Every Christopher Nolan Movie Ranked By How Much Money It Made

With Oppenheimer in theaters now, here’s a rundown of how Nolan’s movies have fared at the box office

Writer-director Christopher Nolan’s newest film, the WWII-era drama Oppenheimer, is in theaters now. The movie, which stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer and focuses on the creation of the atomic bomb, is doing extremely well at the box office with more than $400 million in about two weeks. But how does it stack up against Nolan’s 11 other films over the past two decades?

In this gallery, we’re running through the box office results for all of Nolan’s 12 years, dating back to his extremely low-budget debut, 1998’s Following. After Following, Nolan made what many believe to be among his best films, Memento, and while it didn’t make all that much money compared to his newer films, it helped put Nolan on the map.

He followed up Memento with a psychological thriller remake of the Norwegian movie Insomnia starring Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, and Robin Williams. After that, Nolan made a magician thriller called The Prestige starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman.

In 2005, however, Nolan entered a new stratosphere of success with the first of his three Batman movies, Batman Begins. He would go on to direct sequels The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, which are his two most successful movies ever at the box office. Nolan’s career has also included the time-bending film Tenet, which was released during the pandemic both in theaters and on HBO Max, as well as the war movie Dunkirk and the sci-fi film Interstellar. And who could forget Inception, Nolan’s mind-mending movie about dreams? Check out the full gallery below to see how these movies did at the box office. All box office data comes from the website BoxOfficeMojo, which is owned and operated by Amazon.

In total, Nolan’s films have grossed more than $5 billion at the box office, making him one of the most successful movie directors in history.

Bear in mind, though, that box office success and critical reception do not necessarily go hand in hand. For more on how Nolan’s movies were received by critics, check out GameSpot’s gallery of Nolan’s best movies, as ranked by Metacritic score.

12. Following (1998) – $48,482

Produced on a reported budget of just $6,000, 1998’s Following was Christopher Nolan’s feature film debut. It was his lowest-rated movie in terms of Metacritic score at 60 and his worst-performing at the box office (of course). A crime-thriller, Following documents a young writer, played by Jeremy Theobald, who… follows people around London in an attempt to find inspiration for his writing. That’s not what happens, though, and the man finds himself in London’s criminal underbelly.

11. Memento (2000) – $40,047,078

A psychological thriller starring Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Joe Pantoliano, Memento was a breakout movie for Nolan. Pearce plays a man suffering from anterograde amnesia, and must piece together clues from his past to find the person who killed his wife. $40 million at the box office is Nolan’s second-lowest ever, but the movie was made on a $9 million budget and it further helped Nolan make a name for himself.

10. The Prestige (2006) – $109,676,311

The Prestige stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians in Victorian-era London. The magicians go back and forth and try to one-up each other, culminating in a showdown over a teleportation trick. It crossed $100 million at the box office, and marked the start of Nolan’s professional working relationship with Bale, who would go on to play Batman in Nolan’s three Batman films.

9. Insomnia (2002) – $113,758,770

One of Nolan’s lesser-known films, 2002’s Insomnia was actually the director’s first major studio movie, and it earned more than $100 million at the box office. The movie, which is a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name, tells the story of a crooked Los Angeles police detective, played by Al Pacino, put on assignment in Alaska to solve a murder. He’s facing his own demons and all-day daylight in this eerie and memorable movie. The film also stars Hilary Swank, Martin Donovan, and Robin Williams.

8. Tenet (2020) – $365,304,105

The COVID pandemic had a major impact on how movies were released, with many studios opting to launch their films day-and-date on streaming services. Nolan, a staunch supporter of the theatrical model, apparently had enough influence to convince the higher-ups at Warner Bros. to release Tenet in theaters. Unfortunately for Nolan, the movie–which stars John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, and Robert Pattinson–didn’t get great reviews nor did it make the kind of money that some thought it might given Nolan’s pedigree. Nolan criticized HBO Max, calling it the “worst streaming service.” This would be Nolan’s last film with Warner Bros., before shifting to Universal for Oppenheimer.

7. Batman Begins (2005) – $373,672,993

Nolan’s career rose to new heights with 2005’s Batman Begins, his first superhero movie. The film stars Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, with an all-star supporting cast that includes Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman. The origin story tells the tale of how Bruce Wayne became Batman, and though it didn’t get the highest reviews of Nolan’s career or make the most money, it’s regarded as a solid start to what would become a giant trilogy. Nolan’s two ensuing Batman films would do better commercially and with critics.

6. Oppenheimer (2023) – $425,311,505 (so far)

Nolan’s newest movie, 2023’s Oppenheimer, arrived on July 21 alongside Barbie and has so far gotten off to a hot start. In just about two weeks, the movie has cleared more than $400 million worldwide, making it Nolan’s sixth-highest-grossing movie of all time. The film stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a man who was key in the creation of the atomic bomb. Murphy starred in Nolan’s other movies including Dunkirk, Inception, and Batman Begins, but this time, Murphy plays the lead role and has earned major praise for his performance as Oppenheimer.

5. Dunkirk (2017) – $527,016,307

Nolan’s best movie according to critics, Dunkirk, is also one of his highest-grossing, surpassing $500 million. The movie tells the miraculous real-life story of the World War II evacuation of soldiers at Dunkirk. Filmed in Dunkirk itself, the film is known and celebrated for its use of practical effects and stunning cinematography. The movie stars Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, and Mark Rylance.

4. Interstellar (2014) – $773,430,538

A sci-fi epic set in the future, Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey as an astronaut sent into a wormhole to try to save humanity. The problem, for McConaughey’s character, is that each trip deep into space takes no time at all for him but spans decades for people back on Earth, which includes his loved ones. This was one of Nolan’s highest-grossing movies of all time, pushing beyond three quarters of a billion dollars. The movie also stars Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, and it’s a real tear-jerker and mind-bender when it all wraps up.

3. Inception (2010) – $870,792,649

Inception, released in 2010, involves a unique concept where agents infiltrate their targets’ subconscious to get information and plant ideas. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Elliot Page, with a supporting cast that includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, and Ken Watanabe. It is fondly remembered for its striking visuals and thought-provoking story, with an ending that people still debate today. It’s also one of Nolan’s highest-grossing movies, raking in more than $870 million.

2. The Dark Knight (2008) – $1,006,234,167

Nolan’s second Batman movie, The Dark Knight, might be his most famous. The 2008 film brought on Heath Ledger to play The Joker in what continues to be among the best villain performances of all time. It was Nolan’s first movie to crack $1 billion, ending its theatrical run with $1.006 billion.

1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,081,169,825

The Dark Knight Rises, released in 2012, wrapped up Nolan’s run in the superhero space. Nolan was said to have been hesitant about coming back for a third, but he and co-writer David Goyer eventually found a story, featuring Tom Hardy as Bane and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, that inspired Nolan to finish things off, and it paid off big time. The movie is Nolan’s highest-grossing film of all time, bringing in $1.081 billion at the box office. Fans hoping Nolan might come back to make another superhero movie one day are out of luck, as Nolan recently said he’s done with superhero films. But James Bond? That’s a maybe.


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