ByD.M. Anderson, writer at Creators.co
Writer, reviewer, loves life in the dark. freekittensmovieguide.blogspot.com
D.M. Anderson

In terms of all time domestic box office revenue, James Cameron's Avatar is currently the biggest movie of all time, grossing over $700 million. However, one must take two things in consideration. First, much of that film's profit came from inflated 3-D ticket prices (generally $3.00 more than a regular 2D film). Second, the average price of a movie ticket in 2009 was $7.50.

In terms of the actual number of tickets sold, the all-time champ is Gone with the Wind, followed closely by the original Star Wars. GWTW was first released back in 1939 when the average price of admission was a quarter and a lot more people went to the movies on a regular basis. It was also re-released in theaters several times, which happened often in the years before television.

Star Wars fans initially paid an average of $2.23 to see it in 1977 (many of them returning to theaters more than once). Subsequent re-releases boosted its numbers, especially the 'Special Edition' in 1997, adding another $100 million+ to its total (pretty amazing when you consider the film was already widely available on home video for over a decade).

But if the admission price was the same for every movie ever made, Avatar is only 14th. To put this in perspective, using today's current average ticket costs, Gone with the Wind has out-grossed Avatar by nearly a billion dollars.

So what's the point? Aside from weekend box-office tallies and subsequent ads touting how much cash these films are raking in, we tend to forget there was once a time you could go to the movies just by sifting through your living room couch for loose change. Today, the average ticket price for a film is $8.12 (From the $10+ admission price at first-run megaplexes down to to cheaper second-run theaters). Ignoring viewers waiting until movies are available on-demand, on disc or through streaming services (or flat-out illegally downloading), if adjusted for inflation, the results are much different.

NOTE: The following lists are based on totals compiled by BoxOfficeMojo.com, generally considered the most accurate and definitive box office reporting source. Also, since worldwide numbers adjusted for inflation are unavailable, these are all domestic (U.S.) totals.

THE 10 BIGGEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME (Straight Box Office Earnings, as of this writing):

1. Avatar
2. Titanic
3. Marvel's The Avengers
4. Jurassic World*
5. The Dark Knight
6. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
7. Star Wars
8. Avengers: Age of Ultron*
9. The Dark Knight Rises
10. Shrek 2

*currently still in wide release

THE 10 BIGGEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME (Adjusted for Inflation, and a more accurate account of how many people actually paid to see them):

1. Gone with the Wind
2. Star Wars
3. The Sound of Music
4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
5. Titanic
6. The Ten Commandments
7. Jaws
8. Doctor Zhivago
9. The Exorcist
10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Just for fun, the following is a list the biggest films in specific genres, both straight box office and adjusted for inflation. Obviously, some films listed here could arguably fall within multiple genres. For example, Star Wars could be considered science fiction, fantasy or action, but for the sake of this list, I've chosen to designate it strictly as science fiction, the genre it's most-associated with.

BIGGEST ACTION FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: FURIOUS 7
Adjusted for Inflation: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

BIGGEST ANIMATED FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: SHREK 2
Adjusted for Inflation: SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS

BIGGEST DISNEY FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE LION KING
Adjusted for Inflation: SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS

BIGGEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: STAR WARS
Adjusted for Inflation: STAR WARS

BIGGEST HORROR FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE SIXTH SENSE
Adjusted for Inflation: THE EXORCIST

BIGGEST ZOMBIE FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: WORLD WAR Z
Adjusted for Inflation: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

BIGGEST SUPERHERO FILM
Total Domestic Box Office: MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS
Adjusted for Inflation: MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS

BIGGEST SEQUEL:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE DARK KNIGHT
Adjusted for Inflation: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

BIGGEST SECOND SEQUEL:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Adjusted for Inflation: RETURN OF THE JEDI

BIGGEST WESTERN:
Total Domestic Box Office: TRUE GRIT (2010)
Adjusted for Inflation: BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

BIGGEST COMEDY:
Total Domestic Box Office: HOME ALONE
Adjusted for Inflation: THE STING

BIGGEST JAMES BOND MOVIE
Total Domestic Box Office: SKYFALL
Adjusted for Inflation: THUNDERBALL

BIGGEST MUSICAL
Total Domestic Box Office: CHICAGO
Adjusted for Inflation: THE SOUND OF MUSIC

BIGGEST REMAKE/REBOOT
Total Domestic Box Office: ALICE IN WONDERLAND (2010)
Adjusted for Inflation: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

BIGGEST CRIME DRAMA:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE FUGITIVE
Adjusted for Inflation: THE GODFATHER

BIGGEST "BEST PICTURE" OSCAR WINNER
Total Domestic Box Office: TITANIC
Adjusted for Inflation: GONE WITH THE WIND

BIGGEST WAR FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: AMERICAN SNIPER
Adjusted for Inflation: THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI

BIGGEST FANTASY FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART 2
Adjusted for Inflation: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

BIGGEST R-RATED FILM:
Total Domestic Box Office: THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST
Adjusted for Inflation: THE EXORCIST

Obviously, these statistics have nothing to do with a film's quality . Furthermore, the actual box office numbers for films released prior to 1939 are mostly unavailable, meaning it's entirely possible the total box office take of Disney's first full-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, could actually be even bigger than the numbers available through re-releases. This also means films as iconic as 1933's King Kong and 1931's Dracula may have very-well been the Jaws and Twilight of their day, financially speaking.

from FREE KITTENS MOVIE GUIDE

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