Monday, February 01, 2010

Avatar is Actually the 21st Biggest Movie

The truth behind the numbers. Here's another take on Avatars box office success.

Here's the Top 20 movies of all time ... by number of tickets sold:

1 "Gone With the Wind" (1939) 202,044,600
2 "Star Wars" (1977) 178,119,600
3 "The Sound of Music" (1965) 142,415,400
4 "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) 141,854,300
5 "The Ten Commandments" (1956) 131,000,000
6 "Titanic" (1997) 128,345,900
7 "Jaws" (1975) 128,078,800
8 "Doctor Zhivago" (1965) 124,135,500
9 "The Exorcist" (1973) 110,568,700
10 "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) 109,000,000
11 "101 Dalmatians" (1961) 99,917,300
12 "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) 98,180,600
13 "Ben-Hur" (1959) 98,000,000
14 "Return of the Jedi" (1983) 94,059,400
15 "The Sting" (1973) 89,142,900
16 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) 88,141,900
17 "Jurassic Park" (1993) 86,205,800
18 "The Graduate" (1967) 85,571,400
19 "Star Wars: Episode I" (1999) 84,825,800
20 "Fantasia" (1941) 83,043,500

"Avatar," despite topping the worldwide gross list it is only No. 21 on the ticket sales list with 79,859,600 sold to date. We'll have to see where it stands at the end of it's run, but it still has a ways to go.

If you base box office success on monetary profit, then not only do you have to deal with inflation, but you also have to deal with the fact that 3D movies cost significantly more per ticket then traditional movies.

5 comments:

Jeremy said...

These things make me think about all sorts of other data related questions. In 1940 the population was 132,164,569, and in 2010 it will be over 300,000,000. But in 1940, what were the other options competeing for entertainment dollars? There was no TV, no 3 hr lost premiere, no TIVO...

I'm wondering what the best method or metric for comparing relative success of movies produced in entirely different cultures is?

Jeremy said...

I just realized, that Gone With The Wind sold more tickets than there were people that were counted in the census.

Total ticket sales must be international. I wonder how certian movies or genres are recieved elsewhere?

Jeremy said...

The link says that ticket sales are domestic. I guess gone With The Wind generated significant repeat viewers.

DK said...

Also the chart notes specify that this includes sales from multiple releases.

Gone with the wind has been re-released in theaters 7 times since it's premiere.

That being said, recent movies have theoretical potential to move up the list decades later. The Star Wars trilogy and Disney movies have benefits tremendously I imagine.

I'm more interested in your question about metrics for comparing relative success in different cultures... you got the gears turning with that one. :)

DK said...

Man, this seems complicated enough just to compare relative success within a single culture across time, much less across cultures. :P