Few directors experienced as meteoric a rise to fame in the late 2010s as Taika Waititi. The comedian, director, and actor from New Zealand first began to make a name for himself internationally with 2014’s What We Do in the Shadows, which later inspired the hit FX comedy series of the same name. However, it was with his work reviving and reinventing the Thor films and their eponymous character within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that Waititi’s global fame was cemented. Over the last decade of his career, he has jumped back and forth between big-budget Marvel movies like Thor and smaller character-oriented stories like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and his latest film, Next Goal Wins.

Though Waititi has primarily made a name for himself as a director, he has also appeared in many different films and series as an actor, dating all the way back to the turn of the century. With his latest film slowly rolling out in the United States, we’ve decided to take a look back at Waititi’s career and highlight the films of his that have grossed the most at the global box office, with data courtesy of The Numbers. While this list primarily focuses on his work as an actor, he has appeared in every one of his directorial efforts, which qualifies them for this list as well. That said, here are Taika Waititi’s 10 highest-grossing movies of all time.

10 Boy (2010) – $8,661,393

Transmission Films

Coming in at the bottom of the list is one of Waititi’s earliest films, 2010’s Boy. The movie was just Waititi’s second feature, following his debut with the 2007 comedy Eagle vs Shark. The film tells the story of an 11-year-old boy living in New Zealand who discovers that his absent father is not the hero that he’s always dreamed he would be. It was a passion project for Waititi, who played the role of the father in the story. The director also fought hard to secure a theatrical release of the film in the United States, even going as far as setting up a Kickstarter to raise money for the film’s distribution. After it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010, Boy garnered Waititi a lot of critical acclaim, with some even claiming it to be one of the best films of the year.

How it Fared at the Box Office

Boy did secure a release in North America, though it was an extremely limited one, as it only played in a total of 18 theaters nationwide. Through those cinemas, Boy pulled in just over $250,000, which is pretty decent for a release of that scale. However, the film’s biggest success came beyond North America, primarily from New Zealand and Australia. In Waititi’s home of New Zealand, the movie pulled in just over $6.2 million, which set a record for the country’s highest-grossing film that had been produced entirely locally. With an additional $1.3 million from Australia and smaller amounts trickling in from other nations such as Poland and the United Kingdom, Boy concluded its box office run with just over $8.6 million globally.

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9 Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – $23,900,842

    Madman Films

Waititi’s reputation grew progressively with each film after the release of Boy, with 2014’s What Do We Do in the Shadows building a cult fan base and then 2016’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople further expanding upon the audience that he was building worldwide. The film starred Julian Dennison and Sam Neill, with Dennison playing an unruly child that Neill’s character somewhat begrudgingly adopts out of the New Zealand foster care system. Waititi only plays a small role in the film, as he appears as a minister who gives a sermon at a funeral service. However, Waititi’s one scene in the movie is one of the biggest standouts, with the director’s comedic sensibilities on full display throughout.

How it Fared at the Box Office

Hunt for the Wilderpeople received a much wider release in North America, with its total theater count coming closer to about 200 cinemas nationwide. This drove the theater to a domestic gross of $5.2 million, over twice its reported production budget of $2.5 million. The majority of Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s box office, once again, came from international markets, though, particularly Waititi’s home of New Zealand and the neighboring Australia. In New Zealand, the movie grossed $8.8 million, unseating Boy as the highest-grossing local production in the country. Its gross in Australia matched that success with another $8.7 million. With small runs in other markets such as the U.K. and Singapore, the total box office gross for Hunt for the Wilderpeople came out to $23.9 million, easily Waititi’s highest-grossing directorial effort up until that point.

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8 Jojo Rabbit (2019) – $86,878,073

It was after Hunt for the Wilderpeople that Waititi made the jump to directing and acting within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which dramatically increased the attention he was receiving internationally. Following the success of Thor: Ragnarok, there was a lot more interest in what Waititi’s next film would be. That film wound up being 2019’s Jojo Rabbit, a loose adaptation of the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, which tells the story of a young boy being raised in Nazi Germany amid the backdrop of World War II.

The film tackles nuanced ideas about patriotism, nationalism and how the environment a child is raised in can affect them, all while weaving in plenty of Waititi’s sharp and at-times jaw-dropping sense of humor. Waititi himself plays a fictionalized version of Adolf Hitler in the film, as he appears throughout the dreams of the boy at the center of the film’s plot. The film was incredibly well-received upon its release, and Waititi went on to win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay that year.

How it Fared at the Box Office

With distribution from Fox Searchlight, Jojo Rabbit received a wider release than any of Waititi’s previous non-MCU releases. This led to the film grossing a solid $33 million in North America, in addition to an international sum of $53 million. About $3.7 million of that international gross came from New Zealand, with Australia making up $7.4 million. Its global total came out at $86 million, which was a great success considering its budget of just $14 million and the fact that it also received a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars that year.

