1960 Top Box Office Movies

Finding box office information for movies made before 1980 is not an easy task.   For somebody looking for box office information on 1960 it is very very frustrating.  Over the years, we have researched and collected information on over 30,000 movies.  So we figured we would show all the 1960 movies in our database.

To make this list a movie had to be made in 1960.  This page will looks at 119 1960 Top Grossing Movies.  The movies are listed in a massive table that lets you rank the movies from Best to Worst in six different sortable columns of information.    This only represents about 25% of the movies made in 1960….but should cover the top box office movies.

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in 1960’s The Apartment

1960 Top Grossing Movies Can Be Ranked 6 Ways In This Table

The really cool thing about this table is that it is “user-sortable”. Rank the movies anyway you want.

  • Sort 1960 Top Grossing Movies by the stars or in some cases the director of the movie.
  • Sort 1960 Top Grossing Movies by stars of the movie
  • Sort 1960 Top Grossing Movies by domestic adjusted box office grosses using current movie ticket cost (in millions)
  • Sort 1960 Top Grossing Movies how they were received by critics and audiences.  60% rating or higher should indicate a good movie.
  • Sort by how many Oscar® nominations each 1960 Top Grossing Movies received and how many Oscar® wins each 1960 Top Grossing Movies received.
  • Sort 1960 Top Grossing Movies by Ultimate Movie Ranking Score (UMR).  Our UMR score puts box office, reviews and awards into a mathematical equation and gives each movie a score.

1960’s Psycho

 Top earners in 1960 for Adjusted USA Box Office:

My Main Sources

Source 1: Variety – January 4th, 1961 Page 47

Source 2: Twentieth Century-Fox A Corporate and Financial History by Aubrey Solomon

Source 3:  Wikipedia

Source 4:  IMDb.com

Source 5:  BoxOfficeMojo.com

How the Box Office Numbers were Calculated

Sadly in 1960….BoxOfficeMojo was not around to keep track of box office earnings. Back then earnings seem to be a secret and a secret that needed to be safely locked up.  When studios did report box office stats they used “box office rentals”.  Box office rentals were the amount of money the studio got back from the theaters.  It is NOT the box office gross.  Every year the rental to box office gross percentage changed…in 1960 this meant you had to triple the rentals to get the gross….so the multiplier used in this page was 3.0.

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39 thoughts on “1960 Top Box Office Movies

  1. Hey PhilHOF2017
    1. Moving this return comment to a new area…so it is easier to find.
    2. In regards to your questions….will break them down by movie.
    3. North To Alaska…simply got the rental wrong for this movie……everything I have is it more than the 2.5 million I had in database. From Variety 1961….to Golden Circle Varieties…various years….to even my old hand written red box office book I did in the 1980s.
    4. Variety lists North To Alaska as…$4.5 million in the bank….with another 5K expected. Variety Feb. 24th 1992 lists all movies in the 1960s with over $5 million…North To Alaska does not make that list. Generally I take the middle of the forecasts….so in this case I moved the rental number to $4.75 million for North To Alaska. That change is already on all pages relating to that movie.
    5. As for Elmer Gantry and Strangers When Me Meet….our rental number is the middle of rentals earned and expected rentals….which is why those numbers are lower. For example…Strangers When Me Meet had a “bank” rental number of 2.4 million…..they were “‘guessing” it would end up with $3.4 million. Since the “guess rental” is always too high…we have rentals as $2.9 million.
    6. Which gets us to Never on Sunday, Where The Boys Are and Hell To Eternity….those movies are 100% researched and sitting in my database…..but for some reason….the communication between my data and my website is having issues….and it will not upload the movie. I saw this with Sons and Lovers….and had to delete the movie and try again….before it would finally work. My database has 124 movies….the website is only showing about 119.
    7. If you go down the rankings….you will see missing rankings…..while Never On Sunday should be the 14th UMR movie, Where The Boys Are should be the 26th ranked movie…and Hell To Eternity should be 40th….yet it is showing up at 122nd. There are about 2 or 3 other missing movies….so good eye on getting 3 of them.
    8. So far nobody has been able to figure out why we are getting all so many error messages while trying to upload no data…..but people smarter than me are working on it.
    Good eye on catching the three missing movies….and thanks for the catch on John Wayne”s North To Alaska.
    Good feedback.

    1. Just a quick note to thank you for the detailed response and explanations, adding the 3 films I mentioned, and revising North To Alaska – The Duke would be pleased!

      1. Hey PhilHOF17….redid all of the Duke’s numbers as well….as one mistake is like a domino falling…..but gotta give Wayne all the credit he deserves. Turns out the missing 3 movies were caused by error by Cogerson….but luckily WoC is very smart….lol.

