List of highest-grossing films

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A screencap of the title card from the trailer of Gone with the Wind.
Gone with the Wind held the record of highest-grossing film for twenty-five years and, adjusted for inflation, has earned more than any other film.

Films generate income from several revenue streams, including theatrical exhibition, home video, television broadcast rights, and merchandising. However, theatrical box-office earnings are the primary metric for trade publications in assessing the success of a film, mostly because of the availability of the data compared to sales figures for home video and broadcast rights, but also because of historical practice. Included on the list are charts of the top box-office earners (ranked by both the nominal and real value of their revenue), a chart of high-grossing films by calendar year, a timeline showing the transition of the highest-grossing film record, and a chart of the highest-grossing film franchises and series. All charts are ranked by international theatrical box-office performance where possible, excluding income derived from home video, broadcasting rights, and merchandise.

Traditionally, war films, musicals, and historical dramas have been the most popular genres, but franchise films have been among the best performers of the 21st century. There is strong interest in the superhero genre, with ten films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring among the nominal top-earners. The most successful superhero film, Avengers: Endgame, is also the second-highest-grossing film on the nominal earnings chart, and there are four films in total based on the Avengers comic books charting in the top twenty. Other Marvel Comics adaptations have also had success with the Spider-Man and X-Men properties, while films based on Batman and Superman from DC Comics have generally performed well. Star Wars is also represented in the nominal earnings chart with five films, while the Jurassic Park franchise features prominently. Although the nominal earnings chart is dominated by films adapted from pre-existing properties and sequels, it is headed by Avatar, which is an original work. Animated family films have performed consistently well, with Disney films enjoying lucrative re-releases prior to the home-video era. Disney also enjoyed later success with films such as Frozen and Frozen II, Zootopia, and The Lion King (with its computer-animated remake as the highest-grossing animated film), as well as its Pixar brand, of which Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3 and 4, and Finding Dory have been the best performers. Beyond Disney and Pixar animation, the Despicable Me, Shrek, and Ice Age series have met with the most success.

While inflation has eroded the achievements of most films from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, there are franchises originating from that period that are still active. Besides the Star Wars and Superman franchises, James Bond and Godzilla films are still being released periodically; all four are among the highest-grossing franchises. Some of the older films that held the record of highest-grossing film still have respectable grosses by today's standards, but no longer compete numerically against today's top-earners in an era of much higher individual ticket prices. When those prices are adjusted for inflation, however, then Gone with the Wind—which was the highest-grossing film outright for twenty-five years—is still the highest-grossing film of all time. All grosses on the list are expressed in U.S. dollars at their nominal value, except where stated otherwise.

Highest-grossing films

A portrait of a middle aged man with greying hair.
Three of the four highest-grossing films, including Avatar at the top, were written and directed by James Cameron.

With a worldwide box-office gross of over $2.9 billion, Avatar is proclaimed to be the "highest-grossing" film, but such claims usually refer to theatrical revenues only and do not take into account home video and television income, which can form a significant portion of a film's earnings. Once revenue from home entertainment is factored in, it is not immediately clear which film is the most successful. Titanic earned $1.2 billion from video and DVD sales and rentals,[1] in addition to the $2.2 billion it grossed in theaters. While complete sales data are not available for Avatar, it earned $345 million from the sale of sixteen million DVD and Blu-ray units in North America,[2] and ultimately sold a total of thirty million DVD and Blu-ray units worldwide.[3] After home video income is accounted for, both films have earned over $3 billion each. Television broadcast rights will also substantially add to a film's earnings, with a film often earning the equivalent of as much as 20–25% of its theatrical box office for two television runs, on top of pay-per-view revenues;[4] Titanic earned a further $55 million from the NBC and HBO broadcast rights,[1] equating to about 9% of its North American gross.

When a film is highly exploitable as a commercial property, its ancillary revenues can dwarf its income from direct film sales.[5] The Lion King (1994) earned over $2 billion in box-office and home video sales,[1] but this pales in comparison to the $8 billion earned at box offices around the world by the stage adaptation.[6] Merchandising can be extremely lucrative too: The Lion King also sold $3 billion of merchandise,[7] while Pixar's Cars—which earned $462 million in theatrical revenues and was only a modest hit by comparison to other Pixar films[8]—generated global merchandise sales of over $8 billion in the five years after its 2006 release.[9][10] Pixar had another huge hit with Toy Story 3, which generated almost $10 billion in merchandise retail sales in addition to the $1 billion it earned at the box office.[11]

On this chart, films are ranked by the revenues from theatrical exhibition at their nominal value, along with the highest positions they attained. Six films in total have grossed in excess of $2 billion worldwide, with Avatar ranked in the top position. All of the films have had a theatrical run (including re-releases) in the 21st century, and films that have not played during this period do not appear on the chart because of ticket-price inflation, population size and ticket purchasing trends not being considered.

  † Background shading indicates films playing in the week commencing 19 April 2024 in theaters around the world.
TThe totals given for Titanic at Box Office Mojo and The Numbers are both incorrect. Prior to the 2023 re-release, the totals at both trackers were inflated above the true figure.
  • As of 2019, Box Office Mojo correctly recorded that Titanic had grossed $1.843 billion on its original release, $344 million from its 3D reissue in 2012, and a further $692,000 from a limited release in 2017 for a lifetime total of $2.187 billion.[13] Following a limited re-release in 2020, Box Office Mojo incorrectly added $7 million to the original release total.[14] By the end of 2021, Box Office Mojo had corrected the original release total, but added the $7 million figure to both the 2012 and 2017 reissue totals, incorrectly increasing the lifetime total by $14 million to $2.202 billion.[15] At the beginning of 2023, Box Office Mojo corrected the total for the 2017 reissue, bringing the lifetime gross down to $2.195 billion, but retained the error in the 2012 reissue.[16]
  • The Numbers does not log individual releases, but had the lifetime total recorded as $2.186 billion in September 2014 (roughly equating to $1.843 billion for the original release and $343.6 million for the 3D reissue).[17] A couple of weeks later, The Numbers increased the lifetime gross to $2.208 billion, without explanation.[18]

FBox Office Mojo stopped updating its main total for Frozen in August 2014, while it was still in release. The total listed here incorporates subsequent earnings in Japan, Nigeria, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany up to the end of 2015 but omits earnings in Turkey, Iceland, Brazil, and Australia (2016), which amount to a few hundred thousand dollars. The total is rounded to $1 million to compensate for the numerical inaccuracy. It was re-released in the United Kingdom in December 2017 with the featurette Olaf's Frozen Adventure, earning an additional $2.3 million.

F8In the case of The Fate of the Furious the gross is from an archived version of Box Office Mojo, after irregularities were discovered in the current figure. Ongoing weekly drops in the totals for several countries—Argentina being the worst affected—led to a drop in the overall worldwide total.[19] In view of what appears to be an aberration in the source, a previous figure is provided.

RKThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King saw its original gross corrected in early 2020. The result of this correction is that Spider-Man: Far From Home, Captain Marvel and Transformers: Dark of the Moon all peaked one place lower than shown in the accompanying source.

TS3Box Office Mojo revised the grosses for Pixar films in August 2016, resulting in the gross for Toy Story 3 being corrected from $1.063 billion to $1.067 billion.[20][21] This means that it peaked at number 4 at the end of its run, ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, rather than at number 5 as indicated by the source.

Highest-grossing films adjusted for inflation

A map of the world with different regions colored in correlating to inflation rates
Inflation rates around the world vary, complicating inflation adjustment.

Because of the long-term effects of inflation, notably the significant increase of movie theater ticket prices, the list unadjusted for inflation gives far more weight to later films.[22] The unadjusted list, while commonly found in the press, is therefore largely meaningless for comparing films widely separated in time, as many films from earlier eras will never appear on a modern unadjusted list, despite achieving higher commercial success when adjusted for price increases.[23] To compensate for the devaluation of the currency, some charts make adjustments for inflation, but not even this practice fully addresses the issue, since ticket prices and inflation do not necessarily parallel one another. For example, in 1970, tickets cost $1.55 or about $6.68 in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars; by 1980, prices had risen to about $2.69, a drop to $5.50 in inflation-adjusted 2004 dollars.[24] Ticket prices have also risen at different rates of inflation around the world, further complicating the process of adjusting worldwide grosses.[22]

Another complication is release in multiple formats for which different ticket prices are charged. One notable example of this phenomenon is Avatar, which was also released in 3D and IMAX: almost two-thirds of tickets for that film were for 3D showings with an average price of $10, and about one-sixth were for IMAX showings with an average price over $14.50, compared to a 2010 average price of $7.61 for 2D films.[25] Social and economic factors such as population change[26] and the growth of international markets[27][28][29] also have an effect on the number of people purchasing theater tickets, along with audience demographics where some films sell a much higher proportion of discounted children's tickets, or perform better in big cities where tickets cost more.[23]

The measuring system for gauging a film's success is based on unadjusted grosses, mainly because historically this is the way it has always been done because of the practices of the film industry: the box-office receipts are compiled by theaters and relayed to the distributor, which in turn releases them to the media.[30] Converting to a more representative system that counts ticket sales rather than gross is also fraught with problems because the only data available for older films are the sale totals.[26] As the motion picture industry is highly oriented towards marketing currently released films, unadjusted figures are always used in marketing campaigns so that new blockbuster films can much more easily achieve a high sales ranking, and thus be promoted as a "top film of all time",[24][31] so there is little incentive to switch to a more robust analysis from a marketing or even newsworthy point of view.[30]

Despite the inherent difficulties in accounting for inflation, several attempts have been made. Estimates depend on the price index used to adjust the grosses,[31] and the exchange rates used to convert between currencies can also affect the calculations, both of which can have an effect on the ultimate rankings of an inflation adjusted list. Gone with the Wind—first released in 1939—is generally considered to be the most successful film, with Guinness World Records in 2014 estimating its adjusted global gross at $3.4 billion. Estimates for Gone with the Wind's adjusted gross have varied substantially: its owner, Turner Entertainment, estimated its adjusted earnings at $3.3 billion in 2007, a few years earlier than the Guinness estimate;[32] other estimates fall either side of this amount, with one putting its gross just under $3 billion in 2010,[33] while another provided an alternative figure of $3.8 billion in 2006.[34] Which film is Gone with the Wind's nearest rival depends on the set of figures used: Guinness had Avatar in second place with $3 billion, while other estimates saw Titanic in the runner-up spot with first-run worldwide earnings of almost $2.9 billion at 2010 prices.[33]

Highest-grossing films as of 2022 adjusted for inflation[35][Inf]
Rank Title
Worldwide gross
(2022 $)
1 Gone with the Wind $4,204,000,000 1939
2 Avatar A1$3,834,000,000 2009
3 Titanic $2,516,000,000T$3,495,000,000 1997
4 Star Wars $3,453,000,000 1977
5 Avengers: Endgame AE$3,174,000,000 2019
6 The Sound of Music $2,892,000,000 1965
7 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $2,823,000,000 1982
8 The Ten Commandments $2,673,000,000 1956
9 Doctor Zhivago $2,534,000,000 1965
10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens TFA$2,498,000,000 2015

InfInflation adjustment is carried out using the Consumer price index for advanced economies published by the International Monetary Fund.[36] The index is uniformly applied to the grosses in the chart published by Guinness World Records in 2014, beginning with the 2014 index. The figures in the above chart take into account inflation that occurred in 2014, and in every available year since then, through 2022.

A1The adjusted gross for Avatar includes revenue from the original release and all four reissues. The original release and 2010 Special Edition grosses are adjusted from the Guinness base year, whilst the 2020 and 2021 grosses are adjusted from the 2021 index and the 2022 gross from 2022.[37]

TGuinness' adjusted total for Titanic only increased by $102,000,000 between the 2012 (published in 2011) and 2015 editions, a rise of 4.2% shared by the other adjusted totals in the chart, and omitted the gross from a 3D re-release in 2012.[35][38] This chart incorporates the gross of $343,550,770 from the reissue and adjusts it from the 2013 index.[39] Titanic grossed a further $762,994 during limited re-releases in 2017 and 2020, but this sum is not represented in the adjusted total.[40]

AEThe gross for Avengers: Endgame is adjusted from the 2020 index.

TFAThe gross for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is adjusted from the 2016 index.

