20th Century Fox
Whether they end well or not, everyone loves good teen romance movies. Teen romances are the best kind. You get all the normal conventions of a romantic movie, but teenagers feel everything so much stronger than everyone else. As a result, these movies are emotionally heightened and a bit more dramatic. What's not to love? The romances are that much more passionate, and the heartbreaks are even more tear-jerking.
Usually, movies that make a lot of money resonate with a large audience. That's what allows them to perform so well. On this list, though, that's only true some of the time. Other times, you may be surprised by the movies you find here. Here are the 20 highest-grossing teen romance movies domestically.
Beastly is basically a riff on Beauty and the Beast. The issue with this idea is that Beauty and the Beast is essentially a perfect movie, which makes it difficult to improve on. The film is a modern re-telling, though, which means that the young man at the film's center is cursed by a fellow student he's mean to.
From there, we see him fall in love with another woman, and realize how to be a better person as a result. It's the classic story told anew. Whatever you felt about the movie, it actually managed to scrape by fairly decent returns at the box office.
Alex Pettyfer takes the bottom two spots on this list, which speaks to about how well his movies do because this is a top-20 list. They're just not the most successful, but they surprisingly do just fine. In Endless Love, the story revolves around a somewhat forbidden love between a privileged girl and a working-class boy.
It's not a very complicated movie, and it wasn't exactly beloved by critics either. Still, they don't have total control over the box office, so this film managed to earn $31 million even though most critics panned it. They may know more than most people about film, but that doesn't mean they get their way.
Buena Vista Pictures
Before Patrick Dempsey was McDreamy, he was stealing hearts in Can't Buy Me Love. The movie was released in 1987 and earned a respectable $31 million in American theaters. It follows a nerdy boy who agrees to get a popular girl out of a jam if she'll pretend to date him for an entire month.
When she starts to fall for him and he gains popularity, he begins to realize that social status doesn't matter as much as he thought it did. It's a concept that plays as creepy today, but at the time, it no one really batted an eye at the concept.
Paper Towns may not be the most famous adaptation of a John Green novel, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't successful in its own right. The film follows a shy kid who gets caught up in a series of pranks being pulled by his school's most popular student. When she goes missing the next day, he goes on a desperate quest to track her down.
The movie plays a little bit like a scavenger hunt, which can make for some tenuous and icky moments. Still, there's something charming about this story of young people trying to feel alive, which is why it managed to make $32 million domestically.
Everything, Everything is on the newer end of the entries on this list, and it was adapted from a novel of the same name. The film follows a young girl played by Amandla Stenberg, who is imaginative, but unable to leave her hermetically-sealed room because of an illness that puts her at risk of dying if she has contact with the world outside her germ-free home. When she meets a boy through the window, the two try desperately to form a relationship in spite of this physical obstacle.
But these obstacles only serve to make their bond stronger. They're both young and reckless, so you can imagine how things end up. The movie made $34 million domestically, and earned its spot on this list as a result.
If you've never heard of Little Darlings, you're not alone. The movie tells the story of two girls from widely different backgrounds who end up competing to see who can have sex first. It feels almost like a movie you might see today. As the two go through the movie, each learns something about what sex is really like — and what it should or shouldn't be.
The film is a little bit preachy as a result, but it's a movie about two women discovering that there's more to sex than they originally thought. Given that the film was released in 1980, it's remarkable that it made the list. Earning $34 million will get you a spot, though, especially for back then.
10 Things I Hate About You is the kind of sickly sweet teen romance movie that we saw a lot of in the '90s, and it's one of the very best. The movie manages to be totally of its era while ripping off Shakespeare, and it features a performance from Heath Ledger that showed everyone he would be a star.
The movie hasn't aged perfectly. After all, it's an adaptation of Shakespeare, so the story was always going to feel a little outdated. Still, it's one of the better teen romantic comedies from its era, and it's helped by a sharp script and dazzling lead performances from Heath and Julia Stiles.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is something of an outlier on this list. The movie's primary story is of four girls who separate after spending many summers together, and share a pair of magical pants between them. The story's romantic elements are secondary, but they're important enough to the film that they merit inclusion on this list.
Like many of the teen romance movies on this list, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was a popular novel first, so it's no surprise that the movie did well at the box office. When it was released in 2005, it made $39 million, which was more than enough to justify a sequel.
The fact that Pretty in Pink made this list in spite of inflation speaks to how popular it was when it came out. The movie made $40 million in the U.S., and went on to influence every teen romance movie that came after it. In fact, if you adjusted how much this movie made with inflation, it would be up there in the top three highest-grossing teen romance movies.
The movie has a simple story, really. It follows an outcast girl who gets swept up after a popular boy asks her out. From there, plenty of relationship drama unfolds, but Pretty in Pink works because its smaller moments are so good. Few teen romance movies of today have the kind of natural charm that the great John Hughes movies so often did.
Love, Simon is the kind of movie that shouldn't have been nearly as groundbreaking as it was. It's a movie about a high school student who comes out of the closet and falls in love, and it's incredibly sweet. It broke ground as the first gay movie of its kind to come from a major studio.
