One Billion: Letterboxd Hits Major Movie Milestone

Will Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012) be the first individual film to hit one billion logged views? 
Will Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012) be the first individual film to hit one billion logged views? 

The Letterboxd counter has ticked over to a billion films watched. That’s right, folks: as a movie-loving community, we have collectively recorded one billion films watched since Letterboxd became a reality. Break out the confetti!

It has been five eventful years since we hit the milestone of one million films watched back in 2017, and in traditional film-nerd fashion, we thought we’d celebrate with a few statistics. 

We (you) did it!
We (you) did it!

The billionth film watched (and the first?) 

We checked the log book and can tell you that the billionth film watched was Alien³, the 1992 David Fincher-directed third installment in the Sigourney Weaver-led sci-fi horror series.

The first film watched? Well, that depends on how and when we start counting, but crew member Grant Berridge posits that Barney’s Version was the first film officially logged and reviewed—by him—upon launch, though others on the team have different theories. We’ll let Grant have this one, for now. (Update: Grant went back and investigated the footprints, to find that the “first film logged” on Letterboxd probably belongs to his colleague Mike, while the first film reviewed is… still there.)

Jack looks at Rose the way we gaze at your Recent Activity. 
Jack looks at Rose the way we gaze at your Recent Activity. 

The first film to make a billion dollars

No question who wears the crown: James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) will forever claim this record, making that money worldwide in just 74 days after its release. Since then, 50 movies total have grossed more than US$1 billion globally, Top Gun: Maverick being the latest.

Billion-dollar women

So far in cinema history, just three women directors have cracked the billion-dollar worldwide gross. Frozen II is currently the eleventh-highest grossing film globally, with US$1.4 billion in earnings and growing, while Frozen is in seventeenth place with $1.2 billion. Both films were co-directed by Jennifer Lee, while Anna Boden’s Captain Marvel is currently at $1.1 billion and 28th on the list.

Reindeer(s) are better than people—and they’re big box office attractions, too. 
Reindeer(s) are better than people—and they’re big box office attractions, too. 

The first film with a billion-dollar budget

Although James Cameron was the first director to make a film with a US$100-million budget (True Lies, 1994), no movie has yet had its budget top a billion dollars (unless you count Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie…). Although, who knows: perhaps Mr. Cameron will break another record once the bill for all the Avatars combined is tallied.

On available evidence, Hollywood being somewhat secretive about true earnings, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides currently holds the record for the most expensive film ever made (while being the second lowest-rated of that franchise). The Hobbit trilogy is the most costly back-to-back production.

With one billion dollars you don’t have to share a hotel room. 
With one billion dollars you don’t have to share a hotel room. 

The first film to hit a billion views on Letterboxd

Hasn’t happened yet, but we are approaching a different milestone: Letterboxd’s One Million Watched Club is, at the time of writing, just two films away from 100 movies. 

The first film to join the club was Christopher Nolan’s Inception, the fastest to join was Matt Reeves’ The Batman (118 days after its world premiere) and the most-watched film is Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, which was also the first film to crack a million ratings. 

Alien³ is decidedly not yet a member of the club—we’re waiting on Alien and Aliens to get their triple-A laminates first. (Thanks to Alexander Huth for keeping the One Million Watched Club list updated.)

Films with ‘billion’ in the title

Among the many ‘billion’-titled films from throughout the decades are several spy thrillers, some curiosities, a popular budget comedy, and a legendary missing movie.

Billions, Ray C. Smallwood’s comedy from 1920, stars Alla Nazimova as a Czech emigrée who becomes a patron of the arts, alongside her husband (and the film’s co-writer) Charles Bryant. Alas, Billions will never make the One Million Watched Club since it has long been lost. In honor of its missing status, the film has a 3.8 out of five star average on Letterboxd.

Is that a billion dollars in Françoise Dorléac’s satchel? 
Is that a billion dollars in Françoise Dorléac’s satchel? 

Billion Dollar Brain. A 1967 Ken Russell effort, this is the third in a series of Harry Palmer films starring Michael Caine as the secret agent, alongside Françoise Dorléac (of The Young Girls of Rochefort fame) and a supercomputer. “It starts out in the vein of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, but ends up as a child of the Austin Powers movies,” writes Vincent. “So…. a bit uneven shall we say? Still it is never not entertaining.”

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, which was made for US$3 million in 2012, and about which Sydney writes “to apply a rating would mean it exists in some quantifiable universe where things can be compared to one another”. Not so for Zach, who gave his recent watch four-and-a-half stars out of five, writing “I love imagining Roger Ebert sitting through this.”

A Billion Colour Story: Narasimhamurthy Padmakumar’s highly rated 2016 film, told largely in black and white through the eyes of the child of a Muslim father and a Hindu mother, bursts into color at stunning moments, a “sensitive subject handled brilliantly,” according to Naveen.

Billion: Roman Prygunov’s “moderately diverting comedy” of 2019, as reviewed by Wildest Penfield.  

Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids. We can’t ignore a fad, so Andrew Jenks’ 2022 documentary gets a mention. Narrated by Neil Patrick Harris, and featuring a Cabbage Patch Kid-hating Connie Chung, this doc landed at Tribeca to mixed reviews and one lovely observation buy Taliscent: “That collector couple is such sweet proof that there is someone out there for everyone.”

Billion Dollar Spy: a forthcoming Amma Assante film we most definitely have on our watchlists due to a certain Dane.


Congratulations to g0b0ts, who marked our billionth film as watched on July 19, 2022.  

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