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Link: "GONE WITH THE WIND's reported adjusted domestic receipts are probably wrong And STAR WARS is probably the all-time champ"

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Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/boxoffice/comments/444omb/gone_with_the_winds_reported_adjusted_domestic/


All credits go to /u/capdeporc2005, I'm merely linking to his post and encouraging discussion


"I thought I'd verify GWTW's claim to being the domestic box office champ. As it's well known, its cume has been accumulated with several re-releases over many decades. Given how often this film is hailed as the all time great in terms of money making, it's surprising how little data there is documenting its performance. BOM for instance doesn't break down the domestic gross by each release, instead lumping most of the presumed receipts with the original 1939 release. And Guinness World Records reports that GWTW has adjusted lifetime global receipts of around $3.4B, but likewise doesn't bother to break it down.

The only source offering a breakdown of the domestic receipts by release is IMDb, so I started from there.

Year Reported domestic gross* Adjusted domestic gross (tickets sold)** Adjusted domestic gross (inflation)**
1939 (Initial release) $14,150,000 $518,628,261 $241,279,895
1941 (Re-release) $5,560,000 $187,483,200 $89,647,246
1942 (Re-release) $1,520,000 $47,457,778 $22,102,198
1947 (Re-release) $3,514,000 $74,057,550 $37,348,777
1954 (Re-release) $5,271,000 $98,743,400 $46,442,996
1961 (Re-release) $6,700,000 $81,856,522 $53,110,832
1967 (Re-release) $29,221,000 $205,277,525 $207,361,489
1974 (Re-release) $7,279,000 $32,813,888 $34,994,862
1989 (Re-release) $2,403,316 $5,103,263 $4,593,764
1998 (Re-release) $6,750,112 $12,132,931 $9,815,284
TOTAL $82,368,428 $1,263,554,317 $746,697,343

*The receipts figures for the years 1939, 1941, 1942, 1947, 1954, 1961, 1967 and 1974 are as reported on IMDb. The receipts figuresfor the years 1989 and 1998 are as reported on BOM.

**The large discrepancy between gross adjusted for tickets sold and gross adjusted for inflation is due to the fact that increases in ticketprices over decades has outstripped inflation. For example, the average ticket price in 2015 was $8.43 while, adjusted for inflation, theaverage ticket price in 1939 was $3.92.

 This is an overestimation because the initial release of GWTW included much more expensive road show advance-tickets.

IMDb also has alternative figures for GWTW's receipts in the years of 1939, 1941 and 1942 of $20M, $11M and $4M, respectively, but this is almost certainly wrong according to Wikipedia:

It is not absolutely clear how much Gone with the Wind earned from its initial release. Contemporary accounts often list it as earning $32 million in North American rentals and retrospective charts have often duplicated this claim; however, it is likely this was the worldwide rental figure. Trade journals would collate the data by either obtaining it from the distributors themselves, who were keen to promote a successful film, or by surveying theaters and constructing an estimate. Distributors would often report the worldwide rental since the higher figure made the film appear more successful, while estimates were limited to performance in North America; therefore it was not unusual for worldwide and North American rentals to be mixed up. Following the outbreak of World War II, many of the foreign markets were unavailable to Hollywood so it became standard practice to just report on North American box-office performance. In keeping with this new approach, the North American rental for Gone with the Wind was revised to $21 million in 1947 ($11 million lower than the previous figure), and as of 1953—following the 1947 re-release—Variety was reporting earnings of $26 million. Through 1956, MGM reported cumulative North American earnings of $30,015,000 and foreign earnings of $18,964,000, from three releases. Worldwide rentals of $32 million from the initial release is consistent with the revised figures and later reported worldwide figures: they indicate that the film earned $21 million in North America and $11 million overseas from the initial release, and added a further $9 million in North America and $8 million overseas from subsequent re-releases up to 1956.

Currently, BOM lists GWTW's adjusted lifetime domestic gross as ~$1.7B, based on unadjusted receipts of $189,523,031 supposedly earned before its 1989 re-release, but offers absolutely no breakdown of when these figures where earned, and even more troubling, possibly adjusts the entire total based on the value of the $US in 1939.

I am almost certain that the adjusted lifetime domestic gross for GWTW is wrong given that no breakdown is given for the unadjusted total, and is probably based on unverified newspaper reports reprinted ad nauseam. It's likely that there's been much confusion regarding this film's domestic and global receipts and no one has ever bothered to set things straight.

Star Wars' adjusted lifetime domestic total stands at about ~$1.5B and given its release date (38 years later thanGWTW), its figures are likely much more reliable.

SW is likely the actual domestic champ."




What do you think? I know that some of you guys broke down GWTW's gross, is it consistent with your numbers?

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There's definitely no shame in coming in under Gone with the Wind's contested adjusted numbers or even Star Wars'. Of course it would make it all the more incredible if a movie did manage to enter that territory. Doesn't matter who's the real champ, they're both undeniably big hits and I don't see a point in doing painstaking research to figure out exactly who made more money.

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It drives me crazy how lazy people were about collecting data back then, but to be honest, the adjusted for inflation ticket pricing is not that accurate to begin with, as movies cost different depend on where and what time you see them. it really would save a lot of time and effort if they just recorded tickets sold.  

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