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What are the best-selling movies and TV series in the US (2011-2023)

Over the last decade, American viewers have evolved significantly in their entertainment consumption habits. From the dominance of DVDs and Blu-ray discs to the digital revolution that has made streaming the norm, the landscape of how we watch movies, TV shows, and other digital content has changed. Today, I have collected a list of the most purchased movies, cartoons, and series in the US from 2011 to 2023. I received assistance from The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), which publishes quarterly data on the home entertainment industry, where I searched for sales data on media (DVD, Blu-ray, and digital versions).

From 2011 to 2014, DEG published data on popular movies and series based only on the sales of DVD and Blu-ray discs, but starting from 2015, the statistics also began to cover digital movie versions. Also, their lists don’t always include ten films, so every year, the top may vary, so don’t be surprised if you see 13 or 15 movies instead of 10 in the top list. I will explore the most popular movies and series of various years and remind you what we loved to watch over the last 12 years.

2011: The end of the Harry Potter era

Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD and Blu-ray in 2011:

  1. Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows, Part 1
  2. Harry Potter – Deathly Hallows, Part 2
  3. Tangled
  4. Cars 2
  5. Transformers – Dark of Moon
  6. Bridesmaids
  7. Rio
  8. The Help
  9. Lion King
  10. Hangover Part 2

2011 was a year of significant farewells and new beginnings in the film industry. One of my favorite film series, “Harry Potter,” came to its conclusion with the release of “Deathly Hallows – Part 2.” The reactions were mixed, but everyone agreed that an era had ended. “Deathly Hallows – Part 2” sold 2.71 million Blu-ray units, amounting to $60.75 million over three days (from Friday to Sunday). It also sold 2.83 million DVD units worth $42.22 million during its debut. The first part of “Deathly Hallows” had accumulated $153,7 million from DVD and Blu-ray sales by the end of 2011, making it one of the top-selling movies of the year.

This year also saw a revival in animation: “Tangled,” “Cars 2,” the re-release of “The Lion King,” and “Rio” solidly secured their places at the top, pushing out most other films of that year. Additionally, in 2011, many people acquired one of the best comedies of the last decade – “Hangover Part 2.”

2012: The rise of the superhero movies


Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD and Blu-ray in 2012:

  1. Avengers
  2. Hunger Games
  3. Dark Knight Rises
  4. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
  5. Brave
  6. Ted
  7. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
  8. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  9. Madagascar 3: Europe”s Most Wanted
  10. Puss in Boots

2012 could be considered the year when the superhero genre firmly established its dominance in Hollywood: films like “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” not only broke box office records but also sold record numbers of DVDs and Blu-ray discs, setting unreasonably high standards for comic book adaptations. This year also saw the release of “The Hunger Games,” which managed to outsell Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” marking a significant achievement.

The year was also prosperous in animated films: “Brave,” “Madagascar 3,” and “The Lorax.” “Puss in Boots” confidently secured its niche in 2012.

2013: A year dominated by sequels and franchises

Despicable Me 2

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013:

  1. Despicable Me 2
  2. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
  3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  4. Wreck-It Ralph
  5. Skyfall
  6. Star Trek Into Darkness
  7. Monsters University
  8. Iron Man 3
  9. Man of Steel
  10. The Croods

In 2013, the movie industry was actively engaged in sequels and franchises, as evidenced by the year’s sales – “Despicable Me 2,” “Iron Man 3,” “Skyfall,” “Monsters University,” “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” – all were continuations or prequels to existing films or cartoons. Among them, I’d highlight “Despicable Me 2,” which sold more than 4.5 million units on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in its first week in stores. And it would be strange not to mention “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” which hit the top sales charts for the second consecutive year.

But this year also saw films that laid the groundwork for their franchises, such as “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Man of Steel,” “The Croods” – the success of these movies laid the foundation for the development of their successful franchises (the only exception is “The Hobbit,” which seems like a prequel to “The Lord of the Rings” but starts its trilogy).

The trend towards creating and continuing franchises became very noticeable in those years, but is it bad? I think not.

