I was perusing Wikipedia, as I often do, and came across the list of top-grossing films. I take solace in the fact that Avatar is still very far down the inflation-adjusted and ticket-sales lists... Unobtanium... fuckin' hell.
But regardless! You can view this list, which lists the top grossing films for each year. You have outliers, like Gone With The Wind (and I bet Disney is really embarrassed that Song of the South was a bonafied mega-hit), but what about 1972?
It's frequently mentioned that Jaws was the first summer blockbuster, but the phenomenon seems to have started three years earlier. Previously, the top-grossing films had been measured in double-digit millions for over three decades. Thirty million here, fifty million there. But 1972 brought The Godfather and a box office of $245 million. $245 million! Alright, fine. Gone With The Wind did $338 million in the 30's. But the next year, The Exorcist, $402 million. Then $193m for Godfather II. Jaws, $470m. Rocky, $225m. Star Wars, $782m.
Over NIGHT, Hollywood started producing mega-million-dollar blockbusters. What the hell happened?