Adjusted For Inflation, These Are The Highest Grossing Films of All Time

When making this list, we had to make a decision whether to use simply the highest grossing movies of all time or to adjust for inflation which would allow older movies to have a fighting chance. Without the adjustment the movies included recent releases such as Avatar, Titanic and The Avengers. But adjusted for inflation, the results got a lot more interesting and so we decided to go with those classics.

5 Titanic

Like Gone with the Wind, Titanic took an appalling human tragedy and threw sexy stars and the largest budget Hollywood had ever seen at it and came out with a huge money maker. Also like Gone with the Wind, the historical aspect of the film melts into the background of the doomed romance and dramatic visual depictions of disaster. The main plot is the love story between Rose, fallen aristocrat who is betrothed to an older man, and Jack, a penniless artist who won his steerage level ticket in a poker game. It’s wonderfully sappy and melodramatic but what really makes this good is the modern-day framing of the 1912 romance. Gloria Stuart, who was a starlet in the 1930’s Golden Age of Hollywood returned to acting at the age of 87 to play Rose at age 101, when the Titanic is being excavated from the sea and a drawing of her is discovered. This segment of the movie makes it all more human and relatable but also provides closure that keeps the movie from being completely depressing. Adjusted Gross: $1.086 Billion

4 E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Classic sci-fi is not usually known for being heartwarming but this one definitely is. And it even has a nice educational message about being friends with people even if they look a little bit different and come from outer space. E.T. is the nickname that is given to a friendly extra-terrestrial by Elliot, the lonely pre-adolescent who finds him abandoned by the mother ship and takes him in. The story of their friendship and the attempts to get E.T. back home really are sweet and E.T.’s awkward attempts to communicate are refreshing after sci-fi movies full of aliens who just happen to speak perfect English. Fortunately E.T. manages to pick it up a little bit or we wouldn’t have the adorable “E.T. phone home!” moment. Adjusted Gross: $1.137 Billion

3 The Sound of Music

Nuns, song, dance, and Nazis. Sound like Mel Brooks to you? Believe it or not, the movie is a wholesome Rogers and Hammerstein musical based on the true story of a family of Austrian singers who fled to Italy when the father was inducted into the German navy during WWII. Thanks to the movie version, which stars Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music is one of the most well known classic Broadway musicals. As in Mary Poppins, Julie Andrews manages to pull off the wholesome-bordering-on-saccharine governess while still being kickass enough to stand up to the Nazis. How could a movie like that not be awesome? Adjusted Gross: $1.142 Billion

2 Star Wars

Speaking of epic. We’re not actually sure what there is to say about this movie, since it’s safe to assume that any American alive today and over the age of twelve has seen it for themselves. And if you haven’t you’ve probably seen sequels or parodies and heard it quoted everywhere. Although it was a sensation when it was originally released in 1977, it has somehow continued to maintain both its popular appeal and its cult following, perhaps due in part by a brilliant strategy of sequel releases and merchandising. Unlike Gone With the Wind, it’s a clear battle between good and evil and we don’t think we’re giving any spoilers when we tell you that the good guys win. At least until the next book, movie, comic book or other spin-off is released. Adjusted Gross: $1.428 Billion

1 Gone With the Wind

Let’s face it, this movie will bother today’s viewers, as it should. The portrayal of slavery and Southern plantation life are problematic to say the least but we’re going to put that aside for a minute to discuss the Hollywood phenomenon that this movie created. Actually, even the book swept across the country the same way that Harry Potter did more recently. Only instead of a noble and misused orphan boy, Gone With the Wind stars a self-absorbed rich Southern Belle living on her own plantation. But they are about even in how sweepingly epic they are. Harry Potter just took seven books to do it where as this movie does it in just under four hours. It used a $4 million dollar budget, had over fifty speaking roles and burned actual sets during the siege of Atlanta. And it case it still wasn’t epic enough, they made Clark Gable the romantic lead. Adjusted Gross: $1.620 billion

Think we should have let Avatar reign at number one? Let’s hear it!

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