I saw that The Dark Knight passed the $500 million mark at the domestic box office last weekend, which made the second highest grossing movie, after Titanic, in U.S. history. But those figures do not take inflation into account. Thankfully, Box Office Mojo has a list of the highest grossing movies that does. There, The Dark Knight ranks just 29th all time. The link will take you to the full list, but here's the top ten (parenthesis indicate the actual monetary total):
1)Gone With the Wind - $1,430,476,000 ($198,676,459)
2)Star Wars - $1,261,086,700 ($460,998,007)
3)The Sound of Music - $1,008,300,900 ($158,671,368)
4)E.T. - $1,004,328,700 ($435,110,554)
5)The Ten Commandments - $927,480,000 ($65,500,000)
6)Titanic - $908,688,900 ($600,788,188)
7)Jaws - $906,798,000 ($260,000,000)
8)Doctor Zhivago - $878,879,000 ($111,721,910)
9)The Exorcist - $782,826,200 ($232,671,011)
10)Snow White and the Seve Dwarfs - $771,720,000 ($184,925,486)
This is a nice reminder that in the background of every article about record receipts at the U.S. box office is the unspoken truth that rising ticket prices have an awful lot to do with it. If you just take the straight figures, seven of the ten highest grossing movies have been released in the last decade. Post-inflation, the number is zero (the highest ranking movie from the past ten years is Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at #19).
Some additional thoughts:
-I'm sure the Gone With the Wind figure factors in at least a couple rereleases, but think about how many people must have seen that movie to push it up to almost $200 million! During the depression! And the movie is four hours long! It's simply staggering.
-The movie I was most shocked to see on the list: Doctor Zhivago. I don't think I know anyone who's seen Doctor Zhivago. I certainly haven't.
-Movies that, adjusted for inflation, have grossed more than The Dark Knight: The Sting ($631.1 million), The Graduate ($605.8 million), and Grease ($544.6 million).
-Other surprising "super-blockbusters" (figures adjusted for inflation): The Bells of St. Mary - $444.2 million, Smokey and the Bandit - $402.3 The Best Years of Our Lives - $389.4 million, House of Wax - $357.7 million
Very interesting stuff. That Box Office Mojo always delivers. Again, full list here