Top Grossing Movies Adjusted For Inflation

Recently, I noticed that Avatar had surpassed Titanic on the top of the All-Time USA Box Office list on IMDB. This came as quite a surprise to me as I recall friends, mostly female, flocking to the theaters to see Leo and Kate in Titanic, several times. The buzz about Avatar has been huge, but “Titanic huge”? I’m not so sure. This made me wonder if inflation had a big part in Avatar’s huge numbers, so I found an inflation calculator and plugged in Titanic’s $600 million 1997 dollars and was pleasantly surprised to find that the amount translated into $803 million 2009 dollars. This made me wonder about other movie’s earnings taking into account inflations, so I wrote a program to do the inflation calculation on all of the top IMDB movies.

There are several ways to calculate inflation, but the most used one, Consumer Price Index (CPI), is what I used. Using the formula “(B – A) / A” where B = CPI now and A = the CPI of the year the movie was made I got the inflation percentage, multiply that by the amount it made that year and you have a reasonable approximation for the adjusted amount in today’s dollars.

Here’s the Top 10:

Movie (Year) US Box Office 2009 Total
w/ Inflation
Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278 $3,066,108,444
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485 $2,755,094,359
Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665 $1,631,811,135
The Sound of Music (1965) $163,214,286 $1,111,603,279
One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961) $153,000,000 $1,097,798,027
Jaws (1975) $260,000,000 $1,036,795,911
The Exorcist (1973) $204,565,000 $988,440,572
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459 $966,971,524
The Jungle Book (1967) $141,843,612 $911,098,892
Titanic (1997) $600,779,824 $803,049,851

View the full table here.

CPI Table from
Movie Table from

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