The following is a list of the highest grossing movies of all time after being adjusted for inflation. This list gives a more accurate depiction of which movies were the most successful since movie theater ticket prices have increased greatly over time. The movies that made the list are from several different decades and it shows that a wide variety of movie genres have been very popular over the years.
10) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This 1937 animated film was produced by Walt Disney. The film had a budged of just under $1.5 million and in total has made approximately $1,746,100,000. This timeless story was adapted from the German fairy tale created by the Brothers Grimm and it was Disney’s first full length feature production. The movie has resulted in a Broadway musical, a theme park attraction and a video game. The 11th Academy Awards gave Walt Disney an honorary Oscar for the film and the American Film Institute named Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the “greatest American animated film of all time” in 2008. Disney utilized the money he made off of this movie to build what is today’s Walt Disney Studios.
Jaws was a 1975 summer blockbuster based on Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws. The movie made $1,945,100,000. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and the story centers on a massive man-eating great white shark that kills swimmers who go in the waters of Amity Island. Eventually a police chief (Roy Scheider), marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and shark hunter (Robert Shaw) join forces to try and kill the menacing shark that is terrorizing the local waters. The film is notorious for its ominous music that warns of the shark’s presence. Jaws won 3 Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing and Best Sound. John William’s music in the movie also won an additional Grammy Award and Golden Globe Award.
8) Doctor Zhivago
The 1965 romantic-drama film Doctor Zhivago was based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel of the same name. The initial book had to be smuggled out of the U.S.S.R. in order to be published as the government was not accepting of the work. The book itself was a New York Times best-seller for 26 weeks mostly due to it being seen as an anti-communist symbol. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 5 for: Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction. Doctor Shivago was also awarded 5 Golden Globes.
7) The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments is a retelling of the story of Moses (played by Charlton Heston) based on the Bible. This film was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and was released in 1956. In total, when adjusted for inflation, the movie would have made $2,098,600,000. The movie is over 3.5 hours long and was the most expensive film made up to that time ($13.27 million). The film was nominated for 7 Academy Awards but only won one for Best Special Effects – perhaps due to the scene where Moses parts the Red Sea. In 1999 The Ten Commandments was picked to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry through the Library of Congress because of its historical, cultural and aesthetic significance.
6) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
This 1982 science fiction movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg made $2,216,800,000 and only had a $10.5 million budget. The story centers on an alien who is accidentally left behind by his ship. A young boy named Elliot encounters the alien, who becomes known as “E.T.,” and the two become friends. They have to hide E.T. from the government and Elliot’s mother while trying to find a way to get E.T. home. The film was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 4: Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. At the 40th Golden Globe Awards, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial won Best Picture (Drama category) and Best Score.
5) The Sound of Music
The Sound of Music, which was released to theaters in 1965, is an American musical film that was directed by Robert Wise. When adjusted for inflation, The Sound of Music made $2,269,800,000. The film stars Julie Andrews as Maria – a trouble-causing would-be nun at an Abbey in Austria. She is called upon to watch over the seven children of a widowed naval captain. The film revolves around the tension between the strict captain and the easygoing Maria as well as the family’s eventual fleeing from the Nazis. The film won 5 Academy Awards, including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Music. Additionally, it received five Oscars and two Golden Globes.
The 1997 romance-disaster film, Titanic, drew crowds to the theaters and raked in $2,413,800,000 in revenue. Director James Cameron created an emotional film in which Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) fall in love during the ship’s ill-fated journey across the Atlantic Ocean. At the time it was created, Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made – having an approximate budget of $200 million. The movie won four Golden Globes and was nominated for 14 Academy Awards. It won a record-tying eleven Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song, Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Sound Effects Editing.
3) Star Wars
The 1977 hit space movie Star Wars: A New Hope pulled in a remarkable $2,710,800,000 and has had a massive cult following ever since. The movie solidly placed creator and director George Lucas on the map as one of the greatest names in the industry. Star Wars is so popular that it has seen comic books, video and computer games, books and television series created based off of it. This film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 7 of them for Art Direction-Set Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music, Sound, Visual Effects and a Special Achievement Award. Star Wars is often thought to be one of the best science fiction films ever created. There have been a total of 6 Star Wars films and Star Wars Episode VII is set to be released sometime in 2015.
This 2009 blockbuster science fiction action film, which was directed and written by James Cameron, grossed an astonishing $2,782,300,000. Filming was supposed to begin back in 1997, but James Cameron decided that the technology necessary to fulfill his vision were not yet available. The film is set in the mid-22nd century and centers on the theme that Earth has used up all of its natural resources and has now taken to mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on a planet named Pandora. Human activities on Pandora put them at odds with the native Na’vi humanoids that live there. Avatar won three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Motion Picture in the drama category.
1) Gone with the Wind
This classic romance story was based on the 1936 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell. The film was released in 1939 and took in an all-time high $3,301,400,000 when adjusted for inflation. This movie is set during the Civil war and tells the tale of the beautiful Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and her strong desire to marry a man named Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). Later in the film Scarlett realizes her true love for Rhett Butler (Clarke Gable) and marries him, but the marriage does not work out. At the 1940 Academy Awards, Gone with the Wind was nominated 13 times and won 10 Academy Awards. Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as Mammy.