The 15 top-earning movie directors of all time at the US box office

Steven Spielberg, Jurassic ParkYouTube screengrab

Directing a single box office hit is an extraordinary feat.

But to become an all-time box office great, one must possess unrivaled levels of creativity, longevity, and enterprise - or else, decide to make five "Transformers" movies.

To find out which directors have had the most fiscally successful careers, we looked into Box Office Mojo's data to compile this list of the helmers whose movies have grossed the most money at the domestic box office.

From Steven Spielberg to Christopher Nolan to Michael Bay, the top-grossing directors in U.S. movie history all have compelling and versatile filmographies.

Here are the 15 highest-earning movie directors of all time, ranked by total box office gross:

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1. Steven Spielberg — Total gross: $4.445 billion

1. Steven Spielberg — Total gross: $4.445 billion

Number of movies: 31

Average gross: $143.4 million

Highest-grossing film: "E.T." ($435.1 million)

2. Michael Bay — Total gross: $2.325 billion

2. Michael Bay — Total gross: $2.325 billion

Number of movies: 12

Average gross: $177.9 million

Highest-grossing film: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" ($402.1 million)

3. Peter Jackson — Total gross: $2.134 billion

3. Peter Jackson — Total gross: $2.134 billion

Number of movies: 12

Average gross: $177.9 million

Highest-grossing film: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" ($377.8 million)

4. Robert Zemeckis — Total gross: $2.091 billion

4. Robert Zemeckis — Total gross: $2.091 billion

Number of movies: 18

Average gross: $116.2 million

Highest-grossing film: "Forrest Gump" ($423.3 million)

5. James Cameron — Total gross: $1.974 billion

5. James Cameron — Total gross: $1.974 billion

Number of movies: 9

Average gross: $219.4 million

Highest-grossing film: "Avatar" ($760.5 million)

6. Christopher Nolan — Total gross: $1.955 billion

6. Christopher Nolan — Total gross: $1.955 billion

Number of movies: 11

Average gross: $177.7 million

Highest-grossing film: "The Dark Knight" ($534.9 million)

7. Ron Howard — Total gross: $1.896 billion

7. Ron Howard — Total gross: $1.896 billion

Number of movies: 24

Average gross: $79 million

Highest-grossing film: "The Grinch" ($260 million)

8. Tim Burton — Total gross: $1.840 billion

8. Tim Burton — Total gross: $1.840 billion

Number of movies: 18

Average gross: $102.2 million

Highest-grossing film: "Alice in Wonderland" ($334.2 million)

9. Clint Eastwood — Total gross: $1.816 billion

9. Clint Eastwood — Total gross: $1.816 billion

Number of movies: 34

Average gross: $53.4 million

Highest-grossing film: "American Sniper" ($350.1 million)

10. Chris Columbus — Total gross: $1.750 billion

10. Chris Columbus — Total gross: $1.750 billion

Number of movies: 15

Average gross: $116.7 million

Highest-grossing film: "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" ($317.6 million)

11. George Lucas — Total gross: $1.743 billion

11. George Lucas — Total gross: $1.743 billion

Number of movies: 6

Average gross: $290.7 million

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" ($423.3 million)

12. J.J. Abrams — Total gross: $1.684 billion

12. J.J. Abrams — Total gross: $1.684 billion

Number of movies: 5

Average gross: $336.8 million

Highest-grossing film: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ($936.7 million)

13. Ridley Scott — Total gross: $1.635 billion

13. Ridley Scott — Total gross: $1.635 billion

Number of movies: 23

Average gross: $152.9 million

Highest-grossing film: "The Martian" ($423.3 million)

14. David Yates — Total gross: $1.631 billion

14. David Yates — Total gross: $1.631 billion

Number of movies: 6

Average gross: $271.9 million

Highest-grossing film: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2" ($381 million)

15. Gore Verbinski — Total gross: $1.529 billion

15. Gore Verbinski — Total gross: $1.529 billion

Number of movies: 10

Average gross: $152.9 million

Highest-grossing film: "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($423.3 million)

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