July 22, 2024

See the #1 Movie From the Year You Were Born

If you were born in 1990, then odds are your parents saw Ghost in the movie theater. It was the number one movie of the year of your birth.

If you were born in 1960, your parents might have had a date night at Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas. (Admittedly, not the most romantic date movie — but it was the year’s biggest hit.)

If you were born in 2020, well, first of all, you’re four years old and you’re already looking up box-office information? Wow, what a nerd. But anyway, the #1 hit of your birth year, thanks to the pandemic, was a bit of an anomaly: The Japanese animated film Demon Slayer: Mugen Train. It’s the only year in history a non-American film was the top-grossing motion picture of a calendar year.

It can be quite interesting to see what movies were #1 at the box office throughout history, not only for the trivia element of knowing the top film of the year you were born. (For me, it was The Empire Strikes Back, very fitting). When you look at the #1 movies of the year over the time, you get to see how popular tastes gradually shift and evolve through the decades.


The 1940s, for example, were dominated by war films, which is quite fitting for that era. In the 1950s, Biblical epics and swords and sandal pictures, with their massive widescreen visuals came into vogue. And these days, it’s all about massive blockbuster franchises like Star Wars and Marvel.

You can find the number one movie of each year below, starring with 2021 and going all the way back to 1940. (The box-office information is drawn from IMDb and Wikipedia.)