Avatar is Highest Grossing Movie of All Time…Or is It?

26 01 2010

Avatar is getting a lot of attention today – well, more attention than usual today – since it beat the all time box office record, becoming the highest grossing movie of all time.  With $1.839 billion dollars, Avatar eeked out Titanic from the top spot, the previous record holder with $1.835 billion.  It seems likely that Avatar will eventually hit the $2 billion mark.  While it still has about $39 million dollars left to go in order to beat the US domestic record (Titanic has $600 million, Avatar currently has $561 million), this seems pretty likely too.

While I think Avatar deserves this huge success, I think things should be put into perspective.  With an average ticket price of $7.35, more expensive 3D ticket prices, and the $15+ for IMAX tickets, Avatar has a sizable advantage over previous films.  So, accounting for inflation, what movie really is the king of the box office?  And where does Avatar stand?

Let’s go back to 1939…when the average ticket price was $0.23.  The year Gone with the Wind was released.  Adjusting for inflation, Gone with the Wind has made $1,485,028,000 domestically…just shy of Avatar‘s world-wide gross!  Rounding out the top 3: Star Wars ($1,309,179,000) and The Sound of Music ($1,046,753,000).  Titanic is in sixth place with $943,342,300 and Avatar…currently holds the #26 spot!  Click here for a complete list.

I don’t mean to rain on Avatar‘s parade…I just think it’s interesting to consider – Does it seem right that, one day, 100 years from now when tickets are $35, a movie like Saw LXXXIII could break all records…just because the tickets are more expensive?

Well, congrats to Avatar and to James Cameron, who now has two movies topping the box office.  Let’s see how the Avatar sequels do!

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What do you think?  Is Avatar deserving of the top spot?  Should inflation even be considered?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

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4 responses

26 01 2010
Jayson Peters

It certainly is the grossest display of Papyrus font of all time.

26 01 2010
Dustin

Ha! I just had a conversation about Avatar‘s use of Papyrus with my coworkers…all that money spent and they couldn’t come up with a new font!

26 01 2010
Cassandra Okamoto

Is there anywhere that totals the number of tickets actually sold vs. the dollars those tickets brought in? I guess that would TRULY depict how worthy your movie was by exactly how many people went to see it. But I guess there is always population inflation too right? ha not only a lot more money floating around this world but a lot more people too.

27 01 2010
Dustin

I think the way it works is: since the gross amount for Gone with the Wind has been adjusted for inflation, you would just divide $1,485,028,000 by the current average ticket price ($7.35) and that would give you the total number of tickets sold…so, in essence, measuring overall gross (adjusted for inflation) is equivalent to number of tickets sold…I think 😉

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