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'GWTW' THEN, NOW, ALWAYS NO. 1

      

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: With ‘Gone With the Wind’ being revived on the big screen next week (see below), here’s a ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column on the subject of ‘GWTW’s’ being the most popular film of all time, under the headline ‘Good News for “Gone With the Wind” fans. This story was published in the Deseret News on May 25, 1983 — and despite all the big moneymaking movies that have followed, ‘Gone With the Wind’ remains the most popular film of all time, according to adjusted-for-inflation box-office numbers. (See Box Office Mojo.)

One of the questions I’m most often asked is whether “Star Wars” (or “E.T.,” now) would still be the top moneymaking film of all time if the figures compiled by Variety, the Hollywood trade paper, were adjusted for inflation.

Well, Variety itself went after the answer, and in the May 4 issue printed a list of the 100 top box-office hits of all time — in terms of 1982 constant dollars, adjusting figures accordingly for films released earlier.

And lo and behold, that 1939 classic, “Gone With the Wind,” was number one.

     

That’s probably not a great surprise but it’s certainly a nice nod to those who have been dismayed to see “GWTW” sink lower and lower on Variety’s list each year (it is now 13th), after having been number one for so long.

Interestingly enough, even with the adjusted-dollar figures, “Star Wars” is close behind as number two, but “E.T.” is relegated to number five. (In third place is “Jaws,” with “The Sound of Music” solidly in fourth.)

After “E.T.,” in descending order through number 15, are the following:

     

“The Godfather,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Exorcist,” “The Sting,” “Grease,” “The Ten Commandments,” “Doctor Zhivago,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Ben-Hur” and “Mary Poppins.”

Variety further noted that “Gone With the Wind” cost $4.2 million to make, but using the adjusted figures, would be in the $40 million range today (assuming Michael Cimino didn’t direct).

 

One thing’s for sure, the American dollar isn’t what it used to be. I wonder what President Reagan’s movie residuals would be if they were adjusted for inflation . . . ?

That’s certainly a fascinating mix of the old and the new.

ENDNOTE: According to Box Office Mojo, here’s today’s adjusted top 15: 1. Gone With the Wind; 2. Star Wars; 3. The Sound of Music; 4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial; 5. Titanic; 6. The Ten Commandments; 7. Jaws; 8. Doctor Zhivago; 9. The Exorcist; 10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; 11. Star Wars: The Force Awakens; 12. 101 Dalmatians (1961); 13. The Empire Strikes Back; 14. Ben-Hur (1959); 15. Avatar.