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The South rises again
The Economist, March 7, 1998 page 89
(*table reproduced below)
Believe the Hollywood publicists and "Titanic" is taking
more money at the box office in America than any other film in history.
It is mostly just hype. When ticket prices are adjusted for inflation,
Leonardo DiCaprio's and Kate Winslet's blockbuster, with a projected domestic
take of about $600 m[illion], cannot hold a candle to Clark
Gable and Vivien Leigh
in "Gone With the Wind"
(pictured here) or, indeed, to Grumpy, Dopey and company in "Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs." On the same basis, "Bambi"
beats "Home Alone" (number 35) and "The
Sound of Music" beats "Jurassic Park" (number 25).
At the height of Hollywood's Golden Era, in the 1930s, about 90m
Americans went to the cinema each week compared with about 25m a week now.
But as ticket prices have soared in the intervening years-- from an average
of 25 cents a seat in the 1930s to 42 cents immediately after the second
world war to $1.10 in the mid-1960s to close to $5 today-- box-office records
continue to be broken when measured in current dollars.
Such records are illusory. Variety, a Hollywood trade magazine,
has recalculated the receipts on the basis of admissions. It has done this
by assuming that yesterday's audiences paid today's prices-- ie, that it
cost the same to see "Snow White" in the 1930s or "E.T."
in the 1980s as it costs to see a film today.
Top Ten Films of All Time in America
1998 Dollars and Admission Prices
||Total Domestic Gross
(in millions of dollars)
||Gone With the Wind
||Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs
||E.T. -- The Extra
The Sound of Music
||The Ten Commandments
||Return of the Jedi
*ELIZABETH'S NOTE (6 February 2002): Titanic (1997)
eventually grossed $600.8 million domestically, putting it seventh among the
All-Time Moneymakers, just behind Bambi (1942).
© 1998 The Economist
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