15 Charming Old-Fashioned Compliments

istock
istock

The only thing more rewarding than receiving a fine compliment is doling one out. Here are a few charming, cute, and kooky kudos from the days of yore, dating back through the past seven centuries, all sure to land you in good favor with those on the receiving end.

1. BELLIBONE

Even during the brutal Medieval period there were instances of delicacy: Romantic knights, well read royals, and love-struck troubadours all knew their way around some fancy words. For instance, we have this delightful term for a lady rich in personality as well as physical beauty.

2. POPLOLLY

A regular companion to “bellibone,” this charming little term of endearment, which comes from a French word meaning “a sweet baby,” has a more youthful, impish connotation.

3. PEERLESS PARAMOUR

If you’re looking for a bit of Middle Ages jargon that feels a little more romantic, this phrase denoting unbeatable affection is the way to go.

4. TRUEPENNY AND STRAIGHT-FINGERED

During the 16th century, honesty became a characteristic of newfound acclaim in the English language. If you happen upon someone whose trustworthiness cannot go without commendation, try one of these.

5. BAWCOCK

While the Medieval and early Elizabethan periods boasted plenty of colorful colloquialisms, you’ll no doubt want to advance to the height of William Shakespeare’s career to get some of the really good stuff. This term for a gentleman of character and integrity, for instance, is pretty hard to beat.

6. WAG

If you spend your time among particularly humorous company, this diminutive designation will come in handy. After your funniest friend earns a particularly big laugh, champion him or her as the group’s beloved wag.

7. BULLY

This is a bit of a confusing one, considering the word’s modern connotation. You’ll probably want to explain to your friend that you’re intending to point out his good nature and strong moral fiber before calling him a bully.

8. FAIRHEAD

Say you just caught a glimpse of an attractive stranger across the room—this assessment of him or her as one brimming with physical allure should win you due favor.

9. LIQUOROUS ROLLING EYES

In 1663, English author John “J.G.” Gough made a living off the art of niceties by publishing The Academy of Complements, in which he offers a wide variety of options for laying some charm on a romantic partner. Along with the above line, Gough included the likes of “cheeks like Punic apples,” not to mention the designation of one as a “fit subject for the pleasant songs of youthful poets to acquaint the world with.”

10. YOUR VIRTUES HAVE SO STRANGELY TAKEN UP MY THOUGHTS

More than a century later, The New Academy of Complements was published in New York. It offered a few more long-winded gems: “Your virtues have so strangely taken up my thoughts, that therein they encrease and multiply in abundant felicity,” and “As you are fair and beauteous, be generous and merciful to him that is your slave.”

11. BRICKY

The Victorian era brought things back to basics. Here we have an adjective you can use to laud a friend for his or her bravery, likening the tough and unyielding nature of the party in question to—what else?—a brick.

12. JAMMIEST BITS OF JAM

Granted, it sounds a bit like a compliment you’d pay to a nice piece of toast, but this old slang superlative actually signifies “absolutely perfect young females.”

13. PIPPIN

While this moniker has conflicting records of origin, bearing premiere attribution to the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, it is consistent in its definition as a person of high esteem and admiration. Granted, it’s also a type of apple, but context clues should clear things up in conversational use.

14. SNUGGERY

It’s always appropriate to pay notice to a friend’s living quarters when stopping by, too. If a warm, cozy, or otherwise pleasant little abode wins your notice, make sure to remark on what a fine snuggery your chum has managed to land.

15. ELEPHANT’S ADENOIDS

All of these words and phrases are great, but what need have you for any other compliment when you can tap into the wide variety of zoological possessive couplets that earned popularity in the 1920s? You’ve got your choice of “caterpillar’s kimono,” “bullfrog’s beard,” “clam’s garter,” “eel’s ankle,” “sardine’s whiskers,” and “butterfly’s book”—and our favorite, “elephant’s adenoids.”

8 Hilarious Historical Feuds

Mark Twain was no fan of the postal service.
Mark Twain was no fan of the postal service.
popovaphoto (Twain), yellowdesign (Background)/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Some feuds make—and change!—history. The Hatfields and McCoys. Edison versus Tesla. Coke and Pepsi. Here are eight tales of petty jealousy and downright spite that were made for the history books. (And we’ve determined the winners!)

