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In Pictures: 10 most profitable films of all time

With the Dubai International Film Festival set to open its curtains in a couple of weeks, we take a look at some famous films that made their money back – and then some.

November 28, 2010 3:04 by

  • “’Ghost’ hit all the sweet spots, reducing me to a puddle of turbulent emotion. It’s easy to dismiss the feature now as a dated tear-jerking machine, brazen about its romantic tugs. However, two decades ago, ‘Ghost’ honestly shot out of nowhere, marched into summertime blockbuster battle armed only with a beating heart and low-wattage star power. It wasn’t expected to be anything special.’

    Return on investment: 1,446%

    Budget: $35 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross Revenue: $506 million

  • "’Home Alone’ was the little film … [of] 1990. It came out of nowhere to gross more than expected front-runners “Pretty Woman” and “Dances with Wolves.” It was the textbook example of a sleeper hit which found an audience in young and old (...)There are few movies that can be described as never having a dull moment, and ‘Home Alone’ fits in this small group. It’s the perfect family holiday film.”- Kevin Carr

    Return on investment: 1,590%

    Budge: $30 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross revenue: $477 million

  • “When I started working last year on a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary about Mel Gibson, The Passion was widely regarded in Hollywood as a joke - a folly of epic proportions. Today that folly has transformed itself into the most talked-about film of the year, with an extraordinary Ash Wednesday opening now generating predicted US box office receipts in excess of $100 million - the official 'blockbuster' watershed (…)In the end, Gibson has created an exploitation movie par excellence, fittingly shot in Italy” - Mark Kermode

    Return on investment: 1,749%

    Budget: $35 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross Revenue: $612 million

  • “Despite its ‘look closer’ tag line, men won’t have to strain their eyes to see why this ballad to midlife crisis is for them. American Beauty asks what it means to be a man, in a society replete with macho military types like Chris Cooper’s homophobic Colonel Fitts on one end and confidently effeminate gay couples like the Burnham’s garden-loving neighbors on the other. Navigating the in-between is Lester, a classic archetype for men whose masculinity is threatened by women’s lib.”  –

    Return on investment: 1,780%

    Budget: $20 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross revenue: $356 million

  • “There's no denying the appeal of this historic blockbuster. What's fascinating from a cinematic point of view is the magnificently derivative nature of the film. It's an enormous summary of characters, styles, and plot points that surveys 40 years of film history. There's probably not a frame in it that doesn't have some cinematic antecedent--Lucas quotes with such enthusiastic abandon that he doesn't balk at referencing even THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.” –TV Guide

    Return on investment: 1,938%

    Budget: $40 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross Revenue: $775 million

  • “With a fast pacing and charming energy to it, "Grease" is a masterpiece of musical cinema, a high impulse romp that recollects a time of simple pop music that is used as a key to mirror what our characters are feeling toward one another.” - Felix Vasquez Jr.

    Return on investment: 1,975%

    Budget: $20 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross revenue: $394 million

  • “Pretty Woman is objectionable, it promotes some of American society’s most revolting values, and it’s shallower than a wading pool – yet it’s also fun and sweet and has us rooting for its protagonists to live happily ever after as effectively as any romantic comedy you’re ever going to find.” –Brian Webster

    Return on investment: 2,013%

    Budget: $23 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross revenue: $463 million

  • “’Slumdog Millionaire’ focuses on the rise of Bombay street urchins Jamal and Salim, seen through the prism of the Indian version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.’ Or maybe it's the story of Jamal and his quest to reunite with Latika, the pretty girl the brothers abandoned to a life of degradation and abasement at the hands of an Indian Fagin. Or maybe it's a story of class struggle, of modern riches clashing with ancient poverty.” - Sonny Bunch

    Return on investment: 2,520%

    Budget: $15 million (inflation-adjusted)

    Gross revenue: $378 million

  • “Spielberg's masterpiece is one of the greatest achievements in imagination ever put on film. The simplicity of the storyline and the ingeniousness of the E.T. character create a powerful combination. What small child has never fantasized about having their very own special friend? Especially one as magical and unique as this lovable, stranded space alien(…)There's no denying that E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a classic for the ages. The image of Elliot and E.T. flying on a bicycle against a gigantic moon is forever etched into our public consciousness.” – Patrick Nash

    Return on investment: 3,172%
    Budget: $25 million (inflation-adjusted)
    Gross Revenue: $793 million

  • “Twist open the Ouzo! It’s time to let your hair down – Greek style. A vibrant whirlwind of love, family and all that goes with it, My Big Fat Greek Wedding is a non-stop funny feast of warmth, colour and cringe (...) My Big Fat Greek Wedding may be superficial fun, but its big, brash bountiful dose of hilarity is totally contagious.” - Louise Keller

    Return on investment: 6,150%
    Budget: $6 million (inflation-adjusted)
    Gross revenue: $369 million



  1. amel on December 5, 2010 11:30 pm

    Best movie of all time !

  2. leila on December 10, 2010 3:16 pm

    fantastic movies

  3. falejjfar on January 25, 2011 11:41 am

    ilov yuo


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