Special Report

The Most Successful Movies of the 1970s

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

5. The Godfather (1972)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $725.3 million
> Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton
> Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
> Run-time: 175 minutes

Considered to be not only the best mob movie of all time, but among the greatest films ever (it’s third on American Film Institute list of the 100 greatest American movies), “The Godfather” is an engrossing story about the choices people make in life to protect their family, and the costs they may incur in defending them. The epic won three Academy Awards, including one for Marlon Brando for best actor – an honor he famously turned down.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

4. The Sting (1973)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $826.9 million
> Starring: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning
> Directed by: George Roy Hill
> Run-time: 129 minutes

Commercials for “The Sting” implored movie goers to “see it from the beginning.” That’s because there are plot twists galore in this story about two con men conspiring to swindle a crime boss who’s murdered a mutual friend. Stylish, well-cast, and full of surprises, “The Sting” is understandably beloved by critics and audiences alike.

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

3. The Exorcist (1973)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $1.1 billion
> Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Lee J. Cobb
> Directed by: William Friedkin
> Run-time: 121 minutes

“The Exorcist,” about the demonic possession of a young girl and two priests’ efforts to free her from the demon, combined believable special effects, an eerie atmosphere, and a vivid depiction of the battle against evil to produce one of the most frightening movies ever made. William Peter Blatty wrote and produced the film, based on his novel of the same name.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

2. Jaws (1975)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $1.2 billion
> Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary
> Directed by: Steven Spielberg
> Run-time: 124 minutes

The first of the true summer blockbusters, and a breakthrough film for Steven Spielberg, “Jaws” centered on three men tasked with defeating a giant great white shark that was terrorizing the mythical New England seaside town of Amity. Based on the bestseller from Peter Benchley, the movie won three Oscars and is remembered as much for its foreboding music as the scenes of terror. “Jaws” is one of three films on this list that featured Dreyfuss.

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1. Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope (1977)
> Inflation-adjusted domestic box office: $1.5 billion
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness
> Directed by: George Lucas
> Run-time: 119 minutes

The space epic that started one of Hollywood’s most profitable and enduring franchises starred relative unknowns Hamill, Ford, Fisher, and Billy Dee Williams as rebels fighting the overwhelming forces of an evil empire. The movie also featured British acting icons Alec Guinness and Peter Cushing. “Star Wars Ep. IV: A New Hope” won six Academy Awards and is one of two films directed by George Lucas on our list.

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