1. Hate Mail // Mark Twain vs. the Postal Service

Mark Twain hated basically everything to do with the post office. Stamps? “When England in 1848 invented stamps, my feelings were decidedly anti-English.” The cost of sending mail overseas? “Downright robbery.” The requirement to write a full address on envelopes? “[W]ords utterly wasted; and, mind you, when a man is paid by the word … this sort of thing hurts.”

Twain’s hatred was long-running. When he was young, he lived in Nevada and held a job ask a clerk for Senator William Stewart. He had this to say when a constituent wrote asking the government to build a new post office: “What the mischief do … you want with a post office? … If any letters came there, you couldn’t read them. … No, don’t bother about a post office … What you want is a nice jail.”

When, in 1879, the private secretary to the Postmaster General tried to respond to some of Twain’s criticism, the novelist shot back: “You are not the Post Office Department, but only an irresponsible, inexpensive, and unnecessary appendage to it.”

The post office responded by merely doing its job—sometimes under impossible circumstances. One time, when Twain forgot the address of a friend, he wrote on the envelope: “To MR. C.M. UNDERHILL, who is in the coal business in one of those streets there, and is very respectably connected, both by marriage & general descent, and is a tall man & old but without any gray hair & used to be handsome. BUFFALO N.Y. from MARK TWAIN P.S. A little bald on the top of his head.”

The post office successfully delivered the letter.

Winner: All the couriers swiftly completing their appointed rounds.

2. Vulturegate // John James Audubon vs. Charles Waterton

In the 1820s, John James Audubon—the American ornithologist and future author of the world’s most expensive book, The Birds of America—was obsessed with vultures. He was particularly fascinated by the bird’s eating habits: Audubon believed the scavengers didn’t find rotting meals with their sense of smell, as commonly believed, but rather used their eyesight.

When Audubon lectured on his theory in 1826, he made the British conservationist, Charles Waterton, deeply upset. Waterton had written extensively about the turkey vulture’s ostensibly excellent sense of smell in one of his books and was so offended by the new theory that he suggested that Audubon “ought to be whipped.” Waterton’s pro-smell cronies encamped in a group called “Nosarians” and tried to smear Audubon’s credibility, making pointed attacks at his abilities as a writer: “Its grammar is bad; its composition poor; and its statements are so unsatisfactory.” According to zoologist Lucy Cooke in her book The Truth About Animals, Waterton kept at his crusade for years:

“Over the course of five years, Waterton wrote no less than nineteen letters to the Magazine of Natural History attacking Audubon and anyone in his orbit. When the journal finally stopped publishing his letters, he reportedly continued to print and distribute them himself. His efforts were futile. His impenetrable, rambling diatribes, punctuated with sardonic ad hominems and obscure Latin phrases, won him few allies. ... The louder Waterton shouted, the more he was ignored. In the end, he was forced to give up.”

Experiments would later support Audubon’s position, and today, it’s generally agreed that all vultures use sight. But in the 1960s, new research found turkey vultures do actually use smell [PDF]. So while Audubon was right about most vultures, he was wrong to call out turkey vultures for not being able to smell (he likely confused them with the non-smelling black vultures). Nowadays even the Audubon Society says the turkey vulture “has a well-developed sense of smell.” That’s got to sting.

Winner: Charles Waterton and turkey vultures.

3. The Race to the North Pole // Frederick A. Cook vs. Robert E. Peary

In 1908, Frederick A. Cook and Robert E. Peary were in a bitter race to the top of the world. Cook would insist he had reached the pole first, but an act of possible sabotage would damage his claim.

On his return trip, Cook had stopped in Annoatok, Greenland, and ran into an American hunter named Harry Whitney. Looking to offload some weight for the next leg of his journey, Cook entrusted Whitney with his supplies—including his navigational records and sextant—under the impression that Whitney would safely take them to New York City. They would meet later.

Months later, Robert Peary—fresh from his own expedition north—would appear in Annoatok with a boat. Whitney was thirsty to leave Greenland, and Peary agreed to help take Whitney home under one condition: That he leave all of Cook’s supplies behind. Whitney accepted. Cook, with his equipment lost somewhere in Greenland, would never be able to defend his claim. The New York Times, which had helped sponsor Peary’s trip, would say that Cook's claim was “The most astonishing imposture since the human race came on earth.”

Seventy-nine years later, in 1988, the newspaper would issue a correction. It remains unclear if either man actually reached the pole.

Winner: The tourism office in Annoatok, Greenland.