  2. Out of the 118 movies listed for 1960, I have seen 58 of them. My top ten films for 1960 would be PSYCHO, SPARTACUS, THE ENTERTAINER, MIDNIGHT LACE, DARK AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS, HOME FROM THE HILL, THE SUNDOWNERS, THE BELLS ARE RINGING, EXODUS, and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. Just my opinion but The Oscar Winners should have been as follows:

    BEST PICTURE: “Spartacus”

    BEST ACTOR: Laurence Olivier, “The Entertainer”

    BEST ACTRESS: Deborah Kerr, “The Sundowners”

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Sal Mineo, “Exodus”

    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Janet Leigh, “Psycho”

    BEST DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock, “Psycho”

    Highest ranking movie I have not seen is “Sons And Lovers”

    Worst movie of 1960 in my opinion is “Because They’re Young” which is the lowest ranked movie i have seen on this page while the most overrated movies of that year were “Elmer Gantry” and “Butterfield 8” as far as i’m concerned.

    Other movies worth a honorable mention include “The Bellboy”, “The Rat Race”, and “G.I. Blues”

    1. Hey Greg
      1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on movies made in 1960.
      2. Tally count….well your 58 would get you the silver medal….only trailing Dan…..and 11 ahead of Flora….with me and Steve…licking our wounds at the bottom of the barrel.
      3. Of your Top 10….I have only seen 6 of them….but Magnificent Seven, The Sundowners, Psycho and Sparatcus will be in my Top 10 as well.
      4. Well….our UMR score backs up your claim of the awfulness of Because They’re Young….lol.
      5. Slamming Elmer Gantry? Them fighting words on our forum…..we have some serious Lancaster fans roaming around….be careful….lol.
      6. I think many agree with your about Butterfield 8……Taylor’s medical issues seem to have helped her win the Oscar that year.
      As for “your” winners….I will compare them to the great Danny Peary later tonight when I get home from work…..but pretty sure you both picked Spartacus.
      good stuff.

      1. Hey Bruce,

        1.) I like Burt Lancaster as much as the next guy. I just feel Burt should of won his Oscar for “Birdman Of Alcatraz” as opposed to “Elmer Gantry” which has some truly awful dialogue coming out of Burt’s mouth.

        2.) “Because They’re Young” is an utterly awful movie. Whoever thought Dick Clark could actually act was one of the world’s biggest fools in my opinion.

        3.) Just got my copy of Danny Peary’s book “Alternate Oscar” yesterday!!!

        4.) Actually, I surprised myself when I realized that I had seen 58 movies on the list. Saw quite a few of them while watching the ” afternoon movie” and “overnight movie marathon” shows the local television stations use to broadcast during the 1970s.

        1. Haha, I guess Bruce is at least in part referring to me when he cautions against slamming Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry. But actually, I also slightly prefer his performance in Birdman of Alcatraz, though I do think he was excellent in latter. Of course, for Birdman, while he was nominated, he was up against Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mocking Bird, so it was tougher to win. Lancaster’s performances in Sweet Smell of Success, The Leopard and Atlantic City were arguably also better than in Elmer Gantry, although he plays such different personas, this may be like comparing apples and oranges.

          Elmer Gantry is maybe a little bit dated and not for every-one, but I do think it’s an excellent film which put out some bold and interesting messages at the time and included some fine performances.

          Haven’t seen Olivier in The Entertainer, so I can’t comment on whether he deserved the Oscar, but I’m sure his performance was superb, as was usually the case.

          1. Hey PhilHOF17…..yep…..it was with you, and John and vacationing Bob in mind that I put out that caution. I agree with you about Lancaster’s roles in Sweet Smell of Success and Atlantic City. The Leopard was visually stunning….but the slow pace did me in. Elmer Gantry is very dated….Leap of Faith is sort of a modern update of that movie….in some ways at least….with Martin playing a role that in my mind reminds me of Lancaster’s Gantry. I have also not seen The Entertainer…..actually in my many years around videos and DVDs…have never even seen that movie available to watch. Good feedback as always.

