Sixteen years ago, millions of people stood in line to buy their ticket to “Mission: Impossible II.” Not many things other than the master of a cinematic vision, the anticipation of love, action, adventure and thrill could cause millions of Americans all over the country to stop what they’re doing, pay $8.00-10.00 and sit in a dark room, facing a bright, big screen for two hours.

It is the promise of an escape and the vicarious living through lives that aren’t our own that compels our families, neighbors, coworkers and friends to put down their hard-earned cash for a ticket to a movie that has the power to inspire or disappoint us. However, the risk is worth it.

Each year of the last 15, the world has been massively riveted by a new film phenomenon, and 303 Magazine’s Film and TV staff is here to show you exactly what those were. How many of them did you stand in line for? Was it worth it? Check it out.

Year 2000 – “Mission: Impossible II”

Mission: Impossible II via Collider

“Mission: Impossible II” via Collider

A genetically modified disease sends the world’s most relied upon agent to, once again, fix their life threatening problems. Were you a part of the population that made “Mission: Impossible II” the highest grossing film of 2000?

Year 2001 – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone via Plugged In

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” via Plugged In

The movie that started them all — the first “Harry Potter” movie kicked off their long streak of some of the world’s most treasured and beloved films with a bang. Profiting almost 10x more than they budgeted for the movie, this first film introduced the “Harry Potter” series as a force to be reckoned with — and I’m sure most of us can look back on 2001 with nostalgia for little Harry, Ron and Hermione, with whom so many people grew up.

Year 2002 – “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers via Movie Boozer

“Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” via Movie Boozer

My personal favorite among the LOTR series, “The Two Towers” hit the top shelf, being the highest grossing film of 2002. With witch kings, goblins and hobbits (oh my!) this film had/has something for everyone and quickly proved itself to be a classic, up there with “Star Wars” and the previously mentioned, “Harry Potter.” (However, If you haven’t seen these, I recommend you not tell anyone and get on board, it’ll be our little secret.)

Year 2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King”

lotr return of the king

“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” via ImagoZone

The last in LOTR series profited over a billion dollars worldwide in 2003. It was definitely a good year for this world renowned series, not to mention for the die-hard fans out there who got to experience this cinematic adventure on the big screen (and by looking at how much it made, it looks like the majority of people enjoyed that cinematic experience over and over again).

Year 2004 – “Shrek 2”

Shrek 2 via DrunkMovieZone

“Shrek 2” via DrunkMovieZone

Many may be surprised to discover the film that guzzled up the most money from the world’s movie-goers in 2004 was the sequel to “Shrek”, but it just goes to show that not many of us can resist a beefy, green ogre and a “puss in boots.” Nice to not feel so guilty about this guilty pleasure anymore, huh?

Year 2005 – “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire via fanpop

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” via fanpop

Another personal favorite, the fourth “Harry Potter” brought 4x the thrill in 2005, as we watched the invigorating competition for the Tri-Wizard Cup. “Harry Potter” peaked once again as the highest grossing film of 2005.

Year 2006 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”

Pirates of the Caribbean via tbs

“Pirates of the Caribbean” via tbs

The drunk, hairy and lovable Captain Jack Sparrow returns in this race to find Davy Jones‘ heart. “Why?” you may ask.  Well, if you have to ask that question that means you were not a part of this 2006 phenomenon, and therefore, do not deserve to know…so jump onto the band-wagon and watch the movie that everyone (besides you) was enjoying in 2006 — better late than never!

Year 2007 – “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End via MoviesTorrents

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” via MoviesTorrents

The “Pirates of the Caribbean” series once again became the highest grossing film, but this time in 2007 — because who wouldn’t want to watch Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp dangle off the edge of the world — with sexy accents, badass women and dreadlocks to boot.

Year 2008 – The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight via MoviePilot

“The Dark Knight” via MoviePilot

In 2008, the world had the privilege to witness one of the last pieces that the beloved actor, Heath Ledger, ever worked on and arguably the one that brought him to his death. The perfectly psychotic Joker faces off with the dark and heroic Batman in “The Dark Knight”, a show-down that not many missed in 2008…did you?

Year 2009 – “Avatar”

Avatar via ReleaseDate

“Avatar” via ReleaseDate

Profiting over two billion dollars worldwide, James Cameron had the world engrossed in his wild and colorful vision. Arguably one of the most amazing cinematic experiences of all time, “Avatar” was not one easily overlooked. With the underdog, the bad guy and the strong, independent woman, this movie had a way of turning common themes into something the world has never seen before.

Year 2010 – “Toy Story 3”

Toy Story 3 via ToyStory

“Toy Story 3” via ToyStory

The world was definitely feeling nostalgic in 2010, because “Toy Story 3” was the movie that had the most people waiting in line to buy their movie ticket. With Andy off to college, no one could resist seeing what had become of some of the world’s most cherished toys.

Year 2011 – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” via Passion 9: Deathly Hallows Part Two

2011 left not one dry-eye in sight, as the world witnessed the last ever battle of the generation’s most iconic characters. No surprise, it went with an even bigger bang than how it came — no one could miss this send off. Even though it’s over, “Harry Potter” continues to be the marvel that inspires everyone who encounters it — which is the only way so many have gotten away with “solemnly swearing” they are “up to no good.”

Year 2012 – “The Avengers”

The Avengers via Strange Notions

“The Avengers” via Strange Notions

Since everyone was a little worried (even if not admittedly) that the world might come to an end, they decided to occupy themselves by watching the earth’s mightiest superheroes come together to fight for our existence — (maybe even secretly hoping that they would show up on December 21st, if need be).

Year 2013 – “Iron Man 3”

Iron Man 3 via Collider

“Iron Man 3” via Collider

The rough, tough and sarcastic Iron Man ironically came into a close competition with the magical, animated and lovable characters of “Frozen”; however, Tony Stark beat out Elsa for winner of the highest grossing film of 2013. People just couldn’t get enough superheroes…will they ever?

Year 2014 – “American Sniper”

American Sniper via iTunes Movie Trailers

“American Sniper” via iTunes Movie Trailers

The world fell hard for this tragic insight into the life of an American soldier, revealing how the life of war is a hard one to leave behind. Being a story that countless American soldiers and veterans can relate to, “American Sniper” became the highest grossing film of 2014.

Year 2015 – “Jurassic World”

Jurassic World via Variety

“Jurassic World” via Variety

This long-awaited sequel had everyone reeling this last year, reaching a domestic gross upward of 600 million dollars. People apparently couldn’t wait to return to the much-beloved reptilian adventure (even if it does make one ever so paranoid about genetic mutation/enhancement).

Year 2016: What movie do you think will be the highest grossing this year? Check out some of your options in “Resolve to See These Top 14 Films in 2016” and leave your comments below!

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