Top alien invasion movies at the box office

Aliens are coming, run for your life! Or at least that’s what Hollywood would have you think with the influx of films involving extraterrestrial life forms trying to take over our beloved green planet. Just in May we’ve had three such films, probably some kind of record.

Anyway, I’m thinking we should take a look at the top 10 highest grossing alien invasion flicks of all time, worldwide (unadjusted for inflation). For a film to be eligible, it has to feature an alien invasion somewhere in there even if it’s not the main focus of the story.

10. Monsters vs Aliens (2009) $381.5 million – The only animated flick on this list comes from DreamWorks and pulled one of the craziest marketing stunts in quite some time. Remember those green-magenta glasses they gave everyone for free and that 2 minute 3D clip during the Super Bowl break? So a very expensive flick ($175 million) with a crazy marketing budget had a good box office run when it actually needed a spectacular one. Suffice to say, DreamWorks were not happy so they scrapped any plans for a sequel.

9. Signs (2002) $408.2 million – After The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, M. Night Shyamalan was making an alien invasion flick so everyone got excited. Fortunately Signs mostly lived up to those expectations and featured the same tense atmosphere, chills and twists we came to expect from the director. Also, in a time when CGI was starting to take over everything, Shyamalan used actual people in suits to play the aliens.

8. Men in Black II (2002) $441.8 million – I have to be honest, I found this very much entertaining back when I saw it in theaters. Looking back now I can tell you that this was a lazy sequel partially saved by a pug (what can I say, I’m a dog guy) but definitely not worthy of its title.

7. Men in Black (1997) $589.4 million – I lost count how many times I’ve seen this and it’s easily one of my top 5 childhood favorites. Unfortunately I don’t have a story as cool as Ben’s, so without sounding too biased I’ll leave you with a simple watch Men in Black.

6. War of the Worlds (2005) $591.7 million – Steven Spielberg directed this adaptation of the classic H.G. Wells sci-fi novel, basically the inspiration for most modern alien invasion flicks we have today. So such a film in those hands had to be great, right, right? Yes and no, but mostly yes, for me at least. Note that before Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, this used to be the most successful Tom Cruise film.

5. Transformers (2007) $709.7 million – The aliens here aren’t exactly what we’ve come to expect from this sub-genre but robots still count, right? Being a fan of the animated series, I was very much looking forward to Michael Bay’s rendition of the popular universe and while it wasn’t exactly what I expected, it did not disappoint me.

4. Independence Day (1996) $817.4 million – Will Smith is here to save Earth again, this time from squid creatures in gigantic flying saucers. Call me what you want but I loved this film and still find it entertaining to watch.

3. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) $836.3 million – Big robots make BOOOOM!

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) $1,123.7 million – You got to love the way Michael Bay introduces his female lead in this film (camera on her assets) and unlike Revenge of the Fallen, this actually had some kind of a story, just don’t ask me what that was cause I honestly can’t remember.

1. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) $1,305.4 million – You knew this was coming so here it is, the biggest blockbuster since Avatar. And yes, spoilers (if you haven’t seen a single piece of media from the film), aliens invade Earth here. What the ugly bastards didn’t know was that Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye were the welcome party. The Avengers is the very definition of a summer blockbuster and if you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and correct that mistake.

In the intro I said we’ve had no less then three alien invasion flicks this month, one is on here (Marvel’s The Avengers), another you can guess (Men in Black III) while the 3rd is Battleship. But enough with this big budget expensive flicks, let me tell you about a little alien invasion feature called Attack the Block. Attack the Block is great and you should see it. Anything more and it’s just wasted time that you could use to start watching Attack the Block right now, really, do it, now!

Why are you still here, go watch Attack the Block.

  • Shaun Hayes

    I can’t believe you don’t have Avatar on here. Just because WE’RE the invading aliens, doesn’t make it any less of an alien invasion movie.

    • Alex

      Yeah, my bad, I forgot to mention “an alien invasion on Earth. But I did mention our planet a few times, sorry it wasn’t more clear. Otherwise yeah, every movie where we go to another lived on planet would basically qualify (cause all we do is invade).

