The 20 Highest-Grossing Movies of All Time

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iStock

Between Black Panther's many box office triumphs, and Avengers: Infinity War's record-breaking opening weekend, 2018 has been a very good year at the movies—particularly for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But these superheroes still have a long way to go to crack the top 20 highest-grossing movies of all time (though Black Panther is currently in the 30th spot). We've written about some of the lowest-grossing movies of all time; here are America's highest-grossing ones, adjusted for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.

1. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)

Released in 1939, Victor Fleming’s adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War epic is one of the world’s first genuine blockbusters—and still holds the top spot for box office dollars, with a grand total of $1,854,769,700.

2. STAR WARS (1977)

star wars a new hope film still
Lucasfilms

The George Lucas space opera that launched a thousand action figures (and almost as many sequels and prequels) still reigns supreme in the Star Wars universe, with a total take of $1,635,137,900.

3. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965)

The hills are alive … with the sound of $1,307,373,200 in domestic ticket sales

4. E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)

The biggest movie of 1982 is also the fourth biggest movie of all time, with a grand total of $1,302,222,800. That’s a lot of Reese’s Pieces.

5. TITANIC (1997)

film still from titanic
Paramount Pictures

James Cameron may have gotten some flak after declaring himself “King of the World” when he scooped up the award for Best Director at the 1998 Oscars, but he wasn’t too far off. Between Avatar (more on that later) and Titanic, which took in $1,244,347,300 , Cameron holds the top two spots on the highest-grossing films worldwide.

6. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)

Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic managed to conjure up $1,202,580,000 at the box office, even with a near-four-hour running time.

7. JAWS (1975)

film still from jaws
Universal Pictures

The film that made Steven Spielberg a household name may have scared audiences away from the water, but it brought them to the cinema in droves, as evidenced by its $1,175,763,500 in ticket sales.

8. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)

Despite being banned in Russia—the country in which it is set—until 1994, David Lean’s epic drama-romance still managed to drum up more than a billion dollars ($1,139,563,500) from U.S. audiences.

9. THE EXORCIST (1973)

William Friedkin’s groundbreaking horror film is the genre’s first to score a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Though it ultimately lost to The Sting, it won as far as the box office was concerned, with a grand total of $1,015,300,400.

10. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)

film still from snow white and the seven dwarfs
Walt Disney Pictures

Rounding out the top 10 is the oldest film on this list; the Walt Disney classic generated $1,000,620,000 at the box office.

11. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)

The newest film on this list, perhaps unsurprisingly, is yet another entry in the Star Wars saga. The Force Awakens managed to ring up $992,496,600 in box office receipts.

12. 101 DALMATIANS (1961)

Yet another Disney classic, the original 101 Dalmatians barked up $917,240,400 between its original 1961 release and four re-releases (in 1969, 1979, 1985, and 1991).

13 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)


Lucasfilm

The second film released in the Star Wars franchise is its third highest grossing, with $901,298,200 in adjusted domestic ticket sales.

14. BEN-HUR (1959)

William Wyler’s sword and sandal spectacular was a hit with audiences, generating $899,640,000 in ticket sales.

15. AVATAR (2009)

film still from avatar
Twentieth Century Fox

James Cameron's eco-minded sci-fi film is the director's second in the top 20 highest-grossing films, with $893,301,900.

16. RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983)

Another Star Wars movie, another entry on this list. The franchise’s third release made an impressive $863,465,400.

17. JURASSIC PARK (1993)

While Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the Jurassic Park series, currently holds the 24th spot on the all-time highest grossing movies list with $725,671,700, it’s got a long way to go before matching the original’s $841,088,300 in box office grosses.

18. STAR WARS: EPISODE I — THE PHANTOM MENACE (1999)

George Lucas. Again. This time with The Phantom Menace, which took in $829,064,800. Despite the presence of Jar Jar Binks.

19. THE LION KING (1994)

the lion king
Walt Disney Pictures

The beloved animated classic roared its way into the all-time top 20 with $818,364,200.

20. THE STING (1973)

The Best Picture of 1973 was also a big winner at the box office, generating $818,331,400 in ticket sales.

11 Surprising Facts About George R.R. Martin

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Game of Thrones fans know the epic HBO series is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but beyond the TV show, how much do they really know about the author? Sure, they know it’s taking him a really long time to finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the series, but what about him as a person? Here are a few things you might not know about the man who brought us the world of Westeros.

1. As a kid, he made money selling monster stories.

The famed author grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father was a longshoreman. "When I was living in Bayonne, I desperately wanted to get away," Martin told The Independent. "Not because Bayonne was a bad place, mind you. Bayonne was a very nice place in some ways. But we were poor. We had no money. We never went anywhere."

Though his family didn't have the means to travel outside of Bayonne, Martin began to develop a love of reading and writing at a very young age, which allowed him to imagine fantastical worlds beyond his New Jersey hometown. He also learned that writing could be a profitable endeavor: he began selling his stories to other kids in the neighborhood for a penny apiece. (He later raised his prices to a nickel.) Martin's entrepreneurial efforts came to an end when his stories began giving one of his kid customers nightmares, which eventually got back to Martin's mom.

2. He is obsessed with comic books.

In 2014, Martin sat down for a Q&A about his career at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Though, given his love of fantasy worlds, it might not be surprising to learn that Martin is a comic book fan, he also credits the genre with inspiring him to begin writing in the first place.

"I’m so grateful for comic books because they were really the thing that made me a reader, which in return made me a writer," Martin said. "In the 1950s in America, we had these books that taught you to read, and they were all about Dick and Jane, who were the most boring family you ever wanted to meet ... I didn’t know anyone who lived like that, and it just seemed like a horrible thing. But Batman and Superman, they had a much more interesting life. Gotham City was much more interesting than wherever it was where Dick and Jane lived.”

3. He built a library tower in Santa Fe.

In 2009, Martin bought the home across the street from his house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and turned it into an office space with a library tower built inside. The tower is only two stories tall, because of city building restrictions, but it seems only fitting that the author/history buff would want to be surrounded with books while he writes.

4. A fan letter got his professional writing career started.

Martin's love of comic books is what got his professional career rolling, too. "I had a letter published in Fantastic Four, and because my address was in there I started getting these fanzines and I started writing stories for them," Martin said during the same Santa Fe Q&A. "Funny enough, people writing stories in these fanzines at the time were just awful. They were just really bad, which was good because I looked at these awful stories and knew I could do better than that. I may not have been Shakespeare or J.R.R. Tolkien, but I was certain I could write better than the crap in the fanzines, and indeed I could."

5. A failed novel led to a television writing career.

More than 10 years before A Song of Ice and Fire debuted in 1996, Martin wrote a book called The Armageddon Rag in 1983. Though it was a critical disappointment, producer Phil DeGuere was interested in adapting the project with Martin's help. While that never came to fruition, DeGuere thought of Martin when they were rebooting The Twilight Zone in the mid-1980s and brought him on board to write a handful of episodes. He later did some writing for the live-action Beauty and the Beast series, starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton.

6. Network television standards were not a fit for Martin's style of writing.

Though Martin found success as a television writer, the constant back-and-forth about what they were or were not allowed to show proved to be too much for the writer. "[T]here were constant limitations. It wore me down," Martin told Rolling Stone. "There were battles over censorship, how sexual things could be, whether a scene was too 'politically charged,' how violent things could be. Don’t want to disturb anyone. We got into that fight on Beauty and the Beast. The Beast killed people. That was the point of the character. He was a beast. But CBS didn’t want blood, or for the beast to kill people ... The character had to remain likable."

7. He owns an independent movie theater.

In 2006, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe closed its doors, which saddened many locals who were regular patrons, Martin among them. Several years later, Martin decided to give the theater a second life and, after a slight makeover, reopened its doors in 2013. Today, in addition to independent films, the theater holds regular special events—including screenings of Game of Thrones episodes. There's also an onsite bar that serves Game of Thrones-themed cocktails, like the signature White Walker.

8. Martin credits HBO with changing the rules of television.

Network television standards may have been too tame and regimented for Martin's tastes, but all that changed with HBO and The Sopranos, which he credits as paving the way for a series like Game of Thrones to exist in its current form at all.

"I credit HBO with smashing the damn trope that everybody had to be likable on television," Martin told Rolling Stone. "The Sopranos turned it around. When you meet Tony Soprano, he’s in the psychiatrist office, he’s talking about the ducks, his depression and that stuff, and you like this guy. Then he gets in his car and he’s driving away and he sees someone who owes him money, and he jumps out and he starts stomping him. Now how likable was he? Well you didn’t care, because they already had you. A character like Walter White on Breaking Bad could never have existed before HBO."

9. Martin thinks it's important for writers to break the rules.

While he's an admitted fan of William Goldman, Martin has a very different opinion of noted screenplay expert Syd Field. "There is a book out there by Syd and it’s his guide to writing screenplays and it’s probably one of the most harmful things that has ever been done for the movie industry,” Martin said. “For some perverse reason, it has become the bible not for writers but for what we call 'the suits,' the guys at the studios whose job it is to develop properties and give notes to supervise screenplays. They take Syd Field’s course and they buy the book and they start criticizing screenplays like, ‘Well you know, the first turn is supposed to be on page 12 and yours is not until page 17, so obviously this won’t do!'"

"Syd just writes downs these ridiculous rules," Martin continued. "If there really was a formula as he says, then every movie would be a blockbuster. We would just connect A, B, and C and we would have a great movie and everyone would pack the theater to see it. But every movie is not a blockbuster. Many movies that follow his rules precisely actually go down the toilet."

10. He’s a skilled chess player.

"I started playing chess when I was quite young, in grade school," Martin told The Independent. "I played it through high school. In college, I founded the chess club. I was captain of the chess team." Eventually, Martin discovered that he could actually make some money off this skill.

"For two or three years, I had a pretty good situation. Most writers who have to have a day job work five days a week and then they have the weekend off to write. These chess tournaments were all on the weekend so I had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but then I had five days off to write. The chess generated enough money for me to pay my bills."

11. He has a very specific way of writing, which is why he hasn't finished the winds of winter.

Fans have been waiting for a while for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and Martin has been honest about why it's taking him so long. "Writer’s block isn’t to blame here, it’s distraction," he said. "In recent years, all of the work I’ve been doing creates problems because it creates distraction. Because the books and the show are so popular I have interviews to do constantly. I have travel plans constantly. It’s like suddenly I get invited to travel to South Africa or Dubai, and who’s passing up a free trip to Dubai? I don’t write when I travel. I don’t write in hotel rooms. I don’t write on airplanes. I really have to be in my own house undisturbed to write. Through most of my life no body did bother me, but now everyone bothers me every day."

Can You Guess the Meaning of These Dothraki Words?

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