The U.S. box office of 1977: all the hit films, released 40 years ago, which you might still remember

How about a walk down memory lane to take a quick look at what happened at the box-office in the U.S. and Canada forty years ago? As it turned out, 1977 would become a trendsetter, with the first “Star Wars” leading the box-office by the end of the year (still: Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia). No other film even came close. The six-time Oscar-winner – strictly in the technical departments – introduced a new era in filmmaking.

According to Variety, as published in their 72nd Anniversary Edition of January 4, 1978 – back then along with the Hollywood Reporter the only truly valuable and reliable source for any insider who needed to check the domestic rentals – Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was a powerful entry at No. 9, considering the film wasn’t released until mid-November. Its continuing run in 1978 was a guarantee that the film would become a box-office smash the following year as well, ranking at No. 2 in 1978’s box-office results.

Most of the October-December openings of 1977 were on the market too sketchily for significance to be included in this list – except for “Close Encounters” which for obvious reasons couldn’t be ignored or overlooked.

So for the record, quite a number of films released by the end of 1977 are not – or not fully – included, such as Herbert Ross’ “The Goodbye Girl” and “The Turning Point,” Clint Eastwood’s “The Gauntlet,” or Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon.” They are listed in the 1978 box-office charts which we’ll cover a year from now.

Information following each film title is the month of the U.S. release, and the film’s director.

But, for now, why don’t we let the facts speak for themselves? Here it is, 1977, when we were all forty years younger.

Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford, the three leading players in George Lucas’ “Star Wars,” the most successful film of 1977
  1. Star Wars (May; George Lucas)
    CAST Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter Cushing, Alec Guinness
    $ 127,000,000
  2. Rocky (November 1976; John G. Avildsen)
    CAST Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith
    $ 54,000,000
  3. Smokey and the Bandit (June; Hal Needham)
    CAST Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed, Mike Henry, Paul Williams
    $ 39,744,000
  4. A Star Is Born (December 1976; Frank Pierson)
    CAST Barbra Streisand, Kris Kristofferson, Gary Busey, Oliver Clark
    $ 37,100,000
  5. King Kong (December 1976; John Guillermin)
    CAST Jeff Bridges, Charles Grodin, Jessica Lange, John Randolph, Rene Auberjonois
    $ 35,851,283
  6. The Deep (June; Peter Yates)
    CAST Jacqueline Bisset, Nick Nolte, Robert Shaw, Eli Wallach, Louis Gossett Jr.
    $ 31,000,000
  7. Silver Streak (December 1976; Arthur Hiller)
    CAST Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan, Net Beatty
    $ 27,100,000
  8. The Enforcer (December 1976; James Fargo)
    CAST Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, Harry Guardino, Bradford Dillman
    $ 24,000,000
  9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (November; Steven Spielberg)
    CAST Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon
    $ 23,000,000
  10. In Search of Noah’s Ark (February; James L. Conway)
    CAST Brad Candrall (narration)
    $ 23,000,000

    William Holden, Robert Duvall, Academy Award winner Peter Finch, and Faye Dunaway in Sidney Lumet’s “Network” at No. 18
  11. The Spy Who Loved Me (July; Lewis Gilbert)
    CAST Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Caroline Munro
    $ 22,000,000
  12. Oh, God! (October; Carl Reiner)
    CAST John Denver, George Burns, Teri Garr, Donald Pleasence, Ralph Bellamy
    $ 21,200,000
  13. A Bridge too Far (June; Richard Attenborough)
    CAST Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Elliott Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins, Hardy Kruger, Laurence Olivier, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford, Maximilian Schell, Liv Ullman
    $ 21,000,000
  14. The Pink Panther Strikes Again (December 1976; Blake Edwards)
    CAST Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Lesley-Anne Down, Burt Kwouk
    $ 19,500,000
  15. The Other Side of Midnight (June; Charles Jarrot)
    CAST Marie-France Pisier, John Beck, Susan Sarandon, Raf Vallone
    $ 17,000,000
  16. The Rescuers (June; Wolfgang Reitherman, Art Stevens, John Lounsbery)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Bob Newhart, Eva Gabor, Geraldine Chaplin
    $ 17,000,000
  17. Airport ’77 (April; Jerry Jameson)
    CAST Jack Lemmon, Lee Grant, Brenda Vaccaro, Joseph Cotten, Olivia de Havilland, Christopher Lee, George Kennedy, James Stewart
    $ 14,836,000
  18. Network (November 1976; Sidney Lumet)
    CAST Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall
    $ 14,500,000
  19. Slap Shot (March; George Roy Hill)
    CAST Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean, Lindsay Crouse, Jennifer Warren
    $ 14,497,000
  20. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (June; Vincent McEveety)
    CAST Dean Jones, Don Knotts, Julie Sommars, Roy Kinnear
    $ 14,000,000

    Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” at No. 26
  21. Fun With Dick and Jane (February; Ted Kotcheff)
    CAST George Segal, Jane Fonda, Ed McMahon, Dick Gauthier
    $ 14,000,000
  22. Exorcist II: The Heretic (June; John Boorman)
    CAST Linda Blair, Richard Burton, Louise Fletcher, Max von Sydow, Paul Henreid
    $ 13,900,000
  23. Black Sunday (April; John Frankenheimer)
    CAST Robert Shaw, Bruce Dern, Marthe Keller, Fritz Weaver
    $ 13,325,501
  24. One-On-One ((June; Lamont Johnson)
    CAST Robby Benson, Annette O’Toole, G.D. Spradlin, Melanie Griffith
    $ 13,100,000
  25. The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (July; Michael Pressman)
    CAST William Devane, Clifton James, Jackie Earle Haley, Jimmy Baio
    $ 13,077,324
  26. Annie Hall (April; Woody Allen)
    CAST Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Tony Roberts, Carol Kane
    $ 12,000,000
  27. Freaky Friday (December 1976; Gary Nelson)
    CAST Barbara Harris, Jodie Foster, John Astin, Patsy Kelly
    $ 11,500,000
  28. The Shaggy D.A. (December 1976; Robert Stevenson)
    CAST Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette, Tim Conway, Keenan Wynn
    $ 10,275,000
  29. Heroes (November; Jeremy Kagan)
    CAST Henry Winkler, Sally Field, Harrison Ford, Val Avery
    $ 9,960,000
  30. Orca (July; Michael Anderson)
    CAST Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, Will Sampson, Bo Derek
    $ 9,230,958

    Kris Kristofferson and Burt Reynolds in Michael Ritchie’s “Semi-Tough” at No. 32
  31. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (October; Richard Brooks)
    CAST Diane Keaton, Tuesday Weld, William Atherton, Richard Gere
    $ 9,087,240
  32. Semi-Tough (November; Michael Ritchie)
    CAST Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson, Jill Clayburgh, Robert Preston
    $ 9,000,000
  33. Rollercoaster (May; James Goldstone)
    CAST George Segal, Richard Widmark, Timothy Bottoms, Harry Guardino, Susan Strasberg, Henry Fonda
    $ 8,234,000
  34. MacArthur (July; Joseph Sargent)
    CAST Gregory Peck, Dan O’Herlihy, Ed Flanders, Ivan Bonar
    $ 8,165,000
  35. Young Frankenstein (December 1974, reissue; Mel Brooks)
    CAST Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr
    $ 8,000,000
  36. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (May; Sam Wanamaker)
    CAST Patrick Wayne, Taryn Power, Margaret Whiting, Jane Seymour
    $ 7,700,000
  37. Final Chapter: Walking Tall (June; Jack Starrett)
    CAST Bo Svenson, Lurene Tuttle, Forrest Tucker, Leif Garrett
    $ 7,500,000
  38. Greased Lightning (July; Michael Schultz)
    CAST Richard Pryor, Beau Bridges, Pam Grier, Cleavon Little
    $ 7,200,000
  39. The Island of Dr. Moreau (July; Don Taylor)
    CAST Burt Lancaster, Michael York, Nigel Davenport, Barbara Carrera
    $ 6,500,000
  40. You Light Up My Life (September; Joseph Brooks)
    CAST Didi Conn, Joe Silver, Michael Zaslow, Stephen Nathan
    $ 6,500,000

