Eighty percent of the films in the top 50 highest grossing films of all-time were released after 2000, while no film prior to 1977 appears in the rankings because ticket-price inflation isn’t considered. To me, that’s not an accurate historical representation of which movies were most popular. So, after some digging, I found a chart based on data from boxofficemojo.com that ranks films using figures adjusted for ticket-price inflation, based on total box-office receipts. With Hollywood intent on the bottom line, it wouldn’t hurt major studios to consider remaking, modernizing, or “rebooting” these titles. Unless you’re a diehard film buff or are old enough to have actually seen these in the theater, chances are you’ve never heard of these cinematic sensations.
Sergeant York (1941)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 48,123,200
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $382,579,400
This is a 1941 biographical film about the life of Alvin York, the most-decorated American soldier of World War I. It was the highest-grossing film of the year, winning 2 Academy Awards – Best Actor and Best Film Editing – and nominated for Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Music, and Best Sound Recording.
House of Wax (1953)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 50,531,900
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $401,728,700
This 1953 horror film is a remake of 1933′s Mystery of the Wax Museum and was the first 3-D color feature from a major American studio and the second 3-D feature released by a major studio. It starred Vincent Price as a professor and devoted wax figure sculptor with a museum in 1910s New York. When his financial partner sets the museum on fire to claim the insurance money. He fights off Jarrod in the process, and splashes kerosene over his body, leaving him to die in the fire. Miraculously, Jarrod survives with severe injuries, and builds a new House of Wax with help from threatening deaf-mute sculptor played by Charles Bronson. There was a sh*tty remake starring Paris Hilton in 2005.
Duel in the Sun (1946)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 51,020,400
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $405,612,200
This 1946 Western tells the story of a half-Native American girl who goes to live with her Anglo relatives, becoming involved in prejudice and forbidden love.
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 53,875,400
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $428,309,600
The film won Oscars for Best Sound Editing and received Oscar nominations for its cinematography, film editing, sound recording, music score and title song. It also received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture and Best Actor.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 55,000,000
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $437,250,000
This is a 1946 drama about three servicemen trying to piece their lives back together after coming home from World War II. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, and Best Music, and was also nominated for Best Sound Recording.
My Fair Lady (1964)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 60,000,000
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $477,000,000
This flick is a 1964 musical film adaptation of a stage play of the same name. It’s about an arrogant, misogynistic professor of phonetics in London who believes he can teach any woman to speak so “properly” that he could pass her off as a duchess at an embassy ball. So, he recruits a young flower seller played by Audrey Hepburn named Eliza Doolittle (no relation to the doctor) who has a strong Cockney accent.
The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 62,745,100
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $498,823,500
This film tells the story of a priest and a nun at a school who try to save their school from being shut down. It stars Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman. It won the Academy Award for Best Sound, Recording, and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Best Song, and Best Picture.
The Robe (1953)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 65,454,500
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $520,363,600
This is a Biblical film that tells the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that crucifies Jesus. It won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design and was nominated for Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Picture. It also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Picture.
Love Story (1970)
Estimated Tickets Sold: 69,998,100
Adjusted Gross Revenue: $556,485,300
This is a romantic drama that’s considered the ninth most romantic of all time by the American Film Institute, and was Tommy Lee Jones’ film debut.
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