The promos for Godzilla say it. James Cameron crowed it. And of course, countless Cosmo articles have argued it: Size matters.
Americans love things big. More than that, we love things superlatively big. Give us the hugest, the fastest, the highest. The largest ball of twine in Minnesota? Let’s go! The tallest cactus in the West! Love it!
Entertainment is no exception to our size fetish. Consider that final scene in Boogie Nights…oh, maybe not. Take Titanic instead. No matter how you felt about the window-steaming romance, you couldn’t help being riveted as the big boat plowed through record after record. (Highest-grossing film! Fifteen weeks at No. 1!) The entertainment faithful are increasingly numbers-obsessed: These days we study the box office like Yankee fans scrutinize box scores.
Thus here is our salute to size — our own book of records. We crunched the numbers and came up with a bar-bet-settling package of Hollywood’s all-time most massive. And then we tried to break them. That is, we selected eight of the most vaunted high-water marks and analyzed them for vulnerabilities. Will Garth Brooks pass the Beatles in album sales? (Probably.) Will Seinfeld’s finale get a better rating than M*A*S*H’s? (Unlikely.) After all, there’s much at stake for a No. 1. ”It’s nice,” says M*A*S*H creator Larry Gelbart. ”You get compared to other events — like Super Bowls and O.J. Simpson murders.”
A word about methodology: We’ve focused on pure, unqualified records. Sure, there’s merit to the argument that Gone With the Wind made more money than Titanic — if you adjust for inflation. But one of the beauties of a record is its absolute rank; who wants to do long division to determine a champion? Also, we skipped records involving awards (most Oscar nominations, etc.) and salaries. Instead, we focused on the records determined by the fans — the music addicts, the tube watchers, the huddled moviegoers. So go ahead and dip in — and while you’re at it, please make this the biggest-selling EW of all time.