4. Gravity Grievances // Robert Hooke vs. Isaac Newton

In 1665, Robert Hooke looked through a microscope at a piece of cork and was immediately reminded of a monastery. Believing the latticework of small structures he saw resembled a monk’s chamber, he decided to give them a familiar name: Cellula, or cells.

The discovery of the cell is just one of Robert Hooke’s many accomplishments. He did “pioneering work in optics, gravitation, paleontology, architecture, and more,” according to Alasdair Wilkins at io9. He was also an influence on Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity—he wrote to Newton about the idea around 1680—and was convinced that Newton would have never cooked up with theory without his help. So why isn’t Hooke a household name?

Newton might be at fault. For years, the two scientists quibbled over credit for a slew of discoveries, and it irked Newton. In one letter, Newton wrote to Hooke, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” As Wilkins explains, this may not have been a compliment. Hooke was short and hunchbacked, and it’s possible that Newton was taking a swipe at the scientist: Your influence is as small as your stature. When Hooke died and Newton became the president of the Royal Society, Newton’s acolytes wrote off Hooke as a footnote. In fact, under Newton’s leadership, the only painting of Hooke in existence went missing. Some argue, without evidence, that Newton had it burned.

Winner: Isaac Newton, conspiracy theorists, fans of mitochondria.

5. The Bone Wars // Othniel Charles Marsh vs. Edward Drinker Cope

Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope would discover around 130 dinosaur species in the mid- to late-19th century, introducing the world to big names such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus. You’d think that these two heavyweight paleontologists, with all of their shared interests, would have worked well together, right?

At first, they did. But in 1868, everything changed. For years, Cope had been classifying fossils discovered in the marl quarries near Haddonfield, New Jersey. When Marsh visited Cope to take a tour of the pits, he secretly made an agreement with the quarry owners stipulating that he was entitled to the fossils they found. Cope was furious. Later, Marsh discovered that Cope had reconstructed one of his dinosaur skeletons backward, mistaking the animal’s tail for its neck. The information went public and deeply embarrassed Cope. A toxic rivalry was born.

For the next three decades, the two men spread toxic smears as they raced to collect the most fossils—what is now known as the Bone Wars. According to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, “Cope’s rushed work was plagued by careless errors. Marsh often resorted to bribery and bullying in the pursuit of specimens.” The ruthless feud would transform both men into legends of paleontology—and would lead them to financial ruin.

Winner: Michael Crichton's bank account.

6. The Astor Riots // William Macready vs. Edwin Forrest

If you think the Oscar fight for “Best Actor” is fraught today, it was much worse in 1849. Back then, the race for the best Shakespearean actor fell to two men: William Macready, a British critical darling, and Edwin Forrest, one of America’s first great homegrown stars. For years, the British and American press debated who was the better actor, and the two men attracted a loyal—and occasionally belligerent—following. (Once, Forrest went to one of Macready’s performances and hissed from the seats.)

But the rivalry became more symbolic in the 1840s, as America’s sentiment for the British soured. (An influx of Irish immigrants, who despised all things British, amped up the vitriol.) So, in May 1849, when Macready appeared in the role of Macbeth at the Astor Opera House in New York City, he was greeted with boos and volleys of garbage.

Macready continued his performances at the urging of the New York literati, prompting political opportunists at Tammany Hall to paste posters across the city asking WORKING MEN, SHALL AMERICA OR ENGLAND RULE IN THIS CITY? Soon, the question of who was the better actor took on a larger meeting. Thousands of protestors congregated outside the theater, the militia was called, and a riot broke out. At least 22 people died, making it, according to JSTOR Daily, “the deadliest civic insurrection in American history up to that time.”

Winner: Nobody.

7. Life After Death // Arthur Conan Doyle vs. Harry Houdini

Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were fascinated by spiritualism, albeit for different reasons. Houdini was a professional illusionist who made a living fooling people. Before he was a household name, he earned a small income by hosting séances and pretending to speak to the dead. As badly as he wanted to believe in the afterlife, he was skeptical of anybody who claimed to have the power to communicate with the other side.

Houdini’s friend Arthur Conan Doyle, however, sincerely believed that he could access the afterlife. In fact, his wife Jean moonlighted as a medium. One day, she claimed to summon Houdini’s dead mother and received a 15-page message from beyond the grave. There was one problem: The ghost wrote in impeccable English. Houdini’s mother was Hungarian, and spoke almost no English at all.

