Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Silver (and Gold) Screen

During my research for a recent writing project, I came across three amazing sites that I feel compelled to share with you.

Warning: If you like movies, you’ll find yourself at these sites for hours.

You have been warned.

The first, Worldwide Box Office, allows you to look up the domestic, overseas, and/or worldwide gross for just about any movie you can think of. And you can create your own lists by year—or by ranges of years—to see how your favorite movies stack up against each other.

The second, MovieWeb’s Top Grossing Movies site, lists the top 1000—yes, that’s one THOUSAND— movies by U.S. box office receipts.

And the third, The Numbers’ ranking of movies by estimated budgets, helps you discover which films bombed (and how badly) and which ones made serious bank for their studios.

Within these three sites—which sometimes disagree on details—I have found some interesting factoids for your consideration and comment.

A Disturbance in the Force. The Star Wars installments rank in this order, according to Worldwide Box Office, of all-time highest grossing films in the U.S.:
1. Episode IV: A New Hope, #2
2. Episode I: The Phantom Menace, #5
3. Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, #8
4. Episode II: Attack of the Clones, #19
5. Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, #20
6. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, #25

Two things really bother me about this list: Some piece of inane schlock called Titanic beats out all of the Star Wars films; and my favorite movie in the series, Empire, is last of the six.

The Billion-Dollar Club. Three films have so far crossed the billion-dollar threshold for worldwide ticket sales, according to The Numbers:
1. Titanic: $1,835,400,000
2. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest: $1,062,243,393
3. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King: $1,129,027,325

And the site lists these movies’ budgets at $200 million, $150 million, and (only?) $94 million, respectively. Think about this: If my math is right, these three films together have netted more than $3.5 billion.

That’s more than the annual GDP of 50 countries.

The Golden Quarter Century. According to MovieWeb’s top-grossing list, the last 25 years have been huge for the U.S. box office. Among the 70 highest grossing films on the all-time list, only these five were released before 1981. Keep in mind that older movies are often re-released, jacking up their totals to counteract the inflationary pressure that pushes most old movies’ cash totals steadily down the list:
1. Star Wars: Episode I: A New Hope, #2
2. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, #4
3. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, #25
4. Jaws, #34
5. Raiders of the Lost Ark, #42

Those are some damn good movies. And all of them involved George Lucas, Stephen Spielberg, or both.

Last But Not Least. I know you’re wondering about the 1000th best-grossing movie in the U.S. As of today, per MovieWeb, it’s 1978’s Halloween—which is sadly just behind many much more forgettable films, like Emma Thompson’s recent Nanny McPhee.

Oh yes. Even Nanny McPhee made more than $100 million.

I really need to get into the movie industry. Just call me Amulet McPhee.


At November 26, 2006 8:23 PM, Blogger Claire replied to my musings ...

"Return of the King" has made over a billion dollars, but New Line still won't bring Peter Jackson back to direct "The Hobbit." *sigh*

Those do look like addictive sites... must not click.

At November 27, 2006 12:58 AM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

The sad thing is that shit like "Napoleon Dynamite", "Dukes of Hazzard", and anything with Adam Sandler end up making more $$ than movies with any substance in them. The dumbing down of America continues to gather momentum, thanks to the movie industry.

At November 27, 2006 9:10 AM, Blogger Curare_Z replied to my musings ...

I wonder if these sites will begin to track how whether there is a decrease in Tom Cruise or Mel Gibson movie income as a result of their recent behavior....

At November 27, 2006 9:36 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

I'm with you on the Empire thing. How could Jedi beat that out?

In general, what they should measure is how many tickets are sold and not the $$ the movie grossed. That would put things on an even playing field. With inflation, the older movies will never have a chance.

At November 27, 2006 9:38 AM, Blogger starbender replied to my musings ...

They shouldn't base it on how much money it made.... How about whether it is any good or not! There have been really 'LAME' movies, who have made ALOT of money----yet no-one liked them!
' ]

At November 27, 2006 12:36 PM, Blogger OnMyWatch replied to my musings ...


I'm with Mike regarding the even playing field...higher priced tickets explains some of it. More MoviePlexes explain a lot, not to mention every punk ass with a license has a car, as opposed to when I was young, and can actually spend their lives at the theater. (not that I'm bitter or anything)

As far as your new theatrical name about Hamulet? No? ;)

At November 27, 2006 3:57 PM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Hmm got anything for television? Haha

I have never seen any of the star wars movies

At November 28, 2006 8:07 AM, Blogger Ben replied to my musings ...

They did a survey recently and Mr Ben Heller was the only person in the whole wide world who is not in the least bit interested in how much money a movie makes.

At November 28, 2006 1:56 PM, Blogger :P fuzzbox replied to my musings ...

I wonder if anyone keeps track of concession prices for movies. The Reece's Pieces sales had to have skyrocketed for ET.

At November 28, 2006 2:31 PM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

I think Ishtar actually lost $13.35

At November 28, 2006 5:34 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Claire: I heard today that they offered Sean Connery HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars to play Gandalf, but he turned it down. What a shame--that would have been a nice twist.

Bruce, Starbender: The box office stat sheet has never been a measure of quality. And I doubt it ever will be.

Curare: Movie success/failure is dependent on so many factors ... I can't see how anyone can reasonably assert that a movie failed to perform well financially because of a particualr factor like that.

Mike: Those damn Ewoks! I know they have done inflation-adjusted lists before, and Gone With the Wind always wins out. It doesn't hurt that it's been re-released like six times, adding to its cache.

