Every other week, it seems like a new blockbuster is smashing records at the box office. When people hear about highest grossing films of all time, what first comes to mind likely is spandexed heroes and CGI spectacles. While those certainly find their way onto the list (with "Avengers Infinity Wars" being the latest addition), depending on how you evaluate box-office earnings, a southern romance, bible epic, Russian drama, and musical all dominate the list along with their action movie fellows. Here are the 30 films with the highest-grossing worldwide box office of all time, adjusted for inflation.
Highest Grossing Movies of All-Time: Top 30
1. 'Gone with the Wind' (1939)
1939 box office: $400.2 million
Adjusted box office: $3.4 billion -$3.8 billion
Sitting at the top of the list, "Gone with the Wind" remains a testament to the power and popularity of Hollywood film making in its golden age. A 4-hour historical-romantic epic, the movie has not aged particularly well in the eyes of some, be it for its excessive length, flowery dialogue, or questionable depiction of slavery. Indisputable, though, is that the film became an unprecedented success upon its release, averaging around 11,000 audience members a day at its peak and selling roughly 60 million tickets in the U.S. alone by the end of its 4-year run - just under half of the country's population.
2. 'Titanic' (1997)
1997 box office: $2.187 billion
Adjusted box office: $3.2 billion - $3.4 billion
James Cameron's other box-office record breaker, "Titanic" was predicted to be a box-office disappointment leading up to its release. It was then the most expensive film ever made, with a budget of $200 million and two different production companies, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox, working on the film. All this proved worth it, though, as the film dominated the box office for weeks after its release, even garnering the critical accolade of Best Picture and a hit song with Celine Dione's "My Heart Will Go On." The film managed to take in even more cash with a 2012 3-D re-release.
3. 'Avatar' (2009)
2009 box office: $2.788 billion
Adjusted box office: $3.2 billion
Officially the highest-grossing film of all time without adjusting for inflation, "Avatar" marked another massive success for James Cameron. With its 3-D visuals and fully-digital world, the film was praised by many for, like Star Wars, ushering in a new era of special effects.
4. 'Star Wars' (1977)
1977 box office: $775.4 million
Adjusted box office: $2.9 billion -$3 billion
A blockbuster classic, "Star Wars" (now called "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" captured the hearts and minds of moviegoers across the globe upon its release. George Lucas' space-epic wowed people with its visual effects and intricate universe. Lucas himself had doubts about the film's success leading up to its release. After visiting the set of Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Lucas was convinced the film would outperform "Star Wars" on its release. Spielberg felt otherwise and the two directors made a deal to trade 2.5% of the profits of each other's film. Spielberg still receives 2.5% of profits from Star Wars to this day.
5. 'Avengers: Endgame' (2019)
2019 box office: $2.742 billion (and counting)
The final outing for many of Marvel's heroes, "Avengers: Endgame" broke all kinds of records upon its release, including highest-grossing opening weekend at $1.2 billion, fastest time to gross $1 billion, and highest-grossing superhero film of all time. Currently, it's the second-highest grossing film of all time without adjusting for inflation, and in a bid to cover the $40 million dollar gap separating it from the top spot, Marvel has announced an extended cut of the film they'll be bringing to theaters next weekend.
6. 'The Sound of Music' (1965)
1965 box office: $286.2 million
Adjusted box office: $2.4 billion - $2.5 billion
The only musical to make this list, "The Sound of Music" was such a hit that it had a theatrical release in America of 4½ years. While many East Coast critics dismissed the film for its sentimentality upon its release, that didn't stop audiences from flocking in droves to hum along to its Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes.
7. 'E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial' (1982)
1982 box office: $792.3 million
Adjusted box office: $2.3 billion -$2.4 billion
Spielberg wasn't the only one to make money off this smash hit. While the director was reportedly making $500,000 off the friendly alien, Hershey (HSY) - Get Report saw their profits rise 65% after the pronounced use of Reese's Pieces in the film.
8. 'The Ten Commandments' (1956)
1956 box office: $122.7 million
Adjusted box office: $2.2 billion-$2.3 billion
Another bible epic starring Charlton Heston on the list, "The Ten Commandments" averaged a staggering $1 million per week in its first 10 weeks despite initially only being open in 80 theaters. The Cecil B. DeMille production only found greater success after expanding its release despite the film's 4-hour runtime.
9. 'Doctor Zhivago' (1965)
1965 box office: $245 million
Adjusted box office: $2.15 billion-$2.25 billion
A sweeping period-piece following a romance amidst the heights of the Russian Revolution, "Doctor Zhivago" enjoyed huge success both in America and abroad. While its commercial success and epic scale are irrefutable, many then and now have criticized the film both for its taxing three-hour runtime and trivialization and overly-romantic treatment of a serious historical subject.
10. 'Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens' (2015)
2015 box office: $2.068 billion
Adjusted box office: $2.15 billion
Another reboot of the "Star Wars" series, this one found both a more positive critical and commercial reception among fans than the previous attempt, with J.J. Abram's work garnering praise for its modern but respectful take on the classic franchise.
11. 'Jaws' (1975)
1975 box office: $470.6 million
Adjusted box office: $2.05 billion-$2.1 billion
Another Spielberg success story, "Jaws" broke records both at home and abroad upon its release, setting the standard for the summer blockbuster for years to come.
12. 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' (1937)
1937 box office: $418 million
Adjusted box office: $2 billion -$2.1 billion
The first of Disney's (DIS) - Get Report major motion pictures, "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" also remains its greatest animated success. It was the first full-length traditionally animated film, and due to the massive costs that came with that, many referred to it as "Disney's Folly" while it went through its production phases. All this changed once it premiered and became a smash hit, raking in cash in its first release and several re-releases that followed.
