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Sci-fi is one of the broadest genres of filmmaking. The scope is so vast that movies can be about alien worlds, time travel, spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, or even technology that hasn't even been developed. In theory Star Trek and Back to the Future (1986) are both sci-fi movies but they really couldn't be any more different. And yes, while there was definitely some dabbling with sci-fi as early as 1902 with Georges Melies' A Trip to the Moon, absolutely nothing compares to the bar set by Star Wars (1977). It is the epitome of sci-fi with a franchise that has stretched over 45 years and fans still can't get enough.

Created by George Lucas, Star Wars grossed a total of $775 million becoming the highest-grossing film at the time. When adjusted for inflation, Star Wars is the second-highest-grossing film in North America (behind Gone with the Wind) and it started a revolution in sci-fi, spawning eight more movies bringing in over $10.318 billion at the box office. That makes it the second-highest grossing franchise in the world, behind Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though to be fair they have produced 23 movies to the nine from Star Wars!

But George Lucas doesn't have the monopoly on incredible sci-fi creations. Given that his vision was limited to a specific story, other Directors have made their mark with a range of mind-bending sci-fi hits. Ridley Scott is arguably one of the masters of the genre, though he has only created five sci-fi movies but boy if they're not top drawer. It first started with Alien (1979) which was only the second movie Scott had made at the time. It was a gamechanger in terms of how alien creatures were portrayed on screen and it made Sigourney Weaver a star.

Three years later Ridley Scott released Blade Runner (1982). One of the all-time classics, it stars Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer and was set nearly 40 years in the future in a dystopian LA. It's dark, gritty, and haunting and changed how sci-fi was viewed. Of course, Ridley didn't stop there. He also created Prometheus (2012), The Martian (2015) and Alien: Covenant (2017). And for fans who simply cannot get enough, Scott has returned to the world of dystopic sci-fi as executive producer on HBO Max’s post-apocalyptic series Raised by Wolves.



If George Lucas focused on a galaxy far, far away and Ridley Scott explored aliens, it is Christopher Nolan who cornered the market in mind-bending plots. Despite admitting that he had little or no success getting his early projects off the ground, Nolan finally got his break making Following in 1998. But it was his second movie, Memento (2000) that brought him worldwide success. Other hits soon followed by he returned to his love of sci-fi with The Prestige in 2006 before releasing Inception in 2010.

Not only did Inception generate $836.8 million at the box office but it was also nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning four of them. The epic sci-fi movie Interstellar (2014) was just as successful and followed a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new home for humanity. And if all of that wasn't enough, Nolan released the sci-fi action thriller Tenet in 2020 which stars John David Washington as a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future.

But despite all of the movies and directors mentioned above none claim the top spot as the highest-grossing sci-fi movie. That honour goes to Avatar (2009) from James Cameron. It is a movie that took more than 15 years to make as Cameron insisted on waiting for the technology he needed to be developed. But once it was, he was off and running and at a cost estimated to be around $240 million for production and $150 million for promotion, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. Thankfully for all involved it took a whopping $2.847 billion at the worldwide box office and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning three of them.

Fans will be pleased to hear that Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 have now completed principal filming. They are scheduled to be released on December 16th 2022, and December 20th 2024. Two further sequels are also in the pipeline and are scheduled to be released on December 18th 2026, and December 22th 2028.




AppleTV has a large collection of new and classic Sci-Fi films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.



Paramount+ has a large collection of new and classic Sci-Fi films. Here you can see the highest rated content from the streaming service.