List of 200 highest grossing films of all time (adjusted for inflation)

I have always been curious about films and their impact on society. There are many interesting measures and lots of data that one can look up: one above all is the list of highest grossing films of all time. Box Office Mojo offers the official data, but there's a catch. They have a list of all time top grosses worldwide, but it's pretty much useless since it's not adjusted to inflation. The only list that is adjusted to inflation is the all time domestic grosses (domestic meaning USA). So, what if we wanted to compare film grosses at cinemas worldwide, but adjusting the values to take inflation into account? The answer is: you can't. Different countries means different interests rates, different currencies and so on. I googled for a while, but I couldn't find any reliable list that took into account the worldwide gross, adjusted for inflation.

So, I decided to calculate it myself. Precise measurements are almost impossible (for the reasons mentioned above), but we can make an estimate, which is better than nothing.


Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs made $184,925,486 in 1937, but if we adjust for inflation we get a very different number: $867,640,000. Clearly, absolute numbers tell a very partial story. For example, here's a detailed list of average prices over time. We can calculate the average compound interest rate, using this formula:

compound interest formula

Were i = interest rate, FV = Future Value, PV = Present Value, and n = number of years. Plug in the numbers, we get i = 0.02947, or 2.947%. Now let's see how the adjusted list of the top 200 highest grossing films of all time looks like.

Here's how to read the table:

  • OLD: The original position in the global list, not adjusted for inflation
  • NEW: The original position in the global list, adjusted for inflation
  • JUMP: Difference in chart position between the old and the new list
  • YEAR: The year the film was released
  • FILM: Name of the film (original title)
  • GROSS ($): Total Lifetime Grosses in theaters
  • ADJUSTED ($ 2011): Total Lifetime Grosses in theaters adjusted for inflation up to 2011
List of 200 highest grossing films of all time (adjusted for inflation) colour legend


The final list

142 143 1 1939 Gone with the Wind 400,200,000 3,239,389,304
-1 1 2 2009 Avatar 2,782,300,000 2,948,705,136
-1 2 3 1997 Titanic 1,843,200,000 2,767,987,953
33 37 4 1977 Star Wars 775,400,000 2,081,571,993
29 34 5 1982 E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 792,900,000 1,840,838,042
8 14 6 1994 The Lion King 945,700,000 1,549,480,834
13 20 7 1993 Jurassic Park 914,700,000 1,542,855,290
-3 5 8 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 1,119,900,000 1,412,826,417
97 106 9 1975 Jaws 470,700,000 1,339,174,676
115 125 10 1973 The Exorcist 441,100,000 1,330,017,876
(find out the rest of the list...)

Quentin Tarantino's list of top 20 films from 1992 (mine too)

From YouTube.

Here’s director Quentin Tarantino's list of top 20 films from 1992 to the present. These are the films that he admires the most, since he became a director. I used the following notation: English name (Original name, year), by Director.

His indisputable number one is

  1. Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru, 2000), by Kinji Fukasaku

Then the list goes on alphabetical order, since he can't exactly decide which one comes first (I feel the same way).

  1. Anything Else (2003), by Woody Allen
  2. Audition (Ôdishon, 1999), by Takashi Miike
  3. The Blade (Dao, 1995), by Hark Tsui
  4. Boogie Nights (1997), by Paul Thomas Anderson
  5. Dazed and Confused (1993), by Richard Linklater
  6. Dogville (2003), by Lars Von Tries
  7. Fight Club (1999), by David Fincher
  8. Friday (1995), by F. Gary Gray
  9. The Host (Gwoemul, 2006), by Joon-ho Bong
  10. The Insider (1999), by Michael Mann
  11. Joint Security Area (Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA, 2000), by Chan-wook Park
  12. Lost In Translation (2003), by Sofia Coppola
  13. The Matrix (1999), by Larry and Andy Wachowski
  14. Memories of Murder (Salinui chueok, 2003), by Joon-ho Bong
  15. Police Story 3 (Ging chat goo si 3: Chiu kup ging chat, 1992), by Stanley Tong
  16. Shaun of the Dead (2004), by Edgar Wright
  17. Speed (1994), by Jan de Bont
  18. Team America: World Police (2004), by Trey Parker
  19. Unbreakable (2000), by M. Night Shyamalan

I find myself very much in touch with Tarantino, although he focuses more on action films, whereas I privilege cyberpunk and animation, we share the same love for Japanese and Korean cinema, as well as pulp films. Also, I noticed that we like the same directors, but different films. By looking at my IMDB vitong history I was able to make my personal top 20. Again, I've got the same problem he had, hence the list is in no particular order. I've put in bold the film/directors that appear in both lists. The list only includes feature films since 1992: no short films, no documentaries, no series.

  1. Waking Life (2001), by Richard Linklater
  2. The Matrix (1999), by Larry and Andy Wachowski
  3. Haze (2005), by Shinya Tsukamoto
  4. Pi (1998), by Darren Aronofsky
  5. Unbreakable (2000), by M. Night Shyamalan
  6. Twelve Monkeys (1995), by Terry Gilliam
  7. There Will Be Blood (2007), by Paul Thomas Anderson
  8. Conspirators of Pleasure (Spiklenci slasti, 1996), by Jan Svankmajer
  9. Sin City (2005), by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller, Quentin Tarantino (special guest director)
  10. Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi, 2001), by Hayao Miyazaki
  11. A snake of June (Rokugatsu no hebi, 2002), by Shinya Tsukamoto
  12. Reservoir Dogs (1992), by Quentin Tarantino
  13. Requiem for a Dream (2000), by Darren Aronofsky
  14. Pulp Fiction (1994), by Quentin Tarantino
  15. Oldboy (2003), Chan-wook Park
  16. Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime, 1997), by Hayao Miyazaki
  17. Fight Club (1999), by David Fincher
  18. Donnie Darko (2001), by Richard Kelly
  19. Clerks (1994), by Kevin Smith
  20. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring (Bom yeoreum gaeul gyeoul geurigo bom, 2003), by Ki-duk Kim

Given that he could not credit himself, and that I three of his films appear on my list, we have almost 80% compatibility in terms of films and directors.

In the future, I hope I will be to write a critique of each of the above.

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