    Robert De Niro with Liza Minnelli in Martin Scorsese’s “New York, New York,” at No. 44
  41. The Last Remake of Beau Geste (July; Marty Feldman)
    CAST Marty Feldman, Ann-Margret, Michael York, Peter Ustinov
    $ 6,338,000
  42. It’s Alive (October 1974, reissue; Larry Cohen)
    CAST John Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Andrew Duggan, Guy Stockwell
    $ 6,300,000
  43. Bobby Deerfield (October; Sydney Pollack)
    CAST Al Pacino, Marthe Keller, Anny Duperey, Walter McGinn
    $ 6,000,000
  44. New York, New York (June; Martin Scorsese)
    CAST Liza Minnelli, Robert De Niro, Lionel Stander, Barry Primus
    $ 6,000,000
  45. Nickelodeon (December 1976; Peter Bogdanovich)
    CAST Ryan O’Neal, Burt Reynolds, Tatum O’Neal, Brian Keith
    $ 6,000,000
  46. Sorcerer (June; William Friedkin)
    CAST Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou
    $ 5,942,173
  47. The Sting (December 1973, reissue; George Roy Hill)
    CAST Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw, Charles Durning
    $ 5,860,000
  48. Damnation Alley (October; Jack Smight)
    CAST Jan-Michael Vincent, George Peppard, Dominique Sanda, Paul Winfield
    $ 5,500,000
  49. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (October 1976; Herbert Ross)
    CAST Alan Arkin, Vanessa Redgrave, Robert Duvall, Laurence Olivier
    $ 5,472,000
  50. A Piece of the Action (October; Sidney Poitier)
    CAST Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, James Earl Jones, Denise Nicholas
    $ 5,400,000

    Martin Sheen and Ava Gardner in “The Cassandra Crossing,” ranked at No. 56
  51. For the Love of Benji (June; Joe Camp)
    CAST Patsy Kensit, Art Vasil, Ed Neslon, Bridget Armstrong
    $ 5,000,000
  52. The Town That Dreaded Sundown (November 1976; Charles B. Pierce)
    CAST Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, Jimmy Clem
    $ 5,000,000
  53. Twilight’s Last Gleaming (February; Robert Aldrich)
    CAST Burt Lancaster, Roscoe Lee Browne, Joseph Cotten, Richard Widmark
    $ 4,500,000
  54. The Van (May; Sam Grossman)
    CAST Stuart Goetz, Deborah White, Steve Oliver, Danny DeVito
    $ 4,500,000
  55. The Eagle Has Landed (March; John Sturges)
    CAST Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Robert Duvall, Jenny Agutter
    $ 4,500,000
  56. The Cassandra Crossing (September; George Pan Cosmatos)
    CAST Sophia Loren, Richard Harris, Martin Sheen, Ava Gardner
    $ 4,184,000
  57. The Sentinel (March; Michael Winner)
    CAST Cristina Raines, Ava Gardner, Chris Sarandon, Burgess Meredith
    $ 4,404,000
  58. The Greatest (May; Tom Gries)
    CAST Muhammad Ali, Ernest Borgnine, John Marley, Lloyd Haynes
    $ 3,800,000
  59. Outlaw Blues (July; Richard T. Heffron)
    CAST Peter Fonda, Susan Saint James, John Crawford, James Callahan
    $ 3,500,000
  60. Wizards (February; Ralph Bakshi)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Bob Holt, Jesse Welles, Richard Romanus
    $ 3,300,000

    John Huston, Shelley Winters and Henry Fonda played the leading roles in the U.S.-Italian co-production “Tentacles,” a horror movie about a giant octopus, ranked at No. 67
  61. Murder by Death (June 1976, reissue; Robert Moore)
    CAST Peter Falk, Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, David Niven
    $ 3,200,000
  62. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (July; Anthony Page)
    CAST Bibi Andersson, Kathleen Quinlan, Ben Piazza, Lorraine Gary
    $ 3,200,000
  63. Across the Great Divide (November 1976; Stewart Raffill)
    CAST Robert Logan, Heather Rattray, Mark Edward Hall, George Flower
    $ 3,189,950
  64. Islands in the Stream (March; Franklin J. Schaffner)
    CAST George C. Scott, David Hemmings, Gilbert Roland, Claire Bloom
    $ 3,152,376
  65. Thunder and Lightning (May; Corey Allen)
    CAST David Carradine, Kate Jackson, Stanley Holloway, Patrick Cranshaw
    $ 3,100,000
  66. Shout at the Devil (November 1976; Peter Hunt)
    CAST Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Barbara Parkins, Ian Holm
    $ 3,000,000
  67. Tentacles (June; Oliver Hellman [Ovidio G. Assonitis])
    CAST John Huston, Shelley Winters, Bo Hopkins, Henry Fonda
    $ 3,000,000
  68. The People That Time Forgot (June; Kevin Connor)
    CAST Patrick Wayne, Doug McClure, Sarah Douglas, Dana Gillespie
    $ 3,000,000
  69. Breaker! Breaker! (April; Don Hulette)
    CAST Chuck Norris, George Murdock, Terry O’Connor, Don Gentry
    $ 3,000,000
  70. The Car (May; Elliot Silverstein)
    CAST James Brolin, Kathleen Lloyd, John Marley, R.G. Armstrong
    $ 2,916,000

