Exploring the Box Office Hits of 1973: Top 10 Movies

Exploring the Box Office Hits of 1973: Top 10 Movies


The year 1973 marked a significant milestone in cinema history, witnessing the release of several iconic films that captured the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. From gripping dramas to thrilling adventures, these movies not only entertained but also shattered box office records. In this article, we'll delve into the top 10 movies that grossed the most in 1973, highlighting their financial success alongside their cultural impact and artistic merits.

1. The Exorcist (1973)

Grossing Amount: $441.3 million

Description: Directed by William Friedkin, "The Exorcist" is a horror masterpiece based on William Peter Blatty's novel. The film follows the demonic possession of young Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) and the desperate attempts to exorcise the evil spirit by two priests, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller). With its terrifying imagery and groundbreaking special effects, "The Exorcist" remains one of the most influential horror films of all time.

Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn
Producer: William Peter Blatty

2. The Sting (1973)

Grossing Amount: $159.6 million

Description: Directed by George Roy Hill, "The Sting" is a stylish caper film set in 1930s Chicago. The movie follows con artists Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) and Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) as they orchestrate an elaborate scheme to swindle a ruthless crime boss. With its clever plot twists and charismatic performances, "The Sting" won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Director: George Roy Hill
Cast: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Producer: Tony Bill, Michael Phillips, Julia Phillips

3. American Graffiti (1973)

Grossing Amount: $140 million

Description: Directed by George Lucas, "American Graffiti" is a nostalgic coming-of-age film set in Modesto, California, in 1962. The movie follows a group of teenagers on the last night of summer vacation as they cruise the streets and ponder their futures. With its ensemble cast and iconic soundtrack, "American Graffiti" captures the spirit of youth and rebellion in the early 1960s.

Director: George Lucas
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat
Producer: Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Kurtz

4. Papillon (1973)

Grossing Amount: $53.3 million

Description: Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, "Papillon" is a gripping prison drama based on Henri Charrière's autobiography. The film follows the harrowing journey of Henri "Papillon" Charrière (Steve McQueen), a French convict falsely accused of murder, as he attempts multiple escapes from the notorious Devil's Island prison. With its breathtaking locations and powerful performances, "Papillon" is a testament to the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Cast: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman
Producer: Robert Dorfmann, Franklin J. Schaffner

5. Robin Hood (1973)

Grossing Amount: $32 million

Description: Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, "Robin Hood" is an animated adventure film that reimagines the classic English folk tale with anthropomorphic animals. The movie follows the legendary outlaw Robin Hood (voiced by Brian Bedford) as he steals from the rich to give to the poor, battling the tyrannical Sheriff of Nottingham (voiced by Pat Buttram) along the way. With its memorable characters and catchy songs, "Robin Hood" continues to charm audiences of all ages.

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Cast: Brian Bedford, Phil Harris, Peter Ustinov
Producer: Wolfgang Reitherman

6. Live and Let Die (1973)

Grossing Amount: $161.8 million

Description: Directed by Guy Hamilton, "Live and Let Die" is the eighth James Bond film starring Roger Moore as Agent 007. In this action-packed adventure, Bond investigates a powerful drug lord named Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto) and uncovers a plot to destabilize the world's economy. With its thrilling stunts and exotic locales, "Live and Let Die" showcases Moore's suave portrayal of the iconic spy.

Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: Roger Moore, Yaphet Kotto, Jane Seymour
Producer: Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman

7. The Way We Were (1973)

Grossing Amount: $44.5 million

Description: Directed by Sydney Pollack, "The Way We Were" is a romantic drama starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. The film follows the tumultuous relationship between political activist Katie Morosky (Streisand) and writer Hubbell Gardiner (Redford) against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in America. With its poignant themes of love and idealism, "The Way We Were" resonated with audiences and received several Academy Award nominations.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford
Producer: Ray Stark

8. Magnum Force (1973)

Grossing Amount: $39.7 million

Description: Directed by Ted Post, "Magnum Force" is the second installment in the "Dirty Harry" film series starring Clint Eastwood as Inspector Harry Callahan. In this gritty crime thriller, Callahan investigates a series of vigilante killings targeting criminals released by the justice system. With its iconic catchphrases and intense action sequences, "Magnum Force" solidified Eastwood's status as a Hollywood icon.

Director: Ted Post
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, David Soul
Producer: Robert Daley

9. The Last Detail (1973)

Grossing Amount: $10 million

Description: Directed by Hal Ashby, "The Last Detail" is a dark comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson and Randy Quaid. The film follows two Navy petty officers, "Badass" Buddusky (Nicholson) and "Mule" Mulhall (Quaid), as they escort a young sailor, Meadows (Otis Young), to a naval prison for a minor offense. With its raw humor and poignant exploration of friendship and authority, "The Last Detail" remains a cult classic.

Director: Hal Ashby
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid, Otis Young
Producer: Gerald Ayres

10. Enter the Dragon (1973)

Grossing Amount: $90 million

Description: Directed by Robert Clouse, "Enter the Dragon" is a martial arts action film starring Bruce Lee in his final completed role. The movie follows martial artist Lee as he infiltrates a martial arts tournament on a remote island to investigate the mysterious Han (Shih Kien) and his criminal activities. With its groundbreaking fight choreography and charismatic lead performance, "Enter the Dragon" remains a seminal work in the martial arts genre.

Director: Robert Clouse
Cast: Bruce Lee, John Saxon, Jim Kelly
Producer: Fred Weintraub, Paul M. Heller


The films of 1973 not only entertained audiences but also reflected the social, political, and cultural climate of the time. From horror classics to action-packed adventures, these movies continue to captivate viewers and leave a lasting legacy in the annals of cinema.

FAQs About the Movie Industry in 1973

  1. What were some significant trends in the movie industry in 1973?

    • The 1970s saw a surge in blockbuster filmmaking and the emergence of new genres, including horror and martial arts.
  2. Who were some notable actors and actresses in 1973?

    • Stars like Marlon Brando, Robert Redford, and Barbra Streisand dominated the silver screen, delivering memorable performances in iconic films of the decade.

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