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Biggest Memorial Day Movies, Ranked by Opening Weekend Box Office

Traditionally in the United States, Memorial Day weekend is used as the indicator for the start of the summer. Many schools across the country get out for summer break at that time, and many people have the Memorial holiday off, meaning a four-day weekend for families to spend together. With all that extra free time, Hollywood likes to cash in, with Memorial Day for years correlating to the beginning of the summer movie season. This is commonly associated with the release of starwarswhich opened in theaters on May 25, 1977, the Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend.

starwars obviously went on to become one of the most successful films of all time, and since then Hollywood has released some of the biggest movies of the summer on Memorial Day weekend. While the summer movie season has become more flexible, extending out even earlier and studios releasing big tent pole films during spring and fall as well, there still remains a special prestige around being a Memorial Day movie release.

Memorial Day weekend got its time in the sun again last year, as the summer movie season officially kicked off on Memorial Day with the release of A Quiet Place Part II and cruel on May 28, 2021. Both films did well at the box office over the holiday, an indicator that audiences were wanting to return to the theaters after the pandemic. 2022 will see The Bob’s Burgers Movie and Top Gun: Maverick both compete for audiences over the four-day holiday, and Disney has already set Little Mermaid remake for Memorial Day 2023. These movies have some high-profile films they are competing with, because it’s just such a profitable weekend. Here are the biggest Memorial Day movies based on opening weekend box office.

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7 The Hangover Part II

Released on May 26, 2011, The Hangover Part II was the highly anticipated sequel to the 2009 breakout comedy The Hangover. The movie opened to $103 million over the Memorial Day weekend, beating out the other major new release for the holiday Kung Fu Panda 2. However, critical and audience reaction to The Hangover Part II was mixed, with many criticizing how the film was just a repeat of the previous movie. While the film went on to gross $254 million domestically, that was actually lower than the gross of the first film. The Hangover Part III would also be released on Memorial Day weekend in 2013, but would lose out to another film on this list.

6 X-Men: Days of Future Past

the X Men film series helped kick off the superhero boom of the 2000s, but after a string of critical disasters with X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, things had changed. The Marvel Cinematic Universe had exploded onto the scene as well, so while later films like X-Men: First Class and wolverine were respectable hits, they were nowhere near the franchise’s former glory. In 2014, 20th Century Fox released X-Men: Days of Future Past, which united the cast of the X Men trilogy (the first time many of them had been seen in their roles in eight years) with the new cast introduced in X-Men: First Class.

Related: Marvel Movie Weekend: Every Great Superhero Film Released the First Week of May

With Wolverine, the franchise’s most popular hero front in center in two different timelines, the mutants returned to the big screen in a major way. X-Men: Days of Future Past opened on May 23, 2014, and grossed $110 million over the four-day holiday weekend. The movie grossed $233 million domestically and $746 million worldwide, and with rave reviews the franchise, if ever so briefly, was fully back.

5 Aladdin

Disney’s live-action remakes of their classic animated films have yielded mixed reactions from audiences over the years. Some have decried them as being derivative of the original animated films, offering nothing new, yet many like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King were box office sensations grossing over $1 billion. Despite a lot of online criticism of the film’s early marketing, audiences still turned out to see Aladdin when it opened in theaters on May 24, 2019. The movie opened to $116 million over the Memorial Day weekend easily beating out the other two Memorial Day alternatives, booksmart and brightburn.

Aladdin went on to bring in $355 million domestically, making it the highest-grossing film to open on Memorial Day weekend not adjusted for inflation. In addition, the worldwide box office was $1 billion, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2019 at the domestic box office. After Disney failed to make films like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, tomorrowlandand Alice Through the Looking Glass hits over the Memorial Day weekend, Aladdin justified the studio’s steadfast hold on releasing a film over the holiday.

4 Fast & Furious 6

By the time Fast & Furious 6 had opened, the franchise had been revitalized and come a box office juggernaut, with Fast&Furious and fast Five both earning big money during the month of April. With the sixth entry in the franchise, Universal Pictures moved the franchise back to summer when the first three entries had been released. The movie opened on May 24, 2013, and opened at number one over Memorial Day weekend with $117 million, easily beating the other two major releases, The Hangover Part III and the Blue Sky Animation film Epic. Fast & Furious 6 went on to gross $238 million domestically and $788 million worldwide, making it the second highest-grossing film in the series domestically and third worldwide.


3 X-Men: The Last Stand

Building off the massive box office and critical success of X Men and X2: X-Men Unitedthe release of X-Men: The Last Stand was one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer. Before a shared universe, this felt like the epic conclusion to the franchise, as trilogies were standard practice in Hollywood. Bringing in popular X Men characters like Beast, Angel, and Juggernaut and adapting one of the most beloved storylines from the comics, The Dark Phoenix Saga, X-Men: The Last Stand was marketed as an event film.

The movie opened on May 26, 2006 and earned a massive $122 million opening weekend, which, apart from the dead pool films, is still the biggest opening weekend for an X Men film. While critical and audience reaction to the movie was mixed to negative, the movie still managed to gross $234 million domestically and a worldwide total of $460 million. Even 16 years later, the film still stands as one of the highest-grossing Memorial Day weekends of all time.


two Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

After 19 years away from the big screen, Indiana Jones returned to movie theaters all over the globe on May 22, 2008 for Memorial Day weekend. A secretive marketing campaign and a generation nostalgic for the first three films led to great anticipation for the return of their favorite action hero. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opening with a massive $126 million over the four-day weekend (and since it technically opened one day earlier, its total five-day gross was $151 million).

Related: Here Are the Most Expensive Movies Ever Made

The critical reaction was positive, though audiences took issue with the film. However, that still did not stop the film from grossing $317 domestically and $790 worldwide making it the second-highest-grossing film worldwide in 2008 behind only Dark Knight. Harrison Ford will return as Indiana Jones one final time in indiana jones 5 which is set for release on June 30, 2023, and will arrive 15 years after the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


one Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

May 2007 saw three major third entries from franchises released, with Spider-Man 3 shortly followed by Shrek the Thirdand finally, for Memorial Day weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Four years after the release of the first film, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had grown into one of the biggest and most successful movie series in the world, capturing audience interest with colorful characters and exciting action set pieces.

billed as the epic grand finale, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End opened in theaters on May 25, 2007 (fittingly on the 30th anniversary of starwars, the movie that cemented Memorial Day weekend as the start of the summer movie season) and grossed a record-breaking $139 million over the holiday weekend. The movie went on to gross $309 million domestically and $960 million worldwide, making it the biggest movie of 2007 at the worldwide box office.

15 years later, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End still holds the record, and there is something fitting about that. This was the last moment where the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise felt like it was on top, as the subsequent sequels would leave some audiences cold and it appears Johnny Depp will never return to the franchise. Also, the following year saw the release of Hombre de Hierro on the first weekend of May. While Marvel movies had kicked off May before (even in 2007 with Spider-Man 3) it was with Iron Man’s release that it became consistent. The first week of May started to be viewed as the start of the summer movie season more so than Memorial Day, mostly solidified by avengers in 2012 breaking the opening weekend box office record. While Hollywood clearly still bets big on Memorial Day weekend, it was never quite the same, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End still reigns as the biggest opening weekend for Memorial Day.


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