Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Movies and Economics

A few days ago, an item on the Real Time Economics blog caught my eye. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas runs has an annual essay contest for high school students in the 11th District. This year they're asking students to identify economic concepts in the movies. Read through the comments to this post. Some of them insightful, some of them revealing (a few have nothing to do with the topic and are anti-Federal Reserve rants).

Then, I ran across an interesting graphic in the interactive edition of The New York Times. It presented movie revenues in an innovative and interesting way. But that and the fact that the Academy Awards were this past weekend, reminded me of another economics lesson.

A former colleague of mine, who was an outstanding AP Economics teacher in the south suburbs of Chicago, had some students who applied the lessons of price inflation to movie box office. This was back in 2001 so the information has changed. But they went on-line, found the top 50 grossing movies (not gross movies) of all time and then applied a GDP (Gross Domestic Product) deflator (link no longer operative) to account for inflation and see which movie really was the top when measured in constant dollars. (Please note, official data only goes back to 1947 so years prior to that were estimated.)

I have the file given to me in 2001. If anyone's interested, I will gladly provide it. If anyone is interested in updating and sharing here, please...

share your comments.


Anonymous said...

The info can be found here.


and here


The lists are not the same.

Tim Schilling said...

I guess I would go with the first list as it goes back farther. The second list only goes back as far as 1977. But that may include more films that students are familiar with. Maybe you share the second list. Then expand their time horizons.

Thanks for the contribution.