Lights! Camera! Box Office!
"Spider-Man: No Way Home" recently became the first pandemic-era movie to rake in $1 billion worldwide, which is no small feat after COVID-19 brought many theaters to the brink of bankruptcy. In honor of that success, let's embrace our inner movie buff and take a deep dive into the most popular films from 1940 to 2000. Along the way, keep an eye out for the rise and fall of musicals, the arrival of the summer blockbuster, and the emergence of various franchises (think “Star Wars,” Indiana Jones, and superheroes — well before the Marvel Universe arrived). Our figures are from calculations made by The Numbers and Box Office Mojo for gross domestic box office for the life of a film. (Those numbers become more complete — if not more accurate — beginning in 1977, when more detailed box office information began to be kept.) Get some popcorn, dim the lights and enjoy.