The highest-grossing movies (adjusted for inflation)
All this talk about Avatar racing toward Titanic's record as the highest-grossing movie of all time made me wonder: If these movies (and many others) were released the same year, which would really be the biggest money maker?
Well, the results are surprising. Thanks to Box Office Mojo, you can actually see how these movies stack up when you adjust them for inflation. For example, when I saw Star Wars back in 1977, the average price for a ticket was $2.23. Today, the average price is $7.35.
So, here's the list: (^ indicates multiple releases)
|Rank||Title (click to view)||Adjusted Gross||Unadjusted Gross||Year^|
|1||Gone with the Wind||$1,485,028,000||$198,676,459||1939^|
|3||The Sound of Music||$1,046,753,000||$158,671,368||1965|
|4||E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial||$1,042,629,400||$435,110,554||1982^|
|5||The Ten Commandments||$962,850,000||$65,500,000||1956|
|10||Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs||$801,150,000||$184,925,486||1937^|
|12||The Empire Strikes Back||$721,627,700||$290,475,067||1980^|
|14||Return of the Jedi||$691,336,700||$309,306,177||1983^|
|16||Raiders of the Lost Ark||$647,842,600||$242,374,454||1981^|
|19||Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace||$623,469,700||$431,088,301||1999|
So, as you can see, Avatar is nowhere to be found, but Titanic is.
The way this is calculated is through estimated number of tickets sold. For Star Wars, the number of estimated tickets is 178,119,600.
Here are the estimated tickets sold for Titanic and Avatar:
|Rank||Title (click to view)||Studio||Est. Tickets||Unadjusted Gross||Year^|
It makes you realize that while Titanic did indeed sell a lot of tickets, Avatar is making most of its money from higher ticket prices -- both from inflation and the higher cost of the IMAX and 3-D format.
If Avatar were released the same year as Star Wars, it would only have grossed $135,844,900 instead of $441,024,441. (As of 1/13/09.)
Either way, James Cameron and George Lucas are both very wealthy. And they both make pretty good movies.