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Related: Ranking Every Movie From Taika Waititi, the Hottest Director in Hollywood Today

The Suicide Squad

Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of nutty cons at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.

2021’s The Suicide Squad marks the first film on this list that Waititi appears in as an actor without also having directed the picture. Instead, this film was famously directed by James Gunn, marking the filmmaker’s first step into the world of DC films before eventually taking the top job as co-head of the newly-founded DC Studios. The Suicide Squad is a loose sequel and follow-up to 2016’s Suicide Squad, and it follows a ragtag group of DC supervillains that undergo a silly and violent adventure throughout the fictional war-ravaged country of Corto Maltese in South America. Waititi only appears briefly in the film, as he plays the role of Ratcatcher I, the father of one of the film’s primary protagonists, Ratcatcher II, played by Daniela Melchior.

How it Fared at the Box Office

The Suicide Squad wasn’t exactly what you would call a box office success, though it’s hard to really judge how much of that was because of the movie itself or the context that it was released in. The movie hit theaters in August 2021, when the world was still in the midst of a global pandemic and many cinemas worldwide either weren’t open or were still figuring out how to remain open while also adhering to a myriad of safety protocols. In addition to that, The Suicide Squad was also released directly to HBO Max (now Max) day-and-date at no additional cost.

It was within those circumstances that the movie managed to gross $56 million domestically and $111 million overseas, for a total global run of $167 million. That unfortunately made it one of the lowest-grossing DC movies of the last decade, and it failed to even make back the $185 million that had been spent on production. Though, it was saved to some degree by the excellent reception to the movie and the expanded audience that would discover it on streaming in the following months.

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6 Lightyear (2022) – $218,768,299


The story of Buzz Lightyear and his adventures to infinity and beyond. Chris Evans, Taika Waititi and James Brolin star in this Pixar animated film.

While the box office was still struggling to recover from the pandemic in 2021, the following year saw everything begin to return to normal. There were major summer blockbusters that were grossing over $1 billion, and new movies were released almost every week to give audiences something new to get excited about. This was the context in which Pixar’sLightyear was released. It may be easy to forget that Waititi was involved in Lightyear, though he did voice a prominent supporting character. Waititi voiced the character of Mo Morrison, a young recruit who assists Buzz Lightyear in his adventure.

How it Fared at the Box Office

Although the box office had largely returned to normal by the time that Lightyear was released, you wouldn’t know it by looking at the film’s gross. In North America, Lightyear only managed to pull in $118 million, with an additional $100 million coming from overseas markets. This total gross of $218 million made Lightyear one of the lowest-grossing Pixar movies to date, which was even more costly considering the $200 million production budget.

The only Pixar films that grossed less than Lightyear were Onward, which had its theatrical release cut short by the onset of the pandemic only a week or two after its release, as well as Soul, Luca and Turning Red, all of which were released directly to Disney+ without a major theatrical release. It was an unexpected disaster for Pixar, though that has little to do with Waititi’s involvement and more to do with the internal problems at Disney and the lack of desire from audiences to see a movie about Buzz Lightyear without any other characters from Toy Story.

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5 Green Lantern (2011) – $219,535,492

Green Lantern

2011 film adaptation of the DC character Hal Jordan, who is also known by his superhero persona Green Lantern.

While Waititi may have achieved his greatest fame through the superhero fanfare of the Thor films, those movies were not the actor and filmmaker’s first experience with the genre. Rather, that came in 2011 with the legendary failure that was DC’s Green Lantern,starring Ryan Reynolds. Though it may be easily forgotten, Waititi actually played a supporting role in the movie, as he appeared as Thomas Kalmaku, one of Hal Jordan’s closest friends on Earth. He appears on several occasions, most prominently in a scene where Jordan reveals his new Green Lantern suit to Waititi’s character in the safety of his apartment.

How it Fared at the Box Office

The disaster of 2011’s Green Lantern has been well-documented at this point. The movie was meant to be DC’s answer to Iron Man, with the hopes that it might also serve as the beginning of a shared DC film universe. That clearly did not work out. On a budget of $200 million, Green Lantern only grossed a global total of $219 million, which was not nearly enough to break even after considering the extensive marketing and distribution costs as well. $116 million came from North America, while international markets accounted for the other $103 million. Green Lantern was far and away the biggest film of Waititi’s career at the time, as it followed only one year after the release of Boy, and it preceded What We Do in the Shadows by three.

