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The Highest Grossing Movies Of 2022 So Far

After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, 2022 has seen the theatrical experience rebound in a big way. The horror genre has seen a great resurgence with films like "Barbarian," "Smile," and "Pearl," while sequels, like "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story" and "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore," have graced the silver screen too. Popular characters like Spider-Man, Gru, and Batman have also returned. 

The year, however, has been primarily defined by its blockbusters. Superheroes and creature features unleashed chaos at the box office, nabbing many of the top spots. Though smaller production houses like A24 and Neon had another great year, and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Studios are gaining ground during awards season, the major studios had the last laugh, raking in billions of dollars in revenue.

It's likely there will not be a year in film that isn't monetarily dominated by superhero franchises and big-budget action flicks for a long time, but productions like "Nope" and "Elvis" offer glimmers of hope that one-off movies can still survive in this modern landscape of Hollywood. From the return of beloved video game characters to a long-awaited sequel, here are the 12 highest-grossing movies of 2022 so far.

Nope

The highest-grossing horror movie of 2022 is "Nope" — although technically, it's more of a science-fiction commentary on social media exploitation and virality. But it wouldn't be a Jordan Peele flick without some terror, and the Jean Jacket creature, which takes on the form of a UFO, is on par with the filmmaker's other antagonists. After hitting theaters in July, "Nope" brought in over $123 million domestically, making nearly three times its final budget.

"Nope" zeroes in on the Haywood siblings who run a horse ranch in California. OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Emerald (Keke Palmer) find their land being taunted by a sinister UFO marauding the skies above them. The film is not as much of a direct conversation about racism as "Get Out." Instead, it's a cautionary tale like "Us," as Ricky "Jupe" Park (Steven Yeun), a theme park owner, wants to make money off of the spectacle lurking near the Haywood farm. Peele's fascination with actions and repercussions, however, stretches across all three of his films.

With powerful performances from Palmer and Kaluuya, "Nope" set a precedent for all horror films in 2022, further cementing Peele as one of the best directors in the genre. The film's evening shots done by Hoyte Van Hoytema using the "Day-for-Night" technique, and John O. Dabiri and Guillaume Rocheron's use of practical effects meshed with CGI, leave "Nope" a stunning, methodical picture from beginning to end.

Black Adam

Though it failed to generate a positive critical consensus, "Black Adam" did find box-office success in its worldwide release. Raking in over $151 million in the U.S., the film attempts to capitalize on the new era of DC Comics, following behind "Peacemaker" and "The Suicide Squad." Though it's a spinoff of the 2019 film "Shazam!," "Black Adam" has been in the works, in some form or another, since 2014, according to Dwyane Johnson's Twitter account.

Johnson made a digital cameo as Black Adam in "Shazam!" in 2019, but he had to wait three years before getting his moment in the sun. Now, his character has been released from the tomb in which he was imprisoned 5000 years ago, when the gods first gave him his powers, and he's delivering justice to the mortals on Earth. Johnson has never been the kind of actor who plays roles searching for character depth. He's an action star, and it was only a matter of time before he became a superhero. Black Adam isn't some tragic figure. He's mythological and powerful, suiting Johnson's muscular, larger-than-life presence perfectly.

"Black Adam" did what it was designed to: It generated enough buzz to warrant a sequel or two, and the DC Universe is continuing to establish its staying power in a genre dominated by Marvel. In the comics, Black Adam and Shazam have a long, storied rivalry – perhaps a face-off is on the horizon.

Uncharted

Adapted from Naughty Dog's legendary video game franchise, "Uncharted" made a lot of money but failed to live up to the hype of the source material. There are seven installments in the "Uncharted" video game franchise, though it's unlikely that we'll ever see nearly that many films. Bringing in $148 million domestically, the movie made its budget back through its North American gross alone.

Plagued by major delays during COVID-19, "Uncharted" follows the story of Nathan Drake (Tom Holland), a treasure-hunting bartender tasked with locating the fortunes of the Magellan expedition. While the film was in early development, Mark Wahlberg was slated to play Drake, but that plan was revised and Walhberg settled into the role of Sully, a treasure hunter with ties to the Drake family.