For Houdini, it was a breaking point. The two men never reconciled their differences. Houdini would go on to describe mediums as “human leeches,” charlatans who exploited people’s grief, and would dedicate great energy to exposing fraudulent mediums. His crusade to debunk these con artists was so great that some have theorized that Houdini may have been poisoned by angry psychics.

Winner: Rationalism and sucker punches to the gut.

8. A Puzzling Philosophical Problem // Dr. Karl Popper vs. Ludwig Wittgenstein

At Cambridge University, it was tradition to hold a weekly discussion for the university’s philosophers and their students. On one such evening, in 1946, the guest was Dr. Karl Popper with Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein in attendance. It would be the first—and last—time all three philosophers were in the same room together.

Popper presented a paper called “Are There Philosophical Problems?”, a jab at Wittgenstein, who argued there were no such problems—only linguistic puzzles. Wittgenstein grew so impassioned as he argued with Popper that he picked up a red hot fireplace poker and began waving it around for emphasis. When Russell demanded that Wittgenstein put the poker down, Wittgenstein stormed out of the room.

At least, that’s one version of events. Some say Wittgenstein was physically threatening Popper. Others suggest Popper was ready to take a literal stab at Wittgenstein himself. Whatever the case, it’s fitting that nobody has been able to verify what, exactly, occurred: Popper’s most famous contribution to philosophy was, after all, a critique of verificationism.

WINNER: Uncertainty.

The 35 Most Profitable Movies of All Time, Based on Return on Investment

Paramount Home Video
Paramount Home Video

When it comes to box office dollars, the recipe for a successful movie is pretty simple: small budget + massive ticket sales = huge profit. If done correctly, this means an enormous return on investment (ROI) for the clever minds behind the film. According to data from The Numbers, the 35 movies below have mastered that moneymaking recipe to become some of the most profitable films of all time, based on ROI.

1. Deep Throat (1972)

A theater marquee advertises the film 'Deep Throat', starring Linda Lovelace (1949 - 2002), directed by Gerard Damiano, 1972.
A theater marquee advertises the film Deep Throat, starring Linda Lovelace, in 1972.
Arnie Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

Budget: $25,000
Profit: $22,528,467

While studio executives have long labeled an X (or NC-17) rating a kiss of death for box office totals, this infamous Linda Lovelace flick proved differently. The movie ushered in an era of what became known as “porno chic”—dirty movies that featured real actors, bona fide plots, and notable production values in an attempt to lure a more mainstream moviegoing public. The idea worked: Deep Throat ended up earning an ROI of 90,014 percent—a number that has kept it in the top spot for nearly 50 years, with no indication it’s likely to lose its top ranking any time soon.

2. Facing the Giants (2006)

Tracy Goode and Alex Kendrick in Facing the Giants (2006)
Tracy Goode and Alex Kendrick in Facing the Giants (2006).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Budget: $100,000
Profit: $38,551,255

Sports movies have often led to major box office hits. But Alex Kendrick’s Facing the Giants had one additional plot point going for it: It’s a sports movie and a Christian drama, a sub-genre that has been turning modestly budgeted films into box office behemoths over the past several years. In this case, it meant an ROI of 38,451 percent.

3. Paranormal Activity (2007)

Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in Paranormal Activity (2007)
Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat in Paranormal Activity (2007).
Paramount Home Video

Budget: $450,000
Profit: $89,376,549

Written and directed by Oren Peli, this classic found footage horror film scared up nearly $90 million in theaters and ending up with an ROI of 19,761 percent.

4. Fireproof (2008)

Kirk Cameron in Fireproof (2008)
Kirk Cameron in Fireproof (2008).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Budget: $500,000
Profit: $57,096,178

Two years after directing Facing the Giants, Alex Kendrick directed Fireproof, another Christian drama—this one focused on the deterioration of the marriage between a fire captain (played by teen heartthrob-turned-Christian movie star Kirk Cameron) and his hospital administrator wife and how the threat of divorce turns him into a changed man. The film was largely savaged by critics, but that didn’t stop it from becoming a huge box office hit and the highest-grossing indie film of 2008. Its 11,319 percent ROI also made it one of the most profitable films of all time.

