We here at Wonderwall.com love a good rom-com! But which ones earned as high of a spot at the box office as they did in our hearts? Check out the sometimes-surprising list of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time, starting with the biggest earner ever… No one could have predicted the success of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" back in 2002. The independent film, which starred Nia Vardalos (who also wrote the script!) and John Corbett, is a sweet love story about a Greek gal who falls for a non-Greek man and, despite some family drama, eventually gets her happily ever after. Though it only cost $5 million to make, it went on to become the most successful rom-com in history, earning $368.7 million worldwide. Keep reading to see the rest of the smash rom-com hits…
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One of the most classic rom-coms of all time obviously makes the list — "Pretty Woman." The 1990 love story starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere had a pretty small budget of just $14 million, but the tale of a lady of the night and a filthy rich businessman falling in love in Beverly Hills did better than the studio could have expected: It earned $463.4 million at the worldwide box office.
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This one's no surprise! Four years after the wildly successful HBO show of the same name ended, "Sex and the City" hit the big screen to the delight of diehard fans. With all the stars — Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall — reprising their roles and a budget of $65 million, the film picked up where the series left off and ended up earning $415.2 million at the box office.
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Will Smith's turn in a romantic comedy co-starring Eva Mendes and Kevin James ended up delivering box office gold back in 2005. Though the movie — in which Will played a professional dating coach who teaches men how to get women — had a steep budget at the time, reported to be anywhere from $55 to $70 million, it ended up earning back that and more, picking up $368.1 million at the box office worldwide.
"The Proposal" came out in 2009 and was an instant hit. Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock starred in the fun tale of a Canadian businesswoman with an expired visa who's in need of an American husband — and quick — resulting in a faux-engagement with her assistant. The film brought the laughs and saw Betty White playing an unforgettable character, helping it gross $317.4 million at the box office — a major coup considering its $40 million budget.
Did you see "What Women Want" in theaters? In the 2000 romantic comedy starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt, Mel's character gains the ability to hear women's thoughts. The flick ended up earning $374.1 million worldwide against a budget of $70 million.
Steve Martin and Queen Latifah might not be your typical rom-com couple, but their union on the big screen paid off big-time back in 2003. "Bringing Down the House" saw Steve as a lawyer and Latifah as an escaped convict who formed an unlikely relationship, to the delight of audiences. It earned more than $164 million around the world against its $35 million budget.
The newest addition to the highest grossing rom-com list? "Crazy Rich Asians"! The beloved book adaptation, which hit the big screen in 2018, starred Constance Wu as an Asian American professor who falls for Henry Golding's academic who also, she later learned, happens to come from a very rich family in Singapore. The movie, which had a budget of $30 million, not only made history for its amazing representation but also for being an incredibly lucrative romantic comedy that earned $238.5 million worldwide.
In 1997, "As Good as It Gets" was a massive hit that earned stars Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt Academy Awards for best actor and best actress, respectively. This romantic comedy wasn't just critically acclaimed but insanely commercially successful as well: Against a budget of $50 million, it ultimately earned $314 million worldwide.
Considering it had a production budget of $21 million, 2012's "Silver Linings Playbook" was a certainly a smash commercial hit as it earned more than $236 million in worldwide ticket sales. Though it skewed a little more dramatic than a classic rom-com, the love story between Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper struck a chord with audiences. The flick also earned Jennifer a best actress Academy Award.
Hugh Grant and romantic comedies always go together — and 1999's "Notting Hill" proved that they're a lucrative combination. This rom-com saw Hugh playing a British bookstore owner who falls for an American movie star played by Julia Roberts, and audiences were enamored of their sweet love story. The flick cost a reported $42 million to make but ended up collecting $363 million around the world.
1998's "There's Something About Mary," which featured an all-star cast that included Cameron Diaz, Matt Damon and Ben Stiller, was part rom-com, part raunchy comedy — and audiences adored it. The Farrelly brothers flick included a sweet romance in addition to some pretty gross scenes, which translated to big bucks at the box office. It picked up $370 million worldwide against a production budget of only $23 million.
Who could forget that scene in Tiffany & Co.? "Sweet Home Alabama" stole our hearts back in 2002, with Reese Witherspoon's character stuck between two men played by Patrick Dempsey from her fancy present in New York City and Josh Lucas from her modest beginnings in Alabama. It ultimately earned $180 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million.
Eddie Murphy's "Coming to America" was a massive hit in 1988. Eddie stars as Prince Akeem, a royal from the fictional African nation of Zamunda who moves to America in order to avoid an arranged marriage. He ends up falling for an independent woman, Lisa, played by Shari Headley. The film is packed with laughs, which made it an instant classic that ultimately took home more than $288 million in ticket sales against a reported production budget of $39 million.
The ultimate Christmas rom-com — "Love Actually" — makes the list! The 2003 classic follows the lives of different couples in London. Its Christmastime setting made it the perfect romantic holiday flick that has continued to warrant a rewatch year after year. Upon its original release, it picked up $244 million globally against its $40 million budget.
2007's "Knocked Up" cracked up audiences with stellar performances from Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. It told the tale of a one-night stand that resulted in a surprise pregnancy. It was made on a budget of just $30 million but ended up earning $219.1 million around the world.
"Pretty Woman" stars Julia Roberts and Richard Gere reuniting on the big screen? Ticket, please! It happened in 1999 in the rom-com "Runaway Bride" in which Julia played the titular would-be wife who ends up falling for Richard's character, a reporter in charge of getting the story on her wedding escapes. The flick had a pretty big budget, $70 million, but it recouped that and plenty more when it earned $309.4 million in global ticket sales.
"Shakespeare in Love" came out in 1998 and starred Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in a fictional love story involving Viola de Lesseps and William Shakespeare as he wrote the iconic tale "Romeo and Juliet." The film was a hit with critics and audiences alike, earning $289 million worldwide against a $25 million budget — not to mention seven Oscars including a best picture Academy Award as well as acting trophies for Gwyneth and co-star Judi Dench.
Surprise! Jack Nicholson has another movie on this list. This time, it's 2003's "Something's Gotta Give," in which he starred as a womanizer with a penchant for younger ladies who finally meets his match in someone closer to his age, a dynamo played by Diane Keaton. Audiences loved the mature romance, with the film earning more than $266 million worldwide against an $80 million production budget.
"Bridget Jones's Diary" was an instant classic upon its 2001 release. The Renee Zellweger-led rom-com, which saw her character torn between two men played by Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, was adapted from the novel of the same name. It picked up $281 million worldwide on a reported budget of just $25 million.