Here's an interesting chart I compiled through box office mojo. Richar Donner I had to make an . Michael Bay and Brett Rattner (currently at #24 with 840) should have an easy time crossing one billion dollars with Transformers gaining more and more money each week and Rush Hour opening this weekend.
This list goes to show:
-How Stephen Spielberg is on a whole other stratosphere. He averages a very healthy $149 million per picture and that includes films from the 70s and the 80s when he was starting out that were not designed as commercial vehicles like "Sugarland Express" "1941" and "Color Purple."
-His protege Rob Zemeckis is also at #2 with hits like "Forrest Gump" ($300+ million), and Back to the Future and Cast Away which have grossed over $200 million and if you take away his first two unsuccessful films ("Used Cars" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand"), his average gross is $147 per film)
-How much a single trilogy like Pirates of the Carribean, Spiderman, or Lord of the Rings can help push these figures up for a director like Gore Verbinski, Sam Raimi, or Peter Jackson, respectively. These film trilogies single handedly earned billion dollars in domestic revenue for their studios, which makes your resume look very good. In actuality, a terrible third edition of a trilogy like Pirates 3 or Shrek 3 can pay off over 100 million in an opening weekend en route to 300 million total before anyone notices that it's really not that good of a film.
-How prolific Clint Eastwood is rather than how commercially successful he is. He made 26 films which means that he just barely passes the $1 billion dollar mark with a pretty low $38 million average. Only two of his pictures grossed more than $100 million dollars and those are the ones he won an Oscar for, meaning that they were able to benefit from post-Oscar releases
This list does not show:
-Much about how commercially successful any director before the last 10 years was because inflation at the box office is not accounted for here. It is true however that the advent of block busters has grown stronger in the last 10 years as people have
-An accurate representation of Andrew Adamson who was one of three directors working on Shrek 2, which has the 3rd highest box office total of all time
-An accurate representation of George Lucas, considering that he is not credited as director of Return of the Jedi or Empire Strikes Back
-An accurate assessment of a comic director like Jay Roach. Roach directed Austin Powers trilogy and the Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers series, which were successful more due to the talents of Mike Meyers in the former and the Robert De Niro/Ben Stiller chemistry in the latter than the director.
Directors with total earnings in billions (top 3 films in order):
- Stephen Spielberg 3.447 (E.T., Jurassic Park, Jaws)
- Rob Zemeckis 1.718 (Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Back to the Future)
- George Lucas 1.700 (Star Wars, Star Wars Ep. I: The Phantom Menace, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith)
- Ron Howard 1.606 (How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13)
- Chris Columbus 1.568 (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Home Alone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
- Gore Verbinski 1.306 (Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End, Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl)
- Peter Jackson 1.271 (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring)
- Sam Raimi 1.248 (Spiderman, Spiderman II, Spiderman III)
- Tim Burton 1.235 (Batman, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Planet of the Apes)
- James Cameron 1.146 (Titanic, Terminator 2, True Lies
- Richard Donner 10.96 (Lethal Weapon 2, Lethal Weapon 3, Superman)
- Michael Bay 1.071 (Transformers, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor)
- Clint Eastwood 1.002 (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Space Cowboys)
- Andrew Adamson 1.001 (Shrek 2, Chronicles of Narnia, Shrek)
- Ivan Reitman 0.996 (Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Twins)
- Joel Schumaker 0.962 (Batman Forever, A Time to Kill, Batman and Robin)
- Tony Scott 0.943 (Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Enemy of the State)
- Jay Roach 0.927 (Meet the Fockers, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me)
- Tom Shadyac 0.878 (Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, Patch Adams
- Barry Sonnenfeld 0.880 (Men in Black, Men in Black II, Wild Wild West)
- Roland Emerich 0.850 (Independence Day, Day After Tomorrow, Godzilla)