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

A scene from <em>The Texas Chainsaw Massacre</em> (1974).
A scene from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).
New Line Cinema

Budget: $140,000
Profit: $14,164,858

Tobe Hooper’s classic 1974 horror film is about Leatherface, a chainsaw-wielding maniac, and his cannibalistic family who stalk and torture a group of teens who stumble upon their home while visiting the grave and former home of their grandfather. Though the no-budget film spawned a full-on franchise—complete with sequels, remakes, reboots, and more to come—the original, and its 10,018 percent ROI, still stand alone.

6. The Gallows (2015)

Cassidy Gifford and Jesse Cross in The Gallows (2015)
Cassidy Gifford and Jesse Cross in The Gallows (2015).
Warner Bros.

Budget: $100,000
Profit: $6,898,494

Though it’s hard to predict precisely which movies will become box office hits, it’s fairly safe to say that horror movies—and low-budget horror movies in particular—tend to fare the best in terms of profitability, partially because it’s a genre that can be made well even if it’s made cheaply. Which is certainly the case with Chris Lofing and Travis Cluff The Gallows, a found footage horror movie that sees a cursed play come back to haunt a small town 20 years after a high school tragedy. An abysmal 15 percent Rotten Tomatoes score hardly matters when you’ve got a 6798 percent ROI.

7. Eraserhead (1977)

Jack Nance in Eraserhead (1977)
Jack Nance in Eraserhead (1977).
The Criterion Collection

Budget: $100,000
Profit: $4,652,535

David Lynch announced his arrival in the most Lynchian way possible with this surreal and totally bizarre movie that deals with male paranoia in a surprisingly personal way. Though Lynch has said relatively little about the movie himself, preferring that people maintain their own ideas of what it’s about, it’s rumored that it was largely inspired by the birth of Lynch’s daughter Jennifer (also a director), who had clubbed feet that required corrective surgery. Whatever the case, the movie—and its 4553 percent ROI—launched Lynch as a major new talent, and led to his next film: 1980’s The Elephant Man, which earned eight Oscar nominations.

8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Al Gore in An Inconvenient Truth (2006).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Budget: $1,000,000
Profit: $46,416,400

Six years after former vice president Al Gore unsuccessfully made a run for president in 2000, he reemerged as an authority on climate change. It’s not often that a documentary has lured so many viewers to a theater—or inspired so many of those viewers to take action after the fact and create a whole new generation of environmental activists. Ultimately, the $1 million production saw a 4542 percent ROI.

9. The Big Parade (1925)

'The Big Parade' stars Renee Adoree and John Gilbert working with director King Vidor.
The Big Parade stars Renee Adoree and John Gilbert working with director King Vidor.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Budget: $245,000
Profit: $11,015,791

In 1992, nearly 70 years after its release, King Vidor’s The Big Parade—an acclaimed silent World War I film—was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry. The film, which was adapted from Laurence Stallings’s autobiographical book Plumes, was unique among the war films that came before it in that it didn’t shy away from addressing the loss of human life and the true cost of war. It paved the way for many war films that came after it, including Lewis Milestone’s Oscar-winning All Quiet on the Western Front, though none ever matched its 4396 percent ROI.

10. The Devil Inside (2012)

Suzan Crowley in The Devil Inside (2012)
Suzan Crowley stars in The Devil Inside (2012).
Toni Salabasev/Paramount Pictures

Budget: $1,000,000
Profit: $37,422,146

Hoping to replicate the success (and format) of Paranormal Activity, The Devil Inside—a similarly documentary-style film, directed and co-written by William Brent Bell—managed to achieve an ROI of 3642 percent. Though it was not nearly as supernatural of an outcome as Oren Peli managed with Paranormal Activity, it's enough to earn the movie a spot right below his film in terms of profit.

11. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

A still from 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
A still from A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Budget: $150,000
Profit: $5,306,612

Though Charles Schulz wasn’t particularly excited about getting into animated movies with the Peanuts, and CBS reportedly hated the final result of A Charlie Brown Christmas, this beloved special has been delighting audiences for more than half-a-century—on television, home video, and via special theatrical screenings during the holiday season. All of which has led to its 3438 percent ROI.

12. Peter Pan (1953)

A still from Peter Pan (1953)
A still from Peter Pan (1953).
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

Budget: $4,000,000
Profit: $139,757,67

This Walt Disney classic, with its widespread appeal to children and adults alike, had a total ROI of 3394 percent. Never growing up appears to be a profitable endeavor.

