Top-Grossing Movies (1980s)

I’ll be playing in an ’80s movies theme trivia night soon, so I’ve been “hitting the books!” One of the topics that is likely to come up are movies that made lots of money in the 1980s, which was an exciting time for sequels…and movie ratings! The PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984 and that first movie was Red Dawn, for inquiring minds. Without further ado, here I go with a list of the top ten highest-grossing movies (domestic box office) from each year of the 1980s! Any films that won the Academy Award for best picture will be denoted in bold.  Movies grossing more than $175 million will be denoted in green.  Which ones of these do YOU remember watching when they came out in theaters?



A scene from Airplane!, which was the fourth highest grossing film in 1980.
  1. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, $209.3M
  2. 9 to 5, $103.2M
  3. Stir Crazy, $101.3M 
  4. Airplane!, $83.4M
  5. Any Which Way You Can, $70.6M
  6. Private Benjamin, $69.8M 
  7. Coal Miner’s Daughter, $671M
  8. Smokey and the Bandit II, $66.1M
  9. The Blue Lagoon, $58.1M
  10. The Blues Brothers, $57.2M



Indiana Jones lays waste to a swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which was the highest-grossing film in 1981.
  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark, $212.2M
  2. On Golden Pond, $119.2M
  3. Superman 2, $108.1M
  4. Arthur, $95.4M
  5. Stripes, $85.2M
  6. The Cannonball Run, $72.1M
  7. Chariots of Fire, $58.9M
  8. For Your Eyes Only, $54.8M
  9. The Four Seasons, $50.4M
  10. Time Bandits, $42.3M




Poltergeist was one hell of a creepy movie! Would not meet PG criteria if made today, imho…
  1. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, $359.1M
  2. Tootsie, $77.2M
  3. An Officer and a Gentleman, $129.7M
  4. Rocky III, $124.1M
  5. Porky’s, $124.M
  6. Star Trek II – The Wrath of Khan, $78.9M
  7. 48 Hours, $78.8M
  8. Poltergeist, $76.6M
  9. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, $69.7M
  10. Annie, $57.0M



Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, which was the third highest grossing film in 1983. In addition to the hit soundtrack, the film also had quite an influence on women’s fashions! I STILL like leg warmers and will wear them in the winter on occasion!
  1. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, $252.5M
  2. Terms of Endearment, $108.4M
  3. Flashdance, $92.9M 
  4. Trading Places, $90.4M
  5. WarGames, $79.5M
  6. Octopussy, $67.8M
  7. Sudden Impact, $67.6M
  8. Staying Alive, $64.8M
  9. Mr. Mom, $64.7M
  10. Risky Business, $63.5M



Bill Murray in Ghostbusters, which was 1984’s second-highest grossing movie.
  1. Beverly Hills Cop, $234.7M
  2. Ghostbusters, $229.2M
  3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, $179.8M
  4. Gremlins, $148.1M
  5. The Karate Kid, $90.8M
  6. Police Academy, $81.1M
  7. Footloose, $80.0M
  8. Romancing the Stone, $76.5M
  9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, $76.4M
  10. Splash, $69.8M



I know it’s super lazy of me to use more than one Harrison Ford photo with this blog. They are different Harrison Ford photos, at least! Maybe I like that you can see his chest in this one (lol).  Who says Amish attire can’t be sexy? Also I was too lazy to search for a new photo, and I had this one saved on my hard drive. Here is Harrison Ford in Witness, which grossed $68.7M domestically and was the eighth-highest grossing movie of 1985. Ford also got an Oscar nomination for lead actor.
  1. Back to the Future, $210.6M
  2. Rambo First Blood: Part II, $150.4M
  3. Rocky IV, $127.8M
  4. The Color Purple, $94.1M
  5. Out of Africa, $87.0M
  6. Cocoon, $76.1M (Oscar winner, Don Ameche, best actor)
  7. The Jewel of the Nile, $75.9M
  8. Witness, $68.7M (Oscar nominee, lead actor, Harrison Ford).
  9. The Goonies, $61.3M
  10. Spies Like Us, $60.0M



Matthew Broderick, as Ferris Bueller, parties like it’s 1986 in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which was the 10th highest grossing film of 1986.
  1. Top Gun, $176.7M
  2. Crocodile Dundee, $174.7M
  3. Platoon, $138.5M
  4. The Karate Kid Part II, $115.1M
  5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, $109.7M
  6. Back to School, $91.2M
  7. Aliens, $85.1M
  8. The Golden Child, $79.8M
  9. Ruthless People, $71.6M
  10. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, $70.1M



