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1952 Box Office Hits - 148 Movies Listed


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I'm very interested in this topic. How interesting that the Best Picture Oscar winner also grossed the most at the domestic box office that year. The Quiet Man only made a fourth of what "Biggest Show on Earth" did that year. However, I bet if you add up income from syndication, theatrical re-releases, and home theater sales and rentals, "The Quiet Man", "High Noon", and "Singin in the Rain" would leave The Greatest Show on Earth in the dust.

 

"Greatest Show on Earth" is much like "Titanic" in that they were blockbusters that won best picture Oscar, but as time goes on they seem rather empty visual spectacles. At least "Greatestt Show on Earth" didn't have the main character (Rose) going on endlessly about if she had to be rich just one more day she was going to jump off the ship to her death! All of those cotillions, parties, and rich food she had to look forward to! Oh, the humanity!

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Decided to release all of my information (years and years of research) on box office grosses for the year 1952.  Not sure if anybody in the world is interested in this information....but felt this was probably a good place to post my link.

 

http://www.ultimatemovierankings.com/top-grossing-movies-of-1952/

1952 was a very good year for movies.  My favourite of the year is Singin' in the Rain.  It's ironic that The Snows of Kilimanjarno is so high on the list since Hemmingway was unhappy with the ending being changed.  Mustn't have Peck die in a movie...unless he is playing a real life person like Ambrose Bierce. 

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1952 was a very good year for movies.  My favourite of the year is Singin' in the Rain.  It's ironic that The Snows of Kilimanjarno is so high on the list since Hemmingway was unhappy with the ending being changed.  Mustn't have Peck die in a movie...unless he is playing a real life person like Ambrose Bierce. 

 

If Peck wasn't allowed to get the gal in Roman Holiday,    he should have been allowed to die in Snows of Killimanjarno.   ;)

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1952 is one of my favourite years of the '50s for film output.

 

People love to knock DeMille but the man had his hand on the pulse of the public for the kind of larger than life entertainment that they wanted, hokey characterizations and situations, or not. As proof of that look at how much more money The Greatest Show on Earth made at the 1952 box office than its nearest competition.

 

And it's still a pretty entertaining film, even though (best picture Oscar or not) it's not nearly the best of its year.

 

I see that one of my favourite films of the year, Five Fingers, came in near the bottom of the money makers that year. All these years later, that masterful Joseph L. Mankiewicz true life WW2 spy drama is still not nearly as well known as it should be. A sly, intelligent drama, set in neutral Turkey, with some great performances (a cool, immaculate James Mason is perfectly cast) and dialogue, with a marvelously ironic ending.

 

As an illustration of the cleverness of some of the film's dialogue, Danielle Darrieux (still with us today, I'm happy to say, at 98) plays a Countess known for her extravagant parties where enemy agents on both sides of the war gather. And she is used to a monied lifestyle, no matter where the money comes from.

 

At one point she catches a middle class German clerk looking at her longingly:

 

"Please do not look at me," she tells him matter-of-factedly, "as if you have a source of income other than your salary."
 

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1952 is one of my favourite years of the '50s for film output.

 

People love to knock DeMille but the man had his hand on the pulse of the public for the kind of larger than life entertainment that they wanted, hokey characterizations and situations, or not. As proof of that look at how much more money The Greatest Show on Earth made at the 1952 box office than its nearest competition.

 

And it's still a pretty entertaining film, even though (best picture Oscar nor not) it's not nearly the best of its year.

 

I see that one of my favourite films of the year, Five Fingers, came in near the bottom of the money makers that year. All these years later, that masterful Joseph L. Mankiewicz true life WW2 spy drama is still not nearly as well known as it should be. A sly, intelligent drama, set in neutral Turkey, with some great performances (a cool, immaculate James Mason is perfectly cast) and dialogue, with a marvelously ironic ending.

 

As an illustration of the cleverness of some of the film's dialogue, Danielle Darrieux (still with us today, I'm happy to say, at 98) plays a Countess known for her extravagant parties where enemy agents on both sides of the war gather. And she is used to a monied lifestyle, no matter where the money comes from.

 

At one point she catches a middle class German clerk looking at her longingly:

 

"Please do not look at me," she tells him matter-of-factedly, "as if you have a source of income other than your salary."

 

She is still alive?  That is wonderful.

 

James Mason and my love for his movies are responsible for me knowing a lot about real life people he played. Five fingers is another one of my favourites and I never knew until I saw this movie first on the History channel with commentary about it that the D-Day invasion was actually known about by the Nazis in advance because of the character Mason played, but of course weather changed the original date.

 

Mason and his role as Rommel in The Desert Fox and The Desert Rats made me much more aware of Rommel.

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Oh yeah, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the year 1952, and especially the month of March of that year.