    Art Carney in Robert Benton’s comedy-mystery “The Late Show” at No. 71
  71. The Late Show (February; Robert Benton)
    CAST Art Carney, Lily Tomlin, Bill Macy, Eugene Roche
    $ 2,900,000
  72. Day of the Animals (May; William Girdler)
    CAST Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Linda Day George, Richard Jaeckel
    $ 2,858,000
  73. Fantasia (November 1940, reissue; Ben Sharpsteen, and others [all uncredited])
    CAST (animated, voice only) Deems Taylor, Leopold Stokowski
    $ 2,500,000
  74. Empire of the Ants (June; Bert I. Gordon)
    CAST Joan Collins, Robert Lansing, John David Carson, Robert Pine
    $ 2,500,000
  75. Grand Theft Auto (June; Ron Howard)
    CAST Ron Howard, Nancy Morgan, Elizabeth Rogers, Marion Ross
    $ 2,500,000
  76. Viva Knievel! (June; Gordon Douglas)
    CAST Evel Knievel, Gene Kelly, Lauren Hutton, Red Buttons
    $ 2,400,000
  77. The Teasers (February; George Lancer)
    CAST Gloria Guida, Alice Ames, Sherry Wilson
    $ 2,363,000
  78. The Boatnicks (July 1970, reissue; Norman Tokar)
    CAST Robert Morse, Stefanie Powers, Phil Silvers, Norman Fell
    $ 2,300,000
  79. The Gnobe-Mobile (July 1967, reissue; Robert Stevenson)
    CAST Walter Brennan, Tom Lowell, Matthew Garber, Karen Dotrice
    $ 2,300,000
  80. Ruby (June; Curtis Harrington)
    CAST Piper Laurie, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis, Janit Baldwin
    $ 2,233,128

    Susan Swift, Marsha Mason and John Beck in Robert Wise’s drama “Audrey Rose,” ranked at No. 84
  81. The Outlaw Josey Wales (July 1976, reissue; Clint Eastwood)
    CAST Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George, Bill McKinney
    $ 2,200,000
  82. Rabid (June; David Cronenberg)
    CAST Marilyn Chambers, Frank Moore, Joe Silver, Howard Ryshpan
    $ 2,200,000
  83. The Littlest Horse Thieves (March; Charles Jarrot)
    CAST Alastair Sim, Peter Barkworth, Maurice Colbourne, Susan Tebbs
    $ 2,100,000
  84. Audrey Rose (April; Robert Wise)
    CAST Anthony Hopkins, Marsha Mason, John Beck, Susan Swift
    $ 2,000,000
  85. Demon Seed (April; Donald Cammell)
    CAST Julie Christie, Fritz Weaver, Gerrit Graham, Berry Kroeger
    $ 2,000,000
  86. Never a Dull Moment (June 1968, reissue; Jerry Paris)
    CAST Dick Van Dyke, Edward G. Robinson, Dorothy Provine, Henry Silva
    $ 1,950,000
  87. Suspiria (August; Dario Argento)
    CAST Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé
    $ 1,800,000
  88. The Gumball Rally (July 1976, reissue; Charles Bail)
    CAST Michael Sarrazin, Norman Burton, Gary Busey, Raul Julia
    $ 1,800,000
  89. First Love (November; Joan Darling)
    CAST William Katt, Susan Dey, John Heard, Beverly D’Angelo
    $ 1,774,771
  90. Bugsy Malone (January; Alan Parker)
    CAST Jodie Foster, Scott Baio, Florrie Dugger, John Cassisi
    $ 1,756,146

