(*adjusted for inflation)
The asteric above and what it means are important, at least to me anyway. It's been getting on my nerves that Titanic is always declared the box office king year after year and now Avatar is number 2 on lists of the top grossing movies of all time. Lists that rank Titanic number 1 (and now Avatar has been declared to have over taken Titanic) neglect to adjust the box office receipts for ticket price inflation which of course makes a huge difference.
Comparing movies' receipts without adjusting for inflation is, for example, like equating a millionaire's buying power today with the buying power of a millionaire back in 1950. Sorry, it doesn't quite work that way. I'm not an economist or anything but, I'll go out on a limb and assert that a million dollars back in 1950 was worth just a little more than a million dollars today.
So, if you adjust ticket prices for inflation you get a ranking based of what each film made if each movies' tickets had been sold for an equal price. Or, in other words, you get a list reflective of the total number of actual tickets sold.
At least 2 different sites (click here or here) have a good list of the top grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation. Guess where Titanic is. It's number 6 behind such movies as Gone With the Wind and Star Wars. Avatar is number 27.
Below is a good list of the top 10 movies adjusted for inflation:
Rank Title Adjusted Gross Unadjusted Gross
1 Gone with the Wind $1,485,028,000 $198,676,459
2 Star Wars $1,309,179,000 $460,998,007
3 The Sound of Music $1,046,753,000 $158,671,368
4 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial $1,042,629,400 $435,110,554
5 The Ten Commandments $962,850,000 $65,500,000
6 Titanic $943,342,300 $600,788,188
7 Jaws $941,379,300 $260,000,000
8 Doctor Zhivago $912,395,600 $111,721,910
9 The Exorcist $812,679,700 $232,671,011
10 Snow White and the... $801,150,000 $184,925,486