2014: The year of superhero blockbusters and Frozen hype


Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD and Blu-ray in 2014:

  1. Frozen
  2. Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  3. The Lego Movie
  4. Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. Gravity
  7. Thor: The Dark World
  8. Lone Survivor
  9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  10. Maleficent
  11. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  12. Transformers 4: Age of Extinction
  13. X-Men: Days of Future Past

In 2014, superhero movies continued to dominate – “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” and “Thor: The Dark World” once again expanded the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The movie “Gravity” was a surprising entry at this top amidst fantasy and blockbusters, as it’s rare to see science fiction and space cinema in the top ranks.

However, it’s clear that the big hero of that year, both in terms of hype and physical media sales, was the movie Frozen, which broke the record for physical copy sales in the US. With 7.46 million units sold, it took first place, surpassing “Avatar” with 7.37 million, “Despicable Me” with 5.76 million, and “The Avengers” with 5.21 million copies sold.

Overshadowed by “Frozen” was “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which sold 2.9 million copies, placing this film among the top 20 best-selling on DVD and Blu-ray at the time, a notable achievement.

It would be remiss not to mention such beautiful films as “Maleficent,” “The Lego Movie,” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” which, although not on par in sales with the aforementioned films, showed very respectable results in 2014.

2015: Cartoons top, franchises continue to grab the market

Big Hero 6

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital in 2015:

  1. Big Hero 6
  2. Star Wars Collection
  3. Jurassic World
  4. Minions
  5. American Sniper
  6. Inside Out
  7. Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
  8. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  9. Furious 7
  10. Fifty Shades of Grey
  11. Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  12. Interstellar
  13. Equalizer
  14. Fury
  15. Gone Girl

As I mentioned earlier, starting in 2015, The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) began to account for not only physical Blu-ray and DVD sales but also digital versions of movies or cartoons. Therefore, subsequent tops will be based on total sales. For some films, I will additionally note sales on DVD or Blu-ray.

This year, the animated film “Big Hero 6” took the top position, which, in my opinion, is somewhat overrated. Digital sales bolstered its first-place ranking, as it only ranks third in physical sales with 5.24 million copies sold, following “Jurassic World” and “Minions.” Speaking of Minions, I’m not sure why, but they are not listed in the DEG’s report of best-selling titles, possibly due to some error. However, I cannot fail to mention them. With about 5.28 million copies sold on discs and Blu-ray, they certainly belong in the top 10. Therefore, I’ve placed them right after “Jurassic World” to restore justice. The “Star Wars Collection” also sold well this year, evidently having a large fan base.

2015 was a weak year for superhero films, as the top only includes one movie – “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” But here’s a little spoiler for next year: there will be many more.

I definitely want to highlight Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” which, while not taking a leading position in sales, particularly impressed me with its visuals those years (yes, I bought myself a Blu-ray disc).

2016: The Star Wars returns, cartoon and superheroes standoff

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital in 2016:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Deadpool
  3. Zootopia
  4. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
  5. Finding Dory
  6. The Martian
  7. Captain America: Civil War
  8. The Good Dinosaur
  9. Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2
  10. The Secret Life of Pets
  11. Moana

In 2016, the film industry continued to bet on superhero movies: “Deadpool,” “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” performed well in sales. It’s worth highlighting “Deadpool,” which, despite its R rating, became the second highest-selling film of 2016 (5.48M physical copies) and, in my opinion, significantly changed the approach to superhero films for the future. At the very least, it proved that there’s a market for adult-oriented superhero movies.

The top spot that year went to the return of the space saga “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which, although it was a big disappointment for me, resonated with millions of fans around the world. With 7.43M copies sold on DVD and Blu-ray, it took first place among all films and also ranked first in digital sales.

Animated films provided serious competition to superhero movies, with quite a few notable releases – “Zootopia,” “Finding Dory,” “Moana,” and “The Good Dinosaur.” I will highlight “Zootopia,” which took third place that year with 4.79M physical sales and was the top-selling DVD with 2.36M copies sold.

2017: The domination of Disney cartoons


Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital in 2017:

  1. Moana
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. Wonder Woman
  5. Trolls
  6. Sing
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2
  8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  9. Logan
  10. Doctor Strange

You might be surprised to see the leader of the top chart as you saw this animated movie at the end of the 2016 chart. How did this happen? The answer is simple: “Moana” was released in November 2016 and achieved such sales quickly that it appeared in the top charts for two consecutive years. In 2017, “Moana’s” sales were solid, with 4.39M physical copies sold. The gap from “Beauty and the Beast” with 4.25M copies was small, but it was still an excellent result.

