- Romantic comedies are popular because they provide an enjoyable escape from reality.
- The success of romantic comedies at the box office depends on various factors like marketing, star power, and source material.
- The highest-grossing romantic comedy films of all time include “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Sex & The City: The Movie,” “Runaway Bride,” “What Women Want,” “Pretty Woman,” “The Proposal,” “Hitch,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Knocked Up,” and “There’s Something About Mary.”
Romantic comedy movies are (mostly) universally loved, given that they are feel-good watches that are the perfect escape from reality, especially because they are oftentimes quite unrealistic. Whether the films do well at the box office can be hit or miss, depending on multiple factors, like marketing, star power, source material, the director, and so on. In particular, these ten romantic comedies saw massive success during their theatrical runs.
The ten highest-grossing romantic comedy films of all time (regarding the domestic box office) are My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Sex & The City: The Movie, Runaway Bride, What Women Want, Pretty Woman, The Proposal, Hitch, Crazy Rich Asians, Knocked Up, There’s Something About Mary, and Runaway Bride. Each feature has its own extraordinary qualities that aided in its success and earned it a spot on the highest-grossing romantic comedy movies list. However, some of the aforementioned movies do outrank the others, not only in terms of quality but also related to their placement within the rom-com genre.
10 Sex & The City: The Movie
It should come as no surprise that Sex and the City: The Movie is one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time, given that the film is a continuation of a six-season mega-popular television show. Four years following the Sex and the City series finale, Warner Bros. Pictures brought Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw, Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones, Kristin Davis as Charlotte York, and Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes back together for the 2008 feature film, which chronicled Carrie and Chris Noth’s Mr. Big taking the next step in their relationship. The movie made $152.6 million at the box office, making it the eighth highest-grossing rom-com.
9 Knocked Up
Knocked Up is easily the raunchiest movie on this list, and it leans more into its comedy roots than its romantic themes. However, at the end of the day, the 2007 Judd Apatow film is classified as a romantic comedy. The movie stars Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogan as two people who have a one-night stand, resulting in a pregnancy. Knocked Up earned $148.7 million during its theatrical run, earning it the tenth spot on the highest-grossing rom-com list.
8 Runaway Bride
Runaway Bride brought Richard Gere and Julia Roberts back together nine years after starring in Pretty Woman, and their star power and chemistry undoubtedly added to the 1999 film’s success. Although the movie had an interesting premise (a reporter writing a story about a woman who left numerous men at the altar on their wedding day), its plot did not meet the hype surrounding it. But because Runaway Bride had Gere and Roberts in its corner, that was enough for the film to make $152.2 million at the box office. As a result, it is the ninth highest-grossing romantic comedy movie of all time.
7 There’s Something About Mary
The 1998 film There’s Something About Mary stars Cameron Diaz as the titular character, Mary Jensen, a woman who attracts the attention of numerous men who are all vying for her attention. Aside from Diaz, the cast includes Ben Stiller, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, and Chris Elliott, so it’s clear that the stellar cast contributed to the movie’s success. Plus, it is an overall good film that received positive reviews, so it is not surprising that it received $176.4 million at the domestic box office, making it the fifth highest-grossing rom-com.
6 What Women Want
What Women Want is one of Nancy Meyers’s numerous romantic comedy projects, and it starred Mel Gibson as Nick Marshall, a bachelor who gains the ability to hear women’s thoughts. The 2000 film received mixed reviews but was a massive box office success since it ultimately made $182.8 million during its theatrical run. Overall, What Women Want currently resides at the number two spot on the highest-grossing rom-com list.
Nine times out of ten, any film that features Will Smith will perform well at the box office, which was true for his 2005 romantic comedy, Hitch. Even before the infamous Oscar slap, Smith was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, so it was not shocking when Hitch earned $179.4 million at the domestic box office. The movie was nothing outstanding in terms of its plot, but the story was heartwarming and intriguing. Plus, the chemistry between the stars — Smith, Eva Mendes, and Kevin James — secured it the number three spot on the highest-grossing rom-coms of all time list.
4 The Proposal
The Proposal is undoubtedly one of the funniest movies on this list, thanks to the talents of Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, and, of course, Betty White. The 2009 film featured Bullock’s character forcing her personal assistant, played by Reynolds, to act as her fiancé so that she can get her green card. The two then travel to Alaska to meet his family, and shenanigans ensue. Like Will Smith, Bullock is another bankable star, and that plus the fact that The Proposal is a well-made movie through and through, it performed well at the box office. The film made $163.9 million, making it the seventh highest-grossing romantic comedy.
3 My Big Fat Greek Wedding
My Big Fat Greek Wedding holds the distinction of being the top-earning romantic comedy film in history.
The title of the highest-grossing romantic comedy movie of all time belongs to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which received $241.4 million at the domestic box office. The 2002 film tells the love story between Toula Portokalos and Ian Miller, played by Nia Vardalos and John Corbett. Toula comes from a big Greek family who longs for her to marry a Greek man. Unfortunately for her, Ian isn’t Greek, which drives the central conflict in the movie. Following the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the studio ordered two more sequels — My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in 2016 and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 in 2023.
2 Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is the most recent romantic comedy on this list, having been released in 2018, and it is also one of the best. The movie stars Constance Wu as Rachel and Henry Golding as Nick, a couple who travels to Singapore for Nick’s best friend’s wedding, and Rachel learns that her boyfriend’s family is extremely wealthy and basically royalty. Crazy Rich Asians made $174.5 million at the domestic box office, making it the sixth highest-grossing rom-com.
1 Pretty Woman
Pretty Woman is, without a doubt, one of the best romantic comedies of all time, so it’s no surprise that it was a box-office success. The 1990 film introduced the electric chemistry between Julia Roberts and Richard Gere to the world, and the movie centered around the burgeoning relationship between their two characters, Vivian and Edward. Edward, a wealthy businessman, hires Vivian, a prostitute, to be his escort for business and social activities. The movie ultimately earned $178.4 million at the domestic box office, making it the fourth highest-grossing rom-com.