        2. Hey Greg
          1. Too late now….your Elmer comment is out there….no backing down now…lol.
          2. Actually I agree with you….of all the great Burt movies out there…Elmer Gantry is a one and done movie for me. I saw it…I liked it…..but I will never watch again.
          3. From Here To Eternity, Sweet Smell of Success, Judgement At Nuremberg, Atlantic City, Birdman of Alcatraz and others are much more enjoyable and can be rewatched.
          4. Dick Clark was very popular back then….heck even at one point David Letterman had a movie contract….luckily other than Letterman’s cameo in Cabin Boy…..there is not a Letterman movie out there.
          5. Awesome……that your Alternate Oscar book has arrived. I look at that book once a twice a week every week. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I am on my 3rd book…..the first two got worn out.
          6. 58 is pretty impressive……only Dan is in your way….lol.
          Thanks for the feedback. Enjoy the book!

    2. Back to finish this comment.
      Danny Peary’s take on 1960s.
      Peary also stayed away from The Apartment….gave a Honorable mention to Spartacus….but picked Psycho…( I hear Steve clapping all the way across the Big Pond)
      As for Actor…..he gave Burt a Honorable mention….as well as Sir Larry…..but in the end he went with Anthony Perkins in Psycho
      As for Actress….he gave Kerr a Honarable mention….but picked Jean Simmons from Elmer Gantry.

  3. It’s worth noting that while The Magnificent Seven was a modest box office hit in North America, it was a huge hit in Europe and many other countries. My sources indicate that it raised $2.25 million in box office rentals in the US and Canada, and $10 million internationally. Notably, it was the third biggest hit in France in 1961 and according to Wikipedia, the 86th biggest hit in that country ever. When The Great Escape was being filmed in Germany, McQueen, Bronson and Coburn elicited significant popular attention there due to their roles in The Magnificent Seven. Though obviously copied on Seven Samurai, it was also a very influential western in its own right, paving the way for Sergio Leone and many of the westerns that followed in the 1960s.

    1. Hey PhilHOF17…..we have the same domestic rental number…..but do not have the worldwide rental number….but when he plug the 10 million in it gives an adjusted worldwide gross of $358.17 million…..which is a pretty substantial hit. Amazing that a US western would be that popular overseas….generally US westerns do not travel well….when crossing the big pond.

      Good information on the Seven threesome when making The Great Escape (one of my all-time favorite movies). Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai has been copied many times….from the western The Magnificent Seven to a space odyssey in Battle Beyond the Stars to the Denzel Washington remake of The Magnificent Seven.

      Good information….thanks for sharing it.

  4. I’m so glad we finally reached the 1960s in these annual pages. Many would not consider the 60s to be Hollywood’s best decade in terms of creative output, but I have to confess that many of my favorite films were made during this decade, perhaps because these were the films that played on TV as I grew up in the 1970s. As the 60s rolled out, box office returns dropped significantly as people increasingly stayed home and watched TV. In an effort to attract and maintain film audiences, the studios invested in several ambitious mega-productions each year, and all-star casts became increasingly common. Some of these were good, some not so good, but the good ones endure as some of the most popular movies ever made. And this was of course the decade of the first and best James Bond films, the Pink Panther, and in the latter half of the decade, flower power and counter culture.

    1960 was perhaps the best year of the decade in terms of movies. My three favorites of the year (and ever) are: Psycho, with Anthony Perkins’ ground-breaking, chilling performance; Spartacus, with Kirk Douglas in the most defining role of his career; and The Magnificent Seven, with its cast of future stars. Other highlights: The Apartment, justifiably the top UMR scorer of the year, The Time Machine, which became a cult classic of the sci-fi genre, Elmer Gantry, with Burt Lancaster richly deserving his Oscar as travelling salesman turned evangelical preacher, Inherit the Wind, pitting Spencer Tracy against Fredrich March to decide on the origin of humankind (surprised it was not more successful at the box office), Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, one of the few foreign language films to become a big box office hit in the US, Swiss Family Robinson, which had me captivated as a kid…..oh, and I won’t forget The Alamo, which was just a lot of fun to watch. Finally, although it is not on this list, I would highlight the British film, Tunes of Glory, a compelling and beautifully executed story of a Scottish regiment starring Alec Guinness and John Mills.

    I also have some technical comments and questions on some of the box office information included, but I will save that for a later post. Thanks again for a comprehensive page commemorating a great year in the movies!

    1. Hey PhilHOF17
      1. Still have not figured out which way we are going in these yearly reviews…finish off the 1930s or move towards the 1970s.
      2. I agree….the 1960s were not the strongest years for movies….yes the biggest hits of the year were huge….actually some of the biggest of all-time……but after the Top 10….the results were pretty weak.
      3. Some years Variety barely had enough 1 million rentals to make a list…lol. Only 77 movies in 1961, 72 movies in 1962, 77 movies in 1963, 75 movies in 1964. In the 1950s they listed about 110 movies per year.
      4. I agree that 1960 was one of the better years in this decade.
      5. I have seen every favorite movie you mentioned….with Psycho (the scene that disturbs me the most is not the shower scene….it is at the end when Norman comes out and hits the light….always always freaks me out…no matter how many times I see it), Magnificent Seven and The Time Machine being my favorites too.
      6. Tunes and Glory…..yep…struck out on that movie….though I have been thinking Alec Guinness page would be a good one to do….so far I have 15 of his movies in our database…but not that one.
      Fire away with your technical questions.

