Movie theaters are currently full of great options to catch summer movies and stand out from the likes of Jurassic World Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick is by Australian director Baz Luhrmann Elvis, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. The well-reviewed musical biopic cracked $100 million at the domestic box office, making it one of its highest-grossing in the United States.
However, he’s not quite number one, and while he has a long way to go, it’s always been unwise to underestimate Elvis Presley’s potential. Luhrmann made beautiful films, and Elvis ranks high among them, but it’s not his only film to skyrocket with both critics and ticket buyers.
6 Strictly Ballroom (1992) – $11.7 million
Luhrmann’s first film, Ballroom strictlyheralded him as an auteur who knows film can be a canvas, making it no surprise that he’s gone on to direct some of the most visually stunning films of decades.
The budget for Luhrmann’s first film is not readily available on his box office mojo page, but a quick Google search puts it at just $3 million. With a domestic gross of $11.7 million, Ballroom strictly was a major indie hit.
5 Romeo + Juliet (1996) – $147.6 million
Luhrmann’s modernized version of The Bard, Romeo + Juliet by William Shakespearefeatured many of the biggest stars of the 1990s. In the title roles are Leonardo DiCaprio (a year before Titanic) and Claire Danes, whose short-lived series, My so called life, only operated from 1994 to 1995.
4 Elvis (2022) – $170.4 million (as of July 17)
Even with the bigger budget competition stalling and skyrocketing in theaters, Elvis managed to open the $30 million mark, which was enough to secure the top spot for the three-day period. Since then, the biopic has garnered public interest thanks to its substantial entertainment value, Luhrmann’s best career direction, and Austin Butler’s flawless star performance.
Luhrmann’s $85 million film smashed its production budget in the US alone, but the American biographical icon also did well overseas, grossing $64.2 million. from international territories, for box office mojo. It probably won’t end up as the director’s biggest hit, but it performed respectably as both a counter-programming and a biopic.
3 Red Mill! (2001) – $184.9 million
Red Mill! is pure Luhrmann through and through: visually and thematically stunning in equal measure. It’s also bolstered by a white-hot chemistry between stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, who play a famous cabaret actress and a wide-eyed poet, respectively. The film also boasts what is arguably Luhrmann’s most important staple, which is a jaw-dropping score with some modern tunes used against period settings.
Released just over 20 years ago, Red Mill! was as beloved by audiences as it was by critics, if not more. box office mojo puts the budget at a fairly modest $50 million, a figure it surpassed by $7 million in the United States alone. However, it did even better in international territories, where Luhrmann’s film earned $127.5 million.
2 Australia (2008) – $211.8 million
Australia has a reputation as Luhrmann’s only bombshell, but she may soon come to life again when the film is re-released as a Hulu miniseries. This expanded experience should provide the already epic film with the breathing room where the theatrical cut was not allowed. The plot follows Nicole Kidman (reconnecting with the director after Red Mill!) and Hugh Jackman’s lovers as they meet and try to survive in war-torn Australia in the 1940s.
Luhrmann’s film had a budget of $130 million, per box office mojo, which is quite substantial for a romance film but not necessarily a period one. Sadly, the audience interest just wasn’t there in the US, but the film did quite well overseas, and when all was said and done, Australia had generated over $211 million worldwide.
1 The Great Gatsby (2013) – $353.7 million
Luhrmann adapted F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel Gatsby the magnificent to great effect in 2013, and as Elvis it served as successful counter-programming to massive movies like iron man 3. With an all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, the film had box office pulling power, but it still managed to outperform. Trailers for the film were bright, beautiful, and promised a big time fueled by incredible music from artists like Jay-Z and Lana Del Rey. However, the film also experienced a delay which cast doubt on its final quality.
But the doubt was unwarranted and audiences responded to the tune of nearly $145 million from US and Canadian theaters, according to box office mojo, including a stellar $50 million opening weekend. The film did well as a May Movie, and that success extended to an additional $353.7 million overseas.
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