Adjusted for Inflation: Dark Days and Sleepless Nights atop the All-Time Box Office Charts
If I asked you what the most successful movie of all time was what would you say?
Well, if you were a sane and decent human being you would say “why ‘Titanic’ of course,” and we would part ways, each thinking the other to be both worldly and reasonable.
However, there are more then a few individuals out there who would answer differently, who would respond “Gone with the Wind,” and walk away with their nose held firmly skyward.
Welcome dear readers to the beautiful and totally illogical world of “adjusted for inflation.”
Some folks out there, let’s call them movie snobs, believe that it should be taken into consideration that “Gone with the Wind” was released in 1939, an age when movie tickets cost considerably less then the small fortune that they do today.
On the surface that may make sense to you, you may even agree with it, but let’s dig a little bit deeper, shall we? Let’s.
When “Gone with the Wind” was released in theaters it faced less competition and played considerably longer then movies do today. On top of that, DVD’s and the internet would have been considered witchcraft. Yes it was a simpler era. Ok, maybe that last part was a bit of an exaggeration, but certainly neither media was available. Heck even VHS was still almost 40 years away.
Why then should “Titanic” be forced to battle not only the expanding home video market, rampant movie piracy and inflation to boot? How in the world is that fair? It seems as though the only thing balancing this whole mess out is inflation.
In fact, I don’t think it is quite balanced yet. Using a scientific formula (one that I have just devised) I adjusted each film’s total grosses based on the level of competition that they faced.
The result? “Titanic” made one jillion dollars, while “Gone with the Wind” made $200, a wad of lint and a button.
What exactly is this obsession we have as a society of comparing one generation to another, not just in film but everywhere?
Take baseball for example. The recent steroid scandal has led many baseball purists to wax nostalgic about the good old days when Babe Ruth was king and the only performance enhancing drugs that anyone had heard of were red meat and beer.
They point out the fact that Ruth and company played far fewer games, and they did so in much bigger ballparks. So all of these cheaters today, with their steroids and 298 foot homeruns, should just take their asterisks and get out of Dodge, right? Not necessarily.
Let’s look at the Bambino’s era a different way. Ruth never played against any minority players, only whites. Does that totally discredit him as a hitter? No, he is and always will be a legend. It just means that he wasn’t playing against all of the best players of his era.
Now sure, Ruth couldn’t control who he was allowed to play against, just the same as Alex Rodriguez could control what people injected him with. The point is that there is no way to statistically prove who was a better hitter. Each has their own drawbacks, especially when you take into account how many pitchers were doing exactly the same thing A-Rod was.
Of course, we’ll always be able to argue over who would win in a home run derby, there is just no way to prove it, short of Michael J. Fox and a tricked out DeLorean traveling at 88 miles per hour.
The same is true of our beloved movies. Sure it would be nice to have “Gone with the Wind” as the most successful movie of all time, but there is just no fair way to prove that it was.
It played months longer then “Titanic” did, faced a fraction of the competition, the term piracy still only applied to the high seas and your only option was to see a movie in theaters because once it was gone you would never hear from it again. There is no formula to account for all of that.
So let’s knock off all this nonsense about trying to prove who or what was better or more successful. How about we just take these old films and ball players at face value and forget about the statistics? They’re just numbers after all.
There aren’t any numbers to measure the effect of Ruth pointing to the fences, or the feeling you get when Clarke Gable says: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” at the end of “Gone with the Wind.”
The moments are what matter and what will last, long after the numbers have faded away.
Hitting the Silver Screen.
The biggest thing in theaters this weekend is sure to be the latest animated adventure from Dreamworks, entitled “Monsters vs. Aliens.” The story revolves around a group of monsters that the government needs to help battle an alien invasion. “MvA” features the vocal talents of Seth Rogan, Reese Witherspoon, and many many more. The cast is phenomenal and the trailers make this look like a winner. Plus it’s a kid’s movie. This movie was going to be huge already, but the fact is that there haven’t been any kids movies released in ages. The last one to be released was that Jonas Brothers movie, which no one saw so it doesn’t count. The kiddies need to get out and so do their parents, so look for “MvA” to dominate.
And now for something completely different. “The Haunting in Connecticut” looks like a decently scary new entry into the haunted house genre. As for the plot, well the title kind of says it all doesn’t it? Actually the same is true about “MvA.” Apparently, it’s on-the-nose- title week and here I am without gifts for anyone. Oh well. “Haunting” looks good, expect for the large amounts CGI in the trailers. Attention Hollywood: Keep the over-the-top CGI out of ghost movies please! Why is it that every movie about ghosts ends up degenerating into a videogame for the final act? Subtlety is not just a river in Egypt people! Wait.
Last up is “12 Rounds” starring the WWE’s John Cena as a cop whose wife is kidnapped by a master criminal. The criminal then forces Cena to complete a series of puzzles and tasks in order to save her. I guarantee that this thing turns into a mindless wrestling match by the 70 minute mark with Cena and his nemesis each attempting to body slam the other.
Top o’ The Quad Contest!
Here’s your chance to win a slightly outdated yet free CD!! All you have to do is correctly identify the celebrity caricature that is located at the top of the Entertainment Section this week.
This week’s prize:
The soundtrack to the film “Hot Fuzz.” You loved the movie; now get ready to be moderately impressed by the soundtrack!!
Here is your hint:
He is currently traveling across country, though his last two places of residence were New York and Springfield.
There you go! Email your answers to email@example.com. The first person to send in the correct answer will receive the “Hot Fuzz” soundtrack. The winner can pick up their prize at The Quad office during our meetings on Tuesday from 2-4 or when we work on the section on Sunday from 10-3. Only current WCU students are eligible to participate. If you can’t make it to either of those two meeting times we may be able to work something out but I’m not mailing this stuff people. I’m not made of stamps.
Ok. That’s it. Check back next week for updates. Until then, vaya con dios.