Adam Sandler is one of the very few actors working in Hollywood who is almost completely critic-proof. No matter how many negative reviews each of his movies receive, and how many Golden Raspberries they’re nominated for, they still perform significantly well at the box office and with fans.
The actor has a ton of great dramatic roles too, but they’re completely absent here, as Sandler’s goofier roles are adored by audiences. And though he is now working almost exclusively with Netflix with very few of his movies hitting multiplexes, Sandler has seen some amazing box office figures over three decades.
Updated on March 21st, 2021 by Mark Birrell: Adam Sandler’s success as not only an actor and a comedian, but also as a producer, cannot be understated. His immunity to critical lambasting is only part of his achievements as a player within the wider world of filmmaking. Though it’s true that what are most commonly accepted to be his best movies are not his most financially successful, the actor’s hits are still quite widely beloved and his continued success on Netflix shows that he’s as popular now as he ever has been. So, we’ve added more movies to this list to better show his success at the box office and appreciate their impact.
15 Mr. Deeds (2002) – $171,269,535
A remake of Frank Capras 1930’s classic Mr. Deed Goes to Town, this comedy with romantic lead Winona Ryder is fairly typical of the kind of successful feel-good movie that Sandler would release alongside much more difficult dramedy movies throughout the 2000s, with Mr. Deeds releasing the same year as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love.
The image of Sandler as a somewhat schlubby everyman would prove to be only increasingly successful and, though these movies were rarely well-received by critics, they at the very least enabled more financially risky and creatively rewarding projects from the actor throughout the decade.
14 The Waterboy (1998) – $185,991,646
The success of this sports comedy would foreshadow the success of a similar movie that features further down on this list, with Sandler proving that he had more believability as an athlete beyond just Happy Gilmore.
This football-centric college comedy mixed one of the actor’s more typically goofy personas with the tropes of sports movies to create a semi-parody, semi-sincere, underdog story about an unlikely star player found on the sidelines.
13 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry (2005) – $187,134,117
One of Sandler’s more consistently controversial comedies, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry may not be a hateful movie about same-sex marriage but it has been extensively criticized for trivializing the subject.
The movie revolves around the titular firefighter best friends played by Sandler and his longtime collaborator Kevin James who, in order to secure benefits, fake a married relationship. It was, similarly to many of the movies on this list, one of the actor’s most successful movies despite one of the worst-reviewed.
12 The Longest Yard (2005) – $191,466,556
Another financially successful remake for Sandler and another foray into the world of sports comedy, this updated version of the 1974 movie starring Burt Reynolds assembled one of Sandler’s most impressive casts of character actors and comedians ever, including Reynolds himself returning.
Sandler stars as a disgraced former football star who, after ending up in a harsh Texas prison, must put together a rag-tag group of inmates to form a team to play the guards. The familiar story was itself already the second remake of the original movie, with the British prison soccer movie Mean Machine being released in 2001.
11 Anger Management (2003) – $195,745,823
Anger Management’s success is helped significantly by the fact that Sandler is starring alongside none other than Jack Nicholson.
The movie is about a man who suppresses his feelings, acts passively aggressively, and has the odds stacked against him, which unsurprisingly didn’t fare well with critics, even with the beloved Nicholson co-headlining. However, Anger Management just might be the most underrated Sandler movie of the 2000s, and it did great with audiences.
10 50 First Dates (2004) – $198,520,934
Reuniting after their great chemistry in The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates is easily one of Sandler’s most well-liked romantic comedies of the 2000s.
The movie sees his character try to win the heart of a girl with a fictitious syndrome which resembles a real form of amnesia that causes her to continually forget him.
9 You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (2008) – $204,313,400
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan is one of the stranger characters of Sandler’s, as he plays Zohan, an Israeli army counterterrorist commando with the controversial movie being written by Sandler’s longtime friend, Judd Apatow.
Though the movie was critically panned, the movie was one of the famously against-the-grain choices for praise by the late-great movie critic Roger Ebert.
8 Bedtime Stories (2008) – $212,874,864
Sandler’s other movie of 2008 did even better at the box office than Zohan and did it all without most of the crude or gross humor that the actor was generally famous for at that point in his career.
This odd partnership with Disney paid off at the box office though the more family-friendly tone was still not enough to garner generally positive reviews from critics.
7 Just Go With It (2011) – $214,945,591
In the throes of the time when Sandler began making feel-good movies that often had locations that looked as if they doubled as vacations came Just Go With It, a Hawaii-based rom-com with Jennifer Aniston.
The movie’s original title was interestingly even Holiday In Hawaii and, while it was another financial hit for Sandler, it was derided by critics.
6 Big Daddy (1999) – $234,801,895
Closing out a successful decade with Big Daddy, a movie that follows Sandler’s character fostering a child who claims to be his best friend’s son, Sandler delivered one of his more heartwarming and sentimental movies, though it’s still packed with the cruder side to his humor.
It was one of the actor’s worst-reviewed movies of the 1990s, but that didn’t stop it from hurdling past that $200 million mark at the box office.
5 Click (2006) – $240,685,326
Click is one of the few high-concept movies Adam Sandler has made, as it’s about a remote control that gives the user the ability to change parts of their life.
Possibly because it came off as one of the many It’s A Wonderful Life parody movies, it was negatively received despite being one of the more dramatic of the actor’s comedies.
4 Pixels (2015) – $244,874,809
Pixels is often listed as one of the worst movies of 2015, but it somehow still managed to rake in almost $250 million worldwide.
Taking into account an unusually high budget for a Sandler movie, however, as well as the marketing costs that go along with that, its haul is less impressive than the actor’s lower-budgeted movies, and his following projects certainly seemed to focus on being less effects-driven.
3 Grown Ups 2 (2013) – $246,984,278
Despite not quite beating the original, the sequel to Sandler’s 2010 movie Grown Ups was another box office hit in the face of scathing reviews.
The sequel even had what was considered to be one of the worst movie posters of 2013, but its seemingly-lazy marketing and overall premise didn’t stop the movie’s success with audiences.
2 Grown Ups (2010) – $271,457,301
Another example of another Sandler movie that was frequently singled out as one of the worst movies of the year of its release, Grown Ups has very little of a narrative as it followed the paper-thin characters of Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James as they have a great time on vacation.
Grown Ups is one of the movies where the negative criticism has never really been disputed, but its box office success is hard to argue with.
1 The Hotel Transylvania Series – $1,361,751,376
The Hotel Transylvania series is easily the most success that Adam Sandler has encountered at the box office. All three movies in the series are his top-grossing movies, with the first movie making $358,375,603, the sequel making an estimated $474,800,000, and 2018’s Summer Vacation making $528,583,774 worldwide.
The series will undoubtedly continue, as not only has each consecutive movie performed better than the last, and there are still a lot of monsters fans want to see that haven’t appeared yet too.
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