Best Directors Of New Hollywood And Their Top-Grossing Movies

New Hollywood, which took place during the late 60s and throughout the 70s, is one of the most important eras in cinema history. During this period, some of the most important filmmakers of the last 50 years were given their big break opportunities. Examples include Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford-Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, etc. Each of these directors flourished to become icons and the topics of film school classes everywhere. We’ve rounded up the best directors of New Hollywood and their top-grossing movies to show just how influential they are.

5. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street – $406 million

Unlike his colleagues further down this list, Martin Scorsese found his best box office results in (relatively) recent memory. Despite a very long playing time of 180 minutes, the 2013 The Wolf of Wall Street managed to conquer the general public. And despite being ranked bottom on this list due to box office gross revenue, he is one of the all-time best directors.

He’s worked on other iconic movies like Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, and Cape Fear. His filmography really is classic after classic. The Wolf of Wall Street cost $100 million to make and grossed $406 million worldwide.

4. Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather – $430 million

It is ironic that Francis Ford Coppola tops Scorsese on this list since they both made great gangster movies. However, Coppola’s most important work at the box office was the first chapter of The Godfather and here we will count The Godfather trilogy as one entry. It released in 1972 and created unrest amongst the Mafia.

People fell in love with the lifestyle and complex characters and it is said that the film romanticizes criminals. The movie cost only $6 million to make and grossed $246 million worldwide on its release. The Godfather trilogy made $430 million total, which puts this New Hollywood director fourth on the list of all-time high grossing films.

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3. Brian De Palma, Mission Impossible – $457 million

Brian De Palma is one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most passionate fans and he always finds an opportunity to honor him or to take inspiration from him in his works. De Palma has been forgotten over time because he has produced fewer movies over the years. However, it is important to remember that he was the creator of many cult movies like Carrie, Scarface, and The Untouchables.

As can be expected, his highest box office number comes from one of his most recent works, Mission Impossible starring Tom Cruise. It released in 1996 and the movie grossed $457 million worldwide against a budget of $80 million.

2. George Lucas, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – $1 billion

We don’t think it will come as a surprise to anyone that George Lucas and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace fall second on our list of the best directors of New Hollywood. George Lucas is known for his work on the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movie franchises. Less known, he also has a huge hand in developing computer generated imagery (CGI), which clearly made his movies memorable for fans worldwide.

The 1999 film, Episode I – The Phantom Menace, made $1 billion worldwide on a $115m budget. With numbers like that, it’s amazing he didn’t quite make the number one slot.

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1. Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park – $1.1 billion

No one can dispute the fact that Steven Spielberg is a legend. From Jaws to ET and beyond, his movies have captivated audiences for decades. In 1993, he, as one of the most iconic movie makers, created one of the world’s most iconic movies: Jurassic Park. The fame for this movie clearly showed up at the box office, but it also grew in fame over time, making a world that billions are still idolizing to this day. A ride at Universal Studios, which has been open since 1996, solidifies it’s notoriety .

Cinematic monsters have always grabbed attention, but with Spielberg’s award-winning visual effects, Jurassic Park made dinosaurs come to life (again). Costs for this film were around $63 million and Jurassic Park went on to gross $1 billion to become Spielberg’s most lucrative movie.

How Do the Best Directors of New Hollywood Compare to Today’s Movies?

If we look at the top-grossing movies from the last three years, we can see that modern day movies have raised the box office bar because of more expensive technology and therefore, budgets, and we can’t forget inflation.

Top-Grossing Movie of 2020

The Eight Hundred was the top-grossing movie of 2020, which brought in $461 million worldwide on a $80 million budget. Hu Guan directed this movie and brought the war story to box office numbers that rival that of Mission Impossible. While it’s a great movie, it’s also important to keep in mind the many changes that Covid-19 brought in this year as well as inflation.

Top-Grossing Movie of 2021

In 2021, the highest grossing movie was Spider-Man: No Way Home. Marvel movies always bring in the big bucks and this film was no exception. Directed by Jon Watts, Spider-Man: No Way Home grossed a whopping $1.9 billion worldwide. While it does surpass Jurassic Park, it’s budget of $200 million is significantly higher respectively.

Top-Grossing Movie of 2022

Last, but not least, 2022 brought us Top Gun: Maverick, which grossed $1.4 billion worldwide on a $170 million budget. It was directed by Joseph Kosinski and is undoubtedly one of the best sequels ever made. Audience response was high and ranks this movie around the same status as Star Wars and Jurassic Park.

Ultimately, legends like Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg will never be replaced and they’re responsible for bringing advanced, movie technology to the big screen. They changed the system of Hollywood, which forged their way as directors and led to the directors and films we see today.