    • Micah

      Yeah, but Avatar sucked. Well…so did the Tranformers films.

      • Chico

        If you’re going to mention Avatar, you should just mention Pocahontas, since the movie was a rip-off of that plot from soup to peace pipe. You should keep pretending to be smart on the internet, though.

  • arun279

    Avatar is an alien invasion movie, too. It’s a role reversal from the regular alien invasion movies – we are the invaders in it. But still should technically count as an alien invasion movie, don’t you think?

    • TikkitikkitemboNosarembo

      Interesting point; but Avatar can only be an alien invasion movie if the Avatarians made this list.

      • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

        Your argument is invalid, not only because there is no such thing as “Avatarians” (the avatars are the man-made host-bodies), but because a planet (Pandora) is invaded by aliens (the humans). “Alien” simply means “stranger”. Who makes the list of how high-grossing the movie was is irrelevant for the plot, and as is who watches it. Even though humans watch it, they see humans being aliens on a planet and carrying out an invasion.

    • Film Ending

      Alien invasion movies deal with a super invasion on Earth or another futuristic planet. I don’t think Avatar applies.

      People use catchy headlines to attract moviegoers that want to watch the genres and sub-genres.

      • arun279

        Humans sort of colonize Pandora and towards the end they even try a military attack on the Na’vi to take control of the unobtainium. It’s just the humans that are invading here. Like a reverse alien invasion where we are the aliens.
        But I get your point. Traditionally, alien invasion movies deal with alien species invading our planet.

        • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

          I totally agree. I thought the same thing; the highest-grossing alien invasion movie is Avatar. Pandora is invaded by aliens (humans). “Alien” doesn’t mean “non-human”, it means “stranger”, so the roles aren’t even really reversed. All the other alien invasion movies are about what we would do if we came to another planet too. Everyone seems to think “because we are violent and oppressive, so must every other species be”… I’d love to see a movie where the aliens come in peace. Or a futuristic movie where the technology advance isn’t the “villain”, but is used for something good – like sustainable energy. Remember Surrogates? When Bruce Willis took away people’s chance to lead save lives, I guess he was supposed to look like a hero. People were immortal, and even ugly people could be beautiful. I see him as a jerk ruining everyone else’s lives just because he had a bad experience with his relationship.
          People are always so pessimistic and afraid of change, same with alien invasion movies. Sorry for switching topic. :D

  • bigfrog6

    This list is total crap.

    • MadHatter

      I completely agree with you. Although I failed to see Independence Day and Transformers (but don’t care to), all the rest of the movies he mentioned are either poor or mediocre. Yes, I’m including The Avengers in that statement (suck it up).
      The exception is Attack the Block. That movie was excellent.

    • Dave

      AGREED! This list IS total crap. Where the hell is invasion of the body snatchers? MIB /MIB II aren’t even invasion movies! Even Battle Los Angeles was better than Transformers II. How about Mars Attacks? &*^%&^$%ing Predator.

      • Micah

        Predator isn’t an invasion movie. One alien comes to Earth to hunt humans. I’d hardly call that an invasion.

    • sibwarra

      I would have to recommend Battleship. I know this is 2 years too late, but I really liked that movie.

  • Laurent

    A movie about aliens, that are allergic to water, invading a planet that is covered mostly by water and inhabited by creatures that are also largely made up of water.
    Signs = more stupid than I could possibly put in to words.

    • finand

      Not exactly THAT different to the resolution in War of the Worlds.

      • X

        At least in War of the Worlds, viruses and bacteria is a threat that cannot be seen by the naked eye… from space even…

  • VegasRon

    Worst fucking list ever. I mean EVER. Men In Black 2 and ANY Transformer movies on any list that don’t include the words “sucks my ass” in it’s title is automatically disqualified from making a top ten list or even breathing my air.

    • Bobman

      ^ Listen to this man, for he speaks the truth.

  • Ahnult

    The aliens in ‘Signs’ were NOT played by people in suits. They were 100% CGI creations courtesy of ILM. They show this in great detail in the DVD extras.