High-grossing films by year

Box-office figures are reported in either gross revenue or distributor rentals, the latter being especially true of older films. Commonly mistaken for home video revenue, distributor rentals are the distributor's share of the film's theatrical revenue (i.e. the box office gross less the exhibitor's cut).[41][42] Historically, the rental price averaged at 30–40% when the distributors owned the theater chains, equating to just over a third of the gross being paid to the distributor of the film.[43] In the modern marketplace, rental fees can vary greatly—depending on a number of factors—although the films from the major studios average out at 43%.[41]

Audience tastes were fairly eclectic during the 20th century, but several trends did emerge. During the silent era, films with war themes were popular with audiences, with The Birth of a Nation (American Civil War), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Big Parade and Wings (all World War I) becoming the most successful films in their respective years of release, with the trend coming to an end with All Quiet on the Western Front in 1930. With the advent of sound in 1927, the musical—the genre best placed to showcase the new technology—took over as the most popular type of film with audiences, with 1928 and 1929 both being topped by musical films. The genre continued to perform strongly in the 1930s, but the outbreak of World War II saw war-themed films dominate again during this period, starting with Gone with the Wind (American Civil War) in 1939, and finishing with The Best Years of Our Lives (World War II) in 1946. Samson and Delilah (1949) saw the beginning of a trend of increasingly expensive historical dramas set during Ancient Rome/biblical times throughout the 1950s as cinema competed with television for audiences,[44] with Quo Vadis, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur and Spartacus all becoming the highest-grossing film of the year during initial release, before the genre started to wane after several high-profile failures.[45] The success of White Christmas and South Pacific in the 1950s foreshadowed the comeback of the musical in the 1960s with West Side Story, Mary Poppins, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music and Funny Girl all among the top films of the decade. The 1970s saw a shift in audience tastes to high concept films, with six such films made by either George Lucas or Steven Spielberg topping the chart during the 1980s. The 21st century has seen an increasing dependence on franchises and adaptations, with the box-office dominance of films based on pre-existing intellectual property at record levels.[46]

A portrait of a bespectacled middle aged man.
Films directed by Steven Spielberg have been the highest-grossing film of the year on six occasions, and on three occasions have been the highest-grossing film of all time.

Steven Spielberg is the most represented director on the chart, with six films to his credit, occupying the top spot in 1975, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1989 and 1993. Cecil B. DeMille (1932, 1947, 1949, 1952 and 1956) is in second place with five films and William Wyler (1942, 1946, 1959 and 1968) and James Cameron (1991, 1997, 2009 and 2022) are tied for third place with four films. D. W. Griffith (1915, 1916 and 1920), George Roy Hill (1966, 1969 and 1973) and the Russo brothers (2016, 2018 and 2019) all feature heavily with three films apiece. George Lucas directed two chart-toppers in 1977 and 1999, but also served in a strong creative capacity as a producer and writer in 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984 and 1989 as well. The following directors have also all directed two films on the chart: Frank Lloyd, King Vidor, Frank Capra, Michael Curtiz, Leo McCarey, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lean, Stanley Kubrick, Guy Hamilton, Mike Nichols, William Friedkin, Peter Jackson, Gore Verbinski, and Michael Bay; Mervyn LeRoy, Ken Annakin and Robert Wise are each represented by one solo credit and one shared credit, and John Ford co-directed two films. Disney films are usually co-directed and some directors have served on several winning teams: Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske, Clyde Geronimi, David Hand, Ben Sharpsteen, Wolfgang Reitherman and Bill Roberts have all co-directed at least two films on the list. Only seven directors have topped the chart in consecutive years: McCarey (1944 and 1945), Nichols (1966 and 1967), Spielberg (1981 and 1982), Jackson (2002 and 2003), Verbinski (2006 and 2007) and the Russo brothers (2018 and 2019).

Because of release schedules—especially in the case of films released towards the end of the year—and different release patterns across the world, many films can do business in two or more calendar years; therefore the grosses documented here are not confined to just the year of release. Grosses are not limited to original theatrical runs either, with many older films often being re-released periodically so the figures represent all the business a film has done since its original release; a film's first-run gross is included in brackets after the total if known. Because of incomplete data it cannot be known for sure how much money some films have made and when they made it, but generally the chart chronicles the films from each year that went on to earn the most. In the cases where estimates conflict both films are recorded, and in cases where a film has moved into first place because of being re-released the previous record-holder is also retained.