"Uncharted" is fun, and Antonio Banderas has a memorable part as antagonist Santiago Moncada, but it struggles to blossom into anything more than a mediocre blockbuster action flick. There are moments when it, painfully, feels like a ramshackle video game parody. It probably counts as one of the better video game adaptations, but to be fair, the genre's competition isn't all that stiff.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

After just one weekend in theaters, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" quickly broke into the top 10 of the highest-grossing films of 2022, grossing $180,000,000 domestically and $330,000,000 worldwide. The highly anticipated sequel to the beloved "Black Panther" in 2018 arrived after film lead Chadwick Boseman, who played T'Challa/Black Panther, died of colon cancer in 2020.

Initially, "Black Panther" sequels were meant to explore T'Challa becoming the king of Wakanda, but Boseman's death tasked director Ryan Coogler with deciding on whether or not to recast T'Challa. In the end, he opted not to, and "Wakanda Forever" focuses on how the people of Wakanda, especially Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Shuri (Letitia Wright), and M'Baku (Winston Duke), band together to protect Wakanda from Namor (Tenoch Huerta), a Mayan, underwater mutant who is the king of Talokan.

"Wakanda Forever" opened to reverent reviews, clocking in at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is on pace to finish at the very top of the year-end gross list. Though Daniel Kaluuya does not reprise his role as W'Kabi and Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger is only featured posthumously, the film pays great homage to the legacy Boseman built as T'Challa four years ago, while also managing to tell a new, unique story on top of honoring its fallen hero.

Elvis

Reviews of Baz Luhrmann's mystifying Elvis Presley biopic spanned a vast spectrum. On one hand, explosive leading man Austin Butler will undoubtedly find himself in best actor conversations this year. On the other hand, supporting star Tom Hanks gives one of his least revered performances in a long, 30-year career. The film found massive success at the box office, raking in over $151 million in North America and becoming the third-highest-grossing music biopic ever.

"Elvis" is sold as a story about the King of Rock and Roll, but in actuality, it's a saturated and romanticized portrayal of Colonel Tom Parker's relationship with Elvis. The movie is not so much a celebration of Elvis' life, but a depiction of how Parker (Hanks) manipulated and destroyed his career over the course of two decades. We watch Elvis transform from a sober, clean-cut teenager selling out fairgrounds into a drug-addicted, out-of-shape shell of his own celebrity.

If you can stomach looking past Hanks' awful turn as the Colonel, "Elvis" is a dazzling film with one of the best individual performances of the year from Austin Butler. Much like his rendition of "The Great Gatsby," Luhrmann blurs the line between past and present, creating two-and-a-half hours of rock and roll wonder in vivid technicolor that will define the music biopic for years to come.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

"Sonic the Hedgehog 2" manages to outshine its predecessor with a clever script. The writers appeased Sega fans by sticking to Sonic's origins, while also creating an accessible universe that new fans can buy into. Yes, it does tread similar structural territory as "Sonic the Hedgehog" did two years ago, but it stands on its own with terrific voice performances from Ben Schwartz, Idris Elba, and Colleen O'Shaughnessey.

Unlike other video game adaptations, like "Max Payne," "Detective Pikachu," and "Mortal Kombat," "Sonic 2" doesn't have too much source material to mine through. The world of Sonic revolves around our titular blue hedgehog (Schwartz), and his friends, Tails (O'Shaughnessey) and Knuckles (Elba), as they fight to take down his nemesis Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) upon his return to Earth after being imprisoned on the mushroom planet.

Carrey's return as Robotnik carries the action of the film. Sometimes "Sonic 2" wants to do too much, and having Carrey as the anchor of the live-action cast helps balance out the dashing timeline. "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" was a massive box office success, bringing in over $190 million in North America. A third film is due to hit theaters in 2024, with a spin-off about Knuckles set to air on Paramount+ in 2023.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

The only film in the top 12 that was technically released in 2021 (less than two weeks before the end of the year), "Spider-Man: No Way Home" was a massive success, grossing over $231,000,000 domestically. By the time it finished its run in theaters, it had raked in $1.9 billion worldwide, currently sitting as the 6th highest-grossing movie of all time.