13. 'Jurassic Park' (1993)
1993 box office: $1.029 billion
Adjusted box office: $2 billion -$2.1 billion
One of Spielberg's many blockbuster hits, "Jurassic Park" wowed audiences with its mix of practical and computer-generated effects. Some argue that it even holds up better than its almost fully-CGI modern successor.
14. 'Avengers: Infinity War' (2018)
2018 box office: $2.048 billion
A more recent addition to this list, "Avengers: Infinity War" was billed as the first half of the epic conclusion Marvel had been building toward since 2008 with the release of "Iron Man." As such, it saw audiences across the world come to see the beginning of the end.
15. 'The Exorcist' (1973)
1973 box office: $441.3 million
Adjusted box office: $1.85 billion -$1.9 billion
A film so shocking that everyone had to see it, "The Exorcist" initially only opened on 30 screens. Once Warner Brothers realized the massive crowds the film was bringing in they quickly expanded its release so the rest of the world could take their own look at the controversial horror classic.
16. 'The Lion King' (1994)
1994 box office: $968.5 million
Adjusted box office: $1.8 billion -$1.85 billion
One of the last great successes of Walt Disney Animation Studios' traditionally animated productions, "The Lion King" went on to win a host of Golden Globes and Oscars along with its financial success.
17. 'Jurassic World' (2015)
2015 box office: $1.671 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.8 billion
Another example of a franchise revival making big earning at the box office, "Jurassic World" saw the newly-minted action star Chris Pratt bring audiences back to a slicker version of the world Steven Spielberg set up in his 1993 blockbuster.
18. 'Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace' (1999)
1999 box office: $1.027 million
Adjusted box office: $1.75 billion -$1.8 billion
While this film remains divisive among "Star Wars" fans, no one can deny its financial success. The massive hype surrounding the franchise's return after a 16-year hiatus led to lines stretching out of theaters across and outside of the U.S.
19. 'Ben-Hur' (1959)
1959 box office: $146.9 million
Adjusted box office: $1.7 billion -$1.8 billion
MGM took a huge gamble on this film. It had been the costliest film ever made up to that point, almost bankrupting the studio with production plus marketing adding to around $130 million in today's dollars. Thankfully for them, the film became a worldwide hit (excluding China which banned it as religious propaganda), more than recouping the costs.
20. 'The Avengers' (2012)
2012 box office: $1.519 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.7 billion
The first of the "Avengers" series and a culmination of phase 1 in the Marvel superhero franchise, this movie brought together, among others, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, and Jeremy Renner for a victory lap in the now wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
21. 'Independence Day' (1996)
1996 box office: $817.4 million
Adjusted box Office: $1.65 billion-$1.7 billion
A rare example of a non-franchise (at least non-franchise for 20 years) action movie breaking records, this Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum-led alien-invasion thriller enjoyed mixed critical reception but massive success at the box office. Some attribute the scale of its success to the $1.3 million Fox spent in advertising the film during the Super Bowl, kicking off the trend of using Super Bowl airtime to promote blockbuster hopefuls.
22. 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' (2003)
2003 box office: $1.119 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.65 billion -$1.7 billion
The conclusion of Peter Jackson's fantasy-epic "Lord of the Rings" series, "The Return of the King" released to rampant commercial and critical success, becoming the second film in history to earn over $1 billion in the box office.
23. 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
1980 box office: $538.4 million
Adjusted box office: $1.6 billion -$1.65 billion
The second entry in the blockbuster Star Wars series, (now called "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back") this one didn't quite reach the commercial heights of its predecessor, but was still praised by critics and movie-goers alike as a continuation and improvement on everything that had made the first "Star Wars" an instant classic.
24. 'Furious 7' (2015)
2015 box office: $1.516 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.6 billion
Released in the wake of film lead Paul Walker's tragic death mid-filming, the seventh entry of this street-racing action series nevertheless managed to become the most successful in its long history, even including a smash-hit pop song, Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again," a tribute to the movie's late star.
25. 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (2001)
2001 box office: $974.8 million
Adjusted box office: $1.525 billion -$1.575 billion
The first and highest-grossing film in the "Harry Potter" series, audiences flocked to see the big-screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling's hit fantasy novels as brought to life by child stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Whatson, and Rupert Grint.
26. 'Cinderella' (1950)
1950 box office: $263.6 million
Adjusted box office: $1.45 billion -$1.55 billion
Another Disney staple, this film dazzled audiences worldwide with its stunning animation, becoming an instant success. In 2008, the American Film Institute placed it as the ninth best animated film ever made.
27. 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2' (2011)
2011 box office: $1.341 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.525 billion
The final entry in the beloved series following the boy who lived, this film's release brought in hoards of kids and families to see the conclusion of the series that had grown up with them. While it made a killing at the box office, it just barely missed becoming the most successful movie in the franchise.
28. 'Thunderball' (1965)
1965 box office: $141.2 million
Adjusted box office: $1.5 billion -$1.55 billion
A gem in the lucrative James Bond series, this Sean Connery-led spy thriller easily passed the records set by its earlier iterations to become the highest-grossing in the franchise. Even without adjusting for inflation, it held onto this record until 1973's "Live and Let Die."
29. 'Bambi' (1942)
1942 box office: $267.5 million
Adjusted box office: $1.45 billion -$1.55 billion
Owing to a release at the height of World War II, "Bambi" actually lost money when it first came out, making back only $1.64 million of the $1.7 million it cost to produce. A 1947 re-release changed all that, cementing it as one of Disney's great successes.
30. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (2015)
2015 box office: $1.405 billion
Adjusted box office: $1.475 billion
The second in Marvel's cash-cow "Avenger's" series, this one didn't earn quite the financial or critical success of its predecessors or successors, but it still carved out a comfortable sum for Marvel and Disney at the box office.