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In "SCIENCE FICTION: The Complete Film Sourcebook" edited by Phil Hardy (Wm
Morrow and Co, Inc; New York, 1984) [a marvelous book by the way, now out
of print, and, so far as I know, not updated from its last entries for 1983
(its first entry is "Charcuterie Mechanique", 1895, Lumiere, 1 min.)]
provides two lists of "rental champs" in Appendixes 1 and 2 (pp. 386-388).
 
The first is "derived from Variety's 1984 list of All-Time Rental Champs"
of 4 million distributor's receipts, or more.  (Its criteria are broad and
include James Bond films, "The Love Bug", "Krull", etc.)  Of the 114 films
listed, only 3 are from the 50s, and most from the 70s and 80s, as would be
expected in terms of $$ income on mostly the first release.
 
These 3 are:  #44, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", 1954 = 11.3 Million; #
97, "Journey to the Center of the Earth", 1959 =  4.8 M; #98, "On the
Beach", 1959 = 4.8 M.
 
The second list is inflation adjusted and is taken from lists compiled by
Joel Finler and David Pirie in "Anatomy of the Movies" (Macmillan; New
York, 1981).  It lists 61 films (the criteria seem tighter here, though
Bond films are still included) earning the equivalent of 1981 $6 million or
more.  Of these, 19 (or 1/3) are from the 50s (reflecting its status as the
"golden age" of film SF), and 2 are from the 30s (#24, "Frankenstein" '31
and #29, "Jekyll and Hyde" '32).
 
The 50s films are: #9, "20,000 Leagues"; # 20, "Journey to Center Earth";
#21, "On the Beach"; #22, "Beast from 20000 Fathoms" '53; #34, "Thing" '51;
#36, "Day Earth Stood Still" '51; #38, "War of Worlds" '53; #39, "Them!"
'54; #42, "When Worlds Collide" '51; #45, "It Came from Outer Space" '53;
#46, "This Island Earth" '55; #47, "It Came from Beneath the Sea" '55; #49,
"Forbidden Planet" '56; #50, "Destination Moon" '50; #51, "The Fly" '58;
#54, "Creature from Black Lagoon" '54; #55, "Incredible Shrinking Man" '57;
#56, "Rocketship X-M" '50; #57, "Invasion Body Snatchers" '56; + "Revenge
of the Creature" '55 at 5.5 M and "The Blob" '58 at 4.5 M.
 
No "Invaders from Mars" '53.  It is a bit surprising that "Invaders"
doesn't place in this list, but the adjusted list does not seem to have,
from a quick survey, any other omissions of the major/really good 50s SF
films.
 
So, for what its worth....        Jesse Kalin, Vassar College