The film is sweet and charming, filled with all the standard quirks and tropes the teen romance movie genre is known for. Even as it broke new ground, it felt deeply familiar. Love, Simon is a really sweet movie, and it earned $40 million for all that sweetness.
If the '90s were defined by snarky, post-modern teen romances, the early 2000s were defined by their utter sincerity. A Walk to Remember is a great example. It's a film about a boy who falls deeply and completely in love with a girl he used to pick on.
From there, the story takes a number of melodramatic turns, but that's kind of the point. A Walk to Remember isn't a comedy, it's a tragedy, and it's one that nevertheless leaves you feeling hopeful at its end. That's the kind of teen romance that would come to define the entire decade.
Five Feet Apart exists in a particular vein of weepy teen dramas. It's one that focuses on two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who can't get too close to one another for fear of making each other sicker. That's the tragic wrench at the heart of their relationship, and it's part of what makes the premise so inherently interesting.
Although the movie doesn't totally work, it's largely saved by its leads and the chemistry between them. Both Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson are remarkably good actors. Not gonna lie, they can do pretty much anything and make it captivating. That's why the movie made $45 million domestically.
Given that Baz Luhrmann's remake of Romeo + Juliet keeps all of Shakespeare's dialogue intact, it's a miracle the movie made any money at all. The fact that it did is a testament to the idea that audiences are unpredictable — and also that iconic stories with passionate fanbases will bring in money no matter what.
The film's decision to update the setting to make things more modern was also a fascinating choice, and when it was combined with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, almost everyone was won over. The movie came out in 1996, and it made $46 million domestically, more than enough to justify a sequel if all the main characters hadn't died.
Few teen romance movies want to make you cry more than If I Stay. The movie offers an interesting twist on the standard teen weepy, we follow a young girl as she makes the difficult choice of whether to stay on Earth or move on to the afterlife. It's a movie about deciding what's most important to you, and learning to deal with loss.
The movie was adapted from a fairly popular novel, and that alone earned it quite a bit at the box office. The movie ultimately earned $50 million, which was enough to justify the investment that had been made to acquire the rights to the book.
For a moment, Hilary Duff was every girl's favorite girl. She rode that popularity to A Cinderella Story, a reworking of the classic fairytale that transports it to modern-day 2004, which now feels completely dated. (Flip phones? AIM? I don't know her.) In this movie, the love story is basically the whole point.
The story of Cinderella isn't really all that empowering, but it is a compelling fantasy, one where the man of your dreams is waiting to sweep you off your feet. Even if that's not the case, A Cinderella Story is still pretty fun to watch, thanks in large part to the enormous charms of Hilary Duff in the central role.
She's All That really feels like an artifact from a different era, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. For one thing, it stars Freddie Prinze Jr., an actor we don't hear much from these days. For another, it follows his character as he tries to turn the nerdy girl in his class into the prom queen in just six weeks.
It's a plot that feels a little too contrived for its own good, but the movie does have its charms. Movies like She's All That may not be totally woke, but they can be pretty fun rides if you let them. You just have to remember that when this movie made $63 million at the box office, we were living in a slightly different era.
Among other things, Step Up is great because it serves as most people's introduction to Channing Tatum. The movie tells the story of a boy and a girl who meet and fall for each other, in part through their work on dance routines.
It's a simple premise that plays itself out to perfection. It largely runs on the chemistry between Channing and Jenna Dewan, who would go on to get married. Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of dancing and a whole lot of fireworks to make a movie worth watching. Step Up proved that to be true, and earned $65 million in the process.
It may or may not surprise you that two of the top-five highest-grossing teen romance movies of all time are about dance. In Save the Last Dance, a promising young dancer loses her mother and transfers to an inner-city Chicago school to live with her dad. As she falls in love with one of the guys at her new school, she also rediscovers her passion for dance.
It had honest conversations about race and class that were rare at the time, but Save the Last Dance is also worth it because it gives us plenty of dancing and a romance to lighten up the heavier moments. Even though it came out in 2001, the movie grossed $91 million domestically, which was enough to earn it the third spot on this list. Adjusted for inflation, it's over $130 mil!
The Fault in Our Stars was the ultimate teen weepy. When it was released in 2014, it won over pretty much everyone that watched it. It told the story of two teenagers who were also cancer patients, and the relationship that formed between them. It's a sad movie, but it's hopeful in the sense that it reminds you that life is fleeting, and love should be a big part of it.
The Fault in Our Stars is not a perfect movie, but very few films are. It's got a great central performance from Shailene Woodley, though, and that performance makes the whole movie worthwhile. Audiences agreed, and they rewarded the flick with $124 million domestically.
Most of the movies on this list are pretty grounded in the real world, but that is emphatically not the case for Twilight, the highest-grossing film on this list. These movies are about vampires falling in love, and the world ate it up. In fact, if we were to rank these films individually, Twilight would make up the entirety of the top five.
It's true, of course, that many people were not huge fans of the series. Even so, Twilight had enough superfans to make a tremendous amount of money at the box office. The five movies combined made more than $1 billion at the domestic box office, which easily earns them the top spot on this list.