While scrolling through my RSS feeds over the last few days I’ve noticed that it seems every other article is some journalist raving about the record-setting Box Office of Avatar. James Cameron’s epic has earned its way into the number two spot in the all-time worldwide box office, behind his other blockbuster Titanic. People’s minds are blown as Avatar seems to be on pace to be the highest grossing film of all-time. That’s a big deal, right?
I love the site Box Office Mojo because it has an All-Time Box Office Adjusted for Inflation page. It takes the Box Office totals from every film ever released and adjusts their prices based on inflation for a given year. Essentially it tabulates Box Office totals based on number of tickets sold rather than total money earned. It only makes sense to tabulate totals this way – can a film that cost a quarter per ticket in the 1940s ever compete with a 3-D film that costs $15.00 per ticket?
According to these estimates, Avatar is currently the 87th film overall in terms of number of tickets sold domestically. Gone with the Wind is the number one film of all-time with a staggering $1.485 billion dollar total. The rest of the top 5 includes Star Wars, The Sound of Music, E.T., and The Ten Commandments. Titanic misses out on the top 5 and comes in at number 6. Many of the films had the advantage of several releases (for instance many of the Disney movies), but most of the films enjoyed solid first releases.
It’s interesting looking at the films that have sold more tickets than Avatar. Most are certified classic films and Disney releases that have built in audiences. However, there are a few that may surprise you. The following are 10 interesting films that have sold more tickets than Avatar:
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Adjusted Gross: $395.5 million | Actual Gross: $40.36 million
Men in Black (1997)
Adjusted Gross: $401.43 million | Actual Gross: $250.69 million
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
Adjusted Gross: $410.96 million | Actual Gross: $317.56 million
My Fair Lady (1964)
Adjusted Gross: $441 million | Actual Gross: $72 million
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
Adjusted Gross: $461.17 million | Actual Gross: $21.33 million
Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Adjusted Gross: $493.56 million | Actual Gross: $234.76 million
Home Alone (1990)
Adjusted Gross: $497.85 million | Actual Gross: $285.76 million
The Dark Knight (2008)
Adjusted Gross: $545.97 million | Actual Gross: $533.35 million
Adjusted Gross: $565.37 million | Actual Gross: $188.39 million
101 Dalmatians (1961)
Adjusted Gross: $734.4 million | Actual Gross: $144.88 million
Check out Box Office Mojo for the full list. Avatar will likely continue to creep its way up to the list, but it’d be a shock if it cracked the top 20. Even if it made it into the top 40. So calm down with the Avatar rules all discussion.