    Max von Sydow as the Captain of the ship in Stuart Rosenberg’s war drama “Voyage of the Damned,” at No. 91
  91. Voyage of the Damned (December 1976; Stuart Rosenberg)
    CAST Faye Dunaway, Max von Sydow, Oskar Werner, Malcolm McDowell, Orson Welles, James Mason, Lee Grant, Katharine Ross, Maria Schell
    $ 1,750,000
  92. The Domino Principle (March; Stanley Kramer)
    CAST Gene Hackman, Candice Bergen, Richard Widmark, Mickey Rooney
    $ 1,700,000
  93. Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (June; Bill Melendez, Phil Roman)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Duncan Watson, Greg Felton, Stuart Brotman
    $ 1,549,922
  94. The Slipper and the Rose (April; Bryan Forbes)
    CAST Richard Chamberlain, Gemma Craven, Annette Crosbie, Edith Evans
    $ 1,549,000
  95. Cross of Iron (May; Sam Peckinpah)
    CAST James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, Senta Berger
    $ 1,509,000
  96. The White Buffalo (May; J. Lee Thompson)
    CAST Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Will Sampson, Kim Novak
    $ 1,500,000
  97. Valentino (October; Ken Russell)
    CAST Rudolf Nureyev, Leslie Caron, Michelle Philips, Carol Kane
    $ 1,500,000
  98. Alice in Wonderland (December 1951, reissue; Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Kathryn Beaumont, Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway
    $ 1,500,000
  99. The Farmer (February; David Berlatsky)
    CAST Lewell Akins, Gary Conway, Michael Dante, Dave Graig
    $ 1,500,000
  100. Tian huang ju xing, a.k.a. Exit the Dragon – Enter the Tiger (December 1976; Tso Nam Lee)
    CAST Bruce Li, Yi Chang, Kang Chin, Shao Chun Chao
    $ 1,455,235

    Robert Mitchum, Robert De Niro, and Ray Milland in Elia Kazan’s “The Last Tycoon,” ranked at No. 108
  101. The Song Remains the Same (October 1976, reissue; Peter Clifton, Joe Massot)
    CAST Led Zeppelin [Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, John Bonham]
    $ 1,400,000
  102. Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (March; Richard Williams)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Claire Williams, Didi Conn, Mark Baker
    $ 1,350,000
  103. Starship Invasions (October; Ed Hunt)
    CAST Robert Vaughn, Christopher Lee, Daniel Pilon, Helen Shaver
    1,300,000
  104. Mr. Billion (March; Jonathan Kaplan)
    CAST Terence Hill, Valerie Perrine, Jackie Gleason, Slim Pickens
    $ 1,300,000
  105. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (March 1938, reissue; David Hand and five others)
    CAST (animated, voice only) Adriana Caselotti, Harry Stockwell
    $ 1,250,000
  106. The Next Man (November 1976; Richard C. Sarafian)
    CAST Sean Connery, Cornelia Sharpe, Albert Paulsen, Adolfo Celi
    $ 1,250,000
  107. Cinderella (May; Michael Pataki)
    CAST Cheryl Smith, Kirk Scott, Brett Smiley, Sy Richardson
    $ 1,160,000
  108. The Last Tycoon (February; Elia Kazan)
    CAST Robert De Niro, Tony Curtis, Robert Mitchum, Jack Nicholson
    $ 1,154,536
  109. Moonshine County Express (April; Gus Trikonis)
    CAST John Saxon, Susan Howard, William Conrad, Jeff Corey
    $ 1,100,000
  110. The Crater Lake Monster (April; William R. Stromberg)
    CAST Richard Cardella, Glen Roberts, Mark Siegel, Bob Hyman
    $ 1,050,000

    Gene Hackman in “March or Die,” set in the desert during the 1920s, ranked at No. 117
  111. Land of the Minotaur (May; Costas Carayian)
    CAST Donald Pleasence, Peter Cushing, Luan Peters, Costas Carayian
    $ 1,020,000
  112. Thieves (February; John Berry)
    CAST Marlo Thomas, Charles Grodin, Hector Elizondo, Mercedes McCambridge
    $ 1,002,900
  113. The Food of the Gods (July 1976, reissue; Bert I. Gordon)
    CAST Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin, Ralph Meeker, Ida Lupino
    $ 1,000,000
  114. Darby O’Gill and the Little People (June 1959, reissue; Robert Stevenson)
    CAST Albert Sharpe, Janet Munro, Sean Connery, Jimmy O’Dea
    $ 1,000,000
  115. Let’s Do It Again (October 1975, reissue; Sidney Poitier)
    CAST Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, Calvin Lockhart, John Amos
    $ 1,000,000
  116. All the President’s Men (April 1976, reissue; Alan J. Pakula)
    CAST Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford, Jack Warden, Jason Robards
    $ 1,000,000
  117. March or Die (August; Dick Richards)
    CAST Gene Hackman, Terence Hill, Max von Sydow, Catherine Deneuve
    $ 1,000,000
  118. Grizzly (May 1976, reissue; William Girdler)
    CAST Christopher George, Andrew Pine, Richard Jaeckel, Joan McCall
    $ 1,000,000