In second place was the continuation of the Star Wars saga, which sold 3.98M physical copies of its film but surpassed “Beauty and the Beast” thanks to digital version sales.

Also, in the top chart, we always see several superhero films – “Wonder Woman,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” “Logan,” and “Doctor Strange,” which particularly stood out that year for its cool visuals. However, it mostly made it into this top chart due to digital sales, as it was in 15th place with 1.72M physical copies sold.

2018: Growth in digital movie sales

Justice League

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital in 2018:

  1. Justice League
  2. Ready Player One
  3. Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  4. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  5. Deadpool 2
  6. Avengers: Infinity War
  7. Black Panther
  8. The Greatest Showman
  9. Star Wars Ep. VIII: The Last Jedi
  10. Coco

Just so you know, the DEG Report 2018 only included the top 6 movies, but I’ve added the remaining four based on their total sales. According to DEG, the top spot for total sales went to “Justice League,” which is pretty surprising since, in terms of physical sales, this movie only ranks 11th with 2.9 million purchases compared to “Black Panther,” which has 4.49 million sales. Based on this, we can quite see a trend towards the increasing popularity of digital movie sales.
It’s similar to “Ready Player One,” which ranks 21st in physical sales with 1.44 million but is doing very well digitally.
Overall, nothing is outstanding this year; it’s business as usual. I can point out the lack of cartoons on the leaderboard: only one, “Coco,” which is odd considering how many were at number one in previous years.

2019: Superhero movie era endgame

Avengers: Endgame

Top-selling movies and cartoons on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital in 2019:

  1. Avengers: Endgame
  2. Aquaman
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody
  4. Captain Marvel
  5. A Star Is Born
  6. Toy Story 4
  7. Spider-Man: Far From Home
  8. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse 3D
  9. John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum
  10. The Lion King

Like last year, the DEG Report 2019 only included the top 5 movies, so I added the remaining five films to the top list based on physical DVD and Blu-ray sales.

The year 2019 marked the end of an era with the movie “Avengers: Endgame,” which concluded a decade-long saga of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, breaking all box office records. Other superhero movies like “Captain Marvel” and “Aquaman” also secured strong sales positions that year.

Films centered around music, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “A Star is Born,” also performed exceptionally well, competing on par with superhero blockbusters.

Thanks to physical sales, two Spider-Man titles made it into the top as well: Spider-Man: Far From Home with 2.65M copies sold and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse 3D with 2.53M copies sold.

Additionally, the sequel to the beloved animated film Toy Story 4 and the adaptation of the legendary The Lion King did well in physical media sales, with 2.82M and 2.52M copies sold, respectively.

2020: Pandemic year and move into digital sales

Frozen 2

Top-selling movies and cartoons on digital sales, digital rentals, DVD & Blu-ray sales in 2020:

  1. Frozen 2
  2. Jumanji: The Next Level
  3. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
  4. Joker
  5. Sonic the Hedgehog
  6. Bad Boys for Life
  7. 1917
  8. Scoob!
  9. Ford v Ferrari
  10. Knives Out
  11. Trolls World Tour
  12. Onward
  13. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  14. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
  15. Bloodshot
  16. Midway
  17. Yellowstone: S1
  18. Yellowstone: S2
  19. Yellowstone: S3
  20. Harry Potter (Complete 8-Film Collection)

The year 2020 was pivotal for the film industry, reshaped by the global COVID-19 pandemic, which led to widespread cinema closures and a surge in popularity for streaming services. It was also the first year that revenue from digital film sales, at $2.99 billion, surpassed physical sales, which amounted to $2.56 billion.

DEG provided a list of the top 20 best-selling movies and animations in this year’s report. Taking the lead by a significant margin was the second part of the Frozen franchise, which sold over 3.7 million copies on physical media. Although it couldn’t replicate the staggering success of the first film, its dominance in that year was unmistakable.

The comedy Jumanji: The Next Level secured the second spot on the list, and despite ranking fourth in physical sales, it soared to the top two thanks to its digital sales. It’s also worth noting the conclusion of the Star Wars saga – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which sold 2.69 million physical copies but performed slightly worse in digital sales.

For the first time, a TV series, Yellowstone, made it into the top list with three of its seasons. Although not at the top, this is quite an achievement for a series.