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4 Free Guy (2021) – $323,473,792

Although The Suicide Squad may have failed to find a lot of success at the box office in the late summer of 2021, that wasn’t the case with every movie that was released then. Case in point, Free Guy. The movie starred Ryan Reynolds as an NPC inside a video game, with Waititi playing a large role as the film’s primary antagonist, Antwan Hovachelik, the shady CEO of the company that developed the game. The movie was the first new Disney movie to be released without a coinciding release for digital purchase or streaming on Disney+. Free Guy had an exclusive theatrical run for 45 days, and the result was one of the first major hits of the pandemic era.

How it Fared at the Box Office

The movie was released just a week after The Suicide Squad, and it managed to double what that movie grossed at the box office. In North America, Free Guy pulled in $121 million after opening with a mere $28 million. Internationally, the movie grossed an additional $201 million, which brought its global total to $323 million. After the film hit Disney+ a month-and-a-half later, Free Guy continued to build its audience until it became one of the biggest surprise-hits of the year.

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3 Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) – $760,928,081

Thor: Love and Thunder

The sequel to Thor: Ragnarok and the fourth movie in the Thor saga. Directed by Taika Waitit. The cast includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Chris Pratt, and Karen Gillan.

After the immense critical and financial success of Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, there was a great desire from fans to see Waititi return to direct another Thor movie. That movie wound up being 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder, which also marked the first occasion in the MCU in which a solo character’s series received a fourth entry. Not only did Waititi return to direct, he also returned to play the character Korg, the rock-like alien friend of Thor that had been introduced in Ragnarok five years earlier. Unfortunately, the reception to the film from critics and audiences alike was fairly mixed, as the humor was a bit overwhelming in contrast to the darker storylines the movie was attempting to adapt from the comics.

How it Fared at the Box Office

Although a lot of fans left Thor: Love and Thunder disappointed, the film still managed to be a sizable hit for the MCU, which speaks to the strength of Waititi’s Thor and how successfully the character had been reinvented with Ragnarok years prior. The movie brought in $343 million in North America, with $417 million also coming in from overseas markets. This brought the film’s total to $760 million, which was enough to make it the eighth-highest grossing film of the year. As for the broader MCU’s box office, Love and Thunder was in the middle of the pack, above movies like Doctor Strange and Captain America: The Winter Soldier but falling short of the grosses from films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

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Related: Why Taika Waititi is Arguably the Best Director in the MCU

2 Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – $850,482,778

Although Love and Thunder may have dropped the ball, there’s no denying that Waititi’s first Thor film, 2017’s Ragnarok, was a slam dunk. When Waititi was brought aboard for the third Thor film, Marvel was looking to reinvent the character after struggling to figure out how he fit into the broader MCU throughout the previous two Avengers films and the first two solo Thor outings. Waititi revived the character through injecting a lot of his typical humor and emotional depth into the film. As with all of his directorial efforts, Waititi also played a role in the film, though this time audiences didn’t see his face. The director and actor made his debut as the revolutionary rock alien Korg in Ragnarok, who quickly became a fan-favorite character.

How it Fared at the Box Office

After the first two Thor films had struggled to bring the same success as other MCU movies, Waititi managed to right the ship with Ragnarok. The film brought in $315 million in North America – which is interestingly less than Love and Thunder’s $343 million domestic gross – and it was further supported by the immense international haul of $535 million. This brought the third Thor film’s total to $850 million, over $200 million more than either of the previous films in the series. This established the movie as the ninth-highest grossing movie of the year, just ahead of Wonder Woman,though falling short of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

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1 Avengers: Endgame (2019) – $2,788,912,285

Avengers: Endgame

Finally, the highest-grossing film of Waititi’s career is easily Avengers: Endgame, to the surprise of nobody. The fourth Avengers movie served as the culmination of the entire MCU up to that point, and it was following up on the incredible cliffhanger ending of Avengers: Infinity War from the year prior. While Waititi did not appear as Korg in Infinity War, he did return to the role for a small part in Endgame, which was enough to qualify the movie for this list.

How it Fared at the Box Office

It’s no secret that Avengers: Endgame was one of the biggest box office hits of all time. In North America alone, it brought in $858 million, more than Thor: Ragnarok had in its entire global run. Overseas, the movie also scored a staggering $1.9 billion, which brought the movie’s grand total to a whopping $2.7 billion. This was enough to make Endgame the highest-grossing movie, not just of that year but of all-time – even though it later lost the title to 2009’s Avatar following a re-release of that movie the following year. Though the massive success of Endgame was by no means the result of Waititi’s inclusion in it, it does certainly make for a nice addition to his resume.

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 While Taika Waititi is famous for directing What We Do in the Shadows and Marvel’s Thor, he has also acted in films like Green Lantern and Free Guy.  Read More