 

(...yeah, you guessed it...that was when this here classic movie fan whose top five favorite movies of all time would include the title SINGIN' IN THE RAIN made "his debut" into the world)

 

;)

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Decided to release all of my information (years and years of research) on box office grosses for the year 1952.  Not sure if anybody in the world is interested in this information....but felt this was probably a good place to post my link.

 

http://www.ultimatemovierankings.com/top-grossing-movies-of-1952/

Thank you for posting. This is really interesting. Who would have guessed that THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO was #2 on the box office list?

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Hey Calvin. Not thinking that the Best Picture Oscar winner is also the top movie maker too often. In recent memory you might have to go all the way back to Lord of the Rings for the last time it happened….and that was 13 years ago. I imagine The Quiet Man and Singin In The Rain are easily creating more revenue than The Greatest Show On Earth currently is right.

My dad really liked The Greatest Show On Earth…he was a teenager when it came out…and the trainwreck scene really fascinating him. Yes Rose had it tough….lol. Thanks for checking out my latest page.

 

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Hey GregoryPeckFan….well you can not underestimate the box office power of Gregory Peck in 1952…everything he touched was box office gold during this time period…plus you throw in Ava Gardner and Susan Hayward and they were printing money….and lots of it. The ending was the perfect Hollywood ending…..can end it on a depressing note….lol.

 

Hey JamesJazzGuitar....Peck might not have gotten the girl in Roman Holiday….but he got her heart….forever! So you could not kill him off in Snows.

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Hey Tom…The Greatest Show On Earth is still ranked 60th on the all-time adjusted box office list…after 64 years that is pretty impressive. Five Fingers was the 86th biggest hit in 1952….one of the many James Mason movies that year. Five Fingers is generally loved by critics and audiences. I have James Mason page that looks at 73 of movies….Five Fingers got the 5th best reviews of his entire career. That is cool that Danielle Darieux is still with us…as she closes in on 100….right there with Kirk Douglas and Olivia de Havilland who will be 100 this year. Thanks for checking out my latest movie page….it is greatly appreciated.

 

Hey Gregory Peck Fan….between your comment and Tom’s Five Fingers has moved up my list of movies to watch…I will have to track it down now. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Hey Dargo…..I am not much of a musical fan….but I really like Singin’ In The Rain. One of the highlights on my website was when Michael Kelly (Gene’s grandson) commented on my Gene Kelly Movie Page….granted it was to fuzz at me a little…but it was still a good comment to get. I got a kick out of watching The Artist…and knowing that it borrowed heavily from Singin’ In The Rain.

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This a fascinating list. Great work.

 

However, a couple of comments re. the one star that is listed. Firstly, some films had more than one star, often each responsible for having people show up and pay to see the film. The top two moneymakers are good examples: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH is an all-star affair, and so selecting one person is not reflective.of the drawing power for this movie. Likewise, THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO featured Susan Hayward and Ava Gardner, both huge stars at that time, and possibly equally responsible to the film's success as was Gregory Peck.

 

Also, some films are listed with the listed star being not the main star, but it seems might be the best known name now. DREAMBOAT was a star vehicle for Clifton Webb, and he was most likely the main reason people went to see the film, although Ginger Rogers is the generally better known name now. Or PHONE CALL FROM A STRANGER, whose biggest name in a starring role was Shelley Winter; Bette Davis had a small role, a cameo really. The biggest role was that of Davis' then-husband, Gary Merrill. Similarly, ISLAND OF DESIRE starred Linda Darnell, and was the main reason people went to see the film. Tab Hunter made his film debut in this, but he was not why people bought tickets for it; his days as a matinee idol were 2-3 years away. But he is the better known name today.

 

Other than these quibbles, this is some great work.

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Sorry, One more comment.......it seems misleading to state that the list is for films.made in 1952. I believe the intent might have been for films.released in 1952. Many films released in 1952 were actually made wholly in 1951, just like many films made in 1952 weren't released until 1953.

 

Anyway, keep up the great work.

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Hey Arturo. Thanks for the compliment, visit and the feedback….they are all greatly appreciated. You are 100% correct about the stars….or lack of stars in the star column. Normally I include two stars for each movie. Not sure who would have been not been included between Gardner and Hayward when looking at Snows of Kilimanjaro. Sadly my database is under construction….so I had to manually type all of this information in…versus….running a report and having all the information pulled and moved to the page. So in other words….I got lazy when it came to the star column. When my database comes back online…I will be including the second stars…as well as Oscar nominations, Oscar wins, Critic Reviews and other stats from the movie. Your classic movie knowledge is very impressive. I replaced Tab Hunter with Linda Darnell on the Island of Desire line. Great comment.

