Tom Hanks can be seen on the big screen this weekend in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, so I thought it would be a good idea to look back at his most popular movies of the last 35 years (of course we’re doing adjusted for inflation this time).
Tom Hanks’ name has been synonymous with success and while the last couple of years haven’t been as good to him as the 90’s were, he can still bring in people of all ages to watch his movies. Today we’ll be looking at the actor’s top 10 highest grossing films in the US, adjusted for ticket price inflation (numbers without adjustments between brackets). No worldwide numbers this time because you can’t accurately adjust those.
There’s a lot of stuff you probably expect (like the entire Toy Story trilogy, obviously) and maybe even a few surprises on here. Six of the ten came out in the 90’s while the rest between 2000 and 2010. Nothing from this decade, but I bet Toy Story 4 will change that in 2018. Also only six of these movies are live-action, so besides Toy Story there must be another animation on here, which brings me to the first entry in the top 10.
10. The Polar Express (2004) – $245 million ($183.4M)
Not gonna lie, CGI Tom Hanks looks kind of creepy here (as do all the other actors), but if you can overlook that aspect The Polar Express is a pretty decent Christmas movie. I mean you’re probably not watching it every year, like say Christmas Vacation (shut up), but if you haven’t seen it already, well it might be worth a look if only because it was the first performance capture film directed by Robert Zemeckis.
9. Sleepless in Seattle (1993) – $256.7 million ($126.7M)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan made a lot of movies in the 80’s and 90’s, not all great, at least one was pretty abysmal actually (something about a volcano), but among all of them Sleepless in Seattle is probably the best, and as it turns out also the most popular.
8. The Da Vinci Code (2006) – $278.6 million ($217.5M)
I could sit down right now and summarize the plots of all the movies in this top 10, all except The Da Vinci Code. It’s not a bad movie, mind you, completely unremarkable and devoid of any lasting appeal, yes. Out of the ten films on here I’d rank The Da Vinci Code at the bottom (whether that says more about this one or the rest is up to you to decide). But hey, it brought in a lot of money (mainly thanks to the popularity and controversy surrounding the book) so they made another film and around this time next year they’ll open a third one, Inferno. Despite what I said above I’ll probably watch that one too. Yes, I’m part of the problem.
7. Apollo 13 (1995) – $334.4 million ($173.8M)
Like The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13 too was directed by Ron Howard, only this was a much better movie (in my opinion), winner of two Oscars and nominated for seven others (including Best Picture). None of those was for Tom Hanks, which is not to say he wasn’t great in it, because he was.
6. Cast Away (2000) – $351.5 million ($233.6M)
Another collaboration between director Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks, Cast Away was nominated for two Oscars, including one for Best Actor in a Leading Role. This was the actor’s fifth and last Oscar nomination. Maybe Bridge of Spies can do something about that. Either way Cast Away was a great film and Tom Hanks was nothing short of breathtaking in it (he literally was almost the entire movie).
5. Toy Story (1995) – $368.1 million ($191.8M)
Can’t imagine Toy Story without Woody and Woody wouldn’t really be the character we grew up loving if Tom Hanks hadn’t provided his iconic voice. Or at least that’s what I like to think. Regardless of who voiced what, Toy Story was a monumental achievement in animation and from the second we all saw it on the big screen, nothing would ever be the same. Yes, classic animation still has its place, but thanks to Pixar and Toy Story this genre is now bigger than ever.
4. Saving Private Ryan (1998) – $383.8 million ($216.5M)
Despite having worked with Tom Hanks on three films before Bridge of Spies (their fourth), all hits, Saving Private Ryan is the only Steven Spielberg directed movie in the actor’s top 10. Catch Me If You Can almost made the cut with $230 million ($164.6 million) in 12th while The Terminal was further down with $105.2 million ($77.9 million). All things considered I think the best one got in. Saving Private Ryan was Tom Hanks’ fourth Oscar nod while the film ultimately took home five awards, including best director.
3. Toy Story 2 (1999) – $401.3 million ($245.9M)
I can’t even begin to imagine the sort of pressure on Pixar’s shoulders while they were making this. Toy Story was such an important landmark for them, so how do you even begin to try to top that? I guess one way was to get John Lasseter back to help push Toy Story 2 past the finish line. The miracle here (considering the shape the animation was in just months prior to release) is Toy Story 2 somehow ended up just as good as the original. I’m positive there was some kind of dark magic involved in the making of this film.
2. Toy Story 3 (2010) – $438 million ($415M)
If Toy Story was a hard act to follow for Toy Story 2, then Toy Story 3 eleven years later must have been a monumental challenge. No wonder they pushed Toy Story 4 to 2018. Unlike 1999 Pixar now had more than 15 years of experience making feature animations, so the bar was even higher. Hey, this is Pixar we’re talking about so of course they had grown-ups in tears by the end of Toy Story 3, mission accomplished.
1. Forrest Gump (1994) – $659.6 million ($330.3M)
The eternal Tom Hanks classic, Forrest Gump, is also the actor’s most successful movie to date in the US, adjusted for inflation. Yes, if we don’t adjust then Toy Story 3 ranks higher, sure, but that’s not exactly fair. So with that in mind I don’t think Tom Hanks will ever star in another film that will make more than Forrest Gump, not adjusted for inflation. Back to the film, Forrest Gump got Hanks his second consecutive Oscar after winning one for Philadelphia the year before.
I guess the biggest name missing from this top 10 is Big, the 1988 comedy that would actually rank 11th on here with $234.7 million ($115 million). Almost there, maybe next time we’ll do a top 11 or something.
What is your favorite Tom Hanks movie? Nostalgia gets the better of me so I’ll say Toy Story, the original.