  † Background shading indicates films playing in the week commencing 19 April 2024 in theaters around the world.
High-grossing films by year of release[47][48][49]
Year Title Worldwide gross Budget Ref
1915 The Birth of a Nation $50,000,000100,000,000
$20,000,000+R ($5,200,000)R
$110,000 [# 84][# 85][# 86]
1916 Intolerance $1,750,000R IN $385,907 [50][51]
1917 Cleopatra $500,000*R $300,000 [# 87][# 88]
1918 Mickey $8,000,000 $250,000 [# 89]
1919 The Miracle Man $3,000,000R $120,000 [# 90]
1920 Way Down East $5,000,000R ($4,000,000)R $800,000 [# 91][# 92]
1921 The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse $5,000,000R ($4,000,000)R $600,000800,000 [# 93]
1922 Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood $2,500,000R $930,042.78 [# 94][# 95]
1923 The Covered Wagon $5,000,000R $800,000 [# 96][# 97]
1924 The Sea Hawk $3,000,000R $700,000 [# 96]
1925 The Big Parade $18,000,00022,000,000R
$382,000 [# 98][# 99][# 100]
Ben-Hur $10,738,000R ($9,386,000)R $3,967,000 [# 101][# 102]
1926 For Heaven's Sake $2,600,000R FH $150,000 [# 91][# 103]
1927 Wings $3,600,000R $2,000,000 [# 91][# 104][# 105]
1928 The Singing Fool $5,900,000R $388,000 [# 105][# 106]
1929 The Broadway Melody $4,400,0004,800,000R $379,000 [# 107][# 108]
Sunny Side Up $3,500,000*R SS $600,000 [# 109][# 110]
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front $3,000,000R $1,250,000 [# 91][# 111][# 112][# 113]
1931 Frankenstein $12,000,000R ($1,400,000)R $250,000 [# 114][# 115]
City Lights $5,000,000R $1,607,351 [# 116]
1932 The Sign of the Cross $2,738,993R $694,065 [# 97][# 117][# 118][# 119]
1933 King Kong $5,347,000R ($1,856,000)R $672,255.75 [# 120]
I'm No Angel $3,250,000+R $200,000 [# 121][# 122]
Cavalcade $3,000,0004,000,000R $1,116,000 [# 92][# 112]
She Done Him Wrong $3,000,000+R $274,076 [# 123][# 124][# 125]
1934 The Merry Widow $2,608,000R $1,605,000 [# 126][# 118]
It Happened One Night $2,500,000R ON $325,000 [# 127][# 128]
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty $4,460,000R $1,905,000 [# 118]
1936 San Francisco $6,044,000+R ($5,273,000)R $1,300,000 [# 126][# 118]
1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs $418,000,000+S7 ($8,500,000)R $1,488,423 [# 129][# 130]
1938 You Can't Take It with You $5,000,000R $1,200,000 [# 131][# 132]
1939 Gone with the Wind $390,525,192402,352,579
($32,000,000)R GW
$3,900,0004,250,000 [# 133][# 134][# 135][# 136][# 137]
1940 Pinocchio $87,000,862* ($3,500,000)R $2,600,000 [# 138][# 130][# 139]
Boom Town $4,600,000*R $2,100,000 [# 140][# 141]
1941 Sergeant York $7,800,000R $1,600,000 [# 142][# 143]
1942 Bambi $267,997,843 ($3,449,353)R $1,700,0002,000,000 [# 144][# 145][# 146]
Mrs. Miniver $8,878,000R $1,344,000 [# 147][# 148]
1943 For Whom the Bell Tolls $11,000,000R $2,681,298 [# 149][# 150][# 151]
This Is the Army $9,555,586.44*R $1,400,000 [# 152][# 153][# 151]
1944 Going My Way $6,500,000*R $1,000,000 [# 154][# 155][# 156]
1945 Mom and Dad $80,000,000MD/$22,000,000R $65,000 [# 157]
The Bells of St. Mary's $11,200,000R $1,600,000 [# 158]
1946 Song of the South $65,000,000* ($3,300,000)R $2,125,000 [# 159][# 160][# 161]
The Best Years of Our Lives $14,750,000R $2,100,000 [# 162][# 163]
Duel in the Sun $10,000,000*R $5,255,000 [# 154][# 164]
1947 Forever Amber $8,000,000R $6,375,000 [# 109][# 164]
Unconquered $7,500,000R UN $4,200,000 [# 165][# 166]
1948 Easter Parade $5,918,134R $2,500,000 [# 156][# 167]
The Red Shoes $5,000,000*R £505,581 (~$2,000,000) [# 154][# 168][# 169]
The Snake Pit $4,100,000*R $3,800,000 [# 170][# 171]
1949 Samson and Delilah $14,209,250R $3,097,563 [# 172][# 97]
1950 Cinderella $263,591,415
$2,200,000 [# 173][# 174][# 175]
King Solomon's Mines $10,050,000R $2,258,000 [# 176]
1951 Quo Vadis $21,037,00026,700,000R $7,623,000 [# 172][# 177][# 178]
1952 This Is Cinerama $50,000,000CI $1,000,000 [# 179][# 180]
The Greatest Show on Earth $18,350,000R GS $3,873,946 [# 181][# 182][# 97]
1953 Peter Pan $145,000,000 ($7,000,000)*R $3,000,0004,000,000 [# 183][# 184]
The Robe $25,000,00026,100,000R $4,100,000 [# 185][# 186][# 178]
1954 Rear Window $24,500,000* ($5,300,000)*R $1,000,000 [# 187][# 177]
White Christmas $26,000,050* ($12,000,000)*R $3,800,000 [# 188][# 189][# 190]
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea $25,000,134*
$4,500,0009,000,000 [# 191][# 192][# 154][# 193]
1955 Lady and the Tramp $187,000,000 ($6,500,000)*R $4,000,000 [# 194][# 154][# 195]
Cinerama Holiday $21,000,000CI $2,000,000 [# 196][# 197]
Mister Roberts $9,900,000R $2,400,000 [# 198]
1956 The Ten Commandments $90,066,230R
$13,270,000 [# 97][# 199][# 200]
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai $30,600,000R $2,840,000 [# 200]
1958 South Pacific $30,000,000R $5,610,000 [# 201]
1959 Ben-Hur $90,000,000R
$15,900,000 [# 202][# 203]
1960 Swiss Family Robinson $30,000,000R $4,000,000 [# 204]
Spartacus $60,000,000 ($22,105,225)R $10,284,014 [# 205][# 206]
Psycho $50,000,000+ ($14,000,000)R $800,000 [# 207]
1961 One Hundred and One Dalmatians $303,000,000 $3,600,0004,000,000 [# 194][# 208][# 146]
West Side Story $105,000,000 ($31,800,000)R $7,000,000 [# 209][# 210]
1962 Lawrence of Arabia $77,324,852 ($69,995,385) $13,800,000 [# 211][# 212]
How the West Was Won $35,000,000R $14,483,000 [# 213]
The Longest Day $33,200,000R $8,600,000 [# 210][# 212]
1963 Cleopatra $40,300,000R $31,115,000 [# 210][# 212]
From Russia with Love $78,900,000/$29,400,000R
$2,000,000 [# 214][# 215][# 216]
1964 My Fair Lady $55,000,000R $17,000,000 [# 217]
Goldfinger $124,900,000 ($46,000,000)R $3,000,000 [# 214][# 216]
Mary Poppins $44,000,000$50,000,000R $5,200,000 [# 218][# 217]
1965 The Sound of Music $286,214,076 ($114,600,000)R $8,000,000 [# 219][# 210]
1966 The Bible: In the Beginning $25,325,000R $18,000,000 [# 206][# 220]
Hawaii $34,562,222* ($15,600,000)*R $15,000,000 [# 221][# 154]
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? $33,736,689* ($14,500,000)*R $7,613,000 [# 222][# 154][# 223]
1967 The Jungle Book $378,000,000 ($23,800,000)R $3,900,0004,000,000 [# 194][# 224][# 225][# 146]
The Graduate $85,000,000R $3,100,000 [# 226][# 227]
1968 2001: A Space Odyssey $141,000,000190,000,000
$10,300,000 [# 228][# 210]
Funny Girl $80,000,000100,000,000 $8,800,000 [# 229][# 230]
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid $152,308,525 ($37,100,000)R $6,600,000 [# 231][# 210][# 227]
1970 Love Story $173,400,000 ($80,000,000)R $2,260,000 [# 232][# 233][# 234]
1971 The French Connection $75,000,000R $3,300,000 [# 109]
Fiddler on the Roof $49,400,000R
$9,000,000 [# 235][# 236]
Diamonds Are Forever $116,000,000 ($45,700,000)R $7,200,000 [# 214][# 215]
1972 The Godfather $246,120,974287,000,000
$6,000,0007,200,000 [# 237][# 236][# 238][# 239]
1973 The Exorcist $441,422,808 ($112,300,000)R $10,000,000 [# 240][# 241][# 242][# 243]
The Sting $115,000,000R $5,500,000 [# 244][# 245]
1974 The Towering Inferno $203,336,412 ($104,838,000)R $14,300,000 [# 246][# 247][# 248][# 243][# 249]
1975 Jaws $477,220,580 ($193,700,000)R $9,000,000 [# 250][# 251][# 252]
1976 Rocky $225,000,000 ($77,100,000)R $1,075,000 [# 253][# 254][# 236][# 255]
1977 Star Wars $775,398,007
$11,293,151 [# 256][# 257][# 236][# 258]
1978 Grease $396,271,103 ($341,000,000) $6,000,000 [# 259][# 260][# 226]
1979 Moonraker $210,308,099 $31,000,000 [# 261][# 214][# 262]
Rocky II $200,182,160 $7,000,000 [# 263][# 264][# 262]
1980 The Empire Strikes Back $547,969,004 ($413,562,607)SW $23,000,00032,000,000 [# 265][# 266]
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark $389,925,971
$18,000,00022,800,000 [# 267]
1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $797,307,407
$10,500,00012,200,000 [# 268][# 269][# 257][# 270][# 271]
1983 Return of the Jedi $482,366,101 ($385,845,197)SW $32,500,00042,700,000 [# 272][# 266]
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom $333,107,271 $27,000,00028,200,000 [# 273][# 274][# 275]
1985 Back to the Future $389,225,789 ($381,109,762) $19,000,00022,000,000 [# 276][# 277]
1986 Top Gun $357,288,178 ($345,000,000) $14,000,00019,000,000 [# 278][# 279][# 274]
1987 Fatal Attraction $320,145,693 $14,000,000 [# 280][# 274]
1988 Rain Man $354,825,435 $30,000,000 [# 281][# 282]
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade $474,171,806494,000,000 $36,000,00055,400,000 [# 283][# 274][# 284]
1990 Ghost $505,870,681 ($505,702,588) $22,000,000 [# 285][# 274]
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day $523,774,456 ($519,843,345) $94,000,000 [# 286][# 287]
1992 Aladdin $504,050,219 $28,000,000 [# 288][# 146]
1993 Jurassic Park $1,037,535,230 ($912,667,947) $63,000,00070,000,000 [# 73]
1994 The Lion King $968,511,805 ($763,455,561) $45,000,00079,300,000 [# 289]
1995 Toy Story $373,554,033 ($364,873,776) $30,000,000 [# 290][# 291]
Die Hard with a Vengeance $366,101,666 $70,000,000 [# 292][# 293]
1996 Independence Day $817,400,891 $75,000,000 [# 294]
1997 Titanic $2,257,844,554 ($1,843,373,318) $200,000,000 [# 7]
1998 Armageddon $553,709,788 $140,000,000 [# 295][# 296]
1999 Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace $1,027,082,707 ($924,317,558) $115,000,000127,500,000 [# 78][# 266]
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 $546,388,108 $100,000,000125,000,000 [# 297][# 274]
2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone $1,009,046,830HP1 ($974,755,371) $125,000,000 [# 298]
2002 The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers $948,945,489 ($936,689,735) $94,000,000 [# 299]
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $1,147,997,407 ($1,140,682,011) $94,000,000 [# 50]
2004 Shrek 2 $928,961,330 $150,000,000 [# 300]
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire $896,346,413 ($895,921,036) $150,000,000 [# 301]
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest $1,066,179,747 $225,000,000 [# 67]
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End $960,996,492 $300,000,000 [# 302]
2008 The Dark Knight $1,007,336,937 ($997,039,412) $185,000,000 [# 303]
2009 Avatar $2,923,706,026 ($2,743,577,587) $237,000,000 [# 1]
2010 Toy Story 3 $1,066,970,811 $200,000,000 [# 65]
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 $1,342,139,727 ($1,341,511,219) $250,000,000HP8 [# 33]
2012 The Avengers $1,518,815,515 $220,000,000 [# 18]
2013 Frozen $1,290,000,000 ($1,287,000,000) $150,000,000 [# 38]
2014 Transformers: Age of Extinction $1,104,039,076 $210,000,000 [# 58]
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $2,068,223,624 $245,000,000 [# 9]
2016 Captain America: Civil War $1,153,337,496 ($1,153,296,293) $250,000,000 [# 47]
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi $1,332,539,889 $200,000,000 [# 35]
2018 Avengers: Infinity War $2,048,359,754 $316,000,000400,000,000 [# 11][# 304]
2019 Avengers: Endgame $2,797,501,328 $356,000,000 [# 3]
2020 Demon Slayer: Mugen Train $507,119,058 $15,750,000 [# 305]
2021 Spider-Man: No Way Home $1,921,847,111 ($1,912,233,593) $200,000,000 [# 13][# 306]
2022 Avatar: The Way of Water $2,320,250,281 $350,000,000460,000,000 [# 5][# 307][# 308]
2023 Barbie $1,445,638,421 $128,000,000145,000,000 [# 26]
2024 Dune: Part Two $696,640,680 $190,000,000 [# 309][# 310][# 311]

