In this article, we will be taking a look at the 30 Highest Grossing Movies of All Time Adjusted For Inflation. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see 10 Highest Grossing Movies of All Time Adjusted for Inflation.
Streaming had been emerging as the preferred form of entertainment consumption even before the pandemic, thanks to the success of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). Because of Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), most people could access most movies, TV shows, documentaries and stand-up shows in one location, paying a reasonable fee each month. Streaming allows people to watch shows whenever they want, and led to the term binge-watching, where people could watch an entire season in one sitting rather than having to wait a week for a single episode.
When the pandemic hit and people were locked in their homes and movie theaters were shuttered down completely, a new audience realized the comfort of watching movies from the comfort of their beds, without having to pay exorbitant rates for overpriced snacks and drinks, and then missing part of the movie having to go to the toilet. Statistics back this argument as well: according to The Dartmouth, 28% of people strongly preferred to watch a movie in a movie theater for the first time, while just 15% preferred to stream it. In June 2020, when the pandemic was at an early peak, the percentage of people who preferred to go the movie theater dropped to just 14% while 36% preferred to stream movies. This shows a shifting trend in people’s preferences and means that the movie industry is at a crossroads. Based on these statistics, it looks like largest media companies which have a strong future and are more likely for stronger growth, and hence, are a good option to invest in, are those companies which recognize this switch and adapt accordingly.
Take The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) for example. The company is home to one of the biggest film studios in the world in Walt Disney Studios, which includes many other major film studios such as Lucasfilm, Pixar, 20th Century Animation, 20th Century Studios, Marvel Studios and Searchlight Pictures. Despite the size and earnings of Walt Disney Studios, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has realized that only creating and releasing movies in the traditional method is not sustainable in the long run and diversification is needed. Hence, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) created Disney+, a subscription video on-demand streaming services. While the subscription service primarily provides access to TV shows and movies created by Walt Disney Studios and Walt Disney Television, there are content hubs for different brands including the aforementioned Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic. While Disney initially had a streaming deal with Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), it has seen massive success for Disney+, with more than 162 million subscribers right now. This shows that The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) is well-positioned to take advantage of customer’s changing preferences which could usher in a new era of growth for the company.
You would think that the film studios with the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation would also attract the most investors. However, whatever amount a movie grosses represents only the revenue it earns and it doesn’t represent net profit or return on investment. In fact, if you were considering the most profitable movies of all time, some of the highest grossing movies of all time wouldn’t even come anywhere near, despite earning billions in the box office. For example, The Blair Witch Project, one of the most popular budget horror flicks of all time, earned close to $250 million after an initial outlay of just $35,000, while the total cost after incorporating everything including marketing and promotion was closer to $8 or $9 million. Even considering $9 million as the total spend, this is a return of almost 2,800%. Contrast that to Avatar, which unadjusted for inflation, is the highest grossing movie of all time, which earned nearly $3 billion on a budget of $237 million, a return of over 1,200%, less than half of the Blair Witch Project. However, even this doesn’t represent the true picture, as the actual determination is more complex.
Take Titanic for example. James Cameron’s movie of a doomed love story on a doomed ship had a total expenditure, including market, of around $437 million, earned $2.2 billion. That doesn’t really compare to the Blair Witch Project, but it is important to know that box office receipts don’t all go to film studios, which is a very important consideration for anyone considering to invest in a company which owns film studios. Instead, studios generally get half of the receipts but the longer the movie is played in theaters, the bigger the cut for the film studio. As one of the longest running movies in theaters, Titanic saw its studio get a much bigger piece of the pie than others, which means that Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA), producer of the movie, got to take home a bigger percentage of revenue than most other film studios.
This is why it is always important to consider returns in percentage terms rather than in absolute value, as the former truly reveals how much you earned for every dollar you spent. If one of the 30 highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation earned $1 billion but cost $350 million to make, or an indie movie made $100 million but cost $1 million to make, you were much better off investing in the latter.
The reason that we’ve considered the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation is because otherwise, we’d basically only be considering movies in the last few decades rather than truly considering all movies that were ever released. While it is tricky to consider the impact of inflation and subsequent adjustment, IMDB has done a remarkable job, which is what we’ve used as a source. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the movies which put their respective film studios on the map, if not enhance their reputation spectacularly, starting with number 30:
Adjusted box office: $1.65 billion
The Fast and Furious series may not be the most thought-provoking series, but it certainly delivers on the action, and blockbuster action movies always sell.
Adjusted box office: $1.65 billion
Bruce Lee’s final movie before his death, Enter the Dragon is considered to be among the best martial arts movies in history, with its influence felt in both the U.S. and China, and it has had a lasting impact on action movies since.
Adjusted box office: $1.7 billion
The first installment of the Harry Potter series is the only one to find its place among the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation.
Adjusted box office: $1.73 billion
The Will Smith starrer led to the resurgence of disaster movies in the 1990s, such was its influence and success.
Adjusted box office: $1.75 billion
The final installment to arguably the best film trilogy in history, The Return of the King is often considered to be among the greatest and most influential films ever made.
Adjusted box office: $1.76 billion
The first movie where the Marvel Cinematic Universe came together for the first time is also the first Marvel movie in our list.
Adjusted box office: $1.76 billion
The Lion King was released again in 2019 as a photorealistic computer-animated remake of the original, which you will find higher up in the list.
Adjusted box office: $1.8 billion
Star Wars is the franchise with the most entries among the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation, along with the Marvel universe, with Episode V kicking off the series’ presence in the list.
Adjusted box office: $1.82 billion
Ben-Hur is one of the best books ever written, and its movie went on to earn 11 Academy Awards, with no movie having earned more.
Adjusted box office: $1.83 billion
The fourth film in the Star War series, Episode 1 was released in 1999 and is the third most successful movie in the series.
Adjusted box office: $1.83 billion
The Jungle Book has been reimagined many times, but it is the 2016 version which has led to it entering the list of the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation.
Adjusted box office: $1.88 billion
Jurassic World revived the Jurassic Park franchise, and was surprisingly successful among both critics and the wider audience.
Adjusted box office: $1.92 billion
The third part of Marvel’s reimagining of Spider-Man was also its most critically and commercially successful movie.
Adjusted box office: $1.95 billion
One Hundred and One Dalmations is one of the very few animated movies in our list.
Adjusted box office: $1.96 billion
The only horror film to make the list of the highest grossing movies of all time adjusted for inflation, The Exorcist was released in 1973 and became the first horror movie to be nominated for an Oscar in the “Best Picture” category. The film was distributed by Warner Bros., owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBD).
Adjusted box office: $2.15 billion
The Lion King features twice in this list, and nothing can beat the original. From the soundtrack to the story to voice acting, the movie was a marvel on all fronts and represented the peak of Disney’s Renaissance Era.
Adjusted box office: $2.17 billion
Setting up the scene for Avengers: End Game, Infinity War is one of the most expensive movies ever made.
Adjusted box office: $2.17 billion
47 years after Jaws was released, director Steven Spielberg, whose movies are featured several times in this list, expressed regret for his movie resulting in the decimation of the shark population.
Adjusted box office: $2.2 billion
One of the oldest movies in our list, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937 and is the highest grossing animation movie of all time adjusted for inflation.
Adjusted box office: $2.33 billion
Jurassic Park was directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg, and was the first installment of the Jurassic Park franchise. Based on the novel of the same name, Jurassic Park was a huge success after release.
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Disclosure: None. 30 Highest Grossing Movies of All Time Adjusted For Inflation is originally published at Insider Monkey.
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