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A Look at The Biggest Box Office Stories from 1972-present (THABOS: The History of Amazing Box Office Stories) | IT'S FINALLY COMPLETE!!!!!!!

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The History of Amazing Box Office Stories


Ladies and gentlemen sit back as I take you back through time.  We'll be exploring the box office from the 70's until the present.  We're going to look back at the films that made their mark on the box office decade by decade.  I'm going to take you inside of the records, the milestones and the shocking feats that has captured our attention for the last 5 decades.  Your favourite films will probably be on here but not every film will be mentioned.  This is going to be a celebration of the films that not only set records, but the ones that shocked and thrilled us with what they did at the box office.  We have a lot to cover and this will be done in five parts.  So get ready as we examine the box office decade by decade.  It will be a fun ride and hopefully something you enjoy.  Now, keep in mind, my box office acumen really begins in the 70's so unfortunately I cannot go back further than that.  Even more precise, my real knowledge starts after the 80's.  But I'll do my best to make this interesting for all of you.


Let's begin.


The 70's started a new era of film making.  The utopia type films of decades past began to give way to a meaner and more bleak type of film.  You had film makers like Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper making films that focused on the gritty underbelly of American culture.  They began to show that the world wasn't all sunshine and rainbows and that it was a mean and nasty place that could bring you to your knees.  1972 brought the 70's the first really big hits of the decade as Francis Ford Coppola's Mafia Crime opus, the Godfather gathered some of the biggest names of the film industry and clocking in at close to three hours, it shocked the world as it managed to gross 133 million in the US and a total of 245 million WW.  The only other 1972 film that came close to 100 million was the Gene Hackman vehicle for 20th Century Fox called the Poseidon Adventure.    This was an action adventure about a capsized ship.  It was remade in 2006 to much less successful results.  In 1972, the tenth highest grossing film was The Legend of Boggy Creek, which made 20 million.  An interesting note is Deliverance finished fifth in 1972 with 46 million.  This was the R rated film about weekend warriors going camping in the mountains and then getting stalked and eventually raped and (some) killed by a bunch of mountain men.  This was the fifth highest grossing film of 1972. 


1973 had a few interesting stories.  The Sting was the highest grossing film of the year as it made an unheard of 156 million dollars.  The film starred two eventual legends, Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  This was a film about con men trying to con a mob boss out of his money.  But the most interesting film of 1973 was the first horror movie to make 100 million at the box office and a film that to this day, more than 40 years later, is considered one of, if not the scariest film of all time.  That being the Exorcist.  This was also the first horror film to be nominated for best picture.  After various rereleases, the Exorcist has made 440 million WW.  It had an interesting release date, the day after Christmas.  Initially released in just 26 theatres, the film took the nation by storm very quickly.  The Exorcist set the box office a flame and to this day, it is still spoken about with reverence.  The other big film of 1973 was George Lucas' coming of age, car enthusiast film, American Graffiti.  It made 96 million dollars, but more importantly, film producer Alan Ladd liked it so much that he told George Lucas he would make any film George wanted to do.  This would come in handy for George in 3 years.  An interesting film to come in at number 7 was the X rated sex opus starring Marlon Brando called Last Tango in Paris.  It grossed 36 million.

1974 was the year of the disaster film.  20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers teamed up to release The Towering Inferno.  This was the first time two major Hollywood studios teamed up to produced a film.  It was headlined by two of the biggest stars with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman.  The film had dazzling special effects and audiences responded to it to the tune of 116 million dollars.  The second disaster film to make bank in 73 was the Universal film Earthquake.  It was lauded for its innovative sound and starred a well known cast with names like Charlton Heston, Walter Matthau and George Kennedy.  It came in at number five with a shade under 80 million.  The third top ten disaster was Airport 1975.  For those of you who haven't seen it, if you have seen Airplane, the ZAZ production, it basically riffs on this film in many ways.   But the most shocking film of the year and the one in at number one, was the Mel Brooks cowboy spoof, Blazing Saddles.  This film also satirized racism in Hollywood and it starred Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little.  It went on to gross 119 million to finish just ahead of Towering Inferno.    Some notable films of 1974 was the sequel to the Godfather, which took a huge tumble but still finished sixth with 47 million.  The Burt Reynolds prison football film, The Longest Yard, finished 9th with 43 million.


Thus concludes the beginning of our journey through THoABOS.  Coming up next, 1975, the year movies changed forever. 

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4 minutes ago, aabattery said:

This should be good. Looking forward to the rest.


It probably says a lot about me though that I read this as Thanos at first lmao.


I knew it would look like that at first.....I kind of planned it that way. :)

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9 minutes ago, langer said:

MBFGW better be in this.  


Edit :  nice initiative Baumer!


I can guarantee you that it is definitely possible that MBFGW will be in this.

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7 hours ago, Goffe said:

@baumer The Exorcist was the highest grossing movie of 73, not The Sting.


According to the research, the Exorcist grossed 128 million in its initial release.  


 Phillips, Kendall (2005). Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 102. ISBN 9780313017964. The Exorcist grossed $128 million in its initial release, a figure that, when adjusted for inflation, would make it the most successful R-rated film in American history.

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We will start today with a special look at 1975 because it was the year of my favourite film of all time and it also set the record for the highest grossing film of all time, a record that would be held for two short years.  As we all know, I'm talking about JAWS.  I won't get into everything about the film but here are a few interesting facts about the film.  


The novel was written by Peter Benchley and took the country by storm, spending almost a year on the best sellers list, however, even before the books publication, the producers of JAWS read it and bought the rights for a huge sum of $175,000.  This is even before it was published. Richard Zanuck and Dave Brown simply loved the story and were determined to produce the film at any cost.  They would later go on to say that if they had read the book twice, they would not have bought the rights because they would have realized the film was next to impossible to film.  They ended up being more correct than they would have liked to.  JAWS proved to be one of the most difficult shoots in the history of film.


Principal photography was scheduled for 55 days.  It took almost three times that as production went 159 days.  Spielberg thought his career was over because no one had ever gone 100 days over schedule before.  Part of the problem was the mechanical shark was not working.  "We started the film without a script, without a cast and without a shark." These were Richard Dreyfuss' words.  Everything that could go wrong on the set of JAWS did.  The cast partied too much causing drunk and disorderly conduct on set some days and nights.  Cast members were fired or replaced.  The crew often sat around baking in the sun as the shark prop would sink to the bottom of the ocean and the script was being rewritten on a daily basis.  In fact, if the internet was around in 1974, JAWS would have been trashed worse than any film you could imagine today.  This film went massively over budget, the director was hated and the film was feared to be an albatross for Universal. Richard Dreyfuss even went on national TV and ripped the movie before it even opened. The film looked to be a massive failure.  But that was before it was screened for audiences. 


When test audiences first saw JAWS, they were terrified.  And this is what gave Universal the confidence to put all of their efforts into getting this movie seen on a massive scale, unlike any movie before.  Universal spent $1.8 million promoting Jaws, including an unprecedented $700,000 on national television spot advertising. The media blitz included about two dozen 30-second advertisements airing each night on prime-time network TV between June 18, 1975, and the film's opening two days later. Brown and Benchley hit the television and radio talk show circuit to promote the paperback edition of the novel and the forthcoming film.  


The movie was granted a wide release, opening on 464 screens (409 in the USA, the rest in Canada) on 20 June 1975. Critics raved, while its public reception was immediate and emphatic – $7 million  taken in the opening weekend and all production costs covered before the weekend was over.  By August it was showing on 900 screens across North America. It became the First movie to take more than $100 million in theatrical rentals (the amount of the box-office gross that goes back to the studio/distributor after cinemas have taken their percentage for showing the film).


JAWS went on to gross 260 million in North America, destroying any and all records.  The nation was in a JAWS frenzy.  But it didn't end there.  The rest of the world also fell in love with and was terrified with JAWS.  It grossed 210 million internationally for a WW total of 470 million.  It set records in places like New Zealand, Spain, Mexico and Japan.  By 1977, JAWS was the highest grossing film of all time internationally as well as domestically.  


The term blockbuster was popularized because of JAWS.  Although the term had been around since the 1940's with films like Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur and Ten Commandments being called blockbusters, JAWS took it to another level.  It wasn't just the box office, it was everything that we take for granted today in the film lexicon.  The JAWS blockbuster was the gross, the amount spent on marketing, the toy tie ins, the amount of theatres it played and how often it played and for how long it played.  JAWS started the gears of change.  And what we take for granted today can be attributed to the film that was supposed to ruin Spielberg's career and set Universal back with tremendous loss.  We know now that the opposite is of course true.  Scholar Thomas Schatz wrote that it "recalibrated the profit potential of the Hollywood hit, and redefined its status as a marketable commodity and cultural phenomenon as well. The film brought an emphatic end to Hollywood's five-year recession, while ushering in an era of high-cost, high-tech, high-speed thrillers."  Jaws also redefined the summer season.  Before it came out and made gobs of money, studios looked at the summer the way a lot of us look at September right now.  They felt that no one wanted to be inside on a beautiful, hot, sunny day watching movies, so they were less inclined to release their tent-poles during this time.  That all changed on June 20th 1975.


JAWS, more than any film in history (in my opinion) did more to change Hollywood.  You can make an argument for other films like Star Wars (of course), Titanic, the MCU and a litany of others, but JAWS pioneered changed.  It turned the business upside down and it rewired an audience to see things differently.  JAWS, imo, is not only the greatest film ever made, it's also one of, if not the most important film (from a business standpoint) ever made.


One final note.  If you are a film history enthusiast, even if you are not a massive JAWS fan, I would highly recommend finding Carl Gottlieb's JAWS log.  It's his account of the daily problems and adventures of making the film.  It's a fascinating read and it brings you inside a film making process unlike any other book I've read.  It's available on Amazon for about $10.00.  Or, if anyone here is interested.....I have a copy of it and I'd be willing to lend it to you.  If you would like to read it, buy it or I can send it to you.




I'll get to the rest of 1975.  I just figured JAWS could use an entry all to itself.  



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4 hours ago, baumer said:


According to the research, the Exorcist grossed 128 million in its initial release.  


 Phillips, Kendall (2005). Projected Fears: Horror Films and American Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 102. ISBN 9780313017964. The Exorcist grossed $128 million in its initial release, a figure that, when adjusted for inflation, would make it the most successful R-rated film in American history.

are we sure that's not rental gross?

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You did a great job summing up most of the big blockbusters from 1972-1974. I think Young Frankenstein should also get a mention for 1974 as well. It was a very high grossing film. Pretty amazing that Mel Brooks' 2 highest domestic grossing films (adjusted for inflation) came from the same year.

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