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The 10 Highest-grossing Holiday Movies of All Time

From the classics that never get old to a surprise Christmas comedy, Boardroom breaks down the highest-grossing holiday films in history.

‘Tis the season, am I right? That’s right, move aside those fall-loving, pumpkin-spice-drinking among us who have been celebrating autumn since the first drop of a leaf in late August. It’s time for the superior season.

As someone who considers himself a Christmas Connoisseur, the holiday season is my time. And while I spend much of that time searching for the best light show or the biggest tree display, it is absolutely CRUCIAL to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to watching holiday movies.

Unfortunately, it’s become an oversaturated market, flooded with films — both good and bad. But which ones have been the most successful at the box office? Boardroom breaks down the 10 highest-grossing holiday movies of all time.

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Numbers were taken from Box Office Mojo, with the rankings being determined by global profits.

1. The Grinch (2018)

Global box office: $538.9 million
Domestic box office: $271.4 million
Budget: $75 million

I’m not going to lie; I was surprised right out of the gate with this one.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a good movie. Clever, funny, entertaining. But just being another dot in a line of Grinch movies, I wouldn’t have thought it would have claimed the top spot. Shoot, I wouldn’t have even guessed it to be ranked above its counterpart in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

My guess is this is a popular one among the youths of the nation and the world, considering its worldwide gross is nearly double the domestic. Not the best holiday film out there, but you gotta give credit where credit is due.

2. Home Alone (1990)

Global box office: $476.7 million
Domestic box office: $285.8 million
Budget: $18 million

Whether you like Christmas or not, you’ve likely seen Home Alone. Or any of its successors in the series.

This film falls under the classic category, with memorable scenes and repeatable lines that come up every holiday season. How many times have you heard someone say, “Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals?” And if you haven’t, you ain’t living. Plus, it even netted recognition by the National Film Registry, by which it was formally listed this year.

It’s not surprising to see Home Alone near the top of the list. The only surprise here is that it’s not No. 1, considering how long it’s been around, the chokehold it has on the holiday season, and The Grinch being relatively young in a series of films featuring the Mean One.

3. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992)

Global box office: $358.9 million
Domestic box office: $173.6 million
Budget: $28 million

Kevin is back at it again, this time in the Big Apple.

Again, being one of the more popular holiday series, it shouldn’t shock anyone that the second “Home Alone” posted a respectable performance at the box office. Many actually weren’t too fond of “Lost in New York” when it was first released, but I think the film has aged well over time, providing many memorable quotes and scenes.

But, man, those poor Wet Bandits. Getting swindled by the same little kid for a second time has gotta hurt the ego, and, apparently, your aim.

4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

Global box office: $345.8 million
Domestic box office: $260.7 million
Budget: $123 million

With all due respect to the No. 1 movie above, this is the best Grinch movie — period.

From Jim Carrey’s acting to Max to the introduction of one of the greatest Christmas songs of all time in Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas,” this is a classic you can’t ignore during the holiday season. And when we talk about usable gifs and memes — not even just during the season, but year-round — this movie has supplied plenty.

5. A Christmas Carol (2000)

Global box office: $325.3 million
Domestic box office: $137.9 million
Budget: $200 million

The placement of this one is a shocker, to be honest. No offense to Jim Carrey, who is fantastic in nearly everything he does, but this isn’t even the best version of A Christmas Carol. As a child prodigy musical actor myself, starring in A Christmas Carol as the one and only Tiny TIm twice in my adolescence, I think I know what I’m talking about.

But even so, the more shocking part of this is the fact that this movie is ranked above some of the heavy hitters of the holidays, which we’ll get to in a minute.

6. The Polar Express (2004)

Global box office: $316.9 million
Domestic box office: $189.5 million
Budget: $165 million

If you watch this movie and don’t feel the Christmas spirit, then you may not have a soul.

“The Polar Express” is a movie for all, one that takes you back to your childhood, back to the days of believing. And out of all the depictions of elves, the North Pole, and Santa in various movies over the years, I choose to believe the scene in which the elves sing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” before Santa makes his grand entrance to a roaring crowd is how it would (does?) go down.

7. Love Actually (2004)

Global box office: $248.5 million
Domestic box office: $59.9 million
Budget: $40 million

What are we doing?! (Taylor Twellman voice)

Not going to lie, if you asked me to guess the top 10 before researching this article, I would never have guess this one. I get it — it’s technically a Christmas movie, a la Four Christmases (which I would argue is a much better film, but I’ve never even seen Love Actually, and I plan on keeping it that way). And hey, the money goes where the money goes, so obviously, people are invested in this “holiday” movie year in and year out.

Just not this writer. Next.

8. Elf (2003)

Global box office: $227.3 million
Domestic box office: $178.8 million
Budget: $33 million

Now we’re talking. Look, I understand this isn’t a “best holiday movie” ranking and we’re talkin’ strictly money moves here. But Elf is in the conversation as the GOAT, don’t @ me.

One of the greatest actors of our generation in Will Ferrell? Check.
Giggles from start to finish? Check.
An educational lesson on the four main food groups among elves? Check.
The spreading of Christmas cheer by singing loud for all to hear? Check.

I don’t care what anyone says — this is one of the best Christmas movies out there. I feel so strongly about this that when the person I’m dating told me they had never seen it before, not only did I judge harshly, but I contemplated breaking up on the spot. It’s why I watch it every year on Thanksgiving night after dinner to officially kick off the season (even though my tree has been up since the second the clock struck midnight on Halloween).

And if you feel differently, you’re a cotton-headed ninny muggins.

9. The Holiday (2006)

Global box office: $205.8 million
Domestic box office: $63.2 million
Budget: $85 million

Add this to the list of holiday rom-coms I haven’t seen nor plan on. I’m sure it’s a fine movie. And it has a great cast (hello, Jack Black), as well as a Philadelphia-born director in Nancy Meyers (we love to see it).

But I’ll take “Movies I Won’t Be Watching This Holiday Season” for $1,000, please.

[Editor’s note: the writer is insane. Jude Law’s winter whites, a charming old man, and Cameron Diaz’s iconic bed food spread make this film iconic. Sure, I forget the plot every year and feel totally surprised by how insane it is every time I watch it, but I digress.]

10. The Santa Clause (1994) 

With all due respect to his voicing of the one and only Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story franchise, The Santa Clause (and the succeeding second and third films of the series) might be Tim Allen’s best work.

And while many franchises tend to fall off as they move along during the series, the following “The Santa Clause 2 & 3” both hold their own — even if not quite as good as the original.

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About The Author
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams
Griffin Adams is an Editor at Boardroom. He's had previous stints with The Athletic and Catena Media, and has also seen his work appear in publications such as USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and MLB.com. A University of Utah graduate, he can be seen obnoxiously cheering on the Utes on Saturdays and is known to Trust The Process as a loyal Philadelphia 76ers fan.