10 biggest movies of all time based on people purchasing tickets

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by StephenT, Oct 28, 2001.

  1. StephenT

    StephenT Stunt Coordinator

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    People always complain, and rightly so, that top 10 lists based on gross are misleading. I found this list in The Washington Times today. It's based on number of tickets purchased. The source is "The Top 10 of Everything." If it's accurate, I think it should be the definitive list. It's interesting and at times surprising. What do others think?
    These are the 10 biggest movies of all time at the U.S. box office, measured in terms of people purchasing tickets.
    1. "Gone With the Wind" -- 208 million
    2. "Star Wars" -- 199 million
    3. "The Sound of Music" -- 171 million
    4. "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" -- 152 million
    5. "The Ten Commandments" -- 133 million
    6. "The Jungle Book" -- 126 million
    7. "Titanic" -- 124 million
    8. "Jaws" -- 123.3 million
    9. "Doctor Zhivago" -- 122.7 million
    10. "101 Dalmatians" -- 120 million
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    Stephen
     
  2. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Here's top 100. This is based on BoxOffice Mojo's adjusted grosses, which should accomplish the same thing. They've adjusted everything to 2001's $5.60 average ticket price. There are some differences, so who's to say which is right. But it does give some food for thought. It's obvious that the Lucas and Spielberg Juggernaut has brought in a lot of people.
    1. Gone With the Wind
    2. Star Wars
    3. The Sound of Music
    4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
    5. The Ten Commandments
    6. Jaws
    7. Titanic
    8. Doctor Zhivago
    9. The Jungle Book
    10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
    11. Ben-Hur
    12. 101 Dalmatians
    13. The Exorcist
    14. The Empire Strikes Back
    15. Return of the Jedi
    16. The Sting
    17. Raiders of the Lost Ark
    18. Jurassic Park
    19. The Graduate
    20. The Phantom Menace
    21. Fantasia
    22. The Godfather
    23. Forrest Gump
    24. Mary Poppins
    25. Grease
    26. The Lion King
    27. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    28. Sleeping Beauty
    29. Ghostbusters
    30. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
    31. Bambi
    32. Independence Day
    33. Love Story
    34. Beverly Hills Cop
    35. Home Alone
    36. Pinocchio
    37. Cleopatra
    38. Airport
    39. American Graffiti
    40. The Robe
    41. Around the World in 80 Days
    42. Blazing Saddles
    43. Batman
    44. The Bells of St. Mary's
    45. The Towering Inferno
    46. National Lampoon's Animal House
    47. The Greatest Show on Earth
    48. My Fair Lady
    49. Let's Make Love
    50. Back to the Future
    51. Superman
    52. Smokey and the Bandit
    53. THE SIXTH SENSE
    54. Tootsie
    55. West Side Story
    56. Lady and the Tramp
    57. Twister
    58. Rocky
    59. The Best Years of Our Lives
    60. The Poseidon Adventure
    61. Men in Black
    62. The Bridge Over the River Kwai
    63. Its' a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
    64. Swiss Family Robinson
    65. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    66. MASH
    67. Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom
    68. Mrs. Doubtfire
    69. Aladdin
    70. Ghost
    71. Duel in the Sun
    72. House of Wax
    73. Rear Window
    74. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
    75. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade
    76. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    77. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
    78. Sergeant York
    79. TOY STORY 2
    80. Top Gun
    81. Crocodile Dundee
    82. Saving Private Ryan
    83. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
    84. Young Frankenstein
    85. Peter Pan
    86. Gremlins
    87. Every Which Way But Loose
    88. Funny Girl
    89. The Fugitive
    90. The Caine Mutiny
    91. Toy Story
    92. Jaws 2
    93. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    94. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
    95. Dances With Wolves
    96. Kramer vs. Kramer
    97. Armageddon
    98. Three Men and a Baby
    99. Psycho
    100. CAST AWAY
    [Edited last by Alex Spindler on October 28, 2001 at 02:05 PM]
     
  3. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Keep in mind that children's tickets are cheaper, which is why a straight "adjusted gross" doesn't quite equal number of tickets sold.
    Let's not even consider cases like TPM, where some theaters avoiding paying Lucas his harsher percentage by ticketing people for other films officially. Not sure what kind of effects things like that have on these lists and I'm sure we will never really know.
     
