Entertainment

The best-selling movie soundtracks of all time

Can you imagine a movie like “The Bodyguard” without Whitney Houston’s famous torch ballad “I Will Always Love You” or “Saturday Night Fever” without the sound stylings of The Bee Gees?

It just goes to show: Movies, like most things in life, are even better with the perfect music. But while just about any film can benefit from a great soundtrack, some have proven the test of time. Here are some of the best-selling movie soundtracks of all time:

“The Bodyguard”

You may not remember the plot of this romantic drama. You may not remember the dialogue. But there’s a pretty good chance you remember the soundtrack!

Fun fact: While the song “I Will Always Love You” is pretty much tied to the name Whitney Houston until the end of time, the famous singer didn’t write the song.

The credit goes to another artist — legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton. The famed country star has extremely good humor about it, noting "Well, a lot of people say that's Whitney's song, and I always say, 'That's fine, she can have the credit, I just want my cash.'"

“Saturday Night Fever”

Ah-ah-ah-ah stayin’ aliiiive! Nobody could have predicted what a smash hit this soundtrack would become. Not only is it one of the best-selling movie soundtracks of all time, but one of the best-selling albums of all time, period.

This album stayed at the top of album charts for a whopping 24 weeks straight, from January through July of 1978. It remained on the Billboard charts for 120 weeks total, until well into the year 1980.

This soundtrack is not just considered great listening, but is also considered a cultural icon. It’s so culturally significant that it has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress.

“Purple Rain”

How influential was the “Purple Rain” soundtrack? Perhaps more influential than you know.

This album debuted at number 11 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 1.5 million copies during its first week. It reached the coveted #1 spot on the list within less than two months and boasted three hit singles, two of which reached #1 on the charts. In total, the album would stay on the charts for a record 122 weeks.

The album cemented Prince’s place not only in the music world but in pop culture too, and “Purple Rain” tours remain popular in the movie’s setting (and Prince’s hometown) of Minneapolis.

“Forrest Gump”

The movie “Forrest Gump” was a runaway hit, featuring a nostalgic look back across the decades through the eyes of the eponymous lead character (iconically played by Tom Hanks). And the movie's soundtrack was a hit in and of itself.

Featuring classics from the 1950s through the 1970s and a sweeping score to boot, this soundtrack captured the imagination of moviegoers. The sales of the two-disc album are proof positive of its popularity: It went platinum 12 times over in the U.S., and had impressive sales worldwide, too.

“Dirty Dancing”

Nobody puts baby in a corner ... but everybody loves the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack! This epic soundtrack has sold an impressive 32 million copies worldwide to date.

Featuring a variety of pop hits like “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen, and yes, even a song cut by Patrick Swayze himself, this soundtrack has become a pop culture icon and remains popular even today.

Movie music at its best

