Box-Office Successes of the Past: 1956

I rarely find any entertainment in looking at box office results for current film, though I understand the mentality to a certain extent… people want to see films they like do well, it seems to me it’s motivated by a sense of gambling that I don’t quite understand. Though rarely money isn’t dealt, I’m always surprised when people seem to spend a huge amount of time guessing at numbers, being frustrated when certain films under (or over) perform, and even the few who hold a film’s financial success as a measure of the film’s quality. That being said, there is something fascinating about box office results from times long past. It’s strange how many films that made a huge amount of money are nearly forgotten these days. It’s not unheard of for box office films from the pre-1970s era, that there will be at least one or two films from the top 10 that I won’t even have heard of. As I’m planning on watching Giant in the next few days, I figured it would be interseting to look at 1956… which is a year I’ve yet to see a single film from the top 10.

Film (distributor) Release Revenue

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1 The Ten Commandments (Para.)* Oct 56 $43.000 m

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2 Around the World in 80 Days (UA) Oct 56 $23.120 m

a The Complete James Dean Collection Giant dvd review PDVD_008

3 Giant (WB)* Oct 56 $14.000 m

Seven Wonders Of The World 1-1-62

4 Seven Wonders of the World (Cinerama) Apr 56 $12.500 m (best I could do as far as image, interesting nonetheless)

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5 The King and I (Fox) Jun 56 $8.500 m

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6 Trapeze (UA) May 56 $7.269 m

WarnPeace8

7 War and Peace (Para.) Aug 56 $6.250 m

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8 High Society (MGM) Jul 56 $5.878 m

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9 Teahouse of the August Moon (MGM) Nov 56 $5.712 m

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10 The Eddy Duchin Story (Colu.) Jun 56 $5.300 m

* – Figure includes revenue from at least 1 major reissue.

Numbers and list from Box Office Report

8 responses to “Box-Office Successes of the Past: 1956

  1. There are a few films here, oddly, that I’ve had memorable close-misses with: I was *supposed* to see them & then something happened? Ten Commandments I know I saw as a child, but never since. My terrestrial deity Camille Paglia positively exults in that film, which she put on her BFI/S&S Top Ten. I’m sure, as a letterboxed experience it must look impressive at least.
    And Giant– a huge omission in my viewing, and one a good friend of mine was scheduled once to force upon me in college. Something happened, and I, ignorant dupe, have still never seen it.

  2. Weird, I’ve only seen War & Peace; and have no interest in any of the others.

    I’ve never found the box-office worthy of looking at. “It’s strange how many films that made a huge amount of money are nearly forgotten these days.” Is it? I don’t think that’s an honest statement. What surprises me more is that some box-office hits of the past ARE remembered today, like The Wizard of Oz (which I find horrible). But generally, I don’t think BO signifies anything other than the power of a production company/producer (and their ad campaign) of the time, with only rare exceptions of the audience identifying “quality.”

    Hmm… sorry for the bad comment.

  3. I’ve seen Giant (good) and The King & I (bad) from these. While I’m not really surprised that a lot of these films are forgotten – I’m sure most current popular films will be, fairly soon – this does interest me. I don’t think it’s merely a reflection of ad campaigns and studios, but to an extent, it does reflect the tastes of audiences at the time and the mindset of society. Like how certain films go in and out of popularity… a biblical epic is very rare now, musicals and westerns are mostly out of style unless they’re revisionist, ect. It’s also cool to find great films unexpectedly in top 10s, like Last Tango in Paris in 1973. Were that film released today, it probably wouldn’t crack the top 50.

  4. I’ve seen none, and ‘Giant’ and ‘High Society’ are the only ones I actually care to ever see. :D

  5. Pingback: 20 Actresses (encore) « Surface Noise™

  6. Interesting to have found comments opposing the popularity of these films. Ironically, I stumbled upon this page specifically interested in these films; particularly The Ten Commandments. It is a great movie.

    However, I do agree with Orpheline, “…I don’t think it’s merely a reflection of ad campaigns and studios, but to an extent, it does reflect the tastes of audiences at the time and the mindset of society.” This is, unfortunately, quite true.

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