Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Most Influential Movie Of All Time According To Science

How does one measure the influence of a movie? Most would point to box-office profits, critical reception, or the number of awards it received. And while each of those qualities certainly represents the success of a movie, they don't exactly measure influence. Luckily, in 2018, researchers Livio Bioglio and Ruggero G. Pensa sought to accurately measure the influence of movies. In a study published in the Applied Network Science journal, the pair sought to find the most influential films by "accounting how much [a movie] has influenced other movies produced after its release, from both an artistic and an economic point of view."

The two researchers eliminated any kind of abstract interpretation of "influence" and got to work nailing down which film had the greatest impact on every project that followed its release. The researchers applied their criteria to 47,000 movies on IMDb and specifically chose movies considered to be "milestones" in film history. The data the researchers compiled was then turned into a kind of ranking system that weighed the intertextuality between films. The researchers focused more on instances where a film "inspired" another film and less on situations where films were merely referenced across one another. All this led to the researchers creating a comprehensive list of the top 20 most influential movies of all time, with No.1 perhaps coming as a bit of a surprise.

The Wizard of Oz is the most influential film of all time, and it's not close

According to Livio Bioglio and Ruggero Pensas' research, the most influential movie of all time is 1939's "The Wizard of Oz." The classic work (which famously shifts from black-and-white to full-color picture midway through) was found to have directly influenced more movies than any other film in history. In fact, the data surrounding that movie's influence was so strong that when compiling a similar list of the top 20 most influential directors of all time, the researchers found that the five people IMDb lists as directors of "The Wizard of Oz" all appeared within the top eight spots. Notable runner-ups include "Star Wars: A New Hope" (1977) at No.2 and Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) at No.3. It's also worth noting that "Citizen Kane," which would surely be the go-to answer for many cinephiles, was down at No.7.

Whatever your opinion may be, when the data overwhelmingly points in one direction, odds are it's pointing there for good reason. So, the next time you're watching a movie in theaters — whether it's a superhero blockbuster, a psychological thriller, or some gritty war drama — think about how you can trace that film's history all the way back to the lighthearted fantasy world of "The Wizard of Oz."