Money can't buy you love. But how about a ticket to a romantic movie?
Escaping our lives for two hours to become part of someone else's is a large part of the attraction we feel toward film. Romance movies in particular draw us in. We are ever enticed by the pitfalls — and joys — that love, albeit fictional, brings to some of the most recognizable faces of Hollywood. And with top films such as "Gone With the Wind" and "Titanic" (Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on our list) jointly raking in more than $800 million, the numbers speak for themselves.
Since the Greeks first invented drama, audiences have enjoyed a good love story. We empathize, occasionally weep and sometimes even get good advice for our own love lives. But even if plays or novels are more beautifully written than movies, the experience of seeing a film is more visceral. The impact of seeing men and women fall in, or out of, love onscreen is as close as we can get to the real thing.
To find out which romantic films have made more hearts beat faster over the years, Forbes.com compiled a list for the top 10 romantic blockbuster hits of all time, using Box Office Mojo's statistical rankings. We looked at what movies had the highest domestic gross within the romantic drama and romantic comedy genres.
Movies that date pre-1978 are not included in these listings. Therefore, Forbes.com studied the highest-grossing domestic movies of all time and picked those we felt were truly outstanding in their romantic appeal and tell the story of an unforgettable couple through their heartwarming — or heart-wrenching — journey. Finally, after adjusting each movie's gross for inflation, we narrowed the list down to ten films.
Grossing $198.7 million in its lifetime, MGM's 1939 "Gone With the Wind" tops our list. The dramatic portrayal of a love story set during the Civil War proved to be very successful: It is the No. 1 domestic top-grossing movie of all time, taking in nearly $1.3 billion when adjusted for inflation.
Weaving a love story into the retelling of an historical event proved to be just as successful for "Titanic." Grossing more than $600 million worldwide, "Titanic" is the world's highest-grossing movie of all time and created quite a splash when it came out in 1997. No other movie has even come close to outranking this love boat. "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which directly follows "Titanic" in world ranking, only had total grosses of $377 million.
And we can't forget the love stories we grew up watching as kids, like Disney's 1959 animated classic "Sleeping Beauty" — which, believe it or not, outgrossed the Disney classic "Cinderella" — and Paramount's entertaining adaptation of the Broadway hit "Grease."
With blockbusters like "Pretty Woman," "My Fair Lady" and "West Side Story" on our list, there are plenty more that didn't make the cut. Favorites like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Dirty Dancing" totaled only $92.8 million and $63.4 million, respectively, leaving imprints on our hearts but not enough dollars at the box office to qualify.
As Valentine's Day nears, a good way to celebrate — single and couples alike — might be to sit back and enjoy one of these popular classics. And who knows, maybe even the most cynical will be transformed into a believer in love.