It’s a complicated business, determining what are, in real terms, the highest-grossing films of all time. Any idiot knows that “Star Wars” was a bigger box office hit than “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” – but if you go by unadjusted figures, the latter took in more dollars at the box office.
So my point is – the unadjusted box office figures can be considered somewhat useless as more recent films will always have an unfair advantage. (although if you are interested- here is the unadjusted list).
There are a lot of factors involved in trying to level out the box office takings – not just inflation – but also foreign exchange rate fluctuations and different prices for say an IMAX or 3D ticket. So there will be some disagreement when it comes to formulating a list of the highest-grossing films that have been adjusted for inflation.
1. Gone With The Wind
While there is some debate about the other’s exact placings on this list, few argue that this is the number one. This 1939 MGM classic has an adjusted gross of $3,301 million wordwide gross. Starring Clark Gable and Vivien Lee, this epic romance went on to win 10 Academy awards and continues to hold a fond place in popular culture.
Ever so slightly different to the number 1 movie, James Cameron’s “Avatar” was released in 2009 and has a gross adjusted figure of $2,782 million. A groundbreaking 3D, visually stunning, CGI-laden hit that won over critics and audiences alike. Also top of the list of highest grossing films, where figures have not been adjusted. Two sequels are planned.
3. Star Wars
Has ever a film (or series of) been made that has had such a widespread and deep effect on popular culture? I doubt it. Anyway, the original 1977 masterpiece from George Lucas has earned $2,710 million. How will the Disney-run sequels perform??
Another one from James Cameron, released in 1997 $2,414 million and 11 Oscars in the bag. Re-released in 2012 to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the Belfast-built ship’s sinking.