  • Joe Mushroom

    avengers is possibly the most hyped up shallow movie of all time after titanic.

    • Tygr

      No, that would be Cameron’s Avatar.

    • imdb

      titanic shallow? avatar shallow? those movies made more and more every week for a reason people had a strong experiance and they brought there family to go see it so they can experiance it with there family how is that shallow? only the entire world cried in titanic and some in avatar but those movies made money for a reason they struck some chord and if people thought it was shallow why would they watch it over and over again? and why do you think it was shallow because your one of those people who hate on things that most people like? do you think that makes you unique or special just to rip apart movies that people enjoyed instead of going in and having a good time? god people like you are shallow beyond belief the most fun movie i watched this year that i actually cared about the characters was the avengers and i say that because i have a personal opinion im not like you who rips apart popular movies

  • Trevor Gehman

    This list is bad and you should feel bad.

    • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

      This list is objective and so should you be.

      • Trevor Gehman

        That’s true. I guess the list makes me feel bad.

  • adrian8020

    I love the geniuses saying that this list is crap when it’s clearly a list of the TOP GROSSING not the TOP alien invasion movies. If you think the list is crap speak t the box office. Dumbasses.

  • Red

    You forgot D-9 XD

    • Derp

      and Battle: Los Angeles D;

  • finand

    I don’t understand people saying this is a bad list… Yes, most of the films are crap, but they ARE the highest grossing alien invasion films at the box office.

    Would you rather the list had been wrong?

    • shitList

      Spiderman 3 made a shit load of money, more then any of the previous ones, yet the movie sucked. Your argument is invalid

      • Heinnlinn

        You’re kind of missing the point of the list. It’s not the list of best alien films, but rather commercially successfully ones.

      • Dr Derps

        Did you READ the article? It said it was about the top 10 Highest Grossing films.

        His argument is not invalid, because your retort is irrelevant to the comment AND article.

    • Marco Vannini


    • Dave

      Actually, the problem is the title is misleading. The title says the “top” alien invasion movies not the 10 highest grossing. I wanted a list that someone thought were the top 10 “best” alien invasion movies.

  • Rob

    Sorry but Attack the Block should be on the list and it should be number 1. For the funding it had compared to the rest of the list, Hollywood should be ashamed.

    Oh and you have the wrong War of the Worlds on your list.

    • Micah

      Attack the Block was crap.

  • sdfsd

    independence day

  • Sean Maclam

    learn to read people it said “top box office”. not list of cool movies. district 9 wasnt a box office hit and attack the block didnt have a wide us. release. take a second and read before you bitch.

  • imbd

    dumb people read the title biggest alien invasion BOX OFFICE WISE not how good they were are these people this stupid or ignorant?

  • The One

    People are mistaking it for a best of list because a link to this site has the headline “Top 10 Alien Invasion Movies” Thank Zergnet for that.

  • Kellic

    Further proof that the general public wouldn’t know a good plot if it hit them upside the head with Thor’s Hammer. Yes I get highest grossing films. Seriously. All the transformer films are complete and total garbage that look really really pretty. I mostly liked War of the Worlds. ID4 is a fun popcorn movie, but I can’t suspend disbelief at the idea of a Mac hacking an alien comm system. (I do IT. Getting Macs to work with current infrastructure without third party addins is hard enough let alone alien protocols.) Signs I liked. It was a movie were we got our butts kicked, but the aliens weren’t out to kill everything.

    My biggest beef with alien invasion movies is the lack of perceived realism. There is always some way we win in the end. And it usually pertains to some stupid pointless, and unlikely weakness in an alien. When in actuality aliens would sit in orbit and rain fire down on us for months if not years. Or lob moderate sized asteroids on the top 100 cities in the world. The closest thing I’ve seen to a solid depiction of aliens is Falling Skies the TV series. Where we got our butts handed to us and the scraps of humanity are trying to fight back via a ground war. But even then there are issues with their interpretation as well.

    I get that people don’t want to walk out of a movie seeing us loose. But there has to be a happy medium other then hacking the aliens communication hardware or them not being immune to bacteria on Earth. Skyline sucked. But at least it left you with an oh crap feeling.