(...) Since grosses are not limited to original theatrical runs, a film's first-run gross is included in brackets after the total if known.

*Canada and U.S. gross only.

RDistributor rental.

TBATo be ascertained.

INNo contemporary sources provide figures for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, although The Numbers provides a figure of $8,000,000 for the North American box-office gross.[52] However, it is possible this figure has been mistaken for the gross of the 1954 remake which also earned $8,000,000 in North American rentals.[53]

FHSome sources such as The Numbers state that Aloma of the South Seas is the highest grossing film of the year, earning $3 million.[54] However, no contemporary sources provide figures for Aloma of the South Seas, so it is unclear what the $3 million figure relates to. If it were the rental gross then that would have made it not only the highest-grossing film of the year, but one of the highest-grossing films of the silent era, and if that is the case it would be unusual for both International Motion Picture Almanac and Variety to omit it from their lists.

SSIt is not clear if the figure for Sunny Side Up is for North America or worldwide. Other sources put its earnings at $2 million,[55] which may suggest the higher figure is the worldwide rental, given the confusion over international figures during this period.[56]

ONThe figure for It Happened One Night is not truly representative of its success: it was distributed as a package deal along with more than two dozen other Columbia films, and the total earnings were averaged out; the true gross would have been much higher.[57]

S7Snow White's $418 million global cume omits earnings outside of North America from 1987 onwards.

GWIt is not absolutely clear how much Gone with the Wind earned from its initial release. Contemporary accounts often list it as earning $32 million in North American rentals and retrospective charts have often duplicated this claim; however, it is likely this was the worldwide rental figure. Trade journals would collate the data by either obtaining it from the distributors themselves, who were keen to promote a successful film, or by surveying theaters and constructing an estimate. Distributors would often report the worldwide rental since the higher figure made the film appear more successful, while estimates were limited to performance in North America; therefore it was not unusual for worldwide and North American rentals to be mixed up. Following the outbreak of World War II, many of the foreign markets were unavailable to Hollywood so it became standard practice to just report on North American box-office performance.[56] In keeping with this new approach, the North American rental for Gone with the Wind was revised to $21 million in 1947 ($11 million lower than the previous figure),[58] and as of 1953—following the 1947 re-release—Variety was reporting earnings of $26 million.[59] Through 1956, MGM reported cumulative North American earnings of $30,015,000 and foreign earnings of $18,964,000, from three releases.[60] Worldwide rentals of $32 million from the initial release is consistent with the revised figures and later reported worldwide figures: they indicate that the film earned $21 million in North America and $11 million overseas from the initial release, and added a further $9 million in North America and $8 million overseas from subsequent re-releases up to 1956.

