Home » Wes Anderson Movies Ranked From Flop to Highest Grossing

Wes Anderson Movies Ranked From Flop to Highest Grossing

Wes Anderson is the Charles Manson of the film world (minus the homicides of budding young actors), a cult name that has transcended his cinephile groupies and made his way into popular culture. Despite his coveted reputation for making idiosyncratic movies, jam-packed with eccentricity, personality, and this nth degree of attentiveness which defines Anderson’s style, the love for his movies doesn’t necessarily translate to bums-in-seats, which subsequently leaves big-budget, well-received movies little to show for at the box office.


Let’s take a look at the director’s filmography in order of box office return, beginning with his artful flops and building toward his most commercially successful films, for whatever that’s worth…

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10/10 Bottle Rocket

Bottle Rocket was Wes Anderson’s directorial debut, his “hello” to the world of filmmaking, and although it was deemed a box office flop recuperating a pathetic $560,000 off its $5 million budget, it was adored by the critics, and ultimately launched his career in film.

9/10 Rushmore

Anderson’s second feature, Rushmore, is a coming-of-age comedy-drama starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray in the main roles, where the former plays a rebellious, eccentric schoolboy, and the latter portrays a business tycoon in the midst of a midlife crisis. While there is no definitive figure, Rushmore is believed to have grossed between $17 and $19 million.

8/10 The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Released in 2004, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou has always divided opinion, though Zissou is played so emphatically by Bill Murray (and surrounded with such an astonishingly good ensemble cast), that the film seems impossible not to take to. It is a story of a group of oceanographers and documentarians who are victims to a shark attack during an expedition, which kills a crew member.

Related: Bill Murray’s Best Moments in Wes Anderson Movies

Driven by a morbid curiosity and desire for revenge (along with a need to reignite their careers), the team head out to sea to track down their friend’s killer. With a whopping budget of $50 million, the screenplay written by Anderson, along with friend and fellow director Noah Baumbach, flopped at the box office, recouping a meager $34 million.

7/10 The Darjeeling Limited

In this meandering tale of three brothers who journey across India in search of their mother at a Himalayan convent, following the news of their father’s passing, the audience is taken on a spiritual journey of forgiveness, brotherhood, and whimsical self-reflection. Featuring Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman, as well as a brief cameo from a running Bill Murray, The Darjeeling Limited certainly isn’t short of respected actors. For all its artistic brilliance, exotic color palette, beautiful score, and wishy-washy comical undertones, the film made takings of $35 million.

6/10 The French Dispatch

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic ravaging the film industry’s release schedule, The French Dispatch was subject to a lengthy delay. When it finally did reach our screens, it promised to be the most Wes Anderson-y of Wes Anderson films; in many ways, it was a lesson in hedonism, with the filmmaker indulging in all his quirks to aesthetically gorgeous degree.

Based in a made-up French city, this comedy-drama follows the story of a group of American journalists, covering the on-goings of their surroundings for the publication, The French Dispatch. While it was debatably the director’s most unapologetically unrestrained movie to date, it took a paltry $46 million at the box office.

5/10 Fantastic Mr. Fox

Anderson has become rather a dab hand at Roald Dahl adaptations, with his latest The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar now in post-production. However, it all began with his satirically quirky take on Fantastic Mr. Fox. Starring some of Anderson’s usual roustabouts, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and of course, the silver fox himself, George Clooney, the film tells the story of Mr. Fox, a chicken thief who steals from the perilously unforgiving Boggis, Bunce, and Bean, three local farmers who are out for Mr. Fox and his family’s blood. Fantastic Mr. Fox took home a mediocre $46 million despite its widespread popularity.

4/10 Moonrise Kingdom

After the acclaim of Anderson’s run of beloved first films, his more fantastical and silly coming-of-age comedy Moonrise Kingdom was rightly greeted with an air of real anticipation. It is a movie that concerns the love story of two of its protagonists, Sam and Suzy, who fall in love while Sam is on a scout’s expedition, and decide to run away to unite with his pen pal. It is a charming tale of young love that recaptured the director’s form after a couple of flops (The Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited) during the mid-2000s, and collected a very tidy $68 million dollars at cinemas internationally.

3/10 Isle of Dogs

Anderson’s 2018 stop-motion flick Isle of Dogs got its name from the Isle of Dogs, a peninsula in East London. The Bottle Rocket director has built somewhat of a formidable reputation when it comes to stop-motion animation, with the triumph that was 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. Following a four-year hiatus after his last movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, enjoyed the riches of both box office and critical success, the expectations on the Texan filmmaker’s shoulders was palpable. While Isle of Dogs didn’t experience the same degree of acclaim, it grossed a respectable sum of $83 million.

Set in Japan, in the fictional city of Megasaki, by order of an official governmental decree, all canine pets are to be banished to Trash Island, a remote isle that is used as an extensive rubbish tip. The movie follows a group of stranded dogs from very differing backgrounds, as they attempt to return to the mainland, enlisting the help of a 12-year-old boy, Atari after his plane crashed on the island while looking for his dog, Spots.

2/10 The Royal Tenenbaums

With their father practically on his deathbed, his estranged children, Richie, Chas, and Margot Tenenbaum rally around him as a final act of solidarity and love. All talented in their own right, the children are an odd assembly of solemn-looking, self-pitying former child prodigy’s who all seem to be going through existential, or artistic crises. Ostensibly damaged by their father’s absence, apparent disinterest, and brutal frankness, Royal Tenenbaum’s (Gene Hackman) kids have a quiet disdain for their oddball father, as he plays his final redemption song.

Related: The Most Emotional Moments in Wes Anderson’s Movies, Ranked

Awash with all of Anderson’s eccentricities, as well as the lengthy list of token A-listers, The Royal Tenenbaums exceeded expectations at the box office with returns of $71 million, which with inflation is around $118 million in today’s financial climate. To many, The Royal Tenenbaums remains close to Anderson’s best, and it’s likely that the combination of its amazing cast and the critical acclaim of his first two films led to this surprise box office hit.

1/10 The Grand Budapest Hotel

For many, 2014’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is irrefutably Wes Anderson’s flagship film, the one with the most critical (and Oscar) acclaim in addition to being his most financially successful. With a stellar ensemble cast, including some of his most frequent collaborators, the film is set in the fictional province of Zubrowka, at a luxury hotel named The Grand Budapest, of course. In a hilarious, career-defining performance, Ralph Fiennes plays M. Gustave, the hotel’s prim-and-proper concierge who prides himself on the immaculate standards of the hotel, driven by this anal perfectionism. Taken under his wing, is Zero, an endearing lobby boy, who becomes M. Gustave’s own, personal project.

When M. Gustave is falsely implicated in the murder of a former guest, and lover, Zero must go above and beyond to clear his name. Aside from the razor-sharp dialogue, which is both cutting and funny in equal measure, the perfectly symmetrical set design, flawless color palette, and shameless self-indulgence make The Grand Budapest Hotel a truly magnificent feat of cinema. An immensely clever and deep film about history, memory, fascism, art, and human dignity, no wonder it’s Anderson’s most revered picture to date and his most profitable, with it grossing an eye-watering $172 million at the time.

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Enzo Smith