    • juan

      great point!!! I totally agree with you.. I think
      falling skies had made a great job trying to give a realistic view of what
      could be an alien invasion… until half 1st season humans started to know what
      hit them… and how they barely defeat small encounters is also really good…
      hope they don’t lose it..

    • Drunk Alterboi

      Want realism? Buy Battle Los Angeles.

  • joe

    How can you put those terrible Transformers movies over District 9? What about Attack the Block? That was far better then those god awful Transformers movies (except for the first one, which was ok).

    • Micah

      District 9 (while I love it) isn’t an invasion movie. It’s about aliens being stranded in one city in South Africa.

  • jason

    I know that this list is based on the money made, but…does anyone think that District 9 could count as an alien invasion film?

  • Laguna Palooza

    Attack The Block is AWESOME!!!! Saw it in the theater and am a proud owner.

  • John Doe

    Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) $1,123.7 million
    Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) $1,305.4 million

    I think the writer meant billion here.

    • seriously?

      you are an idiot, unless you think these movies grossed in the trillions, which would make you a bigger idiot, $1,123.7 Million is 1 Billion, 123 Million, 700 Thousand dollars

      • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

        Perhaps he misunderstood the , and the . – see, others would write it 1.123,7 million. You’d read 1,123 million as “one billion and 123 million”, while I would read it as “one million and 123 thousand” or in other words “one point 123 million”. ;)

  • ~j

    making a list based on grossing and calling it a Top 10 alien invasion list. If you had Grossing in the title maybe so many wouldn’t hate..

  • juan

    this is shit!! this are not the top 10 best movies, only the most expencive ones.. the price of each one does not mean they are the best or even good…

    • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

      No, it’s the top 10 highest-grossing ones. Learn to read.

  • Angry Bob

    Sadly these are the ONLY alien-invasion movies that anyone knows. Poor list.

    • Padric O’Fish

      AngryBob, i’m eager to see your alien invasion list. Most online lists are pretty lame.

  • Drunk Alterboi

    This list sucks. Where’s Battle Los Angles? Whoever put this list together needs to go play in traffic.

  • dwixander

    Super 8 was pretty good, and on the commentary J.J. gives a shout out to Attack the Block, saying that it’s fantastic.

  • Boogie Knights

    To each their own, but this is a list is one of my top 10 lists not to read. The Signs “gripe” needs to stop, we all know 90% of it was good 10% of it ridiculous.

  • Kevin Brown

    All 3 tranformer movies here? LAME. Where is “They Live”? Where is “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”? Did a 14 year old do this? Total fail.

  • Vincent Edward McHenry

    Where the hell is Battle Los Angles. That was the best alien invasion movie I had ever seen. Monster Vs. Aliens made this list really.

  • jams

    cougarsterc0m is a dating club.

  • jytrer

    terrible list

    all these movies sucked, except maybe for independence day and war of the worlds

  • bop

    from which movie is the 1st image? Thanks!

  • Film Ending

    The Alien Invasion Movies list is accurate with ranking the movie box office results. There is no mistake choosing the movies because the fans decided the outcome.

  • http://Filmonic KingBarnaDuke

    The link does say “Top ten invasion movies of all time”! It’s only when I got here that the real subject title was apparent. Anyhoo, all the above films pretty much sucked, except “MIB”, and maybe”Signs”. The only reason the films in this list got such huge box office numbers is because the public WANT to see a full on, visual effects filled, Alien invasion flick with real characters, great scripts and acting, and a believable story!! We do get the visual effects now, but the acting (looking at you Skyline) and the scripts (and you “Battle Los Angeles) are always utter CRAP. And don’t even get me started on that “Tom Cruise” interpretation of the greatest sci-fi book about invasion ever written. Won’t somebody with influence actually READ the original book and make THAT a movie!? Tom#*¥^%*+¥€Criuse!!!

  • ronnie42

    Would have been more sense to add the original war of the worlds since that was awesome.

  • Arkydon


    • Micah

      Cloverfield is not an alien invasion movie. It’s a giant monster movie.