MDMom and Dad does not generally feature in 'high-gross' lists such as those published by Variety due to its independent distribution. Essentially belonging to the exploitation genre, it was marketed as an educational sex hygiene film in an effort to circumvent censorship laws. Falling foul of the Motion Picture Production Code, Mom and Dad was prevented from obtaining mainstream distribution and restricted to independent and drive-in theaters. It was the biggest hit of its kind, and remained in continual distribution until the 1970s when hardcore pornography eventually took over. At the end of 1947 it had earned $2 million, and by 1949, $8 million; by 1956 it had earned $22 million in rentals, representing a gross of $80 million, and would have easily placed in the top ten films in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Estimates of its total earnings are as high as $100 million.

UNChopra-Gant stipulates that the figure given for Unconquered is for North American box-office, but as was common at the time, the chart confuses worldwide and North American grosses. Other sources state that the takings for Forever Amber ($8 million) and Life with Father ($6.5 million)[61] were in fact worldwide rental grosses, so it is possible this is also true of Unconquered.

CIThe Cinerama figures represent gross amounts. Since the Cinerama corporation owned the theaters there were no rental fees for the films, meaning the studio received 100% of the box-office gross, unlike the case with most other films where the distributor typically receives less than half the gross. Since Variety at the time ranked films by their U.S. and Canadian rental, they constructed a hypothetical rental figure for the Cinerama films to provide a basis for comparison to other films in their chart: in the case of This Is Cinerama, the $50 million worldwide gross was reconfigured as a $12.5 million U.S. rental gross; this is exactly 25% of the amount reported by Cinerama, so Variety's formula seemingly halved the gross to obtain an estimate for the U.S. share, and halved it again to simulate a rental fee.[62] All five Cinerama features collectively generated $120 million in worldwide box office receipts.[63]

GSVariety put the worldwide rental for The Greatest Show on Earth at around $18.35 million (with $12.8 million coming from the United States[53]) a year after its release; however, Birchard puts its earnings at just over $15 million up to 1962. It is likely that Birchard's figure is just the North American gross rental, and includes revenue from the 1954 and 1960 reissues.

SWThe "first run" Star Wars grosses do not include revenue from the 1997 special-edition releases; however, the figure does include revenue from the re-releases prior to the special editions.

HP1The Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone reissue totals recorded by Box Office Mojo for Brazil (2020), Italy (2021), Netherlands (2021) and South Korea (2021) have been deducted from the lifetime gross due to Box Office Mojo double-counting the original release grosses in those countries.

HP8Production costs were shared with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.

Timeline of highest-grossing films

The theatrical poster for The Birth of a Nation depicting a hooded man carrying a burning cross on horse back.
The Birth of a Nation pioneered many of the techniques used in filmmaking today, becoming the most successful film ever made at the time of its release.

At least eleven films have held the record of 'highest-grossing film' since The Birth of a Nation assumed the top spot in 1915. Both The Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind spent twenty-five consecutive years apiece as the highest-grosser, with films directed by Steven Spielberg and James Cameron holding the record on three occasions each. Spielberg became the first director to break his own record when Jurassic Park overtook E.T., and Cameron emulated the feat when Avatar broke the record set by Titanic. When it took over the top spot in 2019, Avengers: Endgame became the first sequel to hold the record of highest-grossing film, and in doing so interrupted thirty-six years of Spielberg/Cameron dominance before Avatar reclaimed the top spot two years later in 2021 upon a re-release.

Some sources claim that The Big Parade superseded The Birth of a Nation as highest-grossing film, eventually being replaced by Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which in turn was quickly usurped by Gone with the Wind.[64] Exact figures are not known for The Birth of a Nation, but contemporary records put its worldwide earnings at $5.2 million as of 1919.[65] Its international release was delayed by World War I, and it was not released in many foreign territories until the 1920s; coupled with further re-releases in the United States, its $10 million earnings as reported by Variety in 1932 are consistent with the earlier figure.[66] At this time, Variety still had The Birth of a Nation ahead of The Big Parade ($6,400,000) on distributor rentals and—if its estimate is correct—Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ($8,500,000)[67] would not have earned enough on its first theatrical run to take the record;[68] although it would have been the highest-grossing 'talkie',[69] displacing The Singing Fool ($5,900,000).[70] Although received wisdom holds that it is unlikely The Birth of a Nation was ever overtaken by a silent-era film,[71] the record would fall to 1925's Ben-Hur ($9,386,000) if The Birth of a Nation earned significantly less than its estimated gross.[72] In addition to its gross rental earnings through public exhibition, The Birth of a Nation played at a large number of private, club and organizational engagements which figures are unavailable for.[73] It was hugely popular with the Ku Klux Klan who used it to drive recruitment,[74] and at one point Variety estimated its total earnings to stand at around $50 million.[75] Despite later retracting the claim, the sum has been widely reported even though it has never been substantiated.[65] While it is generally accepted that Gone with the Wind took over the record of highest-grossing film on its initial release—which is true in terms of public exhibition—it is likely it did not overtake The Birth of a Nation in total revenue until a much later date, with it still being reported as the highest earner up until the 1960s.[73] Gone with the Wind itself may have been briefly overtaken by The Ten Commandments (1956), which closed at the end of 1960 with worldwide rentals of $58–60 million[76][77] compared to Gone with the Wind's $59 million;[78] if it did claim the top spot its tenure there was short-lived, since Gone with the Wind was re-released the following year and increased its earnings to $67 million. Depending on how accurate the estimates are, the 1959 remake of Ben-Hur may also have captured the record from Gone with the Wind: as of the end of 1961 it had earned $47 million worldwide,[79] and by 1963 it was trailing Gone with the Wind by just $2 million with international takings of $65 million,[80] ultimately earning $66 million from its initial release.[81]

The 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat reportedly earned as much as $600 million, a figure that may have been inflated by gangsters in money-laundering schemes.

