Today’s most successful blockbusters bring in unprecedented sums of money at the box office. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” released in 2015, grossed nearly $1 billion in the U.S. alone. Last year’s “Black Panther” grossed over $700 million. These financial wonders represent a philosophy prevalent among Hollywood studios: go big or go home. One massively profitable film can earn more than hundreds of smaller movies combined.
A lucrative initial release does not necessarily indicate that a movie’s reputation will endure, however, and this staying power is often key to even greater economic prosperity. While a film’s primary release almost always grosses more money than subsequent releases of the same movie, 18 of the top 25 grossing films have had multiple theatrical releases as reissues or special editions, adding to their total all-time gross. We have included gross totals of all releases adjusted for inflation.
The oldest of the highest grossing films, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” gained more than 64% of its total domestic gross in subsequent releases following its initial theatrical run in 1937. The animated classic’s excellence has drawn audiences in again and again throughout the years, resulting in nearly $1 billion in overall ticket sales.
Another method for drawing in crowds is for studios to release sequels to popular films. The top grossing movies include four entries to the massively popular Star Wars franchise – in addition to the 1977 original – as well as “Jurassic World,” the 2015 follow-up to “Jurassic Park.” Additionally, movies like “The Godfather” (1972) and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) were followed by sequels that undoubtedly drove the profitable rereleases of the original films.
To identify the top grossing films of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed gross domestic movie theater ticket sales for U.S. films from movie ticket tracking website Box Office Mojo. Ticket prices are inflation-adjusted to the estimated 2019 average ticket price of $9.03.
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