The Top 10 Box Office Films of 2011 Compared With Those of 1968

Categories: Film

HarryPotterPt2C.jpeg

I just made the comparison, and it's absolutely shocking.

Here are the top 10 box office films of 1968, domestically, in descending order.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Funny Girl, The Love Bug, The Odd Couple, Bullitt, Romeo and Juliet, Oliver!, Rosemary's Baby, Planet of the Apes, and Night of the Living Dead.

Among those, there are three Best Picture nominees (including the winner), plus the winner for Best Editing, two classic horror thrillers, and two sci-fi masterpieces.

A pretty fine bunch of films (plus The Love Bug).

And in 1969, you had Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Hello, Dolly!, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Paint Your Wagon, True Grit, Cactus Flower, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Z.

That's four Best Picture nominees--including the winner--back when they only had five nominees!

Plus the films that won for Actor and Supporting Actress.

The public liked what the awards groups liked! And Hollywood was turning out a lot of original films (though On Her Majesty was part of the Bond series).

Well, here are the top 10 of last year.


1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381,011,219

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352,390,543

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $281,287,133

4. The Hangover Part II $254,464,305

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241,071,802

6. Fast Five $209,837,675

7. Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol $208,881,637

8. Cars 2 $191,452,396

9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows $186,711,434

10. Thor $181,030,624


Yikes!

The top nine were sequels! More of the same! Spare parts of franchises!

The 10th choice might as well have been.

Except for a few technical categories, none of these were major Oscar contenders.

No Best Picture nominees or even Actor, Actress, Director, Screenplay, etc.

Obviously there is a huge disconnect between what today's public wants (loud blockbuster sequels) and what the critics like (quality).

And it didn't used to be that way!

Help!

The sky is falling!



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26 comments
Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

Out of the top 10 for 1968, when I was 13-14 years old, I saw six of those films in the theater, and four of them are among my all-time favorites (2001, Oliver!, Rosemary’s Baby, Planet of the Apes).  Out of the 2011 list, I saw two, and one of those was the worst movie I saw all year (Thor).  It still amazes me that the top grossing movie of 1966 was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  I feel like the entire country is being dumbed down.

mjm
mjm

compare the 2011 list to the list from 1939 (widely considered to be HWood's greatest year):1. Gone with the Wind2. The Wizard of Oz3. Ninotchka w/ Garbo4. Dodge City w/ Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHavilland 5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington6. Jesse James w/ Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda7. The Old Maid w/ Bette Davis8. The Women9. The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle w/ Fred and Ginger10. Goodbye Mr. Chips11. Another Thin Man12. The Little Princess w/ Shirley Temple

Jimagination
Jimagination

Could it simply be that most movie-goers today wait until there is a big budget, wide screen extravaganza to go to the movies and pay the outrageous prices.  Something you gotta see on the big screen, in 3D or IMAX.  The small quality films they can watch on cable or Netflix for a lot less.  And of course, actors usually prefer to nominate the "actor" films, not computer-generated, "effects are the star of the movie" films, which they have to play "second fiddle" to.  Fourteen of the twenty films from '68 and '69 are "actors" films.

Neo-Realist
Neo-Realist

I thought the 70's were refreshingly confrontational, e.g., There was a film back around 1973 called the Carey Treatment--a murder mystery revolving around an illegal abortion and contained a scene where a woman dies from a hemorraghe due to that abortion.  You will never see a film like that today that comes off as or sympathizes with the pro-choice view.  Even present day movies dealing with abortion that are geared to a younger and presumably hip liberal demographic like Juno and Knocked Up alway resolve in endings that Focus on the Family and Operation Rescue would approve of.

exackerly
exackerly

OK, the one place the comparison is misleading is that nobody was even making movies like Transformers Part 23 in 1968. It hadn't occurred to anybody yet that you could make huge bucks with loud expensive junk. So what we have now is a whole new tier of, essentially, live-action video games sitting on top of the actual movies.

Striped
Striped

I was surprised to see 2001 at the top of the 1968 list, because I understood that it was prematurely removed from the Cinerama theaters for the release of another MGM feature, Ice Station Zebra.  However, I haven't found yet any sourced figures for the domestic box office sales of Ice Station Zebra tickets.  Would you folks be so kind as to tell me what your source was for the ticket sales?