Another film purported to have been the highest-grosser is the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat. In 1984, Linda Lovelace testified to a United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on juvenile justice that the film had earned $600 million;[82] this figure has been the subject of much speculation, since if it is accurate then the film would have made more money than Star Wars, and finished the 1970s as the highest-grossing film. The main argument against this figure is that it simply did not have a wide enough release to sustain the sort of sums that would be required for it to ultimately gross this amount.[83] Exact figures are not known, but testimony in a federal trial in 1976—about four years into the film's release—showed the film had grossed over $25 million.[84] Roger Ebert has reasoned it possibly did earn as much as $600 million on paper, since mobsters owned most of the adult movie theaters during this period and would launder income from drugs and prostitution through them, so probably inflated the box-office receipts for the film.[85]

The Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather, Jaws, Star Wars, E.T., and Avatar all increased their record grosses with re-releases. The grosses from their original theatrical runs are included here along with totals from re-releases up to the point that they lost the record; therefore the total for The Birth of a Nation includes income from its reissues up to 1940; the total for Star Wars includes revenue from the late 1970s and early 1980s reissues but not from the 1997 Special Edition; the total for E.T. incorporates its gross from the 1985 reissue but not from 2002. The total for Avatar's first appearance on the chart includes revenue from the 2010 Special Edition, which represents all of its earnings up to the point it relinquished the record, whereas its second appearance also incorporates revenue from a 2020 re-release in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the 2021 re-release in China which helped it to reclaim the record. Gone with the Wind is likewise represented twice on the chart: the 1940 entry includes earnings from its staggered 1939–1942 release (roadshow/​general release/​second-run)[86] along with all of its revenue up to the 1961 reissue prior to losing the record to The Sound of Music in 1966; its 1971 entry—after it took back the record—includes income from the 1967 and 1971 reissues but omitting later releases. The Godfather was re-released in 1973 after its success at the 45th Academy Awards, and Jaws was released again in 1976, and their grosses here most likely include earnings from those releases. The Sound of Music, The Godfather, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and Titanic have all increased their earnings with further releases, but they are not included in the totals here because they had already conceded the record prior to being re-released.

Timeline of the highest-grossing film record
Established Title Record-setting gross Ref
1915[64] The Birth of a Nation $5,200,000R [# 85]
1940 $15,000,000R [# 312]
1940[32] Gone with the Wind $32,000,000R [# 135]
1963 $67,000,000R [# 313]
1966[64] The Sound of Music $114,600,000R [# 210]
1971[64] Gone with the Wind $116,000,000R [# 314]
1972[64] The Godfather $127,600,000–142,000,000R [# 236][# 315]
1976[87][88] Jaws $193,700,000R [# 251]
1978[89][90] Star Wars $410,000,000/$268,500,000R [# 316][# 236]
1982 $530,000,000 [# 257]
1983[91] E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $619,000,000–664,000,000 [# 257][# 270]
1993 $701,000,000 [# 317]
1993[64] Jurassic Park $912,667,947 [# 73]
1998[92] Titanic $1,843,373,318 [# 7]
2010[93][94] Avatar $2,743,577,587 [# 1]
2019[95][96] Avengers: Endgame $2,797,501,328 [# 3]
2021[97] Avatar $2,847,397,339 [# 1]
2022 $2,923,706,026

RDistributor rental.

Includes revenue from re-releases. If a film increased its gross through re-releases while holding the record, the year in which it recorded its highest gross is also noted in italics.

Highest-grossing franchises and film series

Prior to 2000, only seven film series had grossed over $1 billion at the box office: James Bond,[98] Star Wars,[99] Indiana Jones,[100] Rocky,[101][102][103] Batman,[104] Jurassic Park,[105] and Star Trek.[106] Since the turn of the century, that number has increased to over ninety.[107] This is partly due to inflation and market growth, but it is also due to Hollywood's adoption of the franchise model: films that have built-in brand recognition such as being based on a well-known literary source or an established character. The methodology is based on the concept that films associated with things audiences are already familiar with can be more effectively marketed to them, and as such are known as "pre-sold" films within the industry.[108]

A franchise is typically defined to be at least two works derived from a common intellectual property. Traditionally, the work has a tautological relationship with the property, but this is not a prerequisite. An enduring staple of the franchise model is the concept of the crossover, which can be defined as "a story in which characters or concepts from two or more discrete texts or series of texts meet".[109] A consequence of a crossover is that an intellectual property may be utilized by more than one franchise. For example, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice belongs to not only the Batman and Superman franchises, but also to the DC Extended Universe, which is a shared universe. A shared universe is a particular type of crossover where a number of characters from a wide range of fictional works wind up sharing a fictional world.[110] The most successful shared universe in the medium of film is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a crossover between multiple superhero properties owned by Marvel Comics. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is also the highest-grossing franchise, amassing over $29 billion at the box office.

The Spider-Man films are the highest-grossing series based on a single property, earning over $10.5 billion at the box office (although the Eon James Bond films have earned over $19 billion in total when adjusted to current prices).[a] If ancillary income from merchandise is included, then Star Wars is the most lucrative property;[112] it holds the Guinness world record for the "most successful film merchandising franchise" and was valued at £19.51 billion (about $31 billion) in 2012.[113][114] The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had the most films gross over $1 billion, with ten. The four Avengers films, the two Frozen films, and the two Avatar films are the only franchises where each installment has grossed over $1 billion, although the Jurassic Park and Black Panther series have averaged over $1 billion per film.

 Background shading indicates that at least one film in the series is playing in the week commencing 19 April 2024 in theaters around the world.
Highest-grossing franchises and film series[§] (The films in each franchise can be viewed by selecting "show".)
Rank Series Total worldwide gross No. of films Average of films Highest-grossing film

SShared universes for which some properties also have their own entries.

*Canada and U.S. gross only.

RDistributor rental.

See also


  1. ^ Prior to the release of Spectre in 2015, the James Bond series had grossed approximately $17.7 billion at 2015 prices;[111] after factoring in earnings of over $1.6 billion from Spectre and No Time to Die, the series has earned at least $19.3 billion adjusted for inflation.


