Movies That Thrived During Recessions

The Mother of All Depressions (aka the Stock Market Crash up until WWII)

Movies that Survived the Money Pinch: Tarzan (1932), King Kong (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935),Wizard of Oz(1939)

What Worked: This was the decade of the adventure movies. People could sail to far off places with giant apes or follow the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where huge, green walls kept out the bill collectors.

The Oil Shock Recession (1973-74)

Movies that survived the Money Pinch: The Exorcist ($193,000,000), The Sting ($156,000,000), Blazing Saddles ($119,500,000), The Towering Inferno ($116,000,000), American Graffiti ($115,000,000)

What Worked: These were the years of nostalgia, with both The Sting and Blazing Saddles taking us back in time to the age of prohibition and saloons. Plus, a scary movie is a great escape, and it’s a tough task to find a movie scarier than The Exorcist.

Early 1980s Recession

Movies that survived the Money Pinch: Raiders of the Lost Ark ($209,562,121), The Empire Strikes Back ($209,398,025), 9 to 5 ($103,290,500), On Golden Pond ($119,285,432), Superman II ($108,185,706)/p p What Worked: Indy, Super Man and Star Wars all gave people, especially sci-fi nerds, something to obsess about during their newly-found free time. At the same time, 9 to 5 made fun of money, careers, and dickhead chauvinistic bosses, which was bringing a lot of people down at the time…and still is to this day.

The Second Big Stock Market Crash (1990-91 Recession)

Movies That Survived the Money Crisis: Home Alone ($285,761,243), Ghost ($217,631,306), Terminator 2 ($204,843,345), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($165,493,908), Beauty and the Beast ($145,863,363)

What Worked: T2 had many people believing the world was ending, so why worry about money? And Home Alone gave parents a good reason to cancel their yearly family trip to some extra money.

The Dot-Com Bubble Burst (2001-02 Recession)

Movies that survived the Money Pinch: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($317,575,550), Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring ($313,364,114), Monster’s Inc. ($255,873,250)

What Worked: With the Dot-Com bubble bursting fantasy movies became huge hits and LARP was reborn. Now not only were fantasy nerds working on their social skills, but the fresh air combined with exercise worked magic with their depression from all the money they lost.

Mortgage Crisis (Right Now)

Movies that survived the Money Pinch: Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($121,200,930), Taken ($95,034,161), He’s Just Not That Into You ($70,100,901), Friday the 13th ($55,119,663), Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail ($41,030,947)

What Worked: Unemployed and out of luck? This time Hollywood put a fat man on a Segway, kidnapped Liam Neeson’s snobby daughter, resurrected a masked killer, put Tyler Perry in jail, and unleashed desperate women on the prowl. The critics may be praying for a quick economic recovery but film-goers seem just fine waiting it out.