Best-Selling Movie Soundtracks of All Time
Wed, April 21, 2021

Best-Selling Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Late singer Whitney Houston performed the soundtrack of the movie The Bodyguard titled "I Will Always Love You" in 1992. The Bodyguard was also her debut movie as an actress / Photo by: Asterio Tecson via Wikimedia Commons


Movies are as memorable for their stories as the emotions they bring to us viewers. These elements, combined with top-notch cinematography and amazing musical scores, make these productions worth even more than they seem. In this list, we look at some of the most successful movie soundtracks of all time and just how much they made during the movie’s run. 

“The Bodyguard” (1992)
Copies Sold: 18 million

Maybe it’s just because the story is that good, that romantic, that heartwarming, or maybe it’s Whitney Houston’s impressive chops that led to “The Bodyguard” soundtrack selling as well as it did. According to Mental Floss at least, a website offering articles of amazing and interesting facts, “I Will Always Love You” topped the list for Whitney’s perfect rendition of it. 

It’s the song that’s most notable in the album as business news website Business Insider reports, but the story behind it is equally enthralling. Initially, Elvis Presley himself was tapped to sing a rendition of the song, but Mental Floss reported that “his people wanted half the publishing rights.” Besides, Parton even joked that after Whitney almost made the song hers, Parton said she had “made enough money to buy Graceland.” 

“Saturday Night Fever” (1977)
Copies Sold: 16 million

The popularity of the most notable songs from the “Saturday Night Fever” album of 1977 is timeless, that much is true, especially since almost everyone has heard of the songs “Stayin’ Alive” and “How Deep Is Your Love” at least once in their life. “Saturday Night Fever” sold 16 million copies of the soundtrack. 

“Purple Rain” (1984)
Copies Sold: 13 million

What else is there left to say about THE Prince and his signature purple motif? The answer is nothing much because, over the years, they have probably been said. Prince himself was a revolution, he was the sign of the changing times--ahead of his time and with such a lush soundscape and dedication to his musicality that remains unparalleled. 

In his 13 million copy-strong “Purple Rain” soundtrack for his own movie, Purple Rain presents Prince “in his prime, at his peak, at his most audacious. It is Prince at his most sensual, his most open and pleading,” writes music news website Pitchfork. “It is, then, by logical extension, some of the most powerful popular music of the last century, and some of the best we will ever get.” The most notable songs? “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” 

The late Prince performed his single " Purple Rain" which is also the name of the movie and album he released in 1984 gaining 13 million copies / Photo by: penner via Wikimedia Commons


“Forrest Gump” (1994)
Copies Sold: 12 million

Sweet. Honest. Sublime. These are the words that can attempt to explain what “Forrest Gump” has been to so many people over the years--at least before 9/11 when people could still coast through their lives being relatively apolitical. Right now, sitting out of any national conversation is detrimental and everyone has to stand for something, which is exactly why the film did not age that well. 

So, as sweet as it seemed before, in today’s standards, its set of beliefs does not hold up. The reason its popularity soared during its ‘94 release, though, is because it is a product of its time, and the soundtrack’s popularity is just another indication that it was at least a passable movie back then.

“Dirty Dancing” (1987)
Copies Sold: 11 million

The movie may have been a popular staple in 1987 but according to Jimmy Ienner, there are just some differences between the film’s songs and the album. Ienner said they had to drop the guitars “way down for the film because guitars weren’t a dominant instrument back then; saxophones were. We took out most of the synthesized stuff and replaced it with organs in the film version.” 

According to Business Insider, if you do still want to listen to the album, then the most notable songs are “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” and “She’s Like The Wind.” 

“Titanic” (1997)
Copies Sold: 11 million

No star-crossed lovers' love story can be more iconic than “Titanic” and its 11 million copies sold of its soundtrack when it came out. It’s a movie that’s continuously being talked about years from its release, turned into memes, and cited as one of the most gut-wrenching movies of all time, in part because some people in it--minus Jack and Rose--were based on true stories. 

It’s also furnished with such an amazing soundtrack to boot, even though Celine Dion, whose song “My Heart Will Go On” from the album is by far the most popular one, was something that Dion herself liked poking fun of. She reportedly told Billboard that while recording the song, all she was thinking was “sing the song, then get the heck out of there.” 

No star-crossed lovers' love story can be more iconic than “Titanic” and its 11 million copies sold of its soundtrack when it came out / Photo by: AirstarInternational via Wikimedia Commons


“The Lion King” (1994)
Copies Sold: 10 million 

It’s still an ongoing Broadway production admired far and wide and remains to be one of the best. Of course, “The Lion King” soundtrack itself would be a behemoth. The animated movie, while released in 1994, has aged so well as a Disney classic that Disney even decided to give it an on-screen rebirth that thoroughly excited and divided the fanbase. The legacy of the movie lives on and can continue to be remembered through its equally successful Broadway equivalent.