To tackle the onslaught of television in 1950s which saw the audience retreating from theatres, the film industry introduced methods like Cinemascope and VistaVision to attract the audience back to theatres. The decade also saw the making of big budget historical epics and science fiction films. Here we make a list of highest grossing movies of 1950s after inflation.
9. The Bridge On The River Kwai
Tickets Sold - 54,400,000
Box Office After Inflation - $576.4 Million
The David Lean epic based on the 1952 novel of the same name written by Pierre Boulle, was the highest-grossing film of 1957. The film won seven Academy Awards which included Best Picture and Best Director, at the 30th Academy Awards. In 1997, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress. Legendary investor Warren Buffett has said it was his favorite movie.
8. Lady and the Tramp
Tickets Sold - 55,734,900
Box Office After Inflation - $590.5 Million
The Disney animated feature film was the first animated film to be filmed in the CinemaScope widescreen film process. The movie was named number 95 out of the “100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time” by the American Film Institute in their 100 Years…100 Passions special. In June 2011, TIME named it one of The 25 All TIME Best Animated Films.
7. The Greatest Show on Earth
Tickets Sold - 60,000,000
Box Office After Inflation - $635.7 Million
The movie was set in the real Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus troupe. The film at the time of its release was a huge commercial success and also won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Story at the 25th Academy Awards. But posterity has not been kind to it and now it is regarded as one of the worst Best Picture winners. The movie is included in The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood’s Worst.
Tickets Sold - 60,301,400
Box Office After Inflation - $638.9 Million
The movie is based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 fairy tale of the same title. The Disney studio was in over $4 million debt and on the verge of bankruptcy as it lost connections to the European film markets due to the outbreak of World War II. Cinderella turned out to be a massive critical and commercial success and helped reverse the studio’s fortunes. In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
5. Around the World in 80 Days
Tickets Sold - 64,615,400
Box Office After Inflation - $684.6 Million
The movie is based on the classic 1873 novel of the same name by Jules Verne. It produced by the Michael Todd Company and released by United Artists. More than 40 famous performers make brief cameo appearances, including Marlene Dietrich, Buster Keaton and Frank Sinatra. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
4. The Robe
Tickets Sold - 65,454,500
Box Office After Inflation - $693.5 Million
The Biblical epic was based on Lloyd C. Douglas’s 1942 novel of the same name. It was first telecast on Easter weekend on Sunday 26, March 1967, and recieved the second largest TV audience for a film, behind The Bridge on the River Kwai, with 60 million viewers.
3. Sleeping Beauty
Tickets Sold - 72,676,000
Box Office After Inflation - $770 Million
The Disney film is based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 fairy tale. This film began its development in 1950 and took nearly a decade and $6 million to produce. It was a box office bomb after its initial release but became successful after re-releases. In 2019 this movie was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress’ National Film Registry as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Tickets Sold - 98,046,900
Box Office After Inflation - $1.04 Billion
Ben-Hur, which was adapted from Lew Wallace’s 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, had the largest budget as well as the largest sets built, of any film produced at the time. Over 200 camels and 2,500 horses were used in the shooting of the film, with some 10,000 extras. The nine-minute chariot race has become one of cinema’s greatest moments. It won a record eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role. In 2004, the National Film Preservation Board selected Ben-Hur for preservation by the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
1. The Ten Commandments
Tickets Sold - 131,000,000
Box Office After Inflation - $1.39 Billion
Cecil B. DeMille’ final film is based on the 1949 novel Prince of Egypt by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, the 1859 novel Pillar of Fire by J. H. Ingraham, the 1937 novel On Eagle’s Wings by A. E. Southon, and the Book of Exodus, found in the Bible. It was the most successful film of 1956 and the second-highest-grossing film of the decade, and in terms of theatrical exhibition, it is the eighth most successful film of all-time when the box office gross is adjusted for inflation.
In 1999, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. The film has aired annually on U.S. network television in prime time during the Passover/Easter season since 1973.