Highest-Grossing Action Movie for Each Year of the ’90s, According to Box Office Mojo

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The 1990s were a golden age for action movies, as filmmakers began to take digital effects seriously and writers conjured up the most engaging and jaw-dropping concepts. Both of these were being developed at an alarming rate, and it was almost as if studios were competing to produce the most expensive and exhilarating action movies possible.

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And with that came huge box office numbers that had never been achieved before. Between films where humans and prehistoric creatures coexist and a film where fans bought leather jackets a few minutes after the credits, these action films have marked the history of the box office.

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1990 – Total Recall ($261.3 million)


Douglas Quaid hung on a machine in Total Recall.

Total recallRanking on the list of highest-grossing films of the 1990s is a far cry from the top spot, and interestingly, there was a wide range of genres with higher gross profits. Whether it’s the western dance with wolvesromantic comedy A pretty womanor the party tube Alone at home, Total recallThe box office contribution pales in comparison to these films.

However, $261 million is still an impressive feat, and Total recall is one of the most thrilling sci-fi action films of all time. It still presents one of the most inventive depictions of a dystopian future found in film. And the remake, which came 22 years later, failed to beat the original’s gross, and that’s not even factoring in inflation.


1991 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($520.8 million)


Sarah Connor with her gun in Terminator 2.

There are a few different reasons that led to Terminator 2: Judgment DayThe phenomenal success of, as there was no single catalyst like with most other action movies. First of all, it’s the sequel to one of the most original and inventive sci-fi action films of all time, so it already had a huge existing fan base.

And while many people might not know it, the first film in the series was actually made on a shoestring budget. So when director James Cameron is handed a blockbuster-sized budget, he delivers a more than blockbuster movie filled with huge set pieces and groundbreaking chase sequences. And between the groundbreaking visual effects and Sarah Connor’s transformation into an action heroine, Terminator 2 improved the franchise while putting it on track to become a billion-dollar series.


1992 – Lethal Weapon 3 ($321.7 million)


Murtaugh with a cat in Lethal Weapon 3

the lethal weapon The series has jumped from one record-breaking success to the next, and that’s mostly thanks to the fact that Richard Donner is the same director for the entire series. When a franchise doesn’t change directors with each consecutive release, it will have consistent quality and tone, and this will also be reflected in box office intake. And Lethal Weapon 3 was the highest-grossing film in the series.

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With Mel Gibson developing the fifth film in the series, it will be interesting to see how it performs at the box office, especially as the lethal weapon the franchise is well of its time. The movies are full of mellow rock music, macho boobies, and humor that doesn’t exactly hold up today. It seems like the only way to work while maintaining the show’s brands is to follow the self-referential and meta route of 21 jump street.


1993 – Jurassic Park ($1.099 billion)


Tyrannosaurus attack in Jurassic Park.

It is indisputable what jurassic park did for the film industry, as it is one of the most innovative films of all time, and audiences turned out in droves to see the dinosaurs come to life. It was also aided by one of the best cinematic marketing strategies, and the film remained number one at the box office for four weeks.

However, jurassic park did not reach the billion-dollar mark when it was initially released in 1993, because Titanic was the first film to reach this astronomical number. The dinosaur movie has hit 10-figure numbers with its re-releases over the past few years, but that doesn’t take away from the movie’s performance when it first hit theaters.


1994 – True Lies ($378.8 million)


Simon driving Harry in a beautiful red car in True Lies

While Terminator 2 worked as well as it did because it was part of an existing property and because of the groundbreaking action sequences, there’s another factor, and that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. If a studio cast Schwarzenegger in a movie in the ’90s, it was anything but a guarantee the movie would be a hit, and it was no different with true lies, another action movie directed by Cameron.

Although he may not have been a great actor, Schwarzenegger had an indescribable charisma and screen presence, and it always drew audiences to the theater. The movie might be considered a bit problematic by today’s standards, but real lies is still a good spy movie almost 30 years later.

1995 – Die Hard With A Vengeance ($366.1 million)


die hard is one of the most influential action movies of all time, and there have been so many movies that have followed the same formula that just haven’t landed as well as the 1988 film, and that includes Die hard 2. Die hard 2 followed the same beats as the original, except it was in an airport instead of a skyscraper.

Corn Die hard with a vengeancethe best die hard sequel gave the series a fresh coat of paint, turning it into a buddy-cop flick, and its box office performance benefited as well. The film even beat golden eye when it comes to action movies from 1995, which is quite an achievement given that the james bond the movie had a lot more reach with its PG-13 rating compared to Die Hard 3 R rating.

1996 – Independence Day ($817.4 million)


Bill Pullman delivering his presidential speech on Independence Day.

While most action movies these days double as superhero movies, it was sci-fi that blended best with action in the 90s. Total recall and Terminator 2, there was a clear demand for sci-fi action films from audiences. And the most successful of all was Independence Day.

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It was almost impossible for Independence Day fail, because it had so many advantages. It was a sci-fi action film, but it was also a disaster film, a genre that was also extremely popular in the 1990s. Not to mention that it stars Will Smith, who was by far the most bankable movie star and at the height of his powers at the time, and audiences would turn out in droves to see him in anything.


1997 – The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($618.3 million)


Sarah Harding and Ian Malcolm hanging on the rope in Jurassic Park The Lost World

The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel like its predecessor did, and it even had far lower reviews than the original. But no amount of negative reception from critics will stop audiences from wanting to see a Tyrannosaurus rex roaming San Diego.

The film was another huge success for Steven Spielberg, and although the beloved characters from the first film did not return for The lost World, the box office result proves that the dinosaurs are the real stars of the series. However, if Alan Grant or Ellie Sattler showed up, it could have meant at least a gradual increase in the box office, especially since they are the main selling point of the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion.

1998 – Godzilla ($379 million)


Godzilla 1998 terrorizes New York

If anyone wondered why movie studios still gave Roland Emmerich huge budgets to make movies like the most recent moon fall, which was seriously hit by critics, is because of its previous box office successes. Not only did he direct the epic Independence Daybut he was also the head of Godzilla too.

However, 1998 was an overall low-grossing year for movies, and even though it was the third-highest-grossing movie of the year, $379 million is a far cry from the highest box office result ever. Emmerich saw. Not only that but Godzilla was actually considered an underperformer for the studio as well. It had something to do with bad reviews and negative word of mouth, but there are still many ways Godzilla is better than the 2014 version.

1999 – The Matrix ($463.5 million)


An image of Neo and Trinity walking down a hallway together in The Matrix

Few films are both endlessly engaging with their narratives and breathtaking with their action sequences. It’s an event every 10 years, and there are only a handful of examples, like Creation and Terminator 2: Judgment Daybut the one who started a whole zeitgeist was The matrix.

Fans still wonder how some of the film’s visual effects were achieved, and it surely led to so many repeat viewings when it was first released in 1999. The film was also the start of a billion-dollar multimedia franchise. of dollars. , and while The Matrix Reloaded made a ton more money, nothing even came close to surpassing the original in terms of influence.


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