A look at the biggest box office winners of all time | Movies
If not for the current COVID-19 pandemic, Hollywood would be starting to roll out its biggest blockbusters right now. Instead, everything from “A Quiet Place Part II” to “Mulan” to “Black Widow” has been pushed back to a later date. Now more than ever, viewers facing the difficult circumstances of isolation or quarantine could benefit from a reprieve or distraction. Maybe some are looking for the spectacular, the kind of movie that takes place in a massive wait before raking in billions at the box office. Or maybe there are people who just want to revisit a classic like “The Graduate,” which redefined cinema and made big bucks in the process.
Whatever the motivation, there are over 100 years of cinematic history to choose from. We could go back to the silent era to find big-budget entertainment, in films like Buster Keaton’s “The General” or Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis”. Each decade since has delivered its own version of pure movie magic, creating big productions and big effects with big budgets. Then there are the smaller films that could do it: mid-budget films that captured the zeitgeist and thus reached the top of the box office.
Because box office numbers matter more than ever, it can cast the cinema medium in an unnecessarily competitive light. On the other hand, a number of the big box office winners in history happen to be great films. Therefore, one could use gross earnings as a kind of barometer, especially when going through bygone eras. After all, it takes strong word of mouth and a passionate fanbase to be successful, and that’s usually correlated with a certain level of quality.
Using data from Box Office Mojo in April 2020, Stacker compiled a list of the 100 biggest box office winners of all time. It covers the entire history of cinema and is based solely on gross domestic box office, with earnings adjusted for ticket price inflation. While the list is predictably packed with musicals, historical epics, comic book adaptations, and franchises, it also occasionally features heartbreaking dramas, classic comedies, or jaw-dropping horrors. Here are the biggest box office winners of all time.
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