Avengers: Endgame took just 11 days to make more than $2 billion at the global box office, passing Titanic to become the second highest-grossing film of all time (at $2.8 billion, Avatar remains in first—for now). The Marvel superhero movie shattered pretty much every opening weekend box-office record in existence.
But Endgame‘s accomplishments aren’t quite as remarkable if you adjust its totals for inflation. The bloated cost of a movie ticket in 2019 (about $9 on average, according to Box Office Mojo) has undeniably helped the film hit gargantuan figures.
Plenty of other films have technically performed better relative to the cost of a ticket at the time of release; 38 such films, in fact.
Gone with the Wind (1939) was a singular feat unlikely to ever be duplicated—the biggest movie in the world, then and now. In the first few years after its release, the movie sold more than 60 million tickets, equivalent to roughly half the United States population at the time. Today it’s estimated to have sold over 200 million individual tickets, almost triple Endgame‘s current estimated ticket total (about 70 million). When the film came out, the average price of a movie ticket in the US was just 23 cents.
Things are very different now. Going to the movies is a lot less popular, as people contend with rising ticket and concessions costs and instead spend their time elsewhere—on Netflix, YouTube, Instagram, and Fortnite. Gone with the Wind faced little competition for attention (well, outside of World War II, that is).
The 1939 epic drama may have been more successful in relative terms, but Endgame‘s reach is far wider: No film has opened in more theaters or in more countries than the Marvel epic. So while more people may have seen Gone with the Wind in theaters than will ever see Endgame, the latter may have a broader cultural imprint, plus another lifetime of ubiquity on streaming services, home video, and on-demand.