Critical consensus puts "No Way Home," the final installment in Jon Watts' trilogy, as one of the best-rated films of the year, one of the few big-budget blockbuster movies to be critically revered across the board. Trilogy stars Tom Holland, Zendaya, and Benedict Cumberbatch return as Peter Parker, MJ, and Dr. Strange, while Marvel alumni Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, and Alfred Molina are featured as villains Electro, Green Goblin, and Doctor Octopus, respectively.

Maybe most significant of all, however, is the fact that "No Way Home" gave us a Spider-Man team-up, with Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire reprising their roles from previous Spider-Man films. The high-powered twist made waves across the internet and solidified "No Way Home" as one of the best Spider-Man films yet. Whether Holland's time as Peter Parker is over or not remains to be seen, but "No Way Home" gave audiences the opportunity to see three different takes on the character all at once. That's worth the price of admission all on its own.

Thor: Love and Thunder

Directed by Academy Award-winner Taika Waititi, "Thor: Love and Thunder" doesn't quite live up to the greatness of "Thor: Ragnarok." Nonetheless, it made a boatload of money, grossing over $343 million in the United States. It still ranks highly within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though, carried by Chris Hemsworth's continually charming portrayal of the titular God of Thunder.

Since the "Jojo Rabbit" director took over the series in 2017, he's injected a new, prismatic life into what was an otherwise gloomy sepia filter that rained over the kinetic Norse God's image. Like "Ragnarok," "Love and Thunder" is hilarious and entirely unique. Thor is now retired, but the villain Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) has arrived and upended his plans by wanting to wipe out all of the gods across every single pantheon. With familiar faces Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and Korg (Waititi), Thor and his battalion of intergalactic heroes give audiences one of the most fun MCU showdowns yet.

"Love and Thunder" isn't as genre-defining as "Ragnarok," but it doesn't have to be. Waititi has cleverly built his own little corner of the MCU. Esquire critic Brady Langmann said it best: "Love and Thunder" is a "deeply cool movie" that will "likely go unappreciated."

Minions: The Rise of Gru

After four films, the "Despicable Me" franchise, along with its "Minions" prequel, was looking for a resurrection. Though still popular amongst young audiences, there hadn't been a full-length feature film starring the minions in seven years. All of that changed this year, when "Minions: The Rise of Gru" returned like a box office supernova, grossing over $369 million in America and nearly $1 billion worldwide.

The story is a nostalgia trip for parents and a clever introduction to the 1970s for younger audiences. Director Kyle Balda takes us back to 1976 when disco was king and Jimmy Carter was president, as we watch a pre-teen Gru (Steve Carell) dream of becoming a supervillain who takes over the world. The minions are there, too, of course, as Gru's assistants.

Gru is obsessed with a villainous troupe called the Vicious 6 and wants to join them someday. When their leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) is booted from the group, Gru tries to become a new member, but quickly becomes their greatest enemy. The team-up between Gru and Wild Knuckles to take down the Vicious 6 is a hilarious twist.

The title of the film is misleading, as the minions are not the heart of the story like they were in "Minions." Gru is the star of the show, although Carell's memorable character is no longer the face of the franchise. That being said, a terrific soundtrack and fun animation make this period piece one of the most enjoyable animated films of 2022.

The Batman

After Christian Bale played Batman for the last time in 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises," the character was somewhat underwhelmingly portrayed by Ben Affleck in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and both "Justice League" iterations. Now, a decade after Bale hung up his mask, "Twilight" and "The Lighthouse" star Robert Pattinson assumed the role of Bruce Wayne, Gotham's brooding billionaire recluse in Matt Reeves' "The Batman."

"The Batman" was a hit, much like every other Batman movie installment. Unlike "The Dark Night" and its sequel, "The Batman" didn't make a billion dollars. Reeves' grim rendition of Gotham's caped crusader only made a measly $369 million in America and $770 million worldwide. That's hardly a bad deal for a character in serious need of an energetic revival.

In "The Batman," it's not the Joker who terrorizes Gotham. Instead, the Riddler (Paul Dano) and the Penguin (Colin Farrell) face off against Batman. Dano brings sinister mundanity to the Riddler, while Farrell plays the over-the-top caricature of the Penguin with precision. It's easily the most brutal Batman movie yet, punctuated by the dark cinematography Reeves uses in every sequence.

