101 Dalmatians beats Avatar at box office

While the movie world is trumpetting Avatar as the highest grossing movie of all time, many are missing the fact that it was actually beaten at the box office by a 1961 animated Disney classic about dalmations.

It also still lags behind movies like Star Wars, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sting, The Sound of Music and Doctor Zhivago.

Of course it all depends on what you’re using to determine the biggest movies of all time. Avatar certainly is the highest grossing movie of all time. That means it’s taken the most money of any movie ever produced but it’s only at number 26 (so far) as far as tickets sold. I have no doubt that it will continue to climb but it may never even reach the top ten.

The Hollywood Reporter has pulished an article titled Why ‘Avatar’ is actually the 26th biggest movie. It lists the biggest movies by ticket sales rather than income.

There are so many factors that will have an effect on the statistics such as price of tickets over the years, the introduction of things like television, video, DVD, Blu-ray, internet and a range of other entertainment alternatives. I suppose it’s easier to simply quote the dollar amounts that a movie is making.

So which movie has put the most backsides on seats at the cinema? It’s still the 1939 classic Gone With the Wind, selling 202,044,600 tickets.

Just for the record, here are the top 20 movies in order of tickets sold.

1 “Gone With the Wind” (1939) 202,044,600
2 “Star Wars” (1977) 178,119,600
3 “The Sound of Music” (1965) 142,415,400
4 “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982) 141,854,300
5 “The Ten Commandments” (1956) 131,000,000
6 “Titanic” (1997) 128,345,900
7 “Jaws” (1975) 128,078,800
8 “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) 124,135,500
9 “The Exorcist” (1973) 110,568,700
10 “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) 109,000,000
11 “101 Dalmatians” (1961) 99,917,300
12 “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) 98,180,600
13 “Ben-Hur” (1959) 98,000,000
14 “Return of the Jedi” (1983) 94,059,400
15 “The Sting” (1973) 89,142,900
16 “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) 88,141,900
17 “Jurassic Park” (1993) 86,205,800
18 “The Graduate” (1967) 85,571,400
19 “Star Wars: Episode I” (1999) 84,825,800
20 “Fantasia” (1941) 83,043,500

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • “So far” being the operative words. It’s still in the cinemas, and will sell a few more million tickets around the world, I’d guess.

  • I’ve seen 17 of those top 20 and enjoyed all bar one … The Exorcist. That was a mistake! Thanks for the insightful post Rodney.

  • I find it interesting how all of the Top 20 films (according to tickets sold) were made before 2000. Perhaps the quality of movies are getting worse despite all the new technology.

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