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.