  • jimbo

    avengers was quite dull in fact

  • Kerra8

    District 9? Sure the aliens were enslaved after some sort of F@ck up on their own ship, but still they were the invading alien species. But since the title of this article misled me here in the first place, what the hell.

    • jimbo

      District 9 was superb!

    • Micah

      I loved District 9, but the prawn didn’t invade, they just got stranded in one city in South Africa. Wouldn’t really say that counted.

  • Rex

    what about The day the earth stood still ? how is that not listed here ?

  • wahidullah

    Avengers is the top movie of the decade

  • juanita

    LoL, yes attack the block is AMAZING.

  • Micah

    I saw Attack the Block and wasn’t impressed by it.

  • Satanski

    Transformers? Really??? The third part was the worst crap i saw on tv.

  • Marciana

    What, no “District 9”? That was definitely an alien invasion movie, just from a very different perspective, one that forced us to ask who the REAL aliens and monsters were. Plus, those aliens were fokken adorable.

    • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

      It’s a list of the ten highest-grossing alien invasion movies (on Earth), not the ten best alien invasion movies. ;)
      Let me also correct your seeming understanding of the word “alien”: It doesn’t really have any negative tone like “monster”; it simply means “stranger”. So they’re alien to us and we’re alien to them.
      I’d like to see District 9; I’ve been told I’d like it! Cloverfield is by far my favourite so far. :D

  • Marciana

    Also: Cloverfield. That was DEFINITELY an alien, and the best thing about it was that we never really saw what it looked like until literally the last 5 minutes of the movie. If, you know, you had been one of the few who was able to make it through the shaky camera moves that made people get up and leave the cinema after puking their dizziness out. Still. CLOVERFIELD.

    • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

      Cloverfield is my favourite alien invasion movie too! Mostly because of how realistic and close it feels with the home video and all that, but also because we don’t defeat the aliens. I hate how we always find some unrealistic weakness. Why would the aliens not scan incoming ships (Independence Day) or study the atmosphere before invading (Sings and Wor of the Worlds)? Cloverfield is aaaawesoooome.

  • Moodie-1

    What? Has everyone here forgotten ‘The Arrival’? It may not be a big-budget movie but it’s one of the best, most realistic alien invasion movies ever made.

  • Robert Millons

    Prometheus 402 M. Star Trek 385 M. and in the future Star Trek into the Darkness.. Need to Update…

  • MA91

    whoever wrote that list is mad! How can transformers and the avengers be better than war of the worlds and independence day!

    • Callum

      i strongly agree with you. I haven’t seen the avengers myself, but Transformers is in no-way better than War of the worlds. (Party because its my favourite film)

  • Calllum

    I Loved The War of the Worlds. I’m just thinking though, what would it be like if the musical version was made into a film?

  • Simon Sanae

    Attack the Block wasn’t all that people say it was. Yeah, for a low-mid budget film, it was great, but the movie always left me thinking, ‘was that it?’ There were parts in the movie that I thought were pretty cool, but I expected more from it. ie: the part in the hallway where they threw smoke to provide cover. They kept building it up with drawn-out music, slow walking, and scenes of unimportant close-ups, as if something bad was going to happen. Instead, someone gets smacked in the face with a bat. Sure, it was funny, but kind of a waste of time and it wasn’t as ‘epic’ as they say it was.

  • Time for you to retire Alex

    This is the most pathetic list I have ever scene! Signs is one of the worst movies of all time, Independence Day is only ok (a macbook destroys the alien mothership, wow), all 3 Transformer movies are heinous crimes against all of filmdom. Oh and I guess I forgot to mention that Signs is ONE OF THE WORST MOVIES OF ALL TIME. Seriously, the “invading force of two whole aliens’ ” downfall is water and wooden doors. Well I guess they’re either the most retarded race of all time or most ill-informed as they invade a planet covered mostly by water and trees . Are you sure you aren’t one of them seeing as how you confused crappy CGI with actors in suits. You bloody moron; stop writing articles!

    • Lasse David Sand Østergaard

      You bloody moron, start reading them… It’s a list of the top 10 highest-grossing; not the best!

