Friday, August 12, 2005

An Analysis of Top Hollywood Film Revenues in Constant Dollars

The following is a preliminary analysis and some observations on revenues and viewership of the Top Hollywood films of all time.

This demonstrates that if one discounts inflation, most of the good films are all in the past.

The sources of data are, the MPAA and box-office archives.

Firstly, the current report from provides the list of all-time top grossing films in the United States, using box-office revenues.

The curremt top-ten are:


USA Box Office$

1Titanic $600,779,824
2Star Wars $460,935,665
3Shrek 2 $436,471,036
4E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $434,949,459
5Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace $431,065,444
6Spider-Man $403,706,375
7Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith $377,864,535
8The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $377,019,252
9Spider-Man 2 $373,377,893
10The Passion of the Christ $370,270,943

I applied a deflator to convert the top-grossing film revenues to constant 2005 dollars. I also retrieved a summary of historical ticket prices and converted this to constant dollars as well to use the same base.

The following are some interesting charts on the revenue generated by top-grossing films from 1937, the earliest data was available from

const dollars revenue
Revenue in constant 2005 dollars per year generated by top grossing films

revenue trendline
Trendline of revenue from top-grossing films

One notes that box-office revenues seem to be leveling off, despite spikes caused by the blockbusters of the last few years - mostly the fantasy trilogies.

Viewership for top-grossing films by year

One notes the peak in viewership for top-grossing films in 1939, and the significant drop since then, recently improved. One also notes that 2005 has not contributed much thus far, despite some huge block-busters being released.

The following demonstrates how the ranking of films changes when measured in constant dollars rather than current dollars.

Const dollar ranking
Ranking by Const. dollar 2005 gross box-office revenue

Current dollar ranking
Ranking by gross box-office revenue

For comparison, these are the Top Grossing films, by Constant 2005 dollars

Rank in Const $Title

Const $ Revenue$

1Gone with the Wind $2,759,101,083
2Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs$2,498,993,041
3Star Wars$1,472,637,907
5The Sound of Music $1,001,314,638
6One Hundred and One Dalmatians$987,096,774.2
7Jaws $935,251,798.6
8The Exorcist$889,413,043.5
9E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial $871,642,202.4
10The Jungle Book $819,905,271.7

The preliminary conclusion one draws is that revenues generated from the biggest films are not providing much help in keeping revenues up. Also, viewership seems to be down for these films, probably because of home video sales for them.

The Star Wars films are especially interesting. When ranked by Constant 2005 dollar revenue, the ranking is:

Ranking table Star Wars

The Excel file used to generate these reports is provided. The Source Data sheet has the data used. The Original Web Query Data sheet has a web query which is refreshable to allow up-to-date revenue data. You are welcome to continue to work the data.

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