The beloved 1990 romantic comedy Pretty Woman was directed by Garry Marshall and starred Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in the lead roles. The film's story centers on a down-on-her-luck Hollywood sex worker (Roberts) who is hired by a wealthy businessman (Gere) to be his escort for a week for social and business functions. Pretty Woman had a modest budget of $14 million, and went on to gross a whopping $463.4 million at the box office, becoming a huge success.
Did You Know? Richard Gere improvised the scene where Edward snaps the necklace case down on Vivian's (Julia Roberts) fingers. Her reaction and laughter was completely natural and the filmmakers liked it so much, they left it in.
Budget: $14 million Domestic Box Office: $178.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $463.4 million Rotten Tomatoes: 62%
5. There's Something About Mary (1998)
The 1998 American romantic comedy There's Something About Mary was directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and featured Cameron Diaz, Matt Damon and Ben Stiller. Diaz stars at the titular character, with the actors all playing men playing her love interests and vying for her affections. The film featured gross-out humor and and sweet romance, and went on to become a huge box office success, earning an impressive $176.4 million domestically against a $23 million budget.
Did You Know? The zipper scene in the film is based on an actual event when the Farrelly Brothers' parents had to help a young man who caught himself in his zipper at one of their sisters' parties.
Budget: $23 million Domestic Box Office: $176.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $370 million Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
6. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
2018's Crazy Rich Asians was adapted and directed by Jon M. Chu, and was based off the 2013 Kevin Kwan novel of the same name. The film stars Constance Wu and Henry Golding and tells the story of an Asian-American woman who goes to Singapore with her boyfriend, only to discover his family is filthy rich. It made history for Asian-American representation in a Hollywood studio film, and grossed a massive $238.5 million against a $30 million budget.
Did You Know? Netflix wanted to produce the film and offered a much bigger budget, but Kevin Kwan specifically turned down the offer in favor of a more modest $30 million budget from Warner Bros. He wanted to send the message that Asian-American studio movies are commercially viable.
Budget: $30 million Domestic Box Office: $174.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $238.5 million Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
7. The Proposal (2009)
2009's summer blockbuster The Proposal was directed by Anne Fletcher, and starred Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds and Betty White. The story focuses on a Canadian executive (Bullock) who learns she may face deportation from the United States because of her expired visa. Not wanting to give up her position as editor-in-chief of a publishing house, she convinces her assistant (Reynolds) to pretend to be her fiance. The film was a box office success, earning $162.9 million domestically and $317.4 million on a budget of $40 million.
Did You Know? Betty White almost turned down her role in the film because she didn't want to spend ten weeks away from her golden retriever.
Budget: $40 million Domestic Box Office: $163.9 million
Worldwide Gross: $317.4 million Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
8. Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)
2008's Sex and the City: The Movie is a sequel to the 1998-2004 hit HBO series of the same name, and was directed by Michael Patrick King. Leading ladies Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon all reprised their roles from the show. The film revisits the female friends where the series left off; with a budget of $65 million, it was a massive success, earning a whopping $415.2 million worldwide. A sequel, Sex and the City 2 was released in 2010, and though not as successful as its predecessor, it still earned $294.6 million.
Did You Know? Carrie has the same cell phone she did in Sex and the City the series. To show how much time has passed, the producers added tape to make it seem worn.
Budget: $65 million Domestic Box Office: $152.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $415.2 million Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
9. Runaway Bride (1999)
Richard Gere and Julia Roberts once again teamed up with their Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall for 1999's Runaway Bride. It tells the story of a woman (Roberts) who has run away from three of her weddings, but is determined to not flee for her fourth attempt. Gere plays a reporter covering the story, and the two later fall in love. Set against a budget of $70 million, the film went on to gross $309.4 million worldwide and $152.2 million domestically, showing that once again the Gere/Roberts pairing was truly successful.
Did You Know? Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Héctor Elizondo, Kathleen Marshall and Garry Marshall all appeared alongside each other in Pretty Woman as well as Runaway Bride.
Budget: $70 million Domestic Box Office: $152.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $309.4 million Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
10. Knocked Up (2007)
The 2007 raunchy romantic comedy Knocked Up was directed by Judd Apatow, and featured an all-star comedy cast including Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Jason Segel (among many others). It centers on the repercussions of a drunken one-night stand between a successful media personality and a slacker, which results in an unintended pregnancy. Knocked Up was a critical and commercial hit, earning $219.1 million on a budget of $30 million.
Did You Know? Director Judd Apatow originally planned to use real life footage of a woman giving birth for the delivery scene. He had to change it because child labor laws required the infant to have a work permit.
Budget: $30 million Domestic Box Office: $148.7 million
Worldwide Gross: $219.1 million Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Domestic Box Office
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)
What Women Want (2002)
Pretty Woman (1990)
There's Something About Mary (1998)
Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
The Proposal (2009)
Sex and the City: The Movie (2008)
Runaway Bride (1999)
Knocked Up (2007)
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Rachel M Johnson