HIGHEST GROSSING FILIM IN THE WORLD
With a worldwide box-office gross of over $2.7 billion, Avatar is often proclaimed to be the “highest-grossing” film, but such claims usually refer to theatrical revenues only and do not take into account home video and television income, which can form a significant portion of a film’s earnings. Once revenue from home entertainment is factored in it is not immediately clear which film is the most successful. Titanic earned $1.2 billion from video and DVD sales and rentals in addition to the $2.2 billion it grossed in theaters. While complete sales data are not available for Avatar, it earned $345 million from the sale of sixteen million DVD and Blu-ray units in North America,] and ultimately sold a total of thirty million DVD and Blu-ray units worldwide. After home video income is accounted for, both films have earned over $3 billion. Television broadcast rights will also substantially add to a film’s earnings, with a film often earning as much as 20–25% of its theatrical box-office for a couple of television runs on top of pay-per-view revenues Titanic earned a further $55 million from the NBC and HBO broadcast rights equating to about 9% of its North American gross.
When a film is highly exploitable as a commercial property, its ancillary revenues can dwarf its income from direct film sales The Lion King earned over $2 billion in box-office and home video sales, but this pales in comparison to the $6 billion earned at box offices around the world by the stage adaptation. Merchandising can be extremely lucrative too: The Lion King also sold $3 billion of merchandise, while Pixar’s Cars—which earned $462 million in theatrical revenues and was only a modest hit by comparison to other Pixar films generated global merchandise sales of over $8 billion in the five years after its 2006 release. Pixar also had another huge hit with Toy Story 3, which generated almost $10 billion in merchandise retail sales in addition to the $1 billion it earned at the box office
On this chart, films are ranked by the revenues from theatrical exhibition at their nominal value, along with the highest positions they attained. Thirty films in total have grossed in excess of $1 billion worldwide, of which three have grossed over $2 billion, with Avatar ranked in the top position. All of the films have had a theatrical run (including re-releases) in the 21st century, and films that have not played during this period do not appear on the chart because of ticket-price inflation, population size and ticket purchasing trends not being considered.