March Madness Movie Tournament: 4 decades of box office winners

The NCAA tournament is canceled but that doesn't mean we can't still have an old-fashioned, bracket-busting good time, where the winner is selected by you, the loyal reader.

The most wonderful time of the year has been put on hold in 2020.

Both the men's and women's college basketball tournaments are only a few of the many events canceled in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The NBA and NHL have both suspended play, as has Major League Baseball. Soccer, golf, and the XFL have all suspended their seasons as well, along with schools in some states taking a hiatus or moving to online studies.

Sports has gone silent and, as we prepare for the worst but certainly hope for the best, we turn to other forms of entertainment to keep our minds from going completely crazy. Hence, a little fun by taking a look at 40 years of the top box office films.

By holding a tournament, of course.

We've looked at the summer films from 1998 and the greatest holiday films of all time. Now, we set up 64 films in a battle to find which of the box office winners is the favorite among voters.

There will be four regions, divided into the 1980's, 1990's, 2000's, and 2010's. Each region has the top 16 highest-grossing films from each decade. Starting March 13th with the 80's and the 90's, you, the voter, will have a chance to send your favorite film forward throughout the month of March until we've landed on a winner. (Box office totals are taken from Box Office Mojo).

Have fun, enjoy, engage and vote as we whittle down the list to determine your favorite box office champion from the last 40 years.

1980 - 1989

The 1980's gave us iconic movies and gave us movies that are considered iconic but definitely viewed through a different scope in today's lens. Both groups are represented in this region mostly dominated by blockbusters.

Harrison Ford is the big winner of this decade already, with five films represented among the highest-grossing of the decade. Tom Cruise is sitting pretty with two while Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Dustin Hoffman, and Glenn Close are among those vying to move on in this tournament.
  • 1) E.T.
  • 16) Fatal Attraction
  • 8) Back to the Future
  • 9) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • 5) Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • 12) Tootsie
  • 4) Batman
  • 13) Crocodile Dundee
  • 6) Ghostbusters
  • 11) Top Gun
  • 3) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
  • 14) Rain Man
  • 7) Beverly Hills Cop
  • 10)Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • 2) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • 15) Three Men and a Baby

1990 - 1999

The 1990's saw more variety in the films that became box office champions. Animated films began to rake in money, along with the normal type of blockbuster movies that have appeared since Jaws swam onto the scene.

In this decade, Will Smith's stock skyrocketed, while Leo and Kate became household names. A love story about a ghost tugged at our heart strings, while a Star Wars film reached the pinnacle for a third-straight decade.
  • 1) Titanic
  • 16) Ghost
  • 8) Home Alone 
  • 9) Men in Black
  • 5) Forrest Gump
  • 12) Jurassic Park: The Lost World
  • 4) Jurassic Park
  • 13) Toy Story
  • 6) Independence Day
  • 11) Twister
  • 3) The Lion King (animated)
  • 14) Mrs. Doubtfire
  • 7) The Sixth Sense
  • 10) Toy Story 2
  • 2) Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
  • 15) Beauty and the Beast (animated)

2000 - 2009

Consider this for a moment: The Harry Potter movies were some of the biggest and most beloved of this decade, in turn creating a worldwide phenomenon. And yet, not one of the films appears in the top-16 highest grossing films at the domestic box office during this time. Seven of the eight films in the series were released between 2000 and 2009, with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone the highest-grossing of them all at $318,087,620, good enough for 75th overall and 17th place in the decade. 

Instead, it was superhero movies that began to really make their mark, plus two of the three Lord of the Rings films. And of course, Star Wars is represented as well.
  • 1) Avatar
  • 16) Iron Man
  • 8) Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • 9) Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 5) Spider-Man (2002)
  • 12) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • 4) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  • 13) Spider-Man 3 (2007)
  • 6) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • 11) Passion of the Christ
  • 3) Shrek 2
  • 14) Shrek the Third
  • 7) Finding Nemo
  • 10) Spider-Man 2 (2004)
  • 2) The Dark Knight
  • 15) Transformers

2010 - 2019

Every single film among the top-16 highest grossing films in this decade are sequels or part of a trilogy, remakes, a Marvel film, or part of an expanded universe. And of course, a Star Wars film (or four).

This deserves a deeper examination of what audience goers are primarily going to see, but that's best saved for another time. That being said, there could possibly be some very difficult decisions ahead.
  • 1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • 16) Toy Story 4
  • 8) Lion King (live-action)
  • 9) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • 5) Jurassic World
  • 12) Finding Dory
  • 4) Avengers: Infinity War
  • 13) Frozen II
  • 6) The Avengers
  • 11) Beauty and the Beast (live-action)
  • 3) Black Panther
  • 14) Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • 7) Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • 10) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • 2) Avengers: Endgame
  • 15) The Dark Knight Rises
Voting for each round will take place on Twitter. If you don't have a Twitter account, feel free to leave your votes in the comment section and your vote will be counted. (*Sorry to Facebook friends who don't do the Twitter, Facebook no longer allows the poll option, meaning unfortunately they've taken away the fun.)

Twitter: @jasonrh_78
photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

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