Director Garry Marshall began his career in the 1960s as a writer on The Lucy Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. In the following decade, his star went stratospheric when he created a series of hugely successful TV shows, including Happy Days, Mork and Mindy, and Laverne and Shirley. Over the next few decades, he cemented his A-lister status with films like Overboard, Beaches, Pretty Woman and The Princess Diaries. Marshall died in 2016, leaving behind a vast body of work that’s not only given millions of people hours of viewing pleasure, but generated huge amounts at the box office. These are the five highest-grossing Garry Marshall movies of all time.
5. New Year’s Eve
Stuffed to the rafters with stars (Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Jon Bon Jovi, Abigail Breslin, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Robert De Niro, Josh Duhamel, Zac Efron, Héctor Elizondo, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Meyers, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sarah Paulson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Til Schweiger, Jake T. Austin, Hilary Swank, Sofía Vergara… the list goes on) and featuring several interwoven stories that all take place on New Year’s Eve, New Years’s Eve was released as the second in Marshall’s trilogy of holiday-themed rom-com’s that began with Valentine’s Day in 2010 and ended with Mother’s Day in 2016. Although not quite as successful as Valentine’s Day, it was still a commercial hit, taking the No. 1 spot at the box office on its opening weekend with $13 million. Over the course of its theatre run, it made $54.5 million domestically and $87.5 million international, resulting in a worldwide box office total of $142 million. Critically, it was less of a triumph, achieving a dismal 7% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earning 5 Razzle awards, including ones for Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Actress for Sarah Jessica Parker, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Screen Ensemble. Fortunately, it came out in the same year as Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill, so was spared the embarrassment of winning a single one.
4. The Princess Diaries
Hard though it is to believe, The Princess Diaries is now over 20 years old. Released on August 3, 2001, the story of dorky teen Mia Thermopolis and her attempts to balance life as a regular teen with being a real-life royal princess tuned Anne Hathaway into a star, introduced Julie Andrews to a new generation, and propelled writer Meg Cabot’s career into the stratosphere. It also made some serious dough at the box office, generating $108.2 million domestically and $165.3 million at the worldwide box office. Three years later, Disney released a sequel, the critically panned but commercially successful The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, which took an impressive $134.7 million at the worldwide box office. Plans for a third installment were announced by Garry Marshall in March 2016 but shelved after his death a few months later. In 2019, Anne Hathaway reignited fans’ hopes after confirming that a new script had been written and both she and Andrews were set to return.
3. Valentine’s Day
Despite an all-star ensemble cast of Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Héctor Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, George Lopez, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Roberts, Julia Roberts, Bryce Robinson, and Taylor Swift, Valentine’s Day bombed critically, with film critic Mark Kermode describing it as a “greeting card full of vomit” calling it “a date movie from hell.” But even if the critics hated it, that didn’t stop rom-com lovers turning up in their droves to see it. Released on February 12, 2010, the film took $52.4 million during its opening weekend – the second-highest opener of any rom-com after Sex and the City. By the time it ended its theatrical run on May 6, 2010, it had made $110 million domestically and $106 million internationally, equalling $216 million in total.
2. Runaway Bride
Nine years after Pretty Woman propelled Julia Roberts into superstardom, she teamed up once again with co-star Richard Gere in the romantic comedy, Runaway Bride. The film follows Roberts as Maggie, a woman whose habit of jilting men at the altar has earned her an infamous reputation and the unflattering nickname of “The Runaway Bride.” Gere plays Ike, a New York columnist who visits Maggie’s hometown to write an in-depth article on her and her latest engagement to local high school football coach Bob. The two hit it off, Maggie ditches Bob for Ike, and everything looks rosy until Maggie gets cold feet and abandons Ike on their wedding day. Fortunately, the story doesn’t end there – Maggie does some emotional digging and discovers herself, reunites with Ike, and the couple finally gets their happy ending. Released in July 1999, the film took $152.2 million domestically and $310 million at the worldwide box office.
1. Pretty Woman
The highest-grossing Garry Marshall film of all time is Pretty Woman, a modern-day Cinderella story involving a prostitute named Vivien, played by Julia Roberts, and a wealthy businessman named Edward, played by Richard Gere. Although it’s impossible to imagine anyone but Roberts and Gere in the film now, neither were Marshall’s first choice. Al Pacino and Burt Reynolds were both approached for the role of Edward and turned it down, while Christopher Reeve, Daniel Day-Lewis, Kevin Kline, and Denzel Washington had also been considered as potential candidates. At the time of the casting, Roberts was only 21 years old and had just one movie credit to her name. Fortunately for her (and movie fans), Molly Ringwald, Meg Ryan, Mary Steenburgen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daryl Hannah, Valeria Golino, and a slew of other actresses had turned the role down, leaving the door open for Roberts. Her stellar performance turned her from an unknown into an A-lister overnight. Critically, the film received a mixed reception (although the praise for Roberts and Gere’s chemistry was unanimous). Commercially, it was a different story, becoming the third-highest-grossing film of 1990 and drawing the most ticket sales of any romantic comedy in US box office history. Overall, the film generated $432 million at the worldwide box office and $178 million in the US.