2021: Pandemic crisis continues

The Croods: A New Age

Top-selling movies and cartoons on digital sales, digital rentals, DVD & Blu-ray sales in 2021:

  1. The Croods: A New Age
  2. F9: The Fast Saga
  3. Free Guy
  4. Godzilla vs Kong
  5. Harry Potter – Complete 8-Film Collection
  6. Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
  7. Monster Hunter
  8. No Time to Die
  9. A Quiet Place Part II
  10. Venom: Let There Be Carnage
  11. Wonder Woman 1984
  12. Yellowstone (all four seasons)

In 2021, the film industry began to adapt to new norms, combining delayed theatrical releases with an increasing reliance on streaming platforms, moving away from physical sales. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the year seemed sparse regarding new releases, with no blockbuster movies making a significant impact. Also, a clear decline in sales was evident this year, with a 25 percent decrease in physical copy sales but, at the same time, a respectable 16 percent increase in digital sales.

The first place in sales went to the animated movie “The Croods: A New Era,” which had few competitors in 2021. In second place was “Fast and Furious 9”, which was at the top clearly not because it was a masterpiece movie.

To understand how dire the year was for new movies, we can look at the fifth place occupied by “Harry Potter – The Complete Collection of 8 Films”. For comparison, before the 2019 pandemic, the same collection ranked 34th in physical media sales.

It’s hard to say anything definitive about this year as it doesn’t stand out as anything special. Unfortunately, the pandemic has cast too big a shadow over it.

2022: The movie industry’s return to the old tempo


Top-selling movies and cartoons on digital sales, digital rentals, DVD & Blu-ray sales in 2022:

  1. Dune
  2. Encanto
  3. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  4. Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  5. Jurassic World: Dominion
  6. Moonfall
  7. No Time to Die
  8. Sing 2
  9. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  10. Top Gun: Maverick
  11. Uncharted
  12. Yellowstone Season 5

In 2022, the film industry made a strong recovery, with Hollywood actively catching up after almost a two-year hiatus. Dune was Topping the sales charts, which I found pretty dull and drawn out, but it evidently captured the interest of many that year. In second place was the decent, though not spectacular, animated film Encanto, and in third place was the Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All at Once.

I was somewhat surprised by the placement of “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which broke many box office records and led physical sales—Spider-Man: No Way Home with 2.01M and Top Gun: Maverick with 1.97M copies sold. However, they performed less well in digital sales than their competitors, landing 9th and 10th place in the overall sales rankings.

The most unexpected entry in this top list for me was Moonfall, which, frankly, is baffling to see on this list. The film itself is incredibly mediocre and low-quality, in my opinion. Regarding physical sales, it ranked 48th that year with 222k copies sold and made it onto this list thanks to very high digital sales. Why so many purchased the film is beyond me; perhaps it had a very effective promotional campaign.

2023: A slow death of DVD & Blu-ray sales, Avatar back top again

Avatar: The Way of Water

Top-selling movies and cartoons on digital sales, digital rentals, DVD & Blu-ray sales in 2023:

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water
  2. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
  3. Equalizer 3
  4. The Flash
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  6. John Wick: Chapter 4
  7. Meg 2: The Trench
  8. Plane
  9. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  10. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  11. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
  12. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Here, we have reached the end of our year 2023, which completely shifted the balance between physical and digital movie sales. The ratio ended up being almost one to three, as movies in physical format sold for $1.1 billion, while movies in digital formats sold for $2.6 billion. It’s also worth noting that overall movie sales declined, as, for example, in 2011, both physical and digital sales amounted to approximately $14 billion in revenue, while in 2023, total revenue was $3.76 billion. This gives us a clear understanding of how significantly people have moved to streaming services for watching movies.

In 2023, the top seller was the second part of the iconic film Avatar: The Way of Water, followed by the game adaptation Dungeons and Dragons, and in third place was Equalizer 3 with Denzel Washington. Overall, there were no surprises this year, except maybe a slight return to the top for superhero movies Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

What to expect in 2024, I think, is an even more significant decline in movie sales as the shift to streaming platforms attracts more people and more movies are watched on streaming platforms. Whether this is bad or good, I don’t know. I see nothing wrong with the shift to streaming platforms. The fact that people are buying DVDs or Blu-rays much less, and it has turned into a hobby for collectors, is a reality that needs to be accepted in today’s world.



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