13. Cat People (1942)

Jane Randolph stars in Jacques Tourneur's 'Cat People' (1942).
Jane Randolph stars in Jacques Tourneur's Cat People (1942).
RKO Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images

Budget: $134,000
Profit: $4,596,853

Jacques Tourneur’s 1942 classic proves that horror films have long been a profitable endeavor. In this case, a young woman named Irena fears that she is descended from a mythical family of felines and that any feelings of passion could turn her into a blood-thirsty panther. None of this dissuades her boyfriend, Oliver, who asks her to marry him nonetheless. When Irena withholds her passion for her husband for his own sake, he falls in love with another woman—and all hell breaks loose. The quirky story was like catnip to audiences, who helped it drum up a 3330 percent ROI.

14. Waiting… (2005)

Justin Long and Ryan Reynolds in 'Waiting...' (2005)
Justin Long and Ryan Reynolds star in Waiting... (2005).
Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Budget: $1,125,000
Profit: $36,128,709

In 2005, filmmaker Rob McKittrick turned his years of experience waiting tables into a cult classic comedy, appropriately titled Waiting…, that featured a stellar cast of soon-to-be superstars including Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, Justin Long, and David Koechner. The film developed a surprise following that led to a 3111 percent ROI on its $1.1 million budget—and a 2009 sequel, Still Waiting….

15. God’s Not Dead (2014)

Kevin Sorbo and Shane Harper in God's Not Dead (2014)
Kevin Sorbo and Shane Harper in God's Not Dead (2014).
Pure Flix Entertainment

Budget: $1,150,000
Profit: $36,693,952

A huge hit with Christian moviegoers, this Kevin Sorbo starrer scored an ROI of 3091 percent and managed to stick around in theaters for a whopping 20 weeks.

16. Grease (1978)

Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in 'Grease' (1978)
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease (1978).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Budget: $6,000,000
Profit: $184,126,016

An American classic that is still finding new audiences, Grease sang and danced its way to the near top of the list with an ROI of 2969 percent.

17. High School Musical (2006)

Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in 'High School Musical' (2006)
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in High School Musical (2006).
Walt Disney Television

Budget: $4,200,000
Profit: $123,587,394

A descendant of Grease, this Disney musical adaptation of Romeo & Juliet introduced Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Corbin Bleu, and a host of new young actors to the world and kicked off a franchise that included three films in the original series, six spin-offs, and a Disney+ series that debuted in November 2019 and has already been renewed for a second season. It also earned a 2843 percent ROI.

18. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Mark Hamill stars in 'Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope' (1977)
Mark Hamill stars in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977).
Star Wars © & TM 2015 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Budget: $11,000,000
Profit: $292,940,192

The Star Wars franchise has come a long way since its original entry was released more than 40 years ago. In addition to holding the top spot on the list of highest-grossing domestic movies adjusted for inflation, the film’s relatively low budget of $11 million and enormous 2563 percent ROI make it one of the most profitable films ever made, too.

19. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

Brian Boland and Katie Featherston in Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Brian Boland and Katie Featherston in Paranormal Activity 2 (2010).
Paramount Pictures

Budget: $3,000,000
Profit: $77,221,343

The seventh horror movie on this list (and the second with "Paranormal Activity" in its title), Paranormal Activity 2 ended up with an ROI of 2474 percent, even though its $3 million budget dwarfed the original film's.

20. Insidious (2011)

Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson in Insidious (2010)
Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson in Insidious (2010).
FilmDistrict

Budget: $1,500,000
Profit: $35,196,552

Another horror film that managed to scare up a huge audience, Insidious possesses an ROI of 2246 percent.

21. Split (2011)

James McAvoy stars in 'Split' (2017).
James McAvoy stars in Split (2017).

John Baer/ © 2016 Universal Studios

Budget: $5,000,000
Profit: $108,837,000

M. Night Shyamalan went back to his indie roots for Split, the second film in his Unbreakable trilogy, by shooting the film—which starred James McAvoy in a captivating performance—for a mere $5 million. It’s box office total of more than $108 million meant an impressive 2077 percent ROI.

22. Intouchables (2012)

François Cluzet and Omar Sy in Intouchables (2011)
François Cluzet and Omar Sy in Intouchables (2011).
Thierry Valletoux/Gaumont - Quad

Budget: $10,800,000
Profit: $231,488,178

This French buddy comedy, directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano, became the second highest-grossing film in France within a few weeks of its original release. The film, which earned eight César Award nominations—and won for Best Actor for Omar Sy—became a hit worldwide, earning more than $231 million and a 2043 percent ROI.