  4. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Thanks for the list, Stephen and Alex! MUCH more interesting and useful than the revenue numbers bandied about today, which don't take into account ticket price inflation.
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    [Edited last by RobertR on October 28, 2001 at 04:33 PM]
     
  5. David Ren

    David Ren Stunt Coordinator

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    Were there even 200 million people in the USA when Gone with the Wind came out?
    David Ren
     
  6. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    It's also interesting when you consider things like number of theaters. Nowadays it's rather simple and convenient to find a theater relatively close to where you live.
    However in 1939 when 'Gone with the Wind' was released it wasn't so easy. All of those people who saw that film had to make a genuine effort to get to a theater.
    They also didn't have the matinee structure quite like they do today (matinees were ususally limited to Saturday) which meant that it was mostly just one showing a day at night!
    My grandma told me the story of how she and my grandpa had to plan a whole day of it. Drive from their small far town into Cincinatti to see the showing Saturday night, stand in line for hours to buy tickets(and this was still the depression, wasn't it?) just to see it.
    That's what I call and event picture.
     
  7. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Don't forget that they are counting reissues as well. It would be interesting if the "new classics" will get reissues in the future. I would love for films like Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption, and the Silence of the Lambs to get a rerelease in theaters.
    But that does beg the question. With the caliber of home theaters available at this time, along with the upcoming availabilty of widescreen digital displays, do you think newer old movies will have a market for reissue? Or do you think the home theater will be enough?
    I wonder how well the showings of Holy Grail has done in light of the special edition release on DVD.
     
  8. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I like this much more than the box ofice total which means little because of the inflation factor. I guessed right that Gone With The Wind would be number one.
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  9. Dave Barth

    Dave Barth Stunt Coordinator

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    While the population factor is certainly much less than the inflation factor, don't forget that what you'd really want is per capita ticket sales, if you wanted an idea of the fraction of people who went to a certain movie.
     
  10. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I think if you used the per capita standard, Dave, then that makes Gone With the Wind even more of a colossal hit, by far the most popular movie ever.
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  11. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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  12. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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  13. Jeff Behlendorf

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    I think there's something wrong with that top 100 list. It puts "West Side Story" at #55. But I myself saw it 130 million times which would put it in the top 10... Oh wait. That's right, when it went citywide from it's exclusive engagement I only paid once each morning when I went in. Damn, if I'd known 40 years later it would make a difference I would have gone out and come back in and paid for each viewing.
    OK I'll concede the list is probably accurate, but for the record 30 million of those paid admissions for "Gone With The Wind" were me.
     
  14. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    Hmm. Does that make Star Wars better than Gone With The Wind as it's way younger and hasn't been re-released nearly as often, and there was TV to contend with in those days?
    Actually going by that I'd guess that Titanic may be the clear winner being the youngest and never (to my knowledge) ever having been re-released.
    Now I want to see a comparison based on sales for the initial release only... [​IMG]
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  15. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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  16. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Ticket sales is the best way to measure how a film did. Inflation aside, big event film like "Gone With the Wind" cost more to see in their opening engagement (before they went to popular prices). A film opening in the 60's could cost $5.00 -$6.00 and run for a year before opening wide for $2.00 a ticket.
    "Gone With The Wind" was re-released many times so the inflation factor isn't enough since each re-release had a different ticket price.
    Children's film most likely had matinee prices and played on a double bill (many Disney films did this) And one adult may have accompanied two or more children(3+ tickets), where as only two adults (2 tickets) would attend a PG or R rated film
     
  17. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    For Gone with the Wind, don't forget to factor in repeat viewings and re-releases. That's why there were only 130 million people in the U.S. and 200 million tickets sold.
     
  18. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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