OMW: You may be on to something ... espeically if I start whining about whether to be or not be be is the question!

Phats: Don't they have any movie theaters, DVD players, or VCRs in West Lafayette?

Ben: I find it interesting, but not indicative of quality (see above).

Fuzz: I wonder if popcorn prices went up after Real Genius.

Phoenix: Let me check the Numbers site.... OK, I'm back. Here is the info: They report Ishtar cost $40 million and only made $14,375,181. That's about $14,375, 176.50 more than I had expected.

-- david

At November 28, 2006 6:50 PM, Blogger Lee Ann replied to my musings ...

Hey Amulet McPhee!

At November 28, 2006 9:44 PM, Blogger X. Dell replied to my musings ...

Part of the problem with a ranking system like this is that it only indicates gross sales, not net profit or the actual movie attendence (what any other commodity would call 'unit sales.') When I was a teenager, people were outraged when movie ticket prices increased to a whopping $3 per first-run show (excluding matinees). Nowadays they cost at least ten dollars (excluding matinees). Not counting for inflation would lead to a bias towards recent films.

At November 29, 2006 12:12 AM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

What about the biggest lemons in history? Gigli and Ishtar are probably both near the top of that list. And the badly butchered Once Upon a Time in America is probably somewhere on that list as well-- through no fault of the director, cutting an hour out of a film, even if it is close to 4 hours does not help! The original intact version is actually pretty damn good.

At November 29, 2006 1:31 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

Man I have to admit David I watched Duke tonight and ROOTED For them! And I don't like Coach K at all! So that was hard to do. Anyway I am glad you beat those pussy's from down south! They suck so I was surprised you all barely beat them. Congrats!

At November 29, 2006 9:25 AM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

I loved Star Wars. The first three, which were the last three really, rather then the last three which were really the first three.

Still, I would have rather seen Darth Vader burn in hell. Some crimes like blowing up planets and murdering a school full of children are irredeemable, no matter how "nice" he became in the end.

At November 29, 2006 4:26 PM, Blogger erika replied to my musings ...

Thanks Amulet McPhee!

That is some cool sites. Who knew Nanny McPhee would make that much?

At November 29, 2006 9:05 PM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

these are some interesting stats, and I'm surprised Empire was the lowest grosser since it was the best of the SW movies...but then you factor in ticket prices then vs. now... I thought Ep. III actually grossed almost as much as I, but anywho....

At November 29, 2006 9:43 PM, Blogger annie replied to my musings ...

Addicting sites.

I don't know whether to be embarrassed or proud, but I've only seen three of the top ten grossing movies.

And "Titanic" definitely wasn't one of them.

At November 30, 2006 7:30 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Lee Ann, Erika: OK, I change my mind. Don't callme Amulet McPhee. That's just creepy.

X. Dell: There is that bias, which explains why the Pirates movies are in the top seven or eight of all time.

Perplexio: From a quick scan of the Numbers' list, "Ishtar" is way up there in terms of flops. So is "Pluto Nash," which I barely remember.

Phats: Thanks for the extra push. I'm the first to say that Duke has been overrated this year--the team is starting three freshmen sometimes, and Coach K's two "floor veterans" are sophomores! As for the other games, the ACC clocked the Big Ten, as usual. But your boys did a great job on UVA--what a finish!

GW: There certainly would have been more cheers at the end if the Ewoks cooked Vader alive.

Ray: Ep. III, indeed, grossed almost as much as Ep. I -- it's right behind it on that list I posted.

Annie: I see a lot of movies, and I haven't seen all of the top ones, either. Maybe that shows good taste.

-- david

At November 30, 2006 12:55 PM, Blogger BuffyICS replied to my musings ...

Uh oh David, you realize you've just given me hours and hours of stuff to read while at work. I suppose you did warn me!

At November 30, 2006 1:50 PM, Blogger cube replied to my musings ...

Amulet McPhee is creepy.

At December 01, 2006 2:15 AM, Blogger Phats replied to my musings ...

HELL Ya that was a huge win for us, seeing as how we were 9-19 last year any win over a solid middle of the pack ACC team is good!! I was literally jumping up and down, my dog thought I was having a seizure I think. Devils need Paulus to stay out of foul trouble, and McRoberts to be big. I can't stand McRoberts ever since he snubbed the Indiana All Stars the big Whiner when he lost Mr basketball

At December 01, 2006 7:17 AM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

I never thought about box office grossing in terms of other countries GDP's. Makes it sort of scary....

At December 01, 2006 3:35 PM, Blogger goldennib replied to my musings ...


At December 01, 2006 4:29 PM, Blogger Amy replied to my musings ...

Glad to be making the blog rounds again David ! Enjoyed the post...

At December 02, 2006 11:04 PM, Blogger X. Dell replied to my musings ...

You would think that pirate movies would suffer at the box office because they're all rated AAAARRRRR.

At December 03, 2006 12:10 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Buffy: Nice to see you back--thanks for continuing to lurk here. I didn't know you had returned to the active blogosphere!

Cube: Agreed.

Phats: Purdue certainly showed it's on the way up. UVA is solid this year, after all.

Jeff: It is scary when you put Hollywood in context.

GoldenNib: Uh-huh.

Amy: Welcome back!

X Dell: That is groan-worthy! I love it.

-- david

At December 06, 2006 10:04 AM, Anonymous LisaBinDaCity replied to my musings ...

LOVED the movie sites - thanks!


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