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Monday, July 06, 2009

Box Office Mojo has listed the top grossing movies of all time as adjusted for inflation.

If you really want to gauge cultural impact, you'd have to adjust the list further according to US population at the time -- when GONE WITH THE WIND hit theaters, the country was half the size it is now. But this is a heck of a lot better than the un-adjusted list.



Hey, any list that doesn't have the last two Pirates of the Caribbean in the top 40 is good enough for me!

This list does make a lot more sense, though. Looking at the unadjusted, most of the movies in the top 25 were from the last ten years, and a good many of them were absolute crap which made money simply on the strength of the name brand. Speaking of which, of the top 25 unadjusted, only three of the films were from wholly original screenplays not based on anything else. In the adjusted, it's 13.

The question is, what does it all mean?

By Blogger Tim W., at 3:18 PM  

Technically, if it is "cultural impact" you are trying to gauge, you should also adjust for the fact that in 1939 the only way to see the movie was in the cinema, whereas today you've got DVD, TV, the Internet etc...

By Blogger kris, at 10:41 AM  

It's already adjusted as these are all Box Office numbers and don't account for TV, DVD, VOD, VHS, and any other acronym you can come up with that represents an outlet for movies.

But kris makes a good point that this chart points more accurately to the cultural impact of the theater experience for a certain movie more so than an individual movie's "impact." Who hasn't seen Shawshank Redemption on TNT a thousand times? Domestic gross on that film was only about $28M, yet everyone and their mother has seen it and loves it.

Of course that was based on Stephen King's work and as Tim W asks, What does that all mean? It means that film studios have bought into a self-fulfilling prophecy that says only movies with "brand awareness" built in are worth making and, more importantly, marketing. Movie stars used to be the "brand" but those days are long gone. It will all shift though as these players crumble and independent productions pick up the slack with Internet distribution.

By Blogger Matt, at 1:54 PM  

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