Thank you very much in advance!

MarkyMark
MarkyMark

That's from back when there were still mainstream films from studios being made by mature adult filmmakers -  many with extensive background in live theater and who seriously knew how to create entertainment - for a mature adult audience (which then evaporated?).  Now its CGI blockbusters from financial corporations run by MBAs, made by adult children for kids and other adult children.  You shift to Star Wars / Saturday Night Fever, to Spielberg kiddie epics, to CGI-animated comic books like Thor.  The same thing has happened to once-vaulted British TV; the seriously problematic Downton Abbey becomes an acclaimed masterpiece, because adults are so desperate for anything that they'll take it.   Also the technology to make flash-looking productions falls into the hands of geeky-types who haven't the remotest clue how to produce real entertainment; one of the most egregious examples I've seen from the UK - besides the unwatchable recent "Marple" remakes - is the 2009 "Emma" which was so ghastly I couldn't finish it. And its going to get worse and worse... "Idiocracy" is a documentary!

Curlygirl
Curlygirl

When I compare the 1960s lists vs the 2011 list...the other changes I see for 2011 are:  big budget productions by the film companies & attempt to include adolescents and young adults in the market base.  

Bret @ Green Global Travel
Bret @ Green Global Travel

Further evidence that intellectual evolution can actually work in reverse: We're getting stupider every year. 

Jay Schiavone
Jay Schiavone

Conversely Mike, one could filter the Academy Award winners and nominees and assemble quite a list of horrific trash.  Do we get a do-over on Braveheart?

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

Sometimes if you close your eyes and pretend real hard it'll be like the past never happened.... See? There was no 1960s! You just had a bad dream!

PhillyWings
PhillyWings

Hollywood is so pathetic nowadays. All re-crap. 

Allen Firth
Allen Firth

What you are seeing in the late 1960s is the last of the Studio System, where the studio heads personally picked and even produced the movies.  Most were still filmed on the set.  And the screenwriters were, for the most part, old pros in the industry, who knew how to tell a story.  Even the actors behind "Easy Rider" had been making movies in Hollywood for more than 10 years, so they weren't exactly "rebels."  They just knew how to tell a good story, how to edit it cohesively (and remembered that the human eye/mind can't really absorb any cut under 3 seconds), and the studio knew how to market it.    (Lament)

Homo Viper
Homo Viper

Late 60s - late 70s is not a good sample decade. That was the anomaly, not the norm.

Gcndc
Gcndc

I am out of the loop because I never heard of Fast Five.

Musto
Musto

Here's the top 10 for 1967: The Graduate, The Jungle Book, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, Bonnie and Clyde, The Dirty Dozen, Valley of the Dolls, You Only Live Twice, To Sir With Love, The Born Losers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.  Three Oscar nominees for Best Picture.(And I've always felt Valley of the Dolls should have been nominated too, lol.)

rolph
rolph

I agree. This has been pointed out before but without the exact titles and statistics, so thank you.

Guest
Guest

Well, the blog addresses that when he says "Hollywood was making original movies then."

Musto
Musto

Yes, I'd love it if they voted again on that.

corrective_unconscious
corrective_unconscious

That's just false. Hollywood makes great films, well, if you count semi independents as Hollywood. It's only the blockbusters that stink. There are many fine small and medium scale productions.

Musto
Musto

Oh, really?

Well, I just looked up 1981.

In the top 10 box office films were the Oscar winning Best Picture, Chariots of Fire, and two other Best Picture nominees, Raiders of the Lost Arc and On Golden Pond.

THREE of the five Best Pictures were in the box office top 10!

Plus Arthur (which won two Oscars and was nominated for two more) and Time Bandits, which is excellent.

Jay Schiavone
Jay Schiavone

You are out of the loop.  Hang your head in shame.

Ping
Ping

It was a Fast & the Furious sequel.

Homo Viper
Homo Viper

Sure, in 1981 the shift in focus toward a Blockbusters Only mentality was only just starting.

Homo Viper
Homo Viper

Can you read? "Blockbusters Only mentality was only just starting." So, yeah, not surprising that of the top ten grossing films, only one fit that mold.

Ofu
Ofu

Huh? Raiders was the only big adventure film of the bunch. Arthur was a comedy, Golden Pond was a small human drama, Chariots was a historical art film.

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