Advertisement
Advertisement

If you think today’s mega box office hits that rake in millions worldwide knock the socks off of old films of yore when it comes to the highest grossing films of all time, think again. When we adjust the classics for inflation, they still beat out today’s best by a huge margin. Even oldies but goodies like Gone With the Wind and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, almost irritatingly tame by today’s standards, trounce the top grossing films of today by many millions.

Advertisement

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Total earnings:$982,090,000

The Walt Disney classic is the oldest film as well as the only animated one to make the top ten. Originally considered “Disney’s Folly” because critics felt nobody would want to sit and watch a cartoon based on a fairytale for 90 minutes, three years and 570 artists later, a classic was born that still sets the standards for hand-drawn animation to this day.Famous line: “Magic mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” Fun Fact:Disney held Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Snow White, to a very strict contract to keep the character’s singing voice as a one-off sound only associated with the film. Apart from a very small part in The Wizard of Oz two years later, her classically-trained voice was never heard in any film ever again.

A group of actors dressed as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves entertain the Christmas shoppers at a store in London's Clapham Junction. Harry Todd / Getty Images
Advertisement

The Exorcist (1973)

Total earnings:$996,498,500

This breakthrough horror film proved itself to be a real head turner at the box office. It was the first in its genre to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. Although it lost to The Sting that year, it certainly wins in terms of box office earnings and is still considered to be among the scariest films of all time. Famous line: “The Power of Christ compels you!” Fun Fact: The voice of the demon, actress Mercedes McCambridge, altered her voice through chain-smoking and gulping down raw eggs. She also insisted on drinking whiskey, in spite of past problems with alcohol abuse, because she knew it would further distort her voice and enhance her character’s crazed state of mind. During the time she was giving up her sobriety for the part, she insisted on having her priest stay with her for guidance.

The ABC cinema in Shaftesbury Avenue advertising the opening of 'The Exorcist' directed by William Friedkin. Frank Barratt / Getty Images
Advertisement

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Total earnings:$1,118,460,500

Although it was banned in the country where it was set, Russia, until 1994, this epic romantic drama still managed to make the top ten with its ten-figure earnings from US audiences.Famous line: “You lay life on a table and cut out all the tumors of injustice. Marvelous.” Fun Fact: Every day of filming, Omar Sharif had to go through a painstaking process to hide his Egyptian features, which included taping up his eyes and straightening his hair.

A video view of the film "Doctor Zhivago" appears at the PBS Summer 2003 TCA Press Tour at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel July 11, 2003 in Hollywood, California. Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images
Advertisement

Jaws (1975)

Total earnings:$1,153,990,200

Audiences really sank their teeth into this shark saga when it was released in the summer of 1975. The film scared 67 million American moviegoers away from the water and into the cinemas, making it the first ever summer “blockbuster”.Famous line: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Fun Fact: The shark was named “Bruce”, after director Steven Spielberg’s lawyer.

A poster advertising the anniversary collector's edition of the movie "Jaws" is posted on a lifeguard tower June 2, 2000 on Zuma Beach in Malibu, CA. The sign has led to complaints by beach goers with young children, who feel that it is inappropriate for the sign to be on display so close to the water and so near the 4th of July. Dan Callister / Getty Images
Advertisement

The Ten Commandments (1956)

Total earnings:$1,180,310,000

Thou shalt be impressed that Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film still takes the number six spot in top grossing films. With a four hour running time, that’s a feat of biblical proportions and quite the testament to its durability.Famous line: “You will be king of Egypt, and I will be your footstool!” Fun Fact: There’s an old urban legend that Cecil B. DeMille changed the name of the character Nefertiti to Nefretiri because he feared people would make boob jokes.

Moses, played by Charlton Heston, descends from Mount Sinai carrying the ten commandments to berate the worshippers of the golden calf, in the remake of the film, 'The Ten Commandments', directed by Cecil B DeMille. Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Advertisement

Titanic (1997)

Total earnings:$1,221,303,800

This movie was “King of the World” at the time of its release, launching a thousand Leo fans into cinemas across the world every day. After anchoring director James Cameron’s career with an Oscar win for Best Director, it’s safe to say this one was no sinking ship.Famous line: “I’m King of the World!” Fun Fact:When Kate Winslet found out she would appear naked in front of co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, she flashed him when she first met him, just to break the ice.

A life vest and posters from the 1997 movie "Titanic" hang on display at the opening of the "Titanic at 100: Myth and Memory" exhibition on April 10, 2012 in New York City. The exhibit opened at the Melville Gallery, part of the South Street Seaport Museum, on the 100th anniversary of Titanic's launch on her maiden - and only - voyage. The exhibition features mayday communications from the ship, personal artifacts from survivors, production items from Titanic films and interactive multimedia tours through the ship. The British passenger liner sank in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing more than 1,500 people on April 15,1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. John Moore / Getty Images
Advertisement

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Total earnings:$1,278,107,600

The amount earned from ticket sales from the fourth highest grossing movie of all time will definitely buy you a lot of Reese’s Pieces.Famous line: “E.T. phone home.” Fun Fact: E.T.’s voice was performed by Pat Welsh, an elderly woman who smoked two packs a day.

ET figure during the unveiling of the wax figures of actors Tom Hanks and Vin Diesel at Madame Tussauds on October 1, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Tristar Media / Getty Images
Advertisement

The Sound of Music (1965)

Total earnings:$1,283,791,300

The hills are alive with the sound of cold hard cash piling up, apparently. This musical won five Oscars, and to this day still takes third place in the rankings.Famous line: “The hills are alive with the sound of music.” Fun Fact: Julie Andrews’ co-star, Christopher Plummer, despised making the film so much that he nicknamed it “S&M” and “The Sound of Mucus”, and described working with Julie Andrews as like “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.”

Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp from the Sound of Music, Madame Tussauds wax museum in Vienna
Advertisement

Star Wars (1977)

Total earnings:$1,635,137,900

The very first installment of George Lucas’s smash-hit space opera saga still steals the top spot in the Star Wars universe to this day.Famous line: “The Force will be with you, always.” Fun Fact: George Lucas was so convinced his film would flop that he vacationed in Hawaii with Steven Spielberg instead of attending the premiere.

Actress Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia Organa character and actor Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker character from "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" are shown on screen while musicians perform during "Star Wars: In Concert" at the Orleans Arena May 29, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The traveling production features a full symphony orchestra and choir playing music from all six of John Williams' Star Wars scores synchronized with footage from the films displayed on a three-story-tall, HD LED screen. Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Advertisement

Gone With The Wind (1939)

Total earnings:$1,822,598,200

Victor Fleming’s film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic is still top dog for box office dollars eighty years after its release. Frankly, my dear, that’s pretty amazing.Famous line: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Fun Fact: Hattie McDaniel, who played “Mammy”, was the first African-American to be both nominated for, and win, an Academy Award.

American actor Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) in his role as Rhett Butler kissing the hand of a tearful Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in 'Gone With The Wind'. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. The information on this Website is not intended to be comprehensive, nor does it constitute advice or our recommendation in any way. We attempt to ensure that the content is current and accurate but we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should carry out your own research and/or seek your own advice before acting or relying on any of the information on this Website.