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The 20 Biggest Box Office Hits Based on an Original Property Developed for the Screen

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | August 8, 2011 |


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A couple of years ago, someone ran a list of the 20 biggest box-office hits of the Aughts, and what was remarkable about the list was that -- among the Top 20 -- only one of those films was based on an original idea written and developed for the screen. That is to say, it wasn't based a sequel, it wasn't a remake, it wasn't based on an existing character or novel, and it wasn't based upon a true story. That movie, I believe, was Finding Nemo.

A reader of ours, The Other Greg, pitched the idea for an SRL based on the biggest box-office hits that are derived from original ideas written and developed for the screen. What's interesting about the list is that, to fill the Top 20 Spots, I had to go 79 films deep into the biggest box-office hits of all time. That means that over 50 of the top 75 films of all time are not based on original properties.

These are the 20 Biggest Box Office Hits Based on an Original Property Developed for the Screen (a separate list, taking into account inflation, is below).


1. Avatar: $760 million

2. Star Wars: $460 million

3. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: $435 million

4. Finding Nemo: $339 million

5. The Lion King: $328 million

6. Independence Day: $306 million

7. The Sixth Sense: $293 million

8. Up: $293 million

9. Inception: $292 million

10. Home Alone: $285 million

11. The Hangover: $277 million

12. The Incredibles: $261 million

13. Monsters, Inc.: $255 million

14. Despicable Me: $251 million

15. Cars: $244 million

16. Bruce Almighty: $242 million

17. Raiders of the Lost Ark: $242 million

18. Ghostbusters: $238 million

19. Beverly Hills Cop: $234 million

20. Cast Away: $233 million


Here, if you take inflation into account, the make-up of the list of top 20 film is quite different, but still, you have to go 68 deep into the Top 100 to find 20 movies based on an original idea, which is to say: Original ideas have never been all that popular in Hollywood.

Adjusted for Inflation

1. Star Wars: $1.4 billion

2. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial: $1.1 billion

3. Avatar: $775 million

4. The Sting: $710 million

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark: $702 million

6. Fantasia: $661 million

7. The Lion King: $615 million

8. Ghostbusters: $563 million

9. Love Story: $557 million

10. Independence Day: $552

11. Home Alone: $539 million

12. Beverly Hills Cop: $535 million

13. American Graffiti: $523 million

14. Blazing Saddles: $503 million

15. Back to the Future: $470 million

16. The Sixth Sense: $458 million

17. Tootsie: $453 million

18. Smokey and the Bandit: $452 million

19. Finding Nemo: $449 million

20. Lady and the Tramp: $444 million



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