Oscar winner Cher (lead actress) and Nicolas Cage in Moonstruck, which was the fifth highest grossing film in 1987.
  1. Three Men and a Baby, $167.7M
  2. Fatal Attraction, $156.6M
  3. Beverly Hills Cop 2, $153.6M
  4. Good Morning, Vietnam, $123.9M
  5. Moonstruck, $80.6M
  6. The Untouchables, $76.2M
  7. The Secret of My Success, $66.9M
  8. Stakeout, $65.6M
  9. Lethal Weapon, $65.2M
  10. The Witches of Eastwick, $63.7M



Leslie Nielsen pretending he’s an umpire in The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad, which was 1988’s eighth highest grossing film.
  1. Rain Man, $172.8M
  2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, $156.4M
  3. Coming to America, $128.1M
  4. Big, $114.9M
  5. Twins, $119.9M
  6. Crocodile Dundee II, $109.3M
  7. Die Hard, $83.0M
  8. The Naked Gun: From The Files of Police Squad, $78.7M
  9. Cocktail, $78.2M
  10. Beetlejuice, $73.7M



Jack Nicholson as Joker in Batman, which was the highest-grossing movie of 1989
  1. Batman, $251.1M
  2. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, $197.1M
  3. Lethal Weapon 2, $147.2
  4. Look Who’s Talking, $140.0M
  5. Honey I Shrunk the Kids, $130.7
  6. Back To The Future Part II, $118.4M
  7. Ghostbusters II, $112.4M
  8. Driving Miss Daisy, $106.5M
  9. Parenthood, $100.0M
  10. Dead Poets Society, $95.8M

Top Ten Highest-Grossing Movies 1980s (Entire Decade)


Crispin Glover as George McFly in Back To The Future, telling Biff Tannen to keep his “damn hands” off his girl (great scene). If you want an extra credit assignment, Crispin Glover is worth reading about! He is…strange! He only accepts roles in “normal” movies so that he can finance the quirky, weird ones he REALLY likes to make.
  1. E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, 1982, $359.1M
  2. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, 1983, $252.1M
  3. Batman, 1989, $251.1M
  4. Beverly Hills Cop, 1984, $234.7M
  5. Ghostbusters, 1984, $229.8M
  6. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981, $212.2M
  7. Back To The Future, 1985, $210.6M
  8. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 1980, $209.3M
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989, $197.1M
  10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984, $179.8M

Top Grossing Eddie Murphy Films (1980s)


Actor/comedian Eddie Murphy could do no wrong in the mid-late 1980s…here he is in the 1984 smash hit Beverly Hills Cop
  1. Beverly Hills Cop, $234.7M
  2. Beverly Hills Cop II, $153.6M
  3. Coming To America, $128.M
  4. Trading Places, $90.4 M
  5. The Golden Child, $79.8M
  6. 48 Hours, $78.8M
  7. Harlem Nights, $60.8M
  8. Eddie Murphy Raw, $50.5M
  9. Best Defense, $19.2M

Top Grossing Harrison Ford Films (1980s)

  1. Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi, $252.5M
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark, $212.2M
  3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, $209.3M
  4. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, $197.1M
  5. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, $179.8M
  6. Witness, $68.7M
  7. Working Girl, $63.7M
  8. Blade Runner, $32.8M
  9. Frantic, $17.6M
  10. Mosquito Coast, $14.3M

Top Grossing Cher Films (1980s)

  1. Moonstruck, (1987), $80.6M
  2. The Witches of Eastwick, (1987), $63.7M
  3. Mask,  (1985), $48.2M
  4. Silkwood, (1983), $35.6M
  5. Suspect, (1987), $18.7M

Top Grossing Tom Cruise Films (1980s)

  1. Top Gun, (1986), $179.8M
  2. Rain Man, (1988), $172.0M
  3. Cocktail, (1988), $78.2M
  4. Born on the Fourth of July, (1989), $70.0M
  5. Risky Business, (1983), $63.5M
  6. The Color of Money, (1986), $52.2M
  7. Taps, (1981), $35.8M
  8. Endless Love, (1981), $31.1M
  9. The Outsiders, (1983),$25.6M
  10. All the Right Moves, $17.2M
  11. Legend, $15.5M

Top Grossing Michael Douglas Films (1980s)

  1. Fatal Attraction, (1987), $156.6M
  2. The War of the Roses, (1989), $86.8M
  3. Romancing the Stone, (1984), $76.5M
  4. Jewel of the Nile, $75.9M
  5. Black Rain, (1989), $46.2M
  6. Wall Street, (1987), $43.8M
  7. A Chorus Line, (1985), $14.2M













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