  • Zilian

    Oh yeah, The Avengers…An alien invasion where we cannot witness one single human casualty…Hem

  • arrowman2

    movies are like the actors who play in them. popularity is more important than content. will smith couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag, but he’s popular. movies are just like that. content is not important as the special affects and popular comic books?

  • Supersonic

    This is the list of the top-grossing, Alien-focused fiction movies. Full stop. No connection whatsoever with a list of BEST, Alien-focused fiction movies… That would be a different ball game. Beyond sheer special effects -which are plentiful- the flicks in that list -with the notorious exception of the solid, often undervalued War of the Worlds- are totally worthless, aimed at selling popcorn in packed movie theaters. Nothing clever to extract from these. Worse, they are so full of first-degree mistakes/errors that they might actually make people lose a few IQ points -or derail the course of actual knowledge acquisition- in the process of watching ANY of them.

  • Rev

    What moron puts all the Transformers movies on a ‘best of’ list?

  • Livio

    This is hilarious. How old are you, mate?

  • Danielle Whitaker Owens

    Is Attack The Block the one set in England or something? With a bunch of kids trying to fight the monsters????

  • Albert L.

    Attack the Block was a badass movie!!! Recommend everyone to watch it!

  • Eric

    I liked all the movies in the list, especially Independence Day. But, in regards to his recommendation for “Attack The Block,” I disagree.

    I started watching it after reading the basic premise of the movie. I was expecting a more middle class group of teens, rather than a bunch of low-life, highly juvenile, thieving, amoral gang bangers, so I quickly became skeptical and turned-off by this. But I was interested in seeing the aliens – what they looked like & what was going to happen. So I kept watching, hoping it would get better. Unfortunenately, that didn’t happen.

    The aliens looked and acted like apes or gorillas, which was a bit lame. But even more so, you would expect that, given the aliens are in a foriegn world and wouldn’t know what to expect that they would have the foresight, high-level training & preparation to expect there might be danger and how to deal with it, especially since they showed up in such a noticeable way. Or at the very least, have the common sense to arrive in a much stealthier fashion. And you would expect advanced weapons from a culture capable of space travel. Instead, they show up without any weapons and little or no preparation, running around in the open where a lot of people can see them. That’s just stupid! After I saw how lame and inept the alien creatures were, aliens that are suposed to be intelligent & sophisticated enough to create the technology for practical space travel, I became disillusioned, disinterested and bored and quit watching it, because I didn’t want to waste anymore of my time.

    If this commentary prevents others from wasting their time, then it was time well spent writing it.

  • Hmm

    Transformers 2…. ahead of ID4?

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Whew, thanks for the laugh.

  • Trey

    Uhhhh Starship Troopers is the best. But again, it’s an alien “attack” more-so than an Invasion.

  • dregj

    men in black ,really?men in cack more like

  • Igorlivzz

    1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

  • Rancifer

    This list is terrible. 3 Transformers movies!?! Really!?! MIB2? Signs gets awful the second you actually see an alien. Invasion is kind of a last minute add on for Avengers. I guess my suggestion would be to see a LOT more alien invasion movies. “They Live” blows every single thing on your list away. “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” too. “The Arrival”, starring Charlie Sheen is better than any Transformer movie. Classics like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, the original “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and the original “War of the Worlds”(The Spielberg one is garbage), and the original “The Thing” with Kirk Russell are not considered? They are far better than any single movie on this list. Even “Critters” blows away everything on there except MIB1 and Independence Day. And as to Avatar, it is a bit heavy on the social agenda. Kind of a crap movie that is simply Ferngully with special effects.

    • Rancifer

      Just realized it was highest grossing and therefore a terrible waste of my time to have even clicked on this crap article. Sorry.

  • Negative_Return

    I know its not an alien invasion flick but check out 1964’s The Flesh Eaters. Still gives me the creeps.

  • Jettboy

    This list seems to prove people don’t have very good taste in general. Now, if this was a list of the “best” then I would say only half of these qualify. They need to redo “The Day of the Triffids” although the BBC mini-series doesn’t really count.