The movies are one of the touchstones of our culture. We share a common culture in part by seeing the same movies (or watching the same TV shows, or listening to the same music) as everyone else.
Here is an interesting way to gauge your pop culture prowess: See how many of the top grossing films ($100M-plus domestic gross) that you have seen over the years. In other words, how many of the films that everyone else saw did you see too?
It is easy to do if you go to Box Office Mojo and browse through their yearly list of box office results.
Here is how I measure up:
2000 - 14 of 22
2001 - 14 of 20
2002 - 15 of 24
2003 - 15 of 29
2004 - 17 of 24
2005 - 13 of 19
2006 - 11 of 19
2007 - 8 of 28
2008 - 4 of 24 (so far)
I’ve also seen every one of the highest grossing films for each year (not counting 2008) going back to 1980 with the exception of “Three Men and a Baby” from 1987.
I will probably never have a perfect score for any particular year because there are always going to be some popular films that I have no interest in seeing. If it is a horror film or a gross-out comedy you can usually count me out.
But overall we tend to be exposed to popular movies even when we don’t see them. For instance, I know who Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger and Jason Voorhees are despite the fact that I have never seen any of the Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th movies.