Unlike the DC Extended Universe established through films like "Shazam!," "Black Adam," and "The Suicide Squad," Batman is set to get his own universe in future sequels. In 2020, HBO announced its plans to create a series based on the Gotham City Police Department, which would become a prequel to "The Batman," but the series is on indefinite hold after showrunner Terence Winter left production.

Jurassic World: Dominion

Though the "Jurassic World" franchise continues to get worse, critically, with every installment, it remains a slam dunk cash cow at the box office. Bringing in over $369 million in America and $1 billion worldwide, "Jurassic World: Dominion" has kept the series going strong.

"Dominion" had promise, given that original "Jurassic Park" actors Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum would be appearing together for the first time since Steven Spielberg's groundbreaking 1993 blockbuster. But unlike "Spider-Man: No Way Home," "Dominion" squanders its heavily anticipated reunion of former stars. Chris Pratt looks like he's on autopilot, and not even the charisma king himself Goldblum has a script witty enough to put his talents on display.

At this point in the "Jurassic World" franchise, the "world" part of the title is finally truthful. Dinosaurs roam the entire planet, hunting humans, wreaking havoc on the environment, and slowly becoming the apex predators firmly at the top of the food chain. Ethologist Owen Grady (Pratt) and Dinosaur Protection Group founder Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are back, trying to bring peace between the two species, while a convoluted plot about Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) and the Biosyn abduction/black market scheme is a particularly low point for a franchise built on suspended beliefs.

For now, there are no more "Jurassic World" films on the docket, as "Dominion" officially concludes the second "Jurassic Park" trilogy. What's next for the franchise remains to be seen, but whatever is forthcoming will surely be another box-office success.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

The highest-grossing superhero movie of 2022 doesn't involve Spider-Man or Batman. Instead, it's Doctor Strange, Marvel's protector of Earth who uses sorcery to upend threatening non-human phenomena. "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," the long-awaited sequel to 2016's "Doctor Strange," raked in over $411 million domestically and over $955 million worldwide. (Although "Spider-Man: No Way Home" grossed a few million more, much of that was earned during the calendar year of 2021.)

With Sam Raimi at the helm, "Multiverse of Madness" ushers in a new era for the Master of the Mystic Arts. It's Raimi's first directorial credit in nine years, and he makes the absolute most of it with one of the most refreshing superhero flicks of the year. Although not quite as gruesome as "The Evil Dead" or its sequels, Raimi still finds a way to put his experimental touch on "Multiverse of Madness."

While most Marvel heroes are bound to the limitations of the Earth, Doctor Strange has the ability to traverse alternate realities. "Multiverse of Madness" gives audiences a fantastic face-off between two beloved members of the MCU: Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen).

After "Dr. Strange" came out in 2016, Cumberbatch found himself relegated to the background of the Avengers and Spider-Man trilogies. "Multiverse of Madness" is the first film that seems to know how to properly utilize the character. And with Olsen in the fold, after dazzling audiences in "WandaVision," "Multiverse of Madness" is a powerful victory for an MCU trying to keep the story going after "Avengers: Endgame."

Top Gun: Maverick

36 years ago, "Top Gun" was a massive hit. In 2022, its long-awaited sequel "Top Gun: Maverick" stands as the box office champion and the 11th highest-grossing film of all time. Though "Spider-Man: No Way Home" brought in more money worldwide, most of it came in 2021, leaving this year's crown solely in the hands of Tom Cruise's legendary aviation film, which continues to break major sales records even after its digital release.

Maverick (Cruise) is a test pilot training new Top Gun graduates, including Hangman (Glen Powell), Phoenix (Monica Barbaro), Bob (Lewis Pullman), and Rooster (Miles Teller), who is the son of Maverick's late friend Goose. Val Kilmer reprises his role as Iceman, Maverick's one-time rival, and gives the character a heartfelt send-off. The death of Goose still haunts Maverick, as much of "Maverick" focuses on how he hasn't been able to fully outrun his past. Despite that, Maverick gets his happily ever after while also finding closure on the mission that killed Goose long ago. "Maverick" isn't a perfect film, but it's a whole lot of fun and reminds us why we fell in love with "Top Gun" 30 years ago to begin with.