Does Box Office Success Equal Critical Success?

This past weekend Avatar became the second highest grossing film of all time. So far it has made over $1.14 billion worldwide and over $380 million in the U.S. but just because a movie grosses a lot of money does not mean it is a well-received film. I have posted 2 lists here – the first is of the highest grossing domestic films of all time, the second is of the highest grossing films of all time adjusted for inflation. The percentages pertain to the percent of positive reviews each film has received as tabulated by The “fresher” a film is, the better the reviews are.

Top 10 Highest Grossing Films in the U.S

10. Avatar ($380 million) – 82% fresh

9. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($402 million) – 20% fresh

8. Spider-Man ($403 million) – 90% fresh

7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest ($423 million) – 53% fresh

6. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace ($431 million) – 62% fresh

5. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($435 million) – 98% fresh

4. Shrek 2 ($441 million) – 89% fresh

3. Star Wars ($460 million) – 94% fresh

2. The Dark Knight ($533 million) – 94% fresh

1. Titanic ($600 million) – 83% fresh

Top 10 Highest Grossing Films in the U.S. (Adjusted for Inflation)

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ($801 million) – 97% fresh

9. The Exorcist ($812 million) – 85% fresh

8. Doctor Zhivago ($912 million) – 83% fresh

7. Jaws ($941 million) – 100% fresh

6. Titanic ($943 million) – 83% fresh

5. The Ten Commandments ($962 million) – 93% fresh

4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial ($1.042 billion) – 98% fresh

3. The Sound of Music ($1.046 billion) – 81% fresh

2. Star Wars ($1.309 billion) – 94% fresh

1. Gone with the Wind (1.485 billion) – 97% fresh

The second list clearly has more well-reviewed films than the first, so does that mean that worse movies have been coming out recently than in the past or simply that movie studios are finding more and more creative ways to promote their crappy movies?




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2 responses to “Does Box Office Success Equal Critical Success?

  1. steve

    it’s important to remember that movie studios are businesses above all else. they love money. since the time of gone with the wind and the sound of music, studios have created formulas for productions that please the common folk, otherwise known as blockbusters. granted, these formulas are based off of the productions in the second list.
    critics see movies for free, so why should the suits of the studios give a shit about them?

    • Good points, although critics and Academy Award members do see movies for free, studio suits seem to care a lot about their opinions when it comes to Oscars and other accolades. Though movies like “Transformers” will bring in instant cash, well-reviewed movies may bring awards and thus be good for a studio in the long run. Ultimately it seems studios want both gold and Oscar gold, though the second may be the icing on top of the cash cake.

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