Budget: $3.85 million
Domestic gross: $189.5 million
Worldwide gross (inflation adjusted): $3.484 billion
Trivia: None of the film’s black actors, including Hattie McDaniel (who would later win an Academy Award for playing Mammy), were allowed to attend the film’s premiere in Atlanta.
This classic epic about the Civil War made an insane amount of money when it first released in 1939 — $189.5 million, to be precise. It’s even more impressive when considering that the cost of a movie ticket in 1939 was 23 cents! And that was just its initial release. The movie has been re-released in theaters three more times — twice in the 1980s and, recently, a limited monthlong screening for its 80th anniversary in 2019 — which grossed another $11 million. And then overseas, “Gone with the Wind” made another $200 million.
Adjusted purely for inflation, and using Box Office Mojo’s numbers for its initial domestic and international sales (about $391 million), “Gone with the Wind” made the equivalent of $7 billion on a $70 million budget in today’s money. More accurately, when accounting for inflation and taking the re-release dates into account, the film grossed about $3.5 billion in today's dollars. It’s not just the highest-grossing war film of all time based on adjusted gross, it’s the highest-grossing domestic film of all time.