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  43. ^ Balio, Tino (2005). The American film industry. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-299-09874-2. Film Rentals as Percent of Volume of Business (1939): 36.4
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  45. ^ Hall & Neale 2010, p. 179. "Later epics proved far more disastrous for the backers. Samuel Bronston's The Fall of the Roman Empire, filmed in Spain, cost $17,816,876 and grossed only $1.9 million in America. George Stevens's long-gestating life of Christ, The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), which had been in planning since 1954 and in production since 1962, earned domestic rentals of $6,962,715 on a $21,481,745 negative cost, the largest amount yet spent on a production made entirely within the United States. The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966) was financed by the Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis from private investors and Swiss banks. He then sold distribution rights outside Italy jointly to Fox and Seven Arts for $15 million (70 percent of which came from Fox), thereby recouping the bulk of his $18 million investment. Although The Bible returned a respectable world rental of $25.3 million, Fox was still left with a net loss of just over $1.5 million. It was the last biblical epic to be released by any major Hollywood studio for nearly twenty years."
  46. ^ Williams, Trey (September 25, 2015). "Ridley Scott's latest 'Alien' announcement drives Hollywood's sequel problem". MarketWatch. Archived from the original on June 8, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
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  51. ^ Schickel, Richard (1996). D. W. Griffith: An American Life. Limelight Series. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 326. ISBN 978-0-87910-080-3. ...there exists a very precise production accountant's statement, drawn up some time after the picture was finished, previews had been held and release prints struck. This document shows that the negative cost of the picture was precisely $385,906.77...
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  53. ^ a b Finler 2003, p. 358
  54. ^ Milwaukee Magazine. Vol. 32. 2007. The year's top–grossing movie, Aloma made $3 million in the first three months and brought Gray back to Milwaukee for its opening at the Wisconsin Theatre.
  55. ^ Parkinson, David (2007). The Rough Guide to Film Musicals. Dorling Kindersley. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-84353-650-5. But they had previously succeeded in showing how musicals could centre on ordinary people with Sunny Side Up (1929), which had grossed $2 million at the box office and demonstrated a new maturity and ingenuity in the staging of story and dance.
  56. ^ a b Hall & Neale 2010, pp. 67. "For similar reasons of accountability, Variety has typically used figures for domestic (U.S. and Canadian) rather than worldwide revenue. This became its standard policy in 1940, when the advent of war in Europe persuaded the American film industry (temporarily, as it turned out) that it should be wholly reliant on the home market for profitability. Where specific rentals data are reported in Variety before this (which tended to be only sporadically) they were often for worldwide rather domestic performance. This was also the case with other trade sources, such as Quigley's annual Motion Picture Almanac, which published its own all-time hits lists from the early 1930s onward. The subsequent confusion of domestic and worldwide figures, and of rental and box-office figures, has plagued many published accounts of Hollywood history (sometimes including those in Variety itself), and we have attempted to be diligant in clarifying the differences between them."
  57. ^ McBride, Joseph (2011). Frank Capra: The Catastrophe of Success. University Press of Mississippi. p. 309. ISBN 978-1-60473-838-4. According to the studio's books It Happened One Night brought in $1 million in film rentals during its initial release, but as Joe Walker pointed out, the figure would have been much larger if the film had not been sold to theaters on a block-booking basis in a package with more than two dozen lesser Columbia films, and the total rentals of the package spread among them all, as was customary in that era, since it minimized the risk and allowed the major studios to dominate the marketplace.
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  61. ^ McDermott, Christine (2010), Life with Father, p. 307, No matter what the billing, the movie became a worldwide hit with $6.5 million in worldwide rentals, from Pappa och vi in Sweden to Vita col padre in Italy, although it booked a net loss of $350,000. In: Block & Wilson 2010.
  62. ^ Mulligan, Hugh A. (September 23, 1956). "Cinerama Pushing Ahead As Biggest Money-Maker". The Register-Guard. Eugene, Oregon. p. 7B.
  63. ^ Hall & Neale 2010, p. 145. "The commercial success of the five Cinerama travelogues, which earned an aggregate worldwide box-office gross of $120 million by 1962 (including $82 million in the United States and Canada), nevertheless demonstrated to the mainstream industry the market value of special screen formats."
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  65. ^ a b Wasko, Janet (1986). "D.W. Griffiths and the banks: a case study in film financing". In Kerr, Paul (ed.). The Hollywood Film Industry: A Reader. Routledge. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-7100-9730-9. Various accounts have cited $15 to $18 million profits during the first few years of release, while in a letter to a potential investor in the proposed sound version, Aitken noted that a $15 to $18 million box-office gross was a 'conservative estimate'. For years Variety has listed The Birth of a Nation's total rental at $50 million. (This reflects the total amount paid to the distributor, not box-office gross.) This 'trade legend' has finally been acknowledged by Variety as a 'whopper myth', and the amount has been revised to $5 million. That figure seems far more feasible, as reports of earnings in the Griffith collection list gross receipts for 1915–1919 at slightly more than $5.2 million (including foreign distribution) and total earnings after deducting general office expenses, but not royalties, at about $2 million.
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  68. ^ Block & Wilson 2010, p. 237. "By the end of 1938, it had grossed more than $8 million in worldwide rentals and was ranked at the time as the second-highest-grossing film after the 1925 epic Ben-Hur".
  69. ^ Finler 2003, p. 47. "Walt Disney took a big risk when he decided to invest $1.5 million in his first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It became the biggest hit of the sound era and the largest-grossing movie since The Birth of a Nation – until the release of independent producer David O. Selznick's Gone with the Wind just two years later."
  70. ^ Barrios, Richard (1995). A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. Oxford University Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-19-508811-3. Since it's rarely seen today, The Singing Fool is frequently confused with The Jazz Singer; although besides Jolson and a pervasively maudlin air the two have little in common. In the earlier film Jolson was inordinately attached to his mother and sang "Mammy"; here the fixation was on his young son, and "Sonny Boy" became an enormous hit. So did the film, which amassed a stunning world-wide gross of $5.9 million...Some sources give it as the highest gross of any film in its initial release prior to Gone with the Wind. This is probably overstating it—MGM's records show that Ben-Hur and The Big Parade grossed more, and no one knows just how much The Birth of a Nation brought in. Still, by the standards of the time it's an amazing amount.
  71. ^ Everson, William K. (1998) [First published 1978]. American silent film. Da Capo Press. p. 374. ISBN 978-0-306-80876-0. Putting The Birth of a Nation in fifth place is open to question, since it is generally conceded to be the top-grossing film of all time. However, it has always been difficult to obtain reliable box-office figures for this film, and it may have been even more difficult in the mid-1930s. After listing it until the mid-1970s as the top-grosser, though finding it impossible to quote exact figures, Variety, the trade journal, suddenly repudiated the claim but without giving specific details or reasons. On the basis of the number of paid admissions, and continuous exhibition, its number one position seems justified.
  72. ^ Hall & Neale 2010, p. 163. "MGM's silent Ben-Hur, which opened at the end of 1925, had out-grossed all the other pictures released by the company in 1926 combined. With worldwide rentals of $9,386,000 on first release it was, with the sole possible exception of The Birth of a Nation, the highest-earning film of the entire silent era."
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  76. ^ Klopsch, Louis; Sandison, George Henry; Talmage, Thomas De Witt (1965). Christian Herald. Vol. 88. p. 68. Yet "The Ten Commandments" has earned 58 million dollars in film rentals and is expected to bring in 10 to 15 million each year it is reissued.
  77. ^ Hall & Neale 2010, pp. 160–161. "General release began at normal prices in 1959 and continued until the end of the following year, when the film was temporarily withdrawn (the first of several reissues came in 1966). The worldwide rental by this time was around $60 million. In the domestic market it dislodged Gone with the Wind from the number one position on Variety's list of All-Time Rentals Champs. GWTW had hitherto maintained its lead through several reissues (and was soon to regain it through another in 1961)."
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