The five movies that nearly everyone on Earth has seen

The things you end up talking about over a few drinks with friends, eh?

I’ll minimise the exposition, but we were talking about this over a few hands of blackjack after a successful Easter Bunny hunting trip last night- basically, are there five films that pretty much everyone on Earth (not including primitive tribes in New Guinean/South American Rainforests, Bedouin Arabs, and Kalahari Bushmen etc) is likely to have seen or at least know the major plot points from other people?

We figured that yes, there were:

  • Star Wars

  • Goldfinger

  • The Matrix

  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day

  • Raiders Of The Lost Ark

Now, before anyone comes along and says “I’ve never seen ______!” or “My cousin on my dad’s side has never seen ________”, The litmus test is “Could you talk about this movie in a crowd of people you’ve never met, in any country on Earth, and have the vast, vast majority of people you are speaking to also have seen the movie?

So… do you think there are five movies practically everyone on Earth has seen, and if so, what are they?

Surely Titanic should be on that list.

Jurassic Park, Independence Day, The Usual Suspects, American Beauty (?), Titanic (which I have never seen) are the ones that come immediately to mind.

I know the OP said not to, but I vote we do say which we haven’t seen of those mentioned, and why, because that’s interesting. I also haven’t seen Goldfinger, and I only saw Terminator 2 within the last few years (I hate James Cameron).

Hmm. I’ve only seen one of those, and I’m only passingly familiar with two of the others.

I’d say:

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  3. Snow White
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life
  5. The Shining
    The Wizard of Oz is the big winner, the others aren’t listed in any order.

My basic suspicion is that there is no such list. I base that on the assumption that there’s at least one movie that not “nearly everyone” has seen. But to play along with the notion, I’ll offer:

Gone With The Wind
The Godfather
It’s A Wonderful Life
Singin’ In The Rain

Even the youngest crowd will have been exposed to these by way of manifold reruns in prime time almost every year.

As a flip side to the concept, I’d wager that at least half the regular movie-viewing public will never have seen:

Citizen Kane
The Bicycle Thief
A Streetcar Named Desire
Any Marx Brothers movie
Any Charlie Chaplin movie

If you happen to be one of those who has seen none of these, please indicate so.

I would definately agree with the Wizard of Oz. I would also say that in my experience, everyone I know has seen The Sound of Music and Grease. Also, I think there is a big problem with the OP. While they are all very popular movies, don’t you think they are also pretty much all boy movies? I know A TON of girls have seen all of those movies but I mean I grew up in a household of all women and I have never seen a single one of those movies. I mean why would I have?

Not only are they boy movies, they are geek-boy movies. The only one listed that has (IMO) broad crossover appeal is Star Wars, and that is because it introduced modern special effects to audiences. The Matrix is extremely popular among a very small subset of the population.

I think Disney films are much more likely to have been seen by more people world-wide (as opposed to “all my freinds and I have seen these 11 times!”), along with the already mentioned blockbusters like Wizard of Oz and Titanic.

The grand majority of the world has not seen The Usual Suspects I would say.

Disney films sound good. I’ll go with The Lion King as my guess for the most likely to have been watched from them.

I’d have to guess that an awful lot of people, in a lot of places, have probably seen these movies:

The Wizard Of Oz
The Sound Of Music
Miracle On 34th St.
A Christmas Story
It’s A Wonderful Life

The only other movies in this thread I’ve seen are “Singin’ In The Rain” and “The Godfather”. I know I’ve seen at least one Marx Brothers movie, about 40 years ago, but I have no idea which one. I wasn’t old enough to appreciate it.

What is this, the Western world only? I know tons of people who haven’t seen the Matrix nor any of the terminator movies and don’t want to. Some of them are even in the States! I’ll go with this list:

All those sci-fi/action flicks are not classics (except in my mind perhaps!) and so I doubt the world would have seen them.

Whats more, a lot of these are old people movies. Believe it or not, many young people are completely unaware of 99% of movies from before 1990.

Agreed that the OP’s list is all geek movies. I could go anywhere in the world and talk with strangers about those movies, but that’s just because most of the people I’d associate with, anywhere in the world, are fellow nerds. Among the general population? Not so much. The OP’s list are also relatively recent movies, which will also hurt them. How many times has T2 run on broadcast TV? It might have been once or twice. But compare that to old classics like The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, or It’s a Wonderful Life, which run every year or more, and have for many decades. Even the best contender on the OP’s list, Star Wars, has probably had less showings than any of the three I mentioned, and many of those were probably multiple viewings by the same people.

I haven’t seen any of the movies in your post. I’ve seen snippets of some, but none all the way through.

Your list seems to be biased toward older viewers, but I suspect any list will be biased to some subset. I don’t think there’s a grouping that would work equally well for the 40 and up and the 20 and under crowds.

The Ten Commandments has got to be in the Wizard of Oz category for sheer repetition every year.

The Ten Commandments, The Wizard of Oz, and relatively recently, A Christmas Story, are all movie-on-TV “events.”

Maybe A Charlie Brown Christmas?

I’ve heard Planet of the Apes called “the inflight movie of the womb”. Certainly a lot of people must have seen it, given how easily allusions to it are picked up.

You’re absolutely right about the movies in my list(s) being “old people movies.” I’m old enough to have seen some of them in the theatre as first run items, as opposed to crammed between a gazillion commercials. I’m also old enough not to care for the latest craze in cartoons fighting puppets. There’s no real happy medium between the generations that I have been able to locate. My daughter’s (and sons’) tastes differ enough from mine and my wife’s that we hit only about 50% of the time on movies we recommend to each other. It’s more like 25% of the time with the grandkids. The odd thing is that on those 25% and 50% hits, we all understand the nature of a good movie as opposed to just a popular one.

As I interpret the OP the popular movies are going to stand the best chance of being on the hypotesized list. But as I stated in my original reply, that list is not going to be universal for reasons stated throughout this thread.

For additional evidence, go to IMDB’s Top 250 list and count the number of films you have personally seen. In my case it’s more like half. And the ones I have missed are the ones made a generation before I was born and the ones in the last 20 years. I stand a reasonable chance of agreeing with folks in the 30-60 age bracket. If you get those “old people” to make one list and the “really old people” amd the “really young people” to make another, there’s a little better chance the OP’s hopes could be reached.

Otherwise, not.

I agree. Going all the way back to **“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” **in 1937, the Disney studios have had a pretty consistent track record of producing popular family entertainment. If you’re a certain age, I bet you’ve seen **all **of these:
Sleeping Beauty
The Lady and the Tramp
101 Dalmations

For those of a different age, I would suspect you’d be able to name an equal number of Disney films from your childhood.

I dunno, but I think if you mention “Jaws” or “Psycho” almost anywhere you will get a knowing nod. And I’d be surprised if anyone did not know at least one musical theme from each of those movies.

{bolding mine}

I have to disagree: three, perhaps four of those movies might be American staples, but aren’t that well known outside the US except as culturally referenced Americana. I’ve never seen any of them, but more to the point I don’t recall the last three even being shown on TV here: the first two, yeah, but I’ve always avoided them.