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What’s the Highest Grossing Comedy Ever?

Highest Grossing Comedy Meet the FockersThe highest grossing comedy ever? According to a recent report, Meet the Fockers – featuring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Blythe Danner, and Teri Polo – holds that title.
  • Is Meet the Fockers truly the highest grossing comedy – live action, that is – ever made? Well, that depends on how you measure a movie’s box office performance and how you define the word “comedy.”

Is Meet the Fockers truly the highest grossing comedy movie ever made?

Starring Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, and Teri Polo, DreamWorks/Universal’s Jay Roach-directed blockbuster Meet the Fockers is now officially the highest grossing comedy – of the live-action variety – in history.

Really?

According to a Los Angeles Times report, the craphouse family – or rather, families – movie of the year (2004–05) has scored $498 million worldwide, $221 million of which outside the U.S. and Canada.

In this context, one should point out that as far as international box office figures are concerned, it surely doesn’t hurt that in the last couple of years the U.S. dollar has lost a lot of ground against most major currencies.

Something else worth highlighting: The Los Angeles Times apparently doesn’t consider Robert Zemeckis’ Academy Award-winning paean to idiocy and conformism, Forrest Gump, a comedy. Starring eventual Best Actor winner Tom Hanks, Sally Field, and Robin Wright, the 1994 hit raked in $679 million (not adjusted for inflation/currency fluctuations) worldwide.

Meet the Fockers vs. Home Alone

Now, what about Home Alone?

Okay, so you may find Chris Columbus’ 1990 flick as unfunny as Forrest Gump, but officially it is supposed to be an uproarious comedy – one no less mirth-inducing than Meet the Fockers.

Anyhow, according to boxofficemojo.com, Home Alone, featuring Macaulay Culkin and soon-to-become Academy Award winner Joe Pesci (Goodfellas, 1990), collected $476.7 million worldwide in the early 1990s.

So what? Isn’t that less than Meet the Fockers’ $498 million?

The inflation factor

Minor detail: Inflation is a reality today, much like it was a reality back in the late 20th century. Once that fact of life is factored in (to make things more manageable, without taking into account currency fluctuations), Home Alone would have scored around $680–$690 million in 2004–05.

That would place the Columbus-Culkin sleeper blockbuster nearly $200 million ahead of the lamebrained Meet the Parents sequel.

So, should the Big Prize for the Highest Grossing Comedy (live action, worldwide) in history go to Meet the Fockers, Forrest Gump, or Home Alone?

Just ignore the PR and do the math.

Inflation-adjusted ‘highest grossing comedy’ in the domestic market

When it comes to live-action movies – and while taking inflation into account (as one always should) – the highest grossing comedy to date at the domestic (U.S. and Canada) box office is…

Well, that depends on what you find funny. Seriously.

James Cameron’s Titanic, Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist are all, however unintentionally, far funnier than Meet the Fockers, Forrest Gump, and Home Alone. Adjusted for inflation, the first three titles were also more successful in the domestic market than the three nominal comedies.

Now, if we’re talking about the highest grossing comedy that was marketed as a comedy (of whatever sort), then the no. 1 title, as found at Box Office Mojo, is George Roy Hill’s 1973 Best Picture Oscar winner The Sting, which scored an adjusted $553.6 million. In the cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Robert Shaw.

Next in line are Mike Nichols’ 1967 Best Director Oscar winner The Graduate – starring Meet the Fockers’ Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, and Katharine Ross – with $531.4 million, followed by the aforementioned Forrest Gump with $488.4 million. Home Alone is listed with $420.6 million.

On that chart, Meet the Fockers is also trailing comedies like Mel BrooksBlazing Saddles ($392.7 million) and Young Frankenstein ($283.5 million), to name two.


“What’s the Highest Grossing Comedy Ever?” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “What’s the Highest Grossing Comedy Ever?” box office information via Box Office Mojo.

Although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices* (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office gross at top-priced theaters.

* In order to simplify matters (i.e., leaving aside currency fluctuations/local movie-ticket-price inflation rates), Home Alone’s global dollar amount was adjusted via this site, which compiles data provided by the U.S.’ Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Ben Stiller, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo, and Dustin Hoffman Meet the Fockers image: Universal Pictures.

“What’s the Highest Grossing Comedy Ever?” last updated in August 2022.

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