The Most Successful Movies Directed by Women Filmmakers

Hollywood Blockbusters Directed by Women Filmmakers

Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

Historically, women have been extremely under-represented as directors when it comes to major Hollywood productions. Because of that, women rarely have had the opportunity to direct films that would go on to become blockbusters (sadly, even fewer have gotten nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director). Today, a small but increasing number of women are getting the opportunity to direct blockbusters, and there are several women who can now proclaim that they have directed films that have grossed $250 million+ worldwide.

Here is the list of the top 15 highest-grossing films at the worldwide box office that were directed by women (all figures from Box Office Mojo).

Honorable Mentions: Several women filmmakers have co-directed high-grossing animated hits like Jennifer Lee ("Frozen"), Vicky Jenson ("Shrek") and Brenda Chapman ("Brave") with male filmmakers. In order to keep this list focused on movies exclusively directed by individual women, films that were co-directed have been excluded.

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"Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" (2004) - Directed by Beeban Kidron

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Universal Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $262.5 million

Though Baroness Kidron (seriously, she's nobility!) is best known for directing and producing lower budget films in England, her biggest success was the 2004 Bridget Jones sequel. She later directed the 2010 film "Hippie Hippie Shake" starring Cillian Murphy and Sienna Miller, which was never released after Kidron left the troubled film before it was completed.

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"Something's Gotta Give" (2003) - Directed by Nancy Meyers

Something's Gotta Give
Columbia Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $266.7 million

Nancy Meyers has become one of the most successful female filmmakers in Hollywood history after first gaining notice as the writer of the 1980 comedy "Private Benjamin." In addition to another film later on this list, Meyers' recent directorial credits are "The Holiday" (2006), "It's Complicated" (2009), and "The Intern" (2015), all of which were financially successful.

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"Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001) - Directed by Sharon Maguire

Bridget Jones's Diary
Universal Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $281.9 million

This film, based on the bestselling novel by Helen Fielding, was a hit in the U.S., but an even bigger hit overseas. It launched a three-film series and is generally considered Renée Zellweger's signature role. Sharon Maguire was a director for BBC television until "Bridget Jones's Diary" launched her feature career. She later directed the second sequel, "Bridget Jones's Baby."

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"Pitch Perfect 2" (2015) - Directed by Elizabeth Banks

Pitch Perfect 2
Universal Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $287.5 million

Elizabeth Banks appeared in the original "Pitch Perfect" (2012) and made her feature directorial debut with this sequel. "Pitch Perfect 2" was a massive success at the box office, grossing more than double what the original did at the worldwide box office. That success has opened the door for other directorial projects for Banks.

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"Dr. Dolittle" (1998) - Directed by Betty Thomas

Dr. Dolittle
20th Century Fox

Worldwide Gross: $294.5 million

Betty Thomas is also one of the most successful female directors in Hollywood (she has a second film higher up on this list, too). She began her career as an actress (she even won an Emmy Award for her role on "Hill Street Blues") and later transitioned into directing — first on television, then in film. Her early credits include 1995's "The Brady Bunch Movie" and 1997's "Private Parts," but the remake of "Dr. Dolittle" starring Eddie Murphy was her first major hit.

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"Look Who's Talking" (1989) - Directed by Amy Heckerling

Look Who's Talking
TriStar Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $297.0 million

The earliest film on this list, Amy Heckerling's "Look Who's Talking" was the fourth highest-grossing film of 1989 and one of the biggest comedy hits of the 1980s. Heckerling also wrote the film. She co-wrote and directed the less successful sequel "Look Who's Talking Too" (1990) and followed it up with the beloved 1995 teen comedy "Clueless."

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"The Proposal" (2009) - Directed by Anne Fletcher

The Proposal
Touchstone Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $317.4 million

Sandra Bullock is one of the most successful romantic comedy actresses of all time, and one her biggest hits — 2009's "The Proposal" — was directed by Anne Fletcher. Fletcher has had a successful career directing comedies such as "27 Dresses" (2008), "The Guilt Trip" (2012), and "Hot Pursuit" (2015), but has had an even more successful career as a choreographer (appropriately, her directorial debut was the 2006 dance film "Step Up").

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"Deep Impact" (1998) - Directed by Mimi Leder

Deep Impact
Paramount Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $349.5 million

Mimi Leder made history as the first female graduate from the AFI Conservatory and was also one of the first female filmmakers to direct a big-budget blockbuster when she made 1998's "Deep Impact." Her later films include 2000's "Pay It Forward" and 2009's "Thick as Thieves" as well as significant television work.

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"What Women Want" (2000) - Directed by Nancy Meyers

What Women Want
Paramount Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $374.1 million

After making her directorial debut with 1998's "The Parent Trap," Nancy Meyers had her biggest-ever hit when she directed the Mel Gibson-Helen Hunt romantic comedy "What Women Want," one of the most successful romantic comedies of all time. She has remained successful as a director ever since.

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"Twilight" (2008) - Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Summit Entertainment

Worldwide Gross: $393.6 million

The "Twilight" series of novels were a worldwide phenomenon, and the film series based on them were major box office hits. The first film in the series was directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Her other films include "Thirteen" (2003), "Lords of Dogtown" (2005), and "Red Riding Hood" (2011).

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"Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel" (2009) - Directed by Betty Thomas

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
20th Century Fox

Worldwide Gross: $443.1 million

Betty Thomas' most recent film as a director is her biggest hit —  2009's "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel." Prior to that, she directed the 2006 teen comedy "John Tucker Must Die," the 2002 box office bomb "I Spy," and the 2000 Sandra Bullock comedy-drama "28 Days."

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"Fifty Shades of Grey" (2015) - Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson

Fifty Shades of Grey
Universal Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $571 million

Like "Twilight," "Fifty Shades of Grey" was a literary phenomenon before it was adapted into a film. Taylor-Johnson's previous film, 2009's "Nowhere Boy," was a minor hit that was based on the formative years of John Lennon.

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"Mamma Mia!" (2008) - Directed by Phyllida Lloyd

Mamma Mia
Universal Pictures

Worldwide Gross: $609.8 million

The big-screen adaption of the smash musical hit "Mamma Mia!" is one of the highest-grossing musical films of all time and was especially a big hit internationally, grossing $90 million in the UK alone. Director Phyllida Lloyd started her career as a theater director and later directed the 2011 Margaret Thatcher biopic "The Iron Lady." Both of Lloyd's films starred Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep.

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"Kung Fu Panda 2" (2011) - Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Kung Fu Panda 2
DreamWorks Animation

Worldwide Gross: $665.7 million

Jennifer Yuh Nelson is the first woman to be the sole director of an animated feature released by a major studio — and with great results. Prior to working on "Kung Fu Panda 2," Yuh worked on story and art on 2002's "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," 2003's "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas," 2005's "Madagascar" and the 2008 original "Kung Fu Panda."

Yuh also co-directed "Kung Fu Panda 3" (2016), which grossed $521.2 million worldwide.

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"Wonder Woman" (2017) - Directed by Patty Jenkins

Wonder Woman
Warner Bros.

Worldwide Gross: $713.9 million+

With superhero blockbusters being what rules the box office these days, it's no surprise that Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" is the all-time highest-grossing film by a female director. Jenkins breakthrough film was 2003's "Monster," which features an Oscar-winning performance by Charlize Theron. Jenkins mainly worked in television between "Monster" and "Wonder Woman," and she is the first woman to helm a major studio superhero blockbuster.