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Hey Arturo....this list is all the movies made in 1952 according to IMDb.  When going through all my box office records...I took out the 1951 movies that made the 1952 box office hit list....movies like...Quo Vadis (2nd biggest hit in 1952...but released at the end of 1951) and then I went to my 1953 box office hits and pulled out all of the movies released in late 1952 that made a ton of money in 1953....like Hans Christian Andersen (7th in 1953 but made in 1952).  So far I have done 9 years like this....and using the IMDb year is the best way to make sure I do not forget a movie.

 

The greatest example is Gone With The Wind.....it is listed as the biggest box office hit of 1939....but the reality it made almost no money in 1939.    It was 1st in 1940, 2nd in 1941 and 56th in 1942....but it always gets put with the rest of the 1939 movies.....that is the same rule I use when doing these pages.

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Hey Arturo....this list is all the movies made in 1952 according to IMDb.  When going through all my box office records...I took out the 1951 movies that made the 1952 box office hit list....movies like...Quo Vadis (2nd biggest hit in 1952...but released at the end of 1951) and then I went to my 1953 box office hits and pulled out all of the movies released in late 1952 that made a ton of money in 1953....like Hans Christian Andersen (7th in 1953 but made in 1952).  So far I have done 9 years like this....and using the IMDb year is the best way to make sure I do not forget a movie.

 

The greatest example is Gone With The Wind.....it is listed as the biggest box office hit of 1939....but the reality it made almost no money in 1939.    It was 1st in 1940, 2nd in 1941 and 56th in 1942....but it always gets put with the rest of the 1939 movies.....that is the same rule I use when doing these pages.

What I mean is this....GONE.WITH THE WIND was.made mostly in 1939, AND released in 1939. So, yes your list will have it for that year, even if it made the bulk of its money later. The previous movie Clark Gable made, the 1939 release IDIOT'S DELIGHT, was MADE in 1938. Likewise, movies released in early 1940, like THE GRAPES OF WRATH or HIS GIRL FRIDAY, were made in 1939. In 1952, movies like FIVE FINGERS or.CLASH BY NIGHT were made.in 1951, but were released in 1952.

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Here are the ten stars named as the top ten of 1952 by the annual Quigley poll of motion picture exhibitors:

 

1952

  1. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
  2. Gary Cooper
  3. John Wayne
  4. Bing Crosby
  5. Bob Hope
  6. James Stewart
  7. Doris Day
  8. Gregory Peck
  9. Susan Hayward
  10. Randolph Scott

https://tbmovielists.wordpress.com/quigleys-top-ten-box-office-champions-by-year/

 

I have some difficulty correlating Quigley's poll with your own list of 1952's box office receipts, ClassicMovieRankings.

 

Take, for example, Quigley's placement of Randolph Scott as the No. 10 star of the year. Yet, on your list his highest ranked film comes in as No. 64.

 

Then there's Gary Cooper. On your list his films come in as numbers 12 and 35, yet Quigley's exhibitors called him the No.2 star of the year.

 

Now I know there is some confusion by a film like Hans Christian Anderson being on your list, for example, since it was largely a 1953 release, so I assume the Quigley poll for '52 wasn't even looking at it. Still, I'm a bit confused by the seeming disparity in some cases between Quigley and your tremendous list of '52 films, ClassicMovieRankings.

 

Perhaps someone is aware of the criteria that Quigley used in his own polling that may be causing some confusion. I know, for example, that Quigley would call Gary Cooper the No. 1 star of the following year, 1953. I always assumed that High Noon was probably still in circulation that year to account for such a high ranking. (Ironically, Cooper's two films released in 1953 rank among the worst of his career).

 

Not trying to put you on the spot here, ClassicMovieRankings, because you've done a tremendous amount of work here which, I'm sure, we all deeply appreciate. But, still, I can't quite understand the differences between Quigley's well known annual poll and your own findings.

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Here are the ten stars named as the top ten of 1952 by the annual Quigley poll of motion picture exhibitors:

 

1952

 

  • Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
  • Gary Cooper
  • John Wayne
  • Bing Crosby
  • Bob Hope
  • James Stewart
  • Doris Day
  • Gregory Peck
  • Susan Hayward
  • Randolph Scott
https://tbmovielists.wordpress.com/quigleys-top-ten-box-office-champions-by-year/

 

I have some difficulty correlating Quigley's poll with your own list of 1952's box office receipts, ClassicMovieRankings.

 

Take, for example, Quigley's placement of Randolph Scott as the No. 10 star of the year. Yet, on your list his highest ranked film comes in as No. 64.

 

Then there's Gary Cooper. On your list his films come in as numbers 12 and 35, yet Quigley's exhibitors called him the No.2 star of the year.