      1. Thanks for interesting feedback Bruce.I was not aware it took a rental of at least $1 million to make the Variety list. My questions actually concern some of the Variety numbers that I have for 1960 that seem to differ from yours.

        I realize you also use other sources, so I’m not suggesting your numbers are wrong, but in the case of North to Alaska, the gap seems too wide. The Variety rental number I see is $5 million. Using your multiplier of 3 to get to the gross number, actual gross should be $15 million (or a little less than than as the multiplier seem close to 2.85), whereas you have it as $7.1 million.

        A couple of other, less glaring discrepancies: Strangers When We Meet, Variety BO rental of $3.4 million, which should translate into roughly $10 million gross instead of $8.3 million; and Elmer Gantry, Variety BO rental of $5.2 million, which should translate into roughly $15 million gross instead of $13.2 million.

        As you can see, I also have some numbers for the 60s as I had done some poking around some time ago. Based on what I have (which is by no means as comprehensive as your list), it seems that your list includes virtually all of the top 40 or 50 grossers of 1960, except for the following 3 (I indicate the numbers in brackets): Never on Sunday ($4M), Where the Boys Are ($3.5M) and Hell to Eternity ($2.8M). Unless it screws up your ranking system across the site, you may want to add these three at some point so that you cover comprehensively the top 50.

        I see you decided to move forward with the 60s by doing 1961 instead of going back to the 30s. That works for me, and comments on 1961 will come tomorrow. Initial reaction: not as good a year as 1960!

        1. Hey PhiHOF2017
          1. Yep…..1 million in rentals is their cutoff….when Variety did their Top Grosser of the year.
          2. In their yearly reports….always in January…..they list the Top Grossers of the year….and their “Golden Circle” Movies……that was a list of any movie that reached $4 million in rentals…..so they would publish an all-time rental list too.
          3. I used to root for my favorite films of the years to reach The Golden Circle…..sometimes they did other times they failed. I remember when I was a huge Judd Nelson fan (I went to therapy for that….lol)…..and desperately wanting his Blue City to make the Golden Circle….but when I saw that yearly report…it feel short…ending up with 2.8 million in rentals.
          4. Actually I probably need to apologize to all the people at House of Video, that I recommended that awful movie to……back then the Judd blinders blinded me. Now that I am older and wiser….I remember reading one of the reviews….it said….”the movie seems to be edited by a chainsaw”…..know I understand that view.
          Will address your box office issues on another comment.

  5. Hmmm I’ve seen 26 films from the 116 listed on your 1960 chart, less than I thought.

    Looking at my datafiles I have 62 films from 1960 in my movie collection and I’ve seen 44 of those. Favorites from both lists include – The Alamo, The Apartment, Brides of Dracula, Fall of the House of Usher, Flaming Star, GI Blues, The Magnificent Seven, North to Alaska, Psycho, Spartacus and The Time Machine.

    Good to see Psycho and Spartacus topping the critics chart, I wrote about those two films at Hubpages a few years ago. Both are all-time favorites of mine. I watched Spartacus again at Xmas (along with Ben-Hur natch). 🙂

    Looking at the adjusted box office – Psycho was hugely successful considering it was a B/W horror film, $400m domestic adjusted, amazing! People were warning Hitchcock not to waste his talent making Psycho, but he had the last laugh, it was his biggest success.

    p.s. you have Roger Corman’s House of Usher listed twice on the chart, also under the UK title Fall of the House of Usher (which was Poe’s original story title).

    Another epic movie page Bruce, nicely done. Vote Up!

    1. Hey Steve
      1. 26….wow…I have you topped….as I am at 33…..which is behind Flora and Dan.
      2. Two Elvis movies in your favorites list…..very cool….this is when Elvis was still trying to become an actor.
      3. Yep…..I screwed up the House of Usher movie…..I thought I had discovered a new Price movie for his page….but when I saw you list The Fall Of The House of Usher…..I thought I guess he did not like the first one…..then I did a IMDb search and did not see “two” Usher movies. It has been fixed.
      4. Psycho was huge…..and had great word of mouth.
      5. Good stuff as always.

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