Studios and filmmakers like to brag about their biggest box office smashes of all time, and records seem to break constantly with each new release.
But to figure out which movies really earned the most in ticket sales, you have to look deeper.
You might think “Avengers: Endgame” or “Avatar” would top the list given their jaw-dropping profits, but adjusting for inflation, the ranking changes pretty quick.
Here are the top-grossing movies of all time, adjusted for inflation.
10 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Estimated adjusted gross: $982 million
Snow White may have only had seven dwarfs, but Disney picked up nearly $1 billion in adjusted ticket sales. That was only $184.9 million in 1937, but inflation is a crazy thing.
9 The Exorcist
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.04 billion
“The Exorcist” certainly left a lasting impression on audiences and on pop culture. It ranks ninth among the highest earners of all time, earning $232.9 million since its 1973, which is just over a billion in today’s money.
8 Doctor Zhivago
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.12 billion
It may not be as popular today, but “Doctor Zhivago” was a serious deal when it came out in 1965. Even though it was competing with “The Sound of Music” (what a year for film), the war epic earned $112.1 million and five Oscars to boot.
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.15 billion
The highest earning horror movie of all time, Steven Spielberg’s aquatic thriller pulled in audiences (and yanked them from coastal waters) in 1975. While it didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars, it did rack up $260 million in ticket sales.
6 The Ten Commandments
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.18 billion
It’s hard to do justice to the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, but “The Ten Commandments” did it well enough to score $65.5 million in ticket sales in 1956. The Jell-O water effect may not hold up in 2019, but the film’s adjusted gross certainly does.
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.29 billion
The love story between Rose and Jack still makes audiences swoon, and the box office totals do the same for studio execs. The movie held the title for highest box office sales for years, with $658.6 million, but it’s the adjusted gross that truly puts the movie in the running for most successful of all time.
4 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.33 billion
E.T. was pretty magical when it came out in 1982, wowing audiences with an endearing cast, adorable alien, iconic score and beautiful storytelling. Put together, those factors earned the movie about $435 million, or just about $1.3 billion today.
3 The Sound of Music
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.41 billion
When it was released in 1965, “The Sound of Music” brought in $158.8 million, based almost entirely on the flawless Julie Andress and her golden pipes. Audiences may have already been familiar with the story from the 1959 stage production, but the movie brought the story and the songs to the masses.
2 Star Wars
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.6 billion
The newest “Star Wars” films have brought in huge audiences and huger cash, but the original remains the highest grossing entry in the series. The film was a sensation when it dropped in 1977, earning Lucas and the whole crew about $460 million at the time.
1 Gone with the Wind
Estimated adjusted gross: $1.81 billion
Basically the first viral film of all time, “Gone with the Wind” racked up about $203 million back in 1939 with its epic Civil War tale. While that would be a drop in the bucket for Disney these days, adjusting that total for 2019 puts the classic American film at the top of the box office charts.