 

Now I know there is some confusion by a film like Hans Christian Anderson being on your list, for example, since it was largely a 1953 release, so I assume the Quigley poll for '52 wasn't even looking at it. Still, I'm a bit confused by the seeming disparity in some cases between Quigley and your tremendous list of '52 films, ClassicMovieRankings.

 

Perhaps someone is aware of the criteria that Quigley used in his own polling that may be causing some confusion. I know, for example, that Quigley would call Gary Cooper the No. 1 star of the following year, 1953. I always assumed that High Noon was probably still in circulation that year to account for such a high ranking. (Ironically, Cooper's two films released in 1953 rank among the worst of his career).

 

Not trying to put you on the spot here, ClassicMovieRankings, because you've done a tremendous amount of work here which, I'm sure, we all deeply appreciate. But, still, I can't quite understand the differences between Quigley's well known annual poll and your own findings.

The Quigley Polls were not for a calendar year. The ballots sent out to thousands of exhibitors in the U.S. and Canada asked them to rank the top moneymakers for something like Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. This way, all the ballots would have been returned and tabulated, and the rankings published, by the end of the year. So, yes, the results can be skewed, as your mention of HIGH NOON, which made most of its money the last few months of 1952, and into 1953, thereby reflecting in Coop topping the list in 1953.

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Hey Tom. Pretty sure they did not really look at box office grosses….first of all the information was not readily available. Talked with my father-in-law about this subject many years ago. His dad ran the Auburn movie theater for years…and he grew up playing in that theater. He compared that survey to the current way coaches vote for the best teams in the country in certain sports….most got votes based on what were their name was versus actually how good the team really was.
That still happens today…George Clooney made the top 10 in a year in which is one movie did not even gross $30 million. Even giving him credit for the previous year his box office totals were not in the Top 50 much less the Top 10. Even with today’s information out there…their Top 10 do not really make sense. Here is the best example of how it makes no sense. In 2011 Quigley said Streep was the 9th biggest star. She made no movies in 2010. She made one movie in 2011…The Iron Lady…it grossed a little over $30.00 million….which was the 100th biggest hit of 2011. So with one movie that earned $30 million she got 9th…meanwhile Seth Rogen’s movies grossed almost half a billion and did not make the Top 10.

I think if you look at every Quigley Top 10 it will never make sense when you actually look at the box office grosses. It is still a fun list. But the fact that they do not really explain their rules shows that they leave lots of wiggle room to come up with their list. Just my thoughts.

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So, CMR, at which level of box office take do you consider the movie to be a "hit"?

 

IS there a decided amount?  Or is it left up to the individual? (in which case, any  largely unseen piece o' crap can be considered a "hit")

 

Inquiring minds want to know......

 

Sepiatone

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Last night's comment...Hey Arturo….it would be a lot easier just to use Variety’s Top Grossers list….at a first I was…..but on my other yearly pages I have included lots more information…including Oscar nominations and Oscar wins. I quickly found out that I needed to go by IMDb’s year so I could include the Oscars and the grosses on the same page. So I went with the way BoxOfficeMojo,Hollywood Reporter and others group their movies together.

 

This morning's comment. Hey Arturo..... I agree with you on this. The results are very skewed. And in the end….the bigger the names on the list…the better it will be received. Probably why someone like John Wayne (and I love him) made the list for so many years. They probably said….”did The Duke make a movie this year….yes he did ….well he is on the list…we need 9 more”.

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Hey Sepiatone. The quick answer would be any movie that reaches $100 million in adjusted gross….in this table…that would mean 37 movies would be hits. The long answer would be it depends on lots of things. Budget to return being a big one. Yes The Greatest Show On Earth was a monster hit….but Cecil B. DeMille put a lot of money into the movie….I bet (sorry I do not know the answer) that Ma and Pa Kettle at the Fair had a better profit margin percentage than Greatest Show.

Ultimately it is up to the individual. In current times the Transformers movies make a boatload of money….but they are a waste of time….some of the worst movies being made today. In my world a hit is a movie that makes money, gets good reviews by critics AND audiences and at the end of the day picks up some awards….a movie does all of that….then the movie is a hit. That actually describes how I rank all the movies on my website. Hope that answers your question.

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The Quigley Polls were not for a calendar year. The ballots sent out to thousands of exhibitors in the U.S. and Canada asked them to rank the top moneymakers for something like Sept. 1 to Aug. 31. This way, all the ballots would have been returned and tabulated, and the rankings published, by the end of the year. So, yes, the results can be skewed, as your mention of HIGH NOON, which made most of its money the last few months of 1952, and into 1953, thereby reflecting in Coop topping the list in 1953.

 

Thanks very much, Arturo. The Quigley Poll year starting at the beginning of September, rather than January, is interesting and would explain some questionable results. Cooper being top star of 1953 would be one of them.

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