Two films released in 2015 broke the record for largest box office weekend of all time. Thanks to their strong openings, the two films — “Jurassic World” followed by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — respectively occupy the fourth and first positions on the list of the highest grossing films of all time.
Neither film breaches the top 10, however, after adjusting for inflation. Classic, older films such as “Doctor Zhivago” and “The Sound of Music” dominate the top films when inflation is taken into account.
Franchise films were not the highest earners until fairly recently. Before the 21st century, war movies, musicals, and sword-and-sandals epics were typically the highest earners. Adjusted for inflation, the 1965 musical drama “The Sound of Music” is the third highest grossing film of all time, and the 1956 biblical epic “The Ten Commandments” is the sixth.
Today, franchises and reboots tend to have the most commercial success. Of the top 20 highest grossing films released after 2000, only three — “Avatar”, “Finding Nemo”, and “The Passion of the Christ” — are neither sequels nor adapted from a pre-existing property.