Avengers: Endgame has made more money than any movie ever, but it hasn't sold the most tickets — in fact, it isn't even in the top 15. From romantic epics to horror hits, here's a look at all the blockbusters from years past whose crowd sizes would have impressed even Thanos.
The first film on our list is Ben-Hur. No, we aren't talking about the infamous 2016 bomb that lost Paramount a mind-numbing $120 million. Younger filmgoers may not have known it, but that recent Ben-Hur was based on a 1959 multimillion-dollar epic that was one of the biggest hits of all time.
The film starred Charlton Heston, one of Hollywood's most popular and successful actors. Still, with a then-astronomical budget of $15 million, Ben-Hur was a massive gamble by MGM, which was hoping that the movie could pull it out of impending bankruptcy.
If Ben-Hur was their last hope, it answered all their prayers. Fortunately for the studio, the epic made $74 million domestically, which is $883 million in today's money. All told, the blockbuster saved MGM from bankruptcy and became acknowledged as a classic that's still being talked about today.
In 1977, the original Star Wars, also known as A New Hope, more than conquered the box office. It forever changed the movie landscape and popular culture, in general.
Naturally, its first sequel was highly anticipated — so much so that 1980's The Empire Strikes Back opened to nearly $5 million in just 126 theaters during its initial limited run, and $10 million once it expanded to 823 theaters. Even today, with our multiplex culture, those numbers would be impressive, but when adjusted for inflation, they would be earth-shaking.
All told, Empire's initial run earned more than $209 million, but it wasn't finished. The film was re-released several more times. In today's numbers, its total domestic gross stands at $884 million, beating out Avengers: Endgame by $30 million.
Everyone loves dogs, Disney, and cartoons, so it's no surprise that 1961's 101 Dalmatians, which combines all three, was a huge moneymaker. The film is a classic from the tail end of Disney's golden era, with a quirky story, some catchy tunes, and an iconic villain in Cruella de Vil. It was a big hit in its initial run but the film made most of its money in subsequent re-releases. Keep watching the video to see all the movies that sold more tickets than Avengers: Endgame!
Ben-Hur | 0:19
The Empire Strikes Back | 1:08
101 Dalmatians | 2:01
The Force Awakens | 2:58
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs | 3:49
The Exorcist | 4:39
Doctor Zhivago | 5:27
Jaws | 6:34
The Ten Commandments | 7:23
Titanic | 8:23
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial | 9:22
The Sound of Music | 10:19
Star Wars | 11:06
Gone with the Wind | 12:03
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