Avatar is now the highest-grossing film of all time in Australia. Released on 17 December 2009, it had earnt $108,621,853 at the local box office by 7 March 2010, making it the first film released in Australia to earn over $100 million.It then provides a link to its website of the top-grossing films of all time. I always have a problem with these sorts of claims, because a dollar in 1960, for example, would be worth $12.07 today according the Reserve Bank's official CPI rates. Crocodile Dundee's takings of $47.7M in 1986 puts it in fifth place as all-time Australian gross box office. However, when inflation-adjusted, that amount is equivalent to a whopping $108.89M in today's currency, putting it just ahead of Avatar. Now, I have no doubt that Avatar will continue to increase at the box office and pip Crocodile Dundee, but you see my point? And look at E.T. - inflation adjustments boosts it from #30 on Screen Australia's list to #3 on mine (below).
The fact is that the publication of box office gross is statistically dishonest and misleading. If, in half an hour, I can put download Reserve Bank rates and Screen Australia's list, and make a quick calculation, why can't we get this sort of comparison? I don't think it's laziness. I think it's a tendency towards sensationalism. There will more often be a film that beat (in unadjusted figures) a previous record gross, allowing for a headline. That's just pure bullshit.
Now, I only have Screen Australia's list of the top 50 grossing films at the Australian box office. It's not a complete list, so I can't compare with say Gone With the Wind, because it's not on that list. From memory, in gross, that film beats them all. And there will be others from way back whose adjusted box office would put them into the top 50.
In case it's not clear, in the following table, the columns are: Screen Australia's rank of each film title, the year of release, the gross box office according to Screen Australia, and my calculation of the inflation-adjusted box office. The list is sorted descending by adjusted box office.
Update: Titles without a Screen Australia rank have been sourced from Movie Marshall.
|Title||Year released||Box office $M||Inflation adj. $M|
|Gone with the Wind||1940||12.22||400.44|
|The Sound of Music||1965||13.01||140.38|
|6||Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring||2001||47.43||59.37|
|4||Lord of the Rings: Return of the King||2003||49.37||58.60|
|8||Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||2002||45.65||55.47|
|9||Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone||2001||42.35||53.01|
|18||Babe: The Gallant Pig||1995||36.78||52.19|
|12||Star Wars: Ep. I - The Phantom Menace||1999||38.83||51.39|
|The Empire Strikes Back||1980||15.13||51.22|
|Man from Snowy River||1982||17.23||47.19|
|7||The Dark Knight||2008||46.09||47.06|
|Crocodile Dundee 2||1988||24.92||46.19|
|17||Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets||2002||37.38||45.42|
|14||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||2006||38.05||41.48|
|24||Star Wars: Ep. II - Attack of the Clones||2002||33.86||41.15|
|Return of the Jedi*||1983||16.21||40.88|
|10||Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince||2009||40.60||40.60|
|23||Meet the Fockers||2004||34.98||40.47|
|11||Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen||2009||40.34||40.34|
|19||Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire||2005||35.73||40.22|
|48||The Lion King||1994||27.11||40.05|
|26||The Matrix Reloaded||2003||33.63||39.91|
|21||Star Wars: Ep. III - Revenge of the Sith||2005||35.46||39.91|
|22||The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe||2005||35.17||39.58|
|42||The Sixth Sense||1999||29.31||38.79|
|27||Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban||2004||33.14||38.34|
|13||The Twilight Saga: New Moon||2009||38.22||38.22|
Note: my calculations are approximations that make these assumptions for simplicity:
- Box office figures are considered to be amounts at the end of the year of release
- Inflation rates are based on Reserve Bank calculation of CPI as of December of each year. So a 2009 value for gross box office, won't be adjusted by my calculations until the end of 2010.
I've amended the table above to include titles not included in the Screen Australia list, using the gross box office figures from Movie Marshall, adjusted with my calculations (which unsurprisingly differ slightly from Movie Marshall's, who would obviously be using slightly different arbitrary assumptions). Many thanks to Paranoid Android for pointing out MM's list.
Taking over $400M in today's money, nothing is going to beat Gone with the Wind anytime soon.