The traditional box office charts have always seemed to miss the "big picture." A really big older movie is always being replaced by a so-so recent movie. Look at Titanic (number one) and Gone With The Wind (number sixty-six)! I know Titanic was big, but bigger than Gone With The Wind and E.T.? I don't think so.
The deck is stacked against older movies. I was in elementary school when E.T. came out—I know tickets were much less then (an average of $2.94)! And Gone With The Wind? Try $.24 for a ticket in 1939! Today's ticket prices include more than that in tax! (A $6 matinee ticket in Metro Atlanta includes about $.40 in tax.)
Well, guess what? At Box Office Mojo, I found an box office chart using adjusted ticket prices! Compare the top ten from the two lists:
Unadjusted Box Office Chart
1. Titanic; 2. Star Wars; 3. Shrek 2; 4. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; 5. Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace; 6. Spider-Man; 7. Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith; 8. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; 9. Spider-Man 2; 10. The Passion of the Christ
Adjusted Box Office Chart
1. Gone with the Wind; 2. Star Wars; 3. The Sound of Music; 4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial; 5. The Ten Commandments; 6. Titanic; 7. Jaws; 8. Doctor Zhivago; 9. The Exorcist; 10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
I bet the adjusted chart, though imperfect, much more closely reflects the "biggest" movies! (Though the standard chart accurately reflects what big industry movies are today!) Some of my favorites dropped down (the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies and The Passion, for example), and some of the biggies aren't "me" (like Dr. Zhivago). But that list seems fairer, somehow, as does Titanic's spot at number six.
Number twenty (Fantasia) on the adjusted list has an adjusted gross of $531,478,300, so the top twenty isn't likely to change soon. The bottom of the list, however, could change, since number one hundred, Saving Private Ryan, comes in at $292,781,300. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, for example, is already at $224,839,000, so current and future movies could certainly break into the top one hundred.