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A nitpick

Over and over again last night, I kept on hearing the same words, "most successful movie at the box office of all time."

You got to be fucking kidding me.

The most successful movie at the box office of all time was released in 1939. And it's going to take a hell of a flick to knock it off it's pedestal.

Not adjusting for inflation renders these sorts of rankings meaningless, and yet, for some reason, these lists are always compiled without taking inflation into account. This is the "real" box office success list.

Rank Title Studio Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross Year
1 Gone with the Wind MGM $1,537,559,600 $198,676,459 1939^
2 Star Wars Fox $1,355,490,100 $460,998,007 1977^
3 The Sound of Music Fox $1,083,781,000 $158,671,368 1965
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $1,079,511,500 $435,110,554 1982^
5 The Ten Commandments Par. $996,910,000 $65,500,000 1956
6 Titanic Par. $976,712,200 $600,788,188 1997
7 Jaws Uni. $974,679,800 $260,000,000 1975
8 Doctor Zhivago MGM $944,670,800 $111,721,910 1965
9 The Exorcist WB $841,427,600 $232,671,011 1973^
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $829,490,000 $184,925,486 1937^
11 101 Dalmatians Dis. $760,370,300 $144,880,014 1961^
12 The Empire Strikes Back Fox $747,154,600 $290,475,067 1980^
13 Ben-Hur MGM $745,780,000 $74,000,000 1959
14 Avatar Fox $720,607,400 $720,607,444 2009
15 Return of the Jedi Fox $715,792,100 $309,306,177 1983^
16 The Sting Uni. $678,377,100 $156,000,000 1973
17 Raiders of the Lost Ark Par. $670,759,500 $242,374,454 1981^
18 Jurassic Park Uni. $656,026,500 $357,067,947 1993
19 The Graduate AVCO $651,198,300 $104,901,839 1967^
20 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $645,524,400 $431,088,301 1999

entries with a ^ were released in multiple years.

I've seen all except for the Exorcist (too scary) and The Graduate (no interest). Most are classic, American movies. Most were released prior to the advent of cable television, VCRs, DVDs, the internet, and video games. Gone with the Wind and other movies that came out in the 30s and 40s really had no other media competition other than radio and newspapers.

The success of Avatar is extraordinary, but in the perspective of the whole movie-event history, it has quite a ways to go before it knocks Miss Scarlett and Rhett off their perch at the top. And, who knows, maybe with time and re-releases, it will. But I doubt it.

Otherwise, I more or less enjoyed the Oscars. Graham and I went to an Oscar party and ended up tying for first place in the Oscar pool, though we left early (apparently missing the *gasp* snub of Farrah Fawcett (who I doubt cares, because a) she's dead, and b) she was more known for her TV work at any rate) in the dead people montage) because we were tired from a weekend of two major family events and a full day of yardwork. I think I won $35. At some point soon, I'd like to see The Hurt Locker and Up in the Air.



( 5 comments — Say something )
Mar. 8th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
I would much rather see movie "success" in terms of tickets sold rather than dollar amount, especially in the case of avatar as there are significant surcharges attached to both 3-D and IMAX.
Mar. 9th, 2010 12:07 am (UTC)
*nodnod* I was just wondering how the money numbers would be converted to tickets sold numbers, because that would be fascinating.

Also, i have much glee that Star Wars is #2...
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:52 pm (UTC)
You should see The Graduate. It's awesome and you'd love it. The dvd with the director's discussion is really cool.
Mar. 9th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
that wasn't from anonymous, btw. It was from me... Bn'B.
Mar. 9th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
I love you for doing this. I hate it when people don't take inflation into account. Like antiques shows where they take the price paid 60 years ago and are amazed at how much more it is worth now. Duh.
( 5 comments — Say something )