Since starring in 2009’s Mississipi Damned and 2010’s For Colored Girls, Tessa Thompson has risen to fame to become a Hollywood superstar. While her roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Creed franchise have obviously been indicative of mainstream success, Thompson has continued to tackle smaller film projects. She recently starred in the critically-acclaimed Passing for Netflix, delivering a performance that was considered one of the film’s highlights.
Thompson’s dramatic and comedic chops, impressive resume, and charm have made her a force to be reckoned with. She has appeared in more than 30 films, many of which have been commercial successes. As we await her future roles, here’s a look at the 12 highest-grossing movies of Tessa Thompson’s career.
12 Sorry to Bother You (2018) — $18.2M
Sorry to Bother You marked the directorial debut of Boots Riley, assembling a star-studded cast that included LaKeith Stanfield, Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, and Terry Crews. Riley’s film was easily one of the most bizarre of 2018, but it was also one of the most imaginative and humorous. Thompson appeared in the film as Detroit, the girlfriend of a Black telemarketer who found success by using a “white voice.”
Despite finding financial success, the telemarketer eventually came to a crossroads in his career, forced to choose between pursuing profit and fighting against corporate oppression. Produced on a low budget of about $3 million, Sorry to Bother You went on to gross $18.2 million at the box office.
11 For Colored Girls (2010) — $38M
Directed by Tyler Perry, For Colored Girls was a film adaptation of for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, a theater piece its author Ntozake Shange referred to as a “choreopoem.” The film told the stories of ten Black women who each dealt with their own unique struggles but were connected through other life experiences.
Thompson played Nyla Adrose, the “Lady in Purple” and one of the film’s ten titular “colored girls.” Other stars in the cast included Janet Jackson, Thandiwe Newton, Kimberly Elise, and Whoopi Goldberg. For Colored Girls concluded its box office run with a total of $38 million.
10 Annihilation (2018) — $43.1M
From the director of Ex Machina came Annihilation, a sci-fi film exploring themes of isolation, loss, and self-destruction. The film’s themes were presented through the obvious metaphor of The Shimmer, a quarantined zone that contained a mysterious alien entity. Thompson played Josie Radek in the film, a physicist recruited into a team seeking to unravel the mysteries of The Shimmer.
With a budget of $40-55 million and a box office total of $43.1 million, the film was unfortunately a box office flop. Even before the film’s release, producers were concerned that Annihilation was “too intellectual” and “too complicated” to appeal to a wide audience (via THR).
9 Selma (2014) — $66.8M
Ava DuVernay’s historical drama film, Selma, was based on the real-life Selma to Montgomery marches held in 1965. While the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (via History), many Black Americans were still unable to vote. The Selma to Montgomery marches were led by Martin Luther King Jr., Hosea Williams, and John Lewis, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 being signed into law.
Thompson portrayed Diane Nash in the film, a civil rights activist and a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Commitee (SNCC). Selma was praised by both audiences and critics and was also a box office success, grossing $66.8 million.
8 When a Stranger Calls (2006) — $67.1M
Although When a Stranger Calls did not receive positive reviews from audiences or critics, it was still among the highest-grossing horror films of 2006. The film was a remake of the 1979 horror film of the same name, following 16-year-old Jill Johnson on what should have been an ordinary night of babysitting. Unfortunately for Jill, after receiving calls from a stranger, she learned that she had become the target of an aggressive serial killer.
Thompson had a small role in the film as Jill’s friend, Scarlett. With a box office gross of $67.1 million, When a Stranger Calls was a commercial success despite being surpassed by that year’s Final Destination 3, The Omen, and Saw III.
7 Creed (2015) — $173.6M
Three years before the release of Black Panther, director Ryan Coogler launched the first Rocky spin-off with 2015’s Creed. Sylvester Stallone reprised his role as Rocky Balboa, with his character serving as a trainer and mentor to rising boxer Donnie Creed (Michael B. Jordan). As Donnie trained to become the next great boxer, he crossed paths with Bianca (Thompson), a singer-songwriter grappling with the early stages of her hearing loss. Creed was acclaimed by critics and grossed $173.6 million worldwide, marking the beginning of a great sports drama franchise.
6 Creed III (2023) — $179.4M+
In his directorial debut, Jordan took the director’s chair for Creed III, continuing to star in the film while also serving as a producer. Continuing to lose her hearing, Thompson’s character retired from performing to become a producer and focus on raising her daughter. Creed III introduced a new antagonist in Jonathan Majors’ “Diamond Dame” Anderson, who harbored a personal reason for wanting to take down Donnie in the ring.
The film has received positive reviews and has grossed more than $179 million thus far. The continued success of the Creed franchise has led to Jordan and Amazon discussing a “Creedverse” of anime, television series, and spin-off films.
5 Creed II (2018) — $214.1M
Thompson reprised her role as Bianca Taylor in Creed II, her character becoming engaged to Donnie and giving birth to a daughter during the events of the film. Bianca was there for Donnie as he prepared to fight Viktor Drago, the son of legacy character Ivan Drago from Rocky IV. Creed II didn’t feel quite as fresh as the first Creed film, but it retained and even grew audience interest as evidenced by its box office gross of $214.1 million. The film was a competently made sequel that delivered the thrills people have come to expect from the Rocky and Creed franchise.
4 Men in Black: International (2019) — $253.9M
Seven years after Men in Black 3, the franchise was revived with a fourth installment titled Men in Black: International. Thompson starred in the film as MIB recruit Agent M, working alongside Agent H (Chris Hemsworth) to save the agency from an unexpected threat. Thompson and Hemsworth had previously worked together in Thor: Ragnarok, and their chemistry carried over into a new franchise playing new characters. Men in Black: International grossed over $250 million, but due to its high production and marketing budget, the film was considered a box office disappointment.
3 Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) — $761M
Coming off the massive success of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Marvel fans were unable to contain their excitement for Thor: Love and Thunder. Taika Waititi directed the film as a road trip comedy in space, following Thor, the Mighty Thor, Korg, and Valkyrie as they went to confront Gorr the God Butcher. Fan reception was initially positive, but public opinion on the film has dramatically fallen since its release. The general consensus has been that Thor: Love and Thunder was a major step-down from Thor: Ragnarok. Nonetheless, the film was still a commercial success for Marvel Studios, grossing over $760 million at the 2022 box office.
2 Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — $854M
After a not-so-beloved Thor sequel, the franchise was given a new energy with Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. The film introduced Thompson’s Valkyrie and Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster to the MCU while also featuring Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk in a prominent role. Ragnarok moved away from Thor’s previous “Shakespearean” depictions, lightening up the Avenger and placing him in the goofier yet deadlier world of Sakaar. Despite the heavy reliance on humor, the film had high stakes and managed to give powerful moments to Thor and Loki. Thor: Ragnarok grossed $854 million at the box office and has remained the best reviewed Thor film to date.
1 Avengers: Endgame (2019) — $2.799B
Thompson reprised her role as Valkyrie in Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of 11 years of storytelling. As the film primarily focused on the original six Avengers, Valkyrie did not have much screentime in the film. However, she was present during the Battle of Earth, fighting against Thanos’ forces and giving Spider-Man a ride on a flying horse. At the end of the film, Thor named Valkyrie the King of New Asgard.
Avengers: Endgame was the highest-grossing film of all time from July 2019 to March 2021, but lost its crown when Avatar was rereleased in theaters. With a box office gross of $2.799 billion, Avengers: Endgame now sits above Avatar: The Way of Water as the second highest-grossing film of all time.