Over the Christmas holidays I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens… twice. It was really good and I will be going back to see it for the third time before its original theatrical run ends.
It really is a good movie. And it looks like it’s going to break box-office records. But is it one of the best movies ever made?
Nope, it isn’t even close.
That’s what wrong with the headlines proclaiming Avatar to be the the biggest movie of all time, and Titanic and Jurassic World part of the top 10. In fact, based on domestic box-office, here are the top 10 domestic movies of all time:
#1 Avatar (2009 $760 million)
#2 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015 $740 million thru 1-3-16)
#3 Titanic (1997 $658 million)
#4 Jurassic World (2015 $652 million)
#5 The Avengers (2012 $623 million)
#6 The Dark Knight (2008 $534 million)
#7 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (1999 $474 million)
#8 Star Wars (1977 $460 million)
#9 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015 $459 million)
#10 The Dark Knight Rises (2012 $448 million)
Those are the current top 10 based on ticket sales in the US, current as of 1-3-16. The problem with this list is that it doesn’t reflect the number of tickets actually sold, it reflects on box-office dollars, not-adjusted for inflation. The actual number one movie of all time is 1939’s Gone With The Wind. The reason it doesn’t rank at #1 on this list is because the price of a movie ticket in 1939 was about a quarter. The current cost of a movie ticket (nation wide average) is about 8 bucks. So for Gone With The Wind to do the same amount of box office as The Force Awakens, it would have had to sell 32 tickets at 25 cents each to equal one ticket at today’s price of 8 bucks. You see where I’m going with this… I believe all lists of the most popular movies should be adjusted for inflation. Here is the list of the top 10 movies of all time, adjusted for inflation. And I really believe it better reflects the actual popularity of movies:
#1 Gone With The Wind (1939 Adjusted domestic gross $1.7 billion)
#2 Star Wars (1977 Adjusted domestic gross $ 1.5 billion)
#3 The Sound of Music (1965 Adjusted domestic gross $1.2 billion)
#4 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982 Adjusted domestic gross $1.2 billion)
#5 Titanic (1997 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
#6 The Ten Commandments (19566 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
#7 Jaws (1975 Adjusted domestic gross $1.1 billion)
#8 Doctor Zhivago (1965 Adjusted domestic gross $1.0 billion)
#9 The Exorcist ( 1975 Adjusted domestic gross $952 million)
#10 Snow White Seven Dwarfs (1937 Adjusted domestic gross $938 million)
I’ve seen all of the movies on both lists, several of them multiple times. I saw almost all of them in theaters (the exceptions being The Exorcist, Dr. Zhivago and The Ten Commandments, which I saw on Blu Ray or regular DVD). In spite of all of the hype surrounding The Force Awakens, it’s nothing compared to all of the hype surrounding Star Wars (1977) or the hype leading up to and including the release of Gone With The Wind in 1939 (according to what I’ve read and seen in documentaries) .What about Titanic?
Sure, Titanic was a good movie but was it really one of the top 5 in history?
I believe the multitudes of 13 year old girls swooning over Leonardo DiCaprio were the ones snapping up all of those movie tickets. But that was still enough to put Titanic at #5 on the top 10 after adjusting for ticket price and inflation, which still makes it impressive.
The Sound of Music certainly got a lot of hype when it was released and it seems like the music was coming out of speakers everywhere in 1965.
I played in band in Jr. High and High School and I believe at some point I’ve played every single song from the soundtrack.
The movie that I am least familiar with is Dr Zhivago. I’ve seen it a couple of times and I was aware of it’s popularity when the novel was published, and the movie was good but it was a very long movie about Russians, and a love affair taking place in the years leading up to and including the Bolshevik October Revolution in 1919 and I wasn’t quite in the “history phase” of my life yet. Not sure how this managed to make this list but I was a 13 year old male when the movie was released and I wasn’t exactly their target demographic. Otherwise this list seems pretty accurate.
Back to Star Wars: The Force Awakens… This is certainly the best Star Wars film I’ve seen since the original in 1977. I know there are many Star Wars fans who rank The Empire Strikes Back as the best of the series, but I had issues with it (that’s another blog), so even if Force Awakens passes Star Wars (1977) on the list of biggest box office ever, it will never pass Star Wars (1977) in adjusted gross.
Every time I see one of theses lists I want to correct them, and remind everyone that Gone With The Wind is really the biggest box office draw in history, and Star Wars (1977) is a close second! They will probably never be challenged.