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All Time Domestic Box Office TallyFollow

#1 Jan 25 2010 at 4:37 PM Rating: Decent
4,757 posts
Like most people, when you think of a leading box office smash, you think of Titanic and Dark Knight. Now with Avatar pushing past TDK, Titanic seems ready to sink, right? Well yes and no. The corporate suits that brag about Avatar's record smashing run forget to factor in inflation. IMO, to truly be considered the greatest flick of all time, you need to sell tickets, not use inflation as a crutch. Here is the real list of domestic ticket sales. I'll include the top 20 flicks for both revenue/ticket sales so you can see the difference.

Ticket Sales factored in with inflation Source:

1 Gone with the Wind MGM $1,485,028,000 $198,676,459 Tickets: 202,044,600 1939^
2 Star Wars Fox $1,309,179,000 $460,998,007 Tickets:178,119,600 1977^
3 The Sound of Music Fox $1,046,753,000 $158,671,368 1965
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $1,042,629,400 $435,110,554 Tickets:141,854,300 1982^
5 The Ten Commandments Par. $962,850,000 $65,500,000 Tickets: 131,000,000 1956
6 Titanic Par. $943,342,300 $600,788,188 Tickets: 128,345,900 1997
7 Jaws Uni. $941,379,300 $260,000,000 1975
8 Doctor Zhivago MGM $912,395,600 $111,721,910 1965
9 The Exorcist WB $812,679,700 $232,671,011 1973^
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Dis. $801,150,000 $184,925,486 1937^
11 101 Dalmatians Dis. $734,391,800 $144,880,014 1961^
12 The Empire Strikes Back Fox $721,627,700 $290,475,067 1980^
13 Ben-Hur MGM $720,300,000 $74,000,000 1959
14 Return of the Jedi Fox $691,336,700 $309,306,177 1983^
15 The Sting Uni. $655,200,000 $156,000,000 1973
16 Raiders of the Lost Ark Par. $647,842,600 $242,374,454 1981^
17 Jurassic Park Uni. $633,612,900 $357,067,947 1993
18 The Graduate AVCO $628,949,700 $104,901,839 1967^
19 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $623,469,700 $431,088,301 1999
20 Fantasia Dis. $610,369,600 $76,408,097 1941^
26 Avatar Fox $558,456,800 $551,741,499 Tickets: 75,980,500 2009
28 The Dark Knight WB $545,973,300 $533,345,358 2008

Box office sales figures Source:

1 Titanic Par. $600,788,188 1997
2 Avatar Fox $551,741,499 2009
3 The Dark Knight WB $533,345,358 2008
4 Star Wars Fox $460,998,007 1977^
5 Shrek 2 DW $441,226,247 2004
6 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Uni. $435,110,554 1982^
7 Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Fox $431,088,301 1999
8 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest BV $423,315,812 2006
9 Spider-Man Sony $403,706,375 2002
10 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen P/DW $402,111,870 2009
11 Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Fox $380,270,577 2005
12 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King NL $377,027,325 2003
13 Spider-Man 2 Sony $373,585,825 2004
14 The Passion of the Christ NM $370,782,930 2004^
15 Jurassic Park Uni. $357,067,947 1993
16 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers NL $341,786,758 2002^
17 Finding Nemo BV $339,714,978 2003
18 Spider-Man 3 Sony $336,530,303 2007
19 Forrest Gump Par. $329,694,499 1994
20 The Lion King BV $328,541,776 1994^

Now what's interesting is that Avatar placed 26th after you figure inflation, yet 2nd on the box office list passing TDK. However, Titanic is 6th on the ticket list and of course #1 on the box office. The Dark Knight just recently fell to the 3rd slot in the box office is 28th now once you figure in for inflation. Movies with the "^" mark denotes a re-release so that does skew things a bit. It's possible Avatar can climb the ladder in actual tickets sold, but it's too early to tell. Comments?

edited: added Avatar and TDK to inflation list. Added a few estimated tickets to list.

Edited, Jan 25th 2010 4:42pm by ShadowedgeFFXI

Edited, Jan 25th 2010 4:50pm by ShadowedgeFFXI

If it doesn't happen, we're left with just one option. While we can talk about PlayStation 4 as a mid-range PC in a miniature box, to comprehensively best the console's most powerful elements, once again it seems likely that PC owners will need more money to brute-force their way through to improved performance.

#2 Jan 25 2010 at 5:17 PM Rating: Decent
Needs More Smut
19,496 posts
People spend way too much @#%^ing money on movies.
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#3 Jan 26 2010 at 3:35 PM Rating: Good
472 posts
catwho wrote:
People spend way too much @#%^ing money on movies.

Really? It's one of the few things I can buy without ever feeling guilty. Well... there was Ice Princess. I felt guilty...

Boy. Did I feel guilty.
Edited for a lack of creativity.
#4 Jan 27 2010 at 1:06 PM Rating: Excellent
Liberal Conspiracy

I understand why lists like this are created: we like to rank things and compare and all that. But by all practical measures these lists are useless other than for entertainment and trivia. Would Gone With the Wind have sold as many tickets if it was made in an era of video players? For that matter, would ET have sold as many tickets in an era of cheap DVD players and giant TVs? Should a movie that had seventy years of re-releases when the only time each generation could see it was at the theater be compared to a film from 2008 where, if you don't feel like seeing it today, you'll wait a couple months and get it via Netflix?

I'd say obviously not. Which isn't to say that Gone With the Wind wasn't a groundbreaking film or that Avatar is better (from a story/plot/character standpoint, there's a heap of better movies than Avatar). Just that you can't take much from these lists.
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Wow. Regular ol' Joph fan club in here.
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