23. Young Frankenstein (1974)

Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, and Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein (1974)
Teri Garr, Gene Wilder, and Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein (1974).
20TH CENTURY FOX

Budget: $2,800,000
Profit: $57,510,448

This comedic reimagining of Frankenstein was a major hit for Mel Brooks and ended up with a total ROI of 1954 percent.

24. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Still from 'It's a Wonderful Life' (1946)
Still from It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
Paramount Pictures

Budget: $3,180,000
Profit: $60,536,880

Frank Capra's uplifting holiday classic is the oldest movie on this list, the source of the idea that every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings, and a major hit, with an ROI of 1804 percent.

25. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Edward Bunker, and Lawrence Tierney in Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Madsen, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Edward Bunker, and Lawrence Tierney in Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment

Budget: $1,200,000
Profit: $22,452,279

Earning a well-deserved ROI of 1771 percent, Quentin Tarantino's directorial debut gunned its way to becoming the tenth most profitable movie.

26. Jaws (1975)

Susan Backlinie in 'Jaws' (1975)
Susan Backlinie in Jaws (1975).
MCA/Universal Home Video

Budget: $12,000,000
Profit: $222,629,082

This classic film, with its abundance of blood, screaming, and somewhat-obvious shark props, racked up an ROI of 1755 percent and kept beachgoers out of the water for years.

27. Annabelle (2014)

Annabelle Wallis in Annabelle (2014)
Annabelle Wallis in Annabelle (2014).
Gregory Smith/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Budget: $6,500,000
Profit: $98,033,662

Yes, another horror film! John R. Leonetti's Annabelle managed to creep its way up to more than $250 million in ticket sales worldwide, yielding an ROI of 1408 percent.

28. Beauty And The Beast (1991)

Robby Benson and Paige O'Hara in Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Robby Benson and Paige O'Hara in Beauty and the Beast (1991).
Walt Disney Productions

Budget: $20,000,000
Profit: $287,924,831

The second Disney movie appearing on this list, this classic love story earned the biggest profit and started out with the biggest budget. What does that mean? Well, in this case, an ROI of 1340 percent.

29. The King’s Speech (2010)

Colin Firth in The King's Speech (2010)
Colin Firth in The King's Speech (2010).
The Weinstein Company

Budget: $15,000,000
Profit: $196,296,922

Earning an ROI of 1209 percent, this historical drama was a major hit, starring Colin Firth as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, his speech therapist.

30. Magic Mike (2012)

Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, and Channing Tatum in Magic Mike (2012)
Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez, and Channing Tatum in Magic Mike (2012).
Claudette Barius/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Budget: $7,000,000
Profit: $89,660,661

Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey didn't have to bare it all to drum up more than $170 million in ticket sales, leaving director Steven Soderbergh with an ROI of 1181 percent.

31. The Fault In Our Stars (2014)

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars (2014).
James Bridges/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Budget: $12,000,000
Profit: $146,328,566

Based on the incredibly popular book by John Green, the big screen adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars took our tears and turned them into a profit of nearly $150 million. That’s an ROI of 1119 percent for those keeping count.

32. The Purge (2013)

A still from 'The Purge' (2013).
A still from The Purge (2013).
Daniel McFadden/Universal Pictures

Budget: $3,000,000
Profit: $35,920,740

Writer/director James DeMonaco's innovative take on anarchy ended up scoring an ROI of 1097 percent—and launching a full franchise.

33. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Anil Kapoor and Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Dev Patel and Anil Kapoor in Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES

Budget: $14,000,000
Profit: $163,354,988

Danny Boyle's Oscar-winning romantic drama earned nearly $385 million worldwide for an ROI of 1067 percent.

34. Black Swan (2010)

Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel in Black Swan (2010)
Natalie Portman and Vincent Cassel in Black Swan (2010).
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Budget: $13,000,000
Profit: $148,130,645

Full of hallucinations, ballet, and (of course) swans, Darren Aronofsky's psychological thriller performed brilliantly, achieving an ROI of 1039 percent.

35. Unfriended (2015)

Shelley Hennig in Unfriended (2014)
Shelley Hennig in Unfriended (2014).
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Budget: $1,000,000
Profit: $11,191,847

Shot on a $1 million budget, Unfriended—a found footage horror movie directed by relative newcomer Levan Gabriadze—took in more than $60 million worldwide, leaving it with an ROI of 1011 percent.

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