FilmdailyHighest-Grossing Legal FilmsLegal Films

A Look at the Highest-Grossing Legal Films of All Time

Legal films are a longtime popular Hollywood staple. From the political drama “Judgment at Nuremberg” to the comedy “Legally Blonde” to the thriller “The Lincoln Lawyer” and much more, legal films span multiple genres. And while film buffs could argue about what exactly constitutes a “legal film,” perhaps asking whether the main character must be a lawyer or what percentage of the film must take place in a courtroom, what is certain is that audiences will continue to flock to these movies. A look at some of the highest-grossing legal films will have titles familiar to most film lovers.

Liar Liar

Comedian Jim Carrey was at the height of his career when he starred in this 1997 comedy about a dishonest lawyer who suddenly finds he cannot stop telling the truth over one day, which impacts both his career and his relationships. “Liar Liar” kept audiences coming back to the tune of more than $302 million around the world.

The Firm

Based on a novel by attorney John Grisham, 1993’s “The Firm” tells the story of a young, impoverished law school graduate who gets a job offer that seems too good to be true–and it may well be. Tom Cruise portrayed Mitch, the talented new attorney, alongside a host of veteran actors in this tense, paranoid thriller that brought in $270 million at the box office.

Erin Brockovich

Julia Roberts starred as the gutsy young woman of the title in this 2000 drama by acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh about a real-life legal case in which a broke single mother becomes a whistleblower against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s efforts to cover up groundwater contamination in a small town. Not only did this film make $256 million, but Julia Roberts made history, drawing the highest salary ever paid to an actress at that time.

A Few Good Men

Even people who have never seen “A Few Good Men” are probably familiar with the famous line from it, “You can’t handle the truth!” The line is spoken by Jack Nicholson, but Tom Cruise plays yet another lawyer just a year before his appearance in “The Firm” in this thriller about two Marines on trial for murdering one of their own. “A Few Good Men” made $243 million at the worldwide box office and remains popular to this day.

Presumed Innocent

Another film based on a novel by an attorney, “Presumed Innocent” starred Harrison Ford as Rusty Sabich, a lawyer tasked with investigating the murder of a woman with whom he was having a secret affair. As the investigation proceeds, the culprit increasingly begins to look like Rusty himself. This 1990 thriller confounded audiences with its twists and turns and took in a total of $221 million.

Studios are always on the lookout for tales of high drama, and the legal profession provides that with stories of corruption, crime, and other high-stakes occurrences. This makes the two a natural fit, and audiences agree judging from the box office returns of movies set in and around the courtroom.


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