When movie fans talk about the most profitable movie of all time, they will usually talk about Titanic (1997). While Titanic did bring in the most money of any movie ever made, it was not the most profitable movie of all time. The most successful movie of all time is another classic that we still are talking about years later.
If you look on the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) you will see that Titanic brought in over $1.835 billion in worldwide ticket sales. This causes people to believe that it was the most profitable movie of all time.
When talking about profit in the business world, profit is usually based as a percentage of the increase of your money. You take the money that you made, and divide it by your initial investment. You then multiply that number by 100.
This number is essentially your return on initial investment. This is also the way that Hollywood rates profitability of movies.
The budget for the movie Titanic was right around $200 million. When you follow the formula, you find that Titanic had a 917.6% return on investment. While this may appear to be astronomical, Titanic is still not the most profitable movie of all time.
To find the most profitable movie of all time, you have to skip over such movies as The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (1201.3%), Pirates of the Caribbean (471.3%), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (745%). The most profitable movie is not even in the Top Ten Highest Grossing Movies of All Time.
You will have to jump all the way down on the list to the movie that sits in the seventeenth spot on the list. The original Star Wars has a very low budget by today’s standards. It’s budget of just over $13 million is nothing compared to the high budgets of today. A $13 million budget would not even pay the salary of the tope box-office stars of today.
Star Wars brought in a total of $797,900,000 worldwide. When you figure out the return on investment, you come up with an astronomical 6137.7%. I would love to find an investment that would make that much money.
Some may argue about how Star Wars was released twice in the theater. This does not matter. Titanic had the longest first theater run of any movie. Jurassic Park was also released twice into the theater. ET, which is low on the list, was released into theaters an astounding 4 times. Long runs and re-releases are just a sign of success.
The next time you hear someone saying that Titanic was the most profitable movie of all time, make sure that you correct them. Explain this formula to them, and point out that it was Star Wars that sank the ship before it ever saw water.