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The Biggest Blockbusters Of The 2010s That Weren't Franchises Or Sequels, Ranked

Updated January 2, 2020 16.3k votes 1.9k voters 44.1k views16 items

List RulesVote up the best standalone blockbusters that stood out against the decade's franchise mania.

Sequels and franchises are not new to the film world, but in a market increasingly dominated by data and the need to appeal to as broad a demographic as possible, not many original, non-franchise films make their way to the big screen. The highest-grossing non-franchise movies without sequels, admittedly, don't have box office numbers as impressive as franchises like the MCU or Star Wars. But while the best standalone movies might not have broken box office records, these highest-grossing non-franchise movies prove that there's still hope for original blockbusters.

  • Worldwide Box Office: $828,322,032

    Christopher Nolan's 2010 cerebral thriller Inception had audiences talking long after the credits rolled. What does the spinning top mean? Was Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) successful in his attempt to plant an idea in Fischer's (Cilian Murphy) head through his dreams? The dream-based film inspired loads of think pieces about the dream state and what it really means. 

    • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Christopher Nolan
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  • Worldwide Box Office: $630,161,890

    Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is assumed KIA after a particularly nasty storm on Mars. Unable to find him, the rest of his crew leaves - only to discover that Watney is very much alive and in need of rescuing. Until then, audiences get to stay with Watney as he uses his wits and humor to keep himself alive. The 2015 film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, but didn't take home any.

    • Actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña
    • Released: 2015
    • Directed by: Ridley Scott
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  • Worldwide Box Office: $677,463,813

    Director Christopher Nolan is never one to shy away from an ambitious project. His 2014 film, Interstellar, explores the lengths humans might have to go through if we render Earth uninhabitable. Retired astronaut Cooper (Mathhew McConaughey) makes the difficult choice to leave his family to go into space to try to find one last hope for the human race. 

    • Actors: Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine
    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Christopher Nolan
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  • Worldwide Box Office: $547,426,372

    Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the memoir American Sniper follows Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), who took the lives of 160 people during his tour as a NAVY Seal Sniper in Iraq post-9/11. The polarizing film analyzed the psychological toll conflict plays on members of the military, as Kyle struggles to find a balance between his legendary sniper status and returning back to life as a civilian. Kyle's life was ended by a marine suffering from PTSD on February 2, 2013, who he was trying to help. 

    • Actors: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Jonathan Groff, Kyle Gallner, Leonard Roberts
    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Clint Eastwood
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