What makes a movie memorable? There are several ingredients needed to make a film unforgettable. One of the most important ingredients in this formula for success is the music. Whether it be a lovable animation or a heart-pounding thriller, the music sets the tone for what direction a movie will take. And because the creators of these magnificent masterpieces care about the fans, we are blessed with soundtracks for these films that have graced theater screens far and wide.
Most movie fans would assume that musical-films would have the top-selling albums of all time, but that actually isn’t so. Many may be surprised that films such as Forrest Gump and The Bodyguard were not only successful films but their soundtracks also dominated the charts. Here are the top highest-grossing movie soundtracks.
10 The Little Mermaid (6 Million Units)
Not only did this animated musical start "the Disney Renaissance", but the soundtrack for The Little Mermaid also had multi-platinum sales. The Little Mermaid was released in theaters in 1989, but decades later remains one of the most beloved animated films.
Prior to this movie's release, Disney produced a string of commercial and critical failures going back to the 1970s, but Ariel's movie gave Disney the spark it needed to get back on top. The film's soundtrack contained songs written by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and the score was composed by Thomas Pasatieri. The soundtrack sold over 6 million units, which might increase soon since it was announced that there will be a live-action version of the film in theaters soon.
9 Space Jam (6 Million Units)
What happens when you bring together an NBA legend, an iconic, animated cartoon, and basketball? You get the 1996 live-action sports comedy, Space Jam. The film is a fictionalized account of Michael Jordan's surprising retirement from the NBA and his comeback in 1995.
The film also featured other cartoon favorites, including Lola Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig. The film's soundtrack, featured the talents of Coolio, Monica, R. Kelly, and LL Cool J. The album reached number 69 on the Billboard charts and shipped over 6 million copies.
8 Grease (8 Million Units)
It should be no surprise that the movie that shook America also had a soundtrack that shook the charts. 1978's Grease, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, made history in the box-office and became the highest-grossing musical film ever made at the time.
The film's soundtrack was also a success, selling over 38 million copies and becoming the second best-selling album of the year. The song "You're the One That I Want" reached number one in the United States and the United Kingdom. The album went 8x Platinum.
7 Footloose (9 Million Units)
In 1984, Kevin Bacon graced the screens in a film about a town that banned music and dancing. Footloose, which was loosely based on the events in an actual town in Oklahoma, also starred Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dianne West, and Chris Penn.
The film received mixed reviews but the soundtrack for the film, which also featured the titular song by Kenny Loggins, reached number one on the US Billboard 200 charts. Overall, the soundtrack sold over 9 million units and was re-released for the 2011 remake.
6 The Lion King (10 Million Units)
Following the success of its predecessor, The Little Mermaid, Disney continued to strike gold throughout the '90s with their animated films, one being the academy-award film, The Lion King.
The animated musical film follows the story of Simba, the rightful heir to the throne that runs away from his destiny after the death of his father. The soundtrack for the movie featured the talents of mega-superstar, Elton John, with all the lyrics written by Tim Rice. The soundtrack sold over 15 million copies worldwide and earned a Diamond certification in the United States.
5 Titanic (11 Million Units)
James Cameron redefined romance in 1997 with the epic-romance disaster film, Titanic. The film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, follows a fictionalized account of the real-life maiden voyage that sunk in 1912.
While the film broke several box-office and award records, the soundtrack went on to acclaim its own fame. With songs like Celine Dion's infamous "My Heart Will Go On", the album shot to the top of the charts, selling over 30 million units worldwide and more than 11 million in the United States.
4 Dirty Dancing (11 Million Units)
Dirty Dancing did more than just teach fans how to move and sway to the music, it also delivered a thoughtful love story between two individuals from different worlds connected through a shared interest in music.
Lead by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, the film was a surprise sleeper hit and the soundtrack was also a huge success. The album spent eighteen weeks on the Billboard 200 charts on the number one spot. With the hit single "Time of My Life" and other noteworthy tracks such as "Hungry Eyes" and "She's Like The Wind," this album is a classic, shipping more than 11 million units in the United States.
3 Forrest Gump (12 Million Units)
"Life is like a box of chocolates." At least that's what Forrest Gump taught us. Tom Hanks portrayed the titular character in the cult classic that premiered in theaters in 1994. Forrest Gump follows the tale of a kind-hearted but slow-witted man who is present during several important historical changes in the 20th century, all the while still pinning for the girl he loved since he was a child.
The movie's soundtrack featured songs from each era presented in the film. Songs from well-known artists such as Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, and Aretha Franklin helped land this soundtrack on the charts at number two for seven weeks in 1994. The soundtrack was certified 12x Platinum.
2 Purple Rain (13 Million Units)
Partially based on Prince's life, Purple Rain was a box-office success. Purple Rain was Prince's debut feature film, where he portrayed "The Kid" who struggled to pursue his dreams while leading his band and dealing with personal issues.
The soundtrack for the film was also the sixth studio album for Prince and sold 1.5 million copies during its opening week. Prince and the Revolution won a Grammy for the album, which ended up going 13x Platinum.
1 The Bodyguard (18 Million Units)
Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston starred in this 1992 romantic-thriller film that not only helped solidify Houston's career but also produced one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.
The Bodyguard follows the story of a former Secret Service agent who becomes the bodyguard of a famous singer being stalked by a dangerous admirer. The soundtrack was released to critical and commercial acclaim. The single, "I Will Always Love You", spent fourteen weeks on the Billboard chart and is still known as Houston's signature song. The soundtrack shipped over 18 million copies.