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Is Science Fiction/Fantasy Relevant Today?

I did some interesting research today. Box Office Mojo has a feature where you can view the all-time highest grossing domestic files for a number of time periods.  I compared how the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre ranked throughout three time periods (Jan. 16, 1983, Mar. 15, 1998, and today, June 14, 2011)

On January 16, 1983, there were three clear SF/F movies in the top 10. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial at number one, Star Wars at number two, and its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, at number five. The others included:
3. Jaws (horror)
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (action/adventure more than SF/F)
6. The Exorcist (horror more than SF/F)
7. Gone with the Wind (musical)
8. Grease (musical)
9. The Sound of Music (musical)
10. The Sting (drama)

On March 15, 1998, things start to change. We have doubled the number of SF/F titles in the top ten. Six out of the top to highest grossing movies are now clearly SF/F. Star Wars is still at Number two, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is now at number three, and The Empire Strikes Back, at down at number 9. In addition, we now have Jurassic Park at number four, Return of the Jedi at number seven, and Independence Day at number eight. The others included:
1. Titanic (Drama)
5. Forrest Gump (Drama)
6. The Lion King (Childrens – might be SF/F, might be musical)
10. Home Alone (Comedy)

As of June 14, 2011, it gets a little more complicated. Does Batman/Spider-Man fit into the SF/F Genre, or should it be separated into the “Comic”genre? It’s getting difficult to “clearly” place some of these movies now. Anyway, here are the top 10 results:
1. Avatar (clearly SF/F)
2. Titanic (NOT SF/F)
3. The Dark Knight (maybe SF/F)
4. Star Wars (clearly SF/F)
5. Shrek 2 (clearly SF/F)
6. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (clearly SF/F)
7. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (clearly SF/F)
8. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (possibly SF/F)
9. Toy Story 3 (possibly SF/F)
10. Spider-Man (maybe SF/F)

So, that’s nine out of 10 movies that fall into or around the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre.  In the next 20 movies, you could clearly count another seven (and 2 more Spiderman) movies that are SF/F. Science Fiction/Fantasy, especially in the movies, seems heathier today than thirty years ago.

– Brennan Harvey

Published inMusings