There are several British made movies that have done wonders at the box office, year after year. British movies are those that are purely made in UK by British film companies, or those which are made in collaboration with Hollywood. Co-productions which qualify under the British Film Institute’s eligibility criteria are also called British films. Also, in case the major shooting has been done in British film studios or locations, or the director or majority of the top cast is British, then also it is considered as a British movie.
The list of highest grossing British movies includes movies which are British productions or British co-productions and qualify as such by the British Government’s body British Film Institute. The films that are totally made in United Kingdom are classified as solely British by the British Film Institute. None of such films are included in this list, as the maximum that solely British movies have collected at box office is £47 million and they are at #14 onwards; hence not covered in this list of Top 13.
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010)
This movie made £54.2 million at the box office. This Harry Potter movie is a British-American film, and the seventh in the series. It is directed by David Yates. It was distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Based on the J.K. Rowling novel; it stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, reprise once more, the roles of Harry Potter’s best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
It is the first part of the two-part of Deathly Hollows cinematic version based on the novel. This film forms the sequel to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. It was followed by the concluding entry, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 which was released later in 2011. The story is about how Harry Potter attempts to destroy Lord Voldemort. The film was released worldwide on 19 November 2010. With a worldwide gross of $960 million, this movie became the third highest grossing film of 2010.
12. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)
This movie amassed a box office collection of £54.2 million. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a spin-off of the Harry Potter film series. It was produced and written by J. K. Rowling, in her screenwriting debut. It is directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros.
The story is set in 1926 New York. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander; and Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Mortonand others as supporting cast. It was shot mostly in British Studios in Leavesden, England. The movie was released on 18 November 2016 in 3D, IMAX 4K Laser and other large format cinemas. The film grossed $814 million worldwide, making it the eighth highest-grossing film of 2016.
11. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
This movie grossed £54.8 million. It is a British-American fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus. It is distributed by Warner Bros. The movie is based on the novel by J. K. Rowling. This is the second in the Harry Potter film series. The story covers second year of Harry Potter at Hogwarts School.
The film has Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter; and Rupert Grint and Emma Watson play best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The film was released on 15 November 2002 in the United Kingdom and USA. It grossed US$879 million worldwide.
10. Casino Royale (2006)
The box office collections for this film amounted to £55.6 million. Casino Royale is the 21st film in the James Bond film series, all produced by Eon Productions. Daniel Craig makes his debut as James Bond in this movie. The story of Casino Royale is set at the beginning of Bond’s career as Agent 007. Bond falls in love with Vesper Lynd. She is killed when Bond beats the villain Le Chiffre in a high-stakes poker game.
The movie was filmed in UK, among other locations. It was extensively shot in sets built at Barrandov Studios and Pinewood Studios. It premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square, on 14 November 2006. It has earned $600 million worldwide, and became the highest-grossing Bond film till 2012 when Skyfall was released.
09. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
It made a box office collection of £56.3 million. The Dark Knight Rises is a British-American superhero Batman film directed by Christopher Nolan. This film is the final instalment in Nolan’s Batman film trilogy. This is a sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008).
Christian Bale plays Batman and the usual characters like his butler is again played by Michael Caine, and the Chief Gordon is played by Gary Oldman. The film has Anne Hathaway playing the role of Selina Kyle. The film is about how batman saves Gotham from destruction by a nuclear bomb.
08. Rogue One (2016)
This film collected £66 million at the box office. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, also called simply Rogue One, is a 2016 epic space opera film directed by Gareth Edwards. It is based on a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta. It was produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Studios.
It is set before the events of the original Star Wars series of films. Rogue One story line follows a group of rebels on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star, the Galactic Empire’s ship. The film was shot at Elstree Studios near London during August 2015.
07. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
This film grossed £66.5 million at the box office. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was released in some countries as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is a 2001 British-American film directed by Chris Columbus and distributed by Warner Bros. It is based on the novel by J. K. Rowling. The film was the first in the long-running series of Harry Potter films. The story is about Harry Potter and his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The film stars Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, and as his friends, Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley and Emma Watson as Hermione Granger.
Warner Bros. bought the film rights to the book in 1999. Rowling wanted the entire cast be British or Irish. The film was shot at Leavesden Film Studios and historic buildings around the United Kingdom. The film was released in theatres in the United Kingdom and also in US on 16 November 2001.
06. Mamma Mia! (2008)
This film grossed £68.5 million box office collection. Mamma Mia! is a 2008 British-American-Swedish musical romantic comedy film. It is adapted from the 1999 West End and Broadway theatre musical of the same name. The title of the film is taken from ABBA’s 1975 chart-topper “Mamma Mia”. It has songs of pop group ABBA, and also additional music composed by ABBA member Benny Andersson.
The film was directed by Phyllida Lloyd and distributed by Universal Pictures. Meryl Streep is in the lead and the ex-James Bond star Pierce Brosnan (Sam Carmichael), Colin Firth (Harry Bright), and Stellan Skarsgård (Bill Anderson) play the three possible fathers to Donna’s daughter, Sophie (Amanda Seyfried). Mamma Mia! earned $609.8 million overall on a $52 million budget.
05. Beauty and the Beast (2017)
This film has grossed £71.2 million. Beauty and the Beast is a 2017 film directed by Bill Condon and co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Mandeville Films. Beauty and the Beast is based on Disney’s 1991 animated film of the same name. The story is an adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s eighteenth-century fairy tale. The film features Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the leading roles, and Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor and others in supporting roles.
The film premiered on February 23, 2017, at Spencer House in London and was later released in the United States. It has already grossed over $1.1 billion worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film of 2017 and the 11th highest-grossing film of all time.
04. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2(2011)
This movie has raked in £73.5 million. It is a British-American film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. It is the second of two parts movie. It is the sequel to the earlier film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. The series is based on the Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling. This film is the eighth and final instalment in the Harry Potter film series. The screenplay was written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman, David Barron, and Rowling. The story is about Harry Potter’s quest to find and destroy Lord Voldemort.
The film star cast continues with the usual, with Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson play Harry’s best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was released in 2D, 3-D and IMAX cinemas on 13th July 2011. It is the only Harry Potter film to be released in 3-D. Part 2 claimed the worldwide opening weekend record, and opening day records, earning $483.2 million, in various countries. The film is the eighth highest-grossing film of all time, the highest-grossing film in the Harry Potter series.
03. Spectre (2015)
Spectre has grossed £95.2 million since its release. It was released on 26 October 2015 in the United Kingdom with a world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London. It was released in US on week later. Spectre is the 24th film in the James Bond film series. It is produced by Eon Productions for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures. The movie was shot extensively in Pinewood Studios and UK locales. Daniel Craig features as Bond for the fourth time. It is the second film in the series directed by Sam Mendes after Skyfall.
In this film James Bond fights against the worldwide crime syndicate Spectre and its boss Ernst Stavro Blofeld. In a surprising twist, Bond turns out to be Blofeld’s adopted brother. Blofeld wants to launch a global satellite surveillance network. Bond finds out that Spectre and Blofeld were behind the events as shown in the previous films. Bond destroys Spectre and Blofeld is killed. Spectre and Blofeld earlier appeared in earlier James Bond film by Eon Production in 1971, Diamonds Are Forever. Christoph Waltz plays Blofeld in this film. The usual recurring characters make their appearances, including M, Q and Moneypenny.
Spectre was shot from December 2014 to July 2015 in locations like Austria, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, apart from UK. Spectre added up to $245 million in making and it is the most expensive Bond film and one of the most expensive films ever made.
02. Skyfall (2012)
It has grossed £103.2 million, since its release in UK in 2012. Skyfall marks 50 years of James Bond films, the longest running series of films which started in 1962. It is the 23rd James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. It has Daniel Craig in his third film as James Bond. The movie was distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures.
The story is about Bond investigating an attack on MI6 headquarters. The attack is part of a plot by former MI6 agent Raoul Silva to kill M as revenge against her for betraying him. Javier Bardem plays Raoul Silva, the film’s villain. The film sees the return of two characters after an absence of two films. They are Q, played by Ben Whishaw; and Moneypenny, played by Naomie Harris. In this film M played by Judi Dench dies and will no longer be seen again. The next M will be the character Gareth Mallory who is played by Ralph Fiennes.
01. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
This film has grossed more than £2.4 billion worldwide so far. It is now the all-time highest earning UK qualifying film at the worldwide box office. In U.K. it has grossed £123 million, which is the highest for any film. The reason Star Wars VII finds itself on this list is, The Force Awakens has been classified as a British film. It is a British co-production, as the British government contributed £31.6 million to fund the movie. About 15 % of the production costs were financed by the British government in the form of tax reliefs. Britain offers the tax incentives to films shot in Britain. For a film to qualify, it has to be certified as culturally British. It was shot at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and other locations around the U.K., and two of the young lead actors, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, are from London.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also known as Star Wars: Episode VII, was released worldwide in 2015, by Walt Disney Studios. It was produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and director J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot Productions. It is the next direct sequel to 1983’s Return of the Jedi. It stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega,Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels and others.
The story is set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. It depicts Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s search for Luke Skywalker and their fight alongside the Resistance. The battle is led by veterans of the Rebel Alliance against Kylo Ren and the First Order which succeeds the Galactic Empire. The movie has all the popular characters that made Star Wars what it is today. Some of these adorable characters are, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbecca. R2D2, C3PO etc. It is also the nostalgia that has contributed to the success of the film.
British film industry is second only to the Hollywood, or American film industry. The solely British films have also turn out worldwide highest grossing movies. However, it is the co-productions with Hollywood studios that have been the biggest all time blockbuster hits. British government liberally offers incentives to film studios who want to collaborate with the British film industry. Such co-productions also stand to gain a wide publicity as well as an enthusiastic audience waiting eagerly for the release of the film.