20 Highest Grossing Original Films of All-Time

Sequels, remakes, and adaptations are nothing new. In fact, they’ve been around for over 100 years. Director Georges Méliès shot an adaptation of Cinderella in 1899. However, the trend has become much more prevalent in recent years. Of the top 100 highest grossing movies of all time, only 20 were original films:

Ratatouille ($623,722,818)
Director Brad Bird was initially attracted to Ratatouille because of its very simple conflict and premise: a rat who wanted to become a chef, despite their fear of the kitchen. The movie became one of the best received animated films of all-time and Disney even considered promoting the movie for a Best Picture nomination.
Hancock ($624,386,746)
Will Smith's first stint as a superhero was meant to be a darker take on the comic book genre and it almost garnered an R-rating. The original script contained several references to the fact Hancock was unable to have sex without accidentally killing his partner as well one scene where Hancock has an "explosive orgasm" (which is also how one movie reviewer described Wild Wild West). Hancock was changed considerably to give it a PG-13 rating and a more broad appeal.
The Incredibles ($631,442,092)
Brad Bird originally conceived of a movie about a superhero family in 1993, but he would later revisit the idea after working on The Iron Giant. Bird began to question whether it was possible to balance a career and his family, a question which stands at the center of The Incredibles. "Consciously, this was just a funny movie about superheroes," Bird explained, "But I think that what was going on in my life definitely filtered into the movie."
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Kung Fu Panda ($631,744,560)
Kung Fu Panda was originally meant to be a parody of kung fu movies, but was later changed into a straight action-comedy. "I wasn't interested in making fun of martial arts movies, because I really think they can be great films, they can be as good as any genre movie when they're done properly," director John Stevenson explained.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl ($654,264,015)
Although the movie isn't adapted from anything in the traditional sense, it was loosely based on the Disney ride The Pirates of the Caribbean. Initially Disney was reluctant to produce a movie based on a park attraction after the box office failure of The Country Bears (based on the Country Bear Jamboree), but director Gore Verbinski felt the script captured the ride's "scary and funny" tone that he had remembered from his childhood.
The Sixth Sense ($672,806,292)
While filming a movie called The Broadway Brawler, Bruce Willis fired several members of the cast and crew including director Lee Grant. This move cost Disney nearly $15 million. In order to recoup their loss, Disney forced Willis to sign a three picture deal at well below market rate. These movies included The Kid, Armeggeddon, and The Sixth Sense.
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Interstellar ($675,120,017)
The idea for Interstellar was originally conceived of by film producer Lynda Obst and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who had collaborated together on the film Contact after being set up on a blind date by Carl Sagan. Based on Thorne's work, the pair wanted to make a film that imagined if "the most exotic events in the universe suddenly becoming accessible to humans."
Gravity ($723,192,705)
Harry Potter director Alfonso Cuarón originally wrote the script for Gravity along with his son Jonás. When developing the plot of the film, Cuarón was inspired by the Gregory Peck movie Marooned which was about a group of astronauts who get stranded attempting to return from orbit.
Up ($731,342,744)
Up is one of only three animated films to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture (including Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story 3). While the movie wasn't adapted from anything, it was still partially inspired by real life. Villain Charles Muntz was based on several real life figures including Howard Hughes, Charles Lindberg, and Charles Mintz, the animator who allegedly stole the character "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" from Walt Disney.
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2012 ($769,679,473)
The 2009 disaster film was based on the long standing misconception that the Mayan calendar had predicted the end of the world would occur in 2012. The movie was originally conceived of as a modern take on the biblical flood, but was later given the 2012 hook after director Roland Emmerich read the Graham Hancock book Fingerprints of the Gods.
Star Wars ($775,398,007)
George Lucas had wanted to make a Space Western for years before creating Star Wars. The movie was originally developed as an adaptation of the Flash Gordon comic series, but Lucas was unable to secure the rights

"I wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie, with all the trimmings, but I couldn't obtain the rights to the characters," Lucas explained, "So I began researching and went right back and found where Alex Raymond (who had done the original Flash Gordon comic strips in newspapers) had got his idea from. I discovered that he'd got his inspiration from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (author of Tarzan) and especially from his John Carter of Mars series books. I read through that series, then found that what had sparked Burroughs off was a science-fantasy called Gulliver on Mars, written by Edwin Arnold and published in 1905. That was the first story in this genre that I have been able to trace. Jules Verne had got pretty close, I suppose, but he never had a hero battling against space creatures or having adventures on another planet. A whole new genre developed from that idea."
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ($792,910,554)
The idea for E.T. was based on the imaginary friend Steven Spielberg developed after his parents' divorce in 1960. Spielberg described his alien companion as "a friend who could be the brother I never had and a father that I didn't feel I had anymore."
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Independence Day ($817,400,891)
While doing the press circuit for the movie Stargate writer Rolan Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin were inspired to write Independence Day after a reporter asked a question about alien invasions. Devlin explained that he was always bothered by the way movies handled first contact saying "for the most part, in alien invasion movies, they come down to Earth and they're hidden in some back field ...{o}r they arrive in little spores and inject themselves into the back of someone's head." Emmerich followed up asking, "would you hide on a farm or would you make a big entrance?"
Inception ($825,532,764)
Christopher Nolan worked on the script for Inception for nearly 10 years. After finishing work on Insomnia, Nolan wrote an 80 page treatment about "dream stealers." The movie was originally intended to be a horror film, but Nolan eventually re-wrote it as a heist movie. This idea was later dropped too because the story "relies so heavily on the idea of the interior state, the idea of dream and memory. I realized I needed to raise the emotional stakes."
Inside Out ($856,809,711)
Writer and director Pete Docter began working on Inside Out in 2009 after he noticed his daughter's personality began to change drastically as she grew older. "She started getting more quiet and reserved, and that, frankly, triggered a lot of my own insecurities and fears," Docter explained.
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Finding Nemo ($936,743,261)
Writer and director Andrew Stanton was inspired to write Finding Nemo by his childhood visits to the dentist's office. Stanton remembered seeing a tank full of fish and imagined them trying to escape back into the ocean. Nemo's relationship with his father was also inspired by Stanton's relationship with his own son after Stanton realize he was being an overprotective parent.
The Lion King ($987,483,777)
The Lion King was the first Disney film not to be based on a pre-existing work. The film's creators drew inspiration from the Biblical stories of Joseph and Moses as well as William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Frozen ($1,276,480,335)
Frozen was originally developed as an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Snow Queen. While the final product bears little to no resemblance to the original story, the characters Hans, Kristoff, Anna, and Sven remain a reference to the Danish author.
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Titanic ($2,186,772,302)
Director James Cameron had always been fascinated by sunken ships and he called the Titanic "the Mount Everest of shipwrecks." In fact, he originally wanted to make the film just so he could explore the shipwrecked ruins of the Titanic, not because he particularly wanted to make the movie. After watching an IMAX film about the Titanic, Cameron sought out Hollywood funding to "pay for an expedition."
Avatar ($2,787,965,087)
Avatar is often derided as a rip-off of films like Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves, however director James Cameron actually drew inspiration from "every single science fiction book" from his childhood as well as the adventure novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H. Rider Haggard.