15Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
Estimated profit: $912 million
The hype surrounding the release of George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace -- the first film in the Star Wars prequel trilogy -- was unprecedented. Fans had been waiting for 16 years to return to a galaxy far, far away,
and it could just be the most anticipated film in cinematic history. While Episode I wasn't exactly what fans wanted (people wanted to see the original cast again, like in The Force Awakens), it was still Star Wars - and that wasn't something to be dismissed.
While reception by audiences and critics alike was less than stellar, The Phantom Menace managed to gross a whopping $924 million worldwide - stopping short of a billion dollars - on an estimated $115 million production budget. But due to its 3D re-release in 2012 (which was supposed to be the first of all six films re-releasing), The Phantom Menace garnered approximately an additional hundred million dollars, thus bringing its lifetime total to $1.027 billion.
When it released, The Phantom Menace was not only the highest-grossing film of the year, but it was also the highest-grossing Star Wars film ever made -- that is, until Star Wars: The Force Awakens released.