To Really Beat Box-Office Records, “Star Wars” Will Need To Top These Numbers

This weekend, the newest Star Wars movie will start playing in cinemas throughout the world. Pundits in places like Forbes and the International Business Times are already predicting it will be the “biggest movie of all time.”

The headlines and superlatives about this movie’s box office records will dominate entertainment news during the winter. However, it is important to understand that the hoopla surrounding box office records is nothing new: Hollywood uses special effects for both making movies and discussing how a movie does financially. Hollywood movies consistently break box office (ticket sales) records because the industry does not adjust sales for inflation.

Instead of recording the number of people who view a film, the movie industry records the amount of money taken in by ticket sales. Because both the general cost of living and ticket prices have increased substantially over time, movies that debuted years ago are unfairly compared with movies that debut today. A fair comparison of how movies have fared financially must include an inflation adjustment, which yields quite a few surprises.

The Force Awakens has already posted $14.1 million in opening day sales in a number of European nations, along with an estimated record $50 million from Thursday night previews in the US. It has already broken presale records in the United Kingdom, Russia, Canada and the US. Variety is estimating that the movie will reap $400 million (U.S.) in worldwide ticket sales between its mid-December opening and New Year’s Eve.

How well have previous Star Wars movies performed?

The table below shows the worldwide sales in millions of dollars that each of the six previous Star Wars movies earned.

The top-grossing movie is the 1999 Phantom Menace, which earned a bit over $1 billion. The lowest-grossing movie in the series is The Empire Strikes Back, which earned slightly more than half a billion dollars. The original movie, A New Hope, that started the franchise in 1977 only earned $750 million, ranking it in the middle of the pack among the six movies.

Best to worst Star Wars Movies based on worldwide ticket sales (in millions of US $).

Best to worst Star Wars Movies based on worldwide ticket sales (in millions of US $).

What happens after adjustment?

The above table, however, provides a rather distorted view of the six Star Wars movies because it is unfair to compare a movie’s box office take in 1977 with the box office take decades later.

Wages and ticket prices in the 1970s and 1980s were much lower than they are today. To collect the same ticket revenue, a movie that was released when the average ticket price was $1 will need to bring in ten times more customers than a similar movie that is released when the average ticket costs $10.

One simple way of adjusting is using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation adjustment calculator. This online tool (available here) uses data on the price U.S. consumers have paid for a wide variety of goods and services from 1913 to the present. Typing in the box office values and the year when each movie was released results in a new table, shown below.

Best to worst Star Wars Movies after adjusting for inflation (in millions of US $).

Best to worst Star Wars Movies after adjusting for inflation (in millions of US $).

Adjusting for inflation changes the rankings dramatically. The original Star Wars movie A New Hope is no longer in the middle of the pack. Instead of only $750 million, it made over $3 billion in movie ticket sales after adjusting for inflation. The Empire Strikes Back moves from the very bottom of the list to second place with over $1.5 billion in inflation-adjusted ticket sales.

How much would it take to claim the record?

To break the record held by the very first Star Wars movie, the current episode would have to earn at least $3.1 billion in worldwide ticket sales.

Earning this would not only make it the all-time Star Wars leader but also break the “box office record,” which is currently held by the 2009 hit Avatar. That science- fiction movie about blue giants living on another planet racked up $2.8 billion in worldwide ticket sales, or $3.1 billion, after adjusting for inflation.

The real bar, however, that this current Star Wars movie needs to break is held by Gone with the Wind, which had ticket sales of about $200 million. While this may not seem like much, it is important to understand that it earned this in 1939 when movie ticket prices were just 25 cents. After adjusting for inflation, Gone with the Wind earned $3.4 billion in inflation-adjusted money, eclipsing both Avatar and the first Star Wars movie.

Hollywood will almost definitely declare that the newest Star Wars movie is a box office record-breaker very shortly. However, to truly say this movie is financially Hollywood’s top performer, older movies’ ticket sales must be adjusted for inflation.

Without adjusting, the newest “record-breaking performance” is just another visit to finance and marketing’s “dark side” that is simply designed to increase hype and focus attention on a new movie release.


This post also appeared in Fast Company (click here) and The Conversation (click here).

5 thoughts on “To Really Beat Box-Office Records, “Star Wars” Will Need To Top These Numbers

  1. Seperti yang kita tahu bahwa permainan secara online memiliki resiko yang besar namun dengan fasilitas server berteknologi tinggi dan modern yang dimiliki oleh jasa yang satu ini keamanan dan privasi anda selama bermain judi akan terjamin dengan baik sehingga anda dapat bermain judi dengan aman. Dan kenyamanan tersebut biasanya dihadirkan melalui fasilitas serta pelayanan yang terlengkap di mana salah satu layanan yang diberikan yaitu adanya bantuan customer servis yang siap melayani selama 24 jam online selama 7 hari.

    Visit site >>

  2. Pk online adalah salah satu permainan yang mudah dimenangkan apabila sudah mengetahui cara bermain yang baik dan juga strategi yang tepat. Banyak pilihan situs Pk online yang menawarkan promo menarik, salah satunya adalah Nagaremi. Ada banyak bonus yang siap menunggu anda. Bonus ini bisa Anda dapatkan dengan mendaftar sebagai member dengan cara mengisi data diri secara lengkap dan valid, setelah itu Anda akan mendapatkan id untuk bermain. Jadi buruan daftar Nagaremi sekarang juga!

    Visit Site >>

  3. Rata-rata masyarakat di tanah air pasti bermain judi online, karena mereka sudah membuktikannya sendiri bisa membeli barang atau sesuatu dari hasil bermain judi online di Master Agen Csn Terpercaya Asia. Agen Csn online yang kami rekomendasikan sudah pasti membayar semua jumlah kemenangan anda didalam bermain taruhan bola online. kunjungi dan daftar ke Agen Csn Terpercaya Asia Dewacasino sekarang juga, dan dapatkan bonus menarik disetiap permainan yang disajikan!

  4. Sekali lagi kami memberitahukan bahwa situs Igamble247 akan membayar semua jumlah kemenangan anda dan juga berani memberikan bonus, karena agen csn terpercaya Igamble247 adalah situs yang telah mendapatkan license sebagai bandar Csn terpercaya didalam memberikan semua permainan judi online di Asia. Jadi tunggu apa lagi? Buruan gabung sekarang juga!

    Visit Site >>>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *