Adjusting for inflation Gone with the Wind from 1939 is the highest grossing movie of all time, not Avatar.
Traditionally, war films, musicals and historical dramas have been the most popular genres, but franchise films have been the best performers in the 21st century, with films from the Harry Potter, Middle-Earth, Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean series dominating the top end of the list.
There has also been new interest in the superhero genre; Superman and Batman from DC Comics and films based on the Marvel Comics brand such as Spider-Man, X-Men and films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have all done particularly well. The only films in the top ten that do not form a franchise are the top two, Avatar and Titanic, both directed by James Cameron, and Disney’s Frozen. Animated family films have performed consistently well, with Disney films enjoying lucrative re-releases prior to the home video era.
Disney also enjoyed later success with its Pixar brand, of which the Toy Story films and Finding Nemo have been the best performers; beyond Pixar animation, the Shrek, Ice Age, Madagascar and Despicable Me series have met with the most success.
While inflation has eroded away the achievements of most films from the 1960s and 1970s, there are franchises originating from that period that are still active: James Bond and Star Trek films are still being released periodically, and the Star Wars saga was reprised after a lengthy hiatus; Indiana Jones also saw a successful comeback after lying dormant for nearly twenty years. All four are still among the highest-grossing franchises, despite starting over thirty years ago. Some of the older films that held the record of highest-grossing film still have respectable grosses even by today’s standards, but do not really compete against today’s top-earners: Gone with the Wind for instance—which was the highest-grossing film for twenty-five years—does not even make the top fifty in the modern market, but, adjusted for inflation, it would still be the highest-grossing film. All grosses on the list are expressed in US dollars at their nominal value, except where stated otherwise.