When you can’t find it on Google.

Box office movie records

Normally I don’t pay much attention to blockbuster movies, but in listening to one of the Oscars episodes of the Unspooled podcast, my curiosity was piqued. Box Office Mojo is a treasure trove of stats on gross earnings of mostly-American films. There are all sorts of metrics you can investigate on their site, but I found the All Time Worldwide (Top 20) and All Time Domestic (Adjusted for Inflation) (Top 30) to be the most interesting overall.

All time blockbuster films

The embed at the end of this post is modified from my movie spreadsheet – most of the data should be accurate to March 2019. You can download and sort the spreadsheet to do your own analysis, but here are a few things that stood out to me:

Top 7 Grossing Films
  • No women directors other than Disney’s Frozen at #13 worldwide (#112 domestic), which was co-directed by a man. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is #73 worldwide and the new Captain Marvel is rising quickly, currently at #91.
  • All but 2 of the worldwide films pass the Bechdel Test. Only about half of the domestic titles pass, and that trend hasn’t changed in recent years.
  • All but 4 of the domestic titles are on the 1001 Movies list. Only 4 from the worldwide titles are on the 1001 Movies list.
  • There is not really a close correlation to the film’s blockbuster rank (on either list) and the number of IMDb votes, but 10 domestic titles have been on the IMDb Top 250, and 3 worldwide titles. Top earners with less than 120k IMDb votes (domestic ranking): The Ten Commandments (6), Doctor Zhivago (8), and Fantasia (23). India’s Baahubali 2 and Dangal are also under 120k votes, but have earned over $250mil worldwide each.
  • The worldwide market apparently likes The Fast and the Furious franchise, as well as anything superhero-related. Domestically, only The Avengers (2012) and Black Panther made the top 30 (#29 and #30 respectively).
  • The top 4 worldwide ($2bn to $2.8bn) blow everything else out of the water – compare that to #5 Jurassic World at $1.7bn. Likewise, domestically Gone with the Wind $1.8bn and Star Wars (A New Hope) $1.6bn far exceed the rest of the top 10 which average about $1bn to $1.2bn.
  • I added a few of my personal favorites. The Matrix was the #1 R-rated domestic in 1999 but currently only #228 Worldwide. Rain Man was at the top in 1988 but still only #152 all-time domestic. 2001: A Space Odyssey fared similarly at #148. I was surprised that Mexico’s Like Water for Chocolate is in the Foreign Language Top 10 Domestic.
  • Some standouts I’d never heard of: Sergeant York (1941) and Jet Li’s Fearless (2006) – I was a little burned out on martial arts films in the early 2000’s, so this one wasn’t on my radar.

Go to the full Google spreadsheet to sort and filter.