Film ratings

The 50 Highest Grossing Film Directors of All Time – 24/7 Wall St.

Special report

Men and women become directors in various ways. Some learn filmmaking as screenwriters, cinematographers, or film editors. Some apprentices from well-established directors of the past. Some start with video clips or TV episodes.

Along the way, they develop their own vision of their art. But they also learn what it takes to manage budgets, moody actors, accidents and other unpredictable happenings on set, and studio managers who interfere. Much like actors, directors who can reliably navigate the process and generate profits reliably are referred to as “bankable” – and therefore are the most likely to get funding for the films they want to make. (Find out who has won the Oscar for Best Director each year since the Oscars started.)

To determine the top 50 highest-grossing directors working in English-language cinema, 24/7 Tempo looked at box office and production budget data from Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Directors were ranked based on the average ratio of global box office return on investment to production budget for their work. (Here are the 100 highest grossing movies of all time.)

Only directors with three or more films with available ROI data and who made a film in 2018 or later were included. Average user ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and the Tomatometer scores on Rotten tomatoes, an aggregator of online movie and TV reviews, are weighted by the number of reviews and are current as of November 2021.

Click here to see the 50 most bankable directors

The directors on our list can all boast of having been successful. For some, this has been done by gaining a reputation for memorable films in a particular genre. Eli Roth and William Brent Bell have made their mark in horror films, and James Wan is credited with inventing the torture porn genre with his “Saw” film series. Directors Spike Lee and Steve McQueen have built their careers on films that demand that moviegoers understand the plight of minorities in America.

Other directors have made profitable films in multiple genres, such as Steven Spielberg, whose triumphs range from action films like the Indiana Jones franchise to historical films like “Lincoln” and “Schindler’s List” to the sci-fi classic. “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.

Basically, the most bankable directors are the ones who know how to tell a story.

To determine the 50 highest-grossing directors, 24/7 Tempo looked at box office and production budget data for Numbers, an online movie database owned by Nash Information Services. Directors were ranked based on the average ratio of global box office return on investment to production budget for their work. Only directors with three or more films with available ROI data and who made a film in 2018 or later were included. Average user ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and the Tomatometer scores on Rotten tomatoes, an aggregator of online movie and TV reviews, are weighted by the number of reviews and are current as of November 2021.