2. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Year released: 1999
Overall U.S. box office gross: $431.1 millionIt all seems like a dream, doesn't it? George Lucas announcing a backstory to his beloved Star Wars trilogy, thousands of folks in costume wielding plastic lightsabers while waiting on line overnight for the first showings, Liam Neeson and Samuel L. Jackson giving the whole project some credibility and clout... R2-FN-D2. It couldn't go wrong, could it? Well, yes and no. This film had so much buildup behind it that curiosity alone would have sent it storming to that lofty gross. That curiosity sent die-hards sailing past warnings about Jar Jar Binks, Queen Amidala's makeup, Neeson's bad end and the all-too-brief appearance of Darth Maul, though, and headlong into perhaps the most fiercely debated installment of the entire series. Lucas says it was made for kids, fans say it was made for lobotomized kids and modern U.S. audiences largely ignored the 3-D re-release last year. With Disney buying Lucasfilm and the new owners actively pursuing original Star Wars cast members for new films, The Phantom Menace has become the blockbuster everyone wants to bury.