There’s no blueprint on how to adapt a video game into a feature film. There’s no cheat code to make things easier, and there’s no perfect example of a video game adaptation, is there? Thus, most of these films tend to border on “barely watchable”. However, most of them are quite fun, and many are considered “guilty pleasure” films, worth watching to make fun of them. Honestly, most video game movies are mediocre or bad, and there’s no two ways about it. While there are some good adaptations, like Detective Pikachu (2019), they are few and far between. Therefore, adaptations that are utter failures (Alone In The Dark) are more common, as Hollywood can’t get video game movies right! However, some adaptations actually managed to turn a profit at the box office. And that’s why I’m here, to list the 10 highest-grossing video game movies of all time!
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10. Tomb Raider
Budget: 94 million
Worldwide Gross: 274 million
IMDb Score: 6.3/10 (193k votes)
Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider was received with mixed reviews, while earning the same amount of money as Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider from 2001. However, let’s keep in mind that this movie was bound to fail with Roar Uthaug at the helm, whose claim to fame is Cold Prey (2006) and The Wave (2015). While these Norwegian films are great, Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider was Uthaug’s first time directing an American blockbuster, and it shows. While Uthaug won’t return for the upcoming Tomb Raider sequel, Alicia Vikander will reprise her role as Lara Croft. Therefore, I’m excited to see what happens with its sequel, currently slated to be released in 2022.
Tomb Raider (2018) had the lowest domestic gross (58k), when compared to Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (131k) and its sequel (65k). However, Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider blew Jolie’s films out the water with its foreign gross, earning 216k outside of the USA. Thus, it seems Alicia Vikander’s Tomb Raider was internationally more appealing than Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft movies. But, it’s not a fair comparison, as times change, and so do rules of box office battles!
9. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
Budget: 115 million
Worldwide Gross: 274 million
IMDb Score: 5.8 (199k votes)
Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft has become iconic, hasn’t it? Whether it’s because of Angelina Jolie’s physical appearance, dedication to the role or her relatable personality, this movie just worked! While this heavily romanticized version of Lara Croft doesn’t hold true to the video games, it works as an adaptation. I mean, there’s a reason Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was considered as one of the best video games movies of all time during its release.
Simon West, known for Con Air, The Mechanic and The Expendables 2, also shot Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Thus, there’s an obvious feel of a “wacky action movie”, but it’s genuinely entertaining to watch. Plus, seeing Angelina Jolie whoop some butt is always a good time in my book!
8. Resident Evil: Afterlife
Budget: 65 million
Worldwide Gross: 300 million
IMDb Score: 5.8 (163k votes)
The Resident Evil film series started off somewhat realistic, but quickly turned into a fan-fiction with romanticized characters and ridiculous action scenes. Thus, Resident Evil: Afterlife marked the point of no return. It was time to stop thinking and start enjoying the ride! While it’s not for everybody, I genuinely enjoy the Resident Evil movies, as they’re downright entertaining. But, it’s not to say there’s no silver-lining, as Milla Jovovich puts on a show every single time. There’s no need to focus on others, as she carries these films alone, and Afterlife is of no exception to this!
7. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Budget: 40 million
Worldwide Gross: 312 million
IMDb Score: 5.5 (85k votes)
The Final Chapter is the worst film in the Resident Evil series, with uninteresting characters, poor writing and a lackluster ending. But, it made money! Therefore, the ends justify the means, right? I’m obviously being sarcastic, as it shouldn’t be about squeezing pennies, with a measely budget, to maximize profits. As a result, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is the most succesful movie in the film series, and it’s a sad reality. At least they left with a huge bag, right? However, I’d simply like to praise Milla Jovovich, as I loved her as Alice. Good or bad, what’s the difference? She’s the highlight in every film, and it’s not even close. Thus, she gave us all she had, and I’m appreciative of that!
6. Sonic the Hedgehog
Budget: 85 million
Worldwide Gross: 319 million
IMDb Score: 6.5 (95k votes)
There was plenty of controversy surrounding Sonic the Hedgehog, and his wonky first character design. With fans around the world voicing their disappointment, it wasn’t long before Sonic’s appearance was changed, and thus a disaster was avoided. In all honesty, gamers won that day, and it wasn’t a small victory. Thus, we showed our respects by watching the movie in theaters, adding to the worldwide gross of 319 million US dollars! It goes to show how good deeds are rewarded, doesn’t it? However, I believe without the controversy, this movie wouldn’t have made this much money at the box office. I mean, who are we kidding? The first reaction to the trailer was horrendeous, and the design change made us want to watch it! That’s all I’m saying.
What’s the moral of the story? Don’t change the character design because you believe that you know better. The odds are that you don’t! However, if you’re controversial enough, and improve the cause for concern, you might get some fan appreciation and enjoy some box office success.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is currently in the works, with a teaser released by Paramount Pictures in February, 2021.
5. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Budget: 200 million
Worldwide Gross: 336 million
IMDb Score: 6.6 (274k votes)
Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton and Ben Kingsley worked hard to make Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time everything the fans wanted! While they somewhat succeeded, making an action-adventure with an interesting storyline, they couldn’t capture the essence of the video games. But, that’s what we’ve come to expect, haven’t we? Mediocre video game movies are common, so we should simply enjoy the movie for what it is, right? Therefore, I’d still praise the efforts of these fantastic actors, who genuinely tried to bring us a worthwhile experience. And honestly? Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is still among the best video game adaptations of all time!
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was the highest-grossing video game movie until Warcraft (2016) surpassed it. However, the MMORPG adaptation earned merely 47 million US dollars at the box office, with Prince of Persia earning 90 million domestically. Therefore, this adaptation ranks as the 6th highest earning video game movie domestically, with Warcraft at number 15.
4. The Angry Birds Movie
Budget: 73 million
Worldwide Gross: 352 million
IMDb Score: 6.3 (81k votes)
How on Earth did Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly Make this work? We’re talking about a video game where a bird flies over pillars, simply by tapping your screen! Considering that it’s not much of a “game” to begin with, it’s impressive how well The Angry Birds Movie turned out. While it’s light on story and mediocre in structure, it’s still enjoyable and fairly well animated. Thus, I give it a thumbs up, and it made money. Mission accomplished!
The Angry Birds Movie 2 failed as a box office draw, earning 154 million, with a budget of 65 million US dollars. However, it’s considered an improvement over its predecessor, with many critics saying that it improved on the formula. While it’s, it failed at the box office. Thus, it doesn’t make the list of the highest-grossing video game movies of all time!
Budget: 120 millions
Worldwide Gross: 428 million
IMDb Score: 6.1 (147k votes)
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a Hollywood powerhouse, as he turns a profit with anything and everything. If that’s not a talent, then what is? Whether it’s his charisma, his talent with words or his likeable personality, The Rock is a box office draw. While Rampage is a video game with very little story, and a bunch of destruction, there wasn’t much to work with. On the contrary, Brad Peyton had the freedom to adapt Rampage however he sees fit, and the result is blockbuster film!
While Rampage was advertized for its gorilla, crocodile and flying wolf, most of us were looking forward to another beast altogether; Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Given, that’s a lot of praise. However, he’s earned this level of respect, considering how rarely he disappoints and how he genuinely cares about each movie role. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Rampage is among the highest-grossing video game movies of all time!
2. Detective Pikachu
Budget: 150 million
Worldwide Gross: 433 million
IMDb Score: 6.6 (141k votes)
Considering that there’s 122 Pokémon video games, it’s mind-blowing that they chose to adapt a 2016 spin-off, Great Detective Pikachu. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, it was a huge gamble, wasn’t it? When you consider the anticipation of a live-action Hollywood Pokémon movie, most people would’ve wanted an anime adaptation. I mean, it would’ve been the easiest way to please the fans, wouldn’t it? However, it’s also an obvious trap! Trying to adapt the anime would’ve ended in a disaster, so they made a smart decision. Instead, they adapt a spin-off that can be interpreted much loosely than the Pokémon TV anime. Thus, they set themselves up for success!
Detective Pikachu is the 2nd highest-grossing video game movie domestically, earning 144 million US dollars. It ranks only behind Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), which earned 4 million dollars more than the Pokémon adaptation. However, Pikachu wrecked Sonic the Hedgehog internationally, making over 110 million US dollars more than the blue speedster!
Budget: 160 million
Worldwide Gross: 439 million
IMDb Score: 6.8 (243k votes)
The Warcraft movie isn’t merely the highest-grossing video game movie ever, it’s also the highest rated live-action game film on IMDb. While that may not matter much, it goes to show exactly how succesful Warcraft was, even though it was ripped to pieces by critics. Albeit bland and over-saturated, Warcraft works as an entertaining Saturday night fantasy flick. But if you’re looking for a proper adaptation of Warcraft, this barely hits the mark. Therefore, I suggest watching this simply for the eye-candy and entertainment, as it’s worth a watch!
Fun-fact: Warcraft earned 89% of its box office revenue internationally. This means, it earned 391 million outside of the USA, and made merely 47 million domestically. When compared to other video game adaptations, it has the largest percentage split between international and domestic success. While this might not surprise anyone, considering Warcraft’s popularity worldwide, it’s still an important and noteworthy statistic. How come? It means Warcraft was the most succesful because of non-domestic success, as domestically it failed. Therefore, Warcraft fans from outside of the USA made this the highest-grossing video game movie of all time!