The 1980s was one of the most transformative periods in film history. Massive franchises got their start during this decade while other popular stand-alone stories cemented their names as cult classic.
With that being said, we thought we'd take a look at all the films that debuted between 1980 and 1989 to see which ones grossed more than the rest. We'll be using stats from Box Office Mojo to accomplish this, particularly looking at how each '80s classic performed in the U.S.
Grab out some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show; Here are the highest-grossing films of the '80s.
10 Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
The second Indiana Jones installment released into theaters in 1984. It took in $179 million at the domestic box office, with Harrison Ford reprising his role as the titular hero.
The new story had Indy searching out a mystical stone and saving a village in North India from a cult that practiced black magic in honor of the goddess Kali.
Though the film’s reviews were initially mixed, with many believing the themes in it were too dark, contemporary critics have praised the action and excitement of the film. It received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score and won an Oscar for Visual Effects.
9 Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
The third Indiana Jones film did even better than the one that came before it, bringing in $197 million at the box office. This time around, Indy searched out his father who had been abducted by the Nazis.
The 1989 film received mostly positive reviews as well as another sequel several years after its release.
It was packed with adventure and received a few Oscar nominations including Best Original Music Score and Best Sound Mixing. It won the award for Best Sound Editing.
8 The Empire Strikes Back
The Indiana Jones franchise wasn’t Lucasfilm’s only success during the ‘80s. Star Wars was also making a name for itself during this decade, with the second film, Star Wars: Episove V — The Empire Strikes Back, being released in 1980.
The epic space-opera had Luke learning to handle the Force under the instruction of Yoda while Darth Vader continued to target Han Solo, Princess Leia, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance. Though the film initially received mixed reviews, it has become one of the most acclaimed films in the Star Wars franchise, even entering the United States’ National Film Registry in 2010 for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”
The film was nominated for a handful of Academy Awards, winning one for Best Sound Mixing and a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects. It took in $209 million upon its release.
7 Back To The Future
This 1985 cult classic had teen Marty McFly mistakenly venturing back to 1955 and meeting his parents. However, time travel comes with its own problems and with the help of Dr. Emmett Brown, Marty must go back to the past to repair the events that he's messed up.
The film took in $210 million at the box office as well as many positive reviews. General audiences loved the spirit and humor of the film, and critics did, too. This had Back to the Future receiving various Oscar nominations and winning one for Sound Effects Editing.
6 Raiders Of The Lost Ark
The original Indiana Jones film hit theaters in 1981. This action-adventure had archaeologist Indiana Jones going on an adventure in search of the Ark of the Covenant.
The film took in $212 million at the box office and numerous positive reviews. People loved how the humor and action were blended into a single memorable movie.
Raiders of the Lost Ark received nine Academy Award nominations and won Oscars for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction.
Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters!
This spooky comedy debuted to audiences everywhere in 1984. It follows a group of parapsychologists who start catching ghosts in New York City.
The film received mostly positive reviews upon its release, with many loving the special effects and comedy. It has since been cited as one of the most culturally relevant comedy movies ever made.
Ghostbusters was nominated for Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song at the Oscars. It took in $229 million at the domestic box office.
4 Beverly Hills Cop
This action-comedy had Eddie Murphy playing a police officer from Detroit who solves the major mystery of his friend’s murder in Beverly Hills.
The 1984 film’s $15 million budget was transformed into $234 million at the domestic box office. People loved the charm Murphy brought to his first starring solo film role, causing the film to receive love from audiences and critics alike.
The movie was nominated for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) at the Academy Awards.
Tim Burton put his own spin on Batman in 1989. This rendition starred Michael Keaton as the titular character as he fought crime in Gotham City and faces his biggest threat yet, The Joker.
Batman grossed $251 million and though some believed the film’s tone was too dark, many praised the film as a whole with the main villain gaining a whole lot of interest.
The film won the award for Best Production Design at the Oscars the year after its release.
2 Return Of The Jedi
The final installment in the original Star Wars trilogy had Luke Skywalker trying to persuade Darth Vader to return to the light side. Meanwhile, the Rebel Fleet schemed to destroy the Death Star.
With the previous films becoming so beloved, it comes as no surprise that this one only gained more attention. Return of the Jedi grossed $252 million at the domestic box office and took in massively positive reviews for packing in the entertainment and leaving moviegoers with a satisfying conclusion.
The 1983 epic space-opera received several Academy Award nominations and won a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects.
1 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
The highest-grossing movie to premiere in the ‘80s is none other than E.T. This 1982 film told the story of a boy who befriends an alien on earth and his journey to get him home.
The classic film grossed $359 million at the domestic box office and was loved for its heartwarming feel.
The movie scored itself multiple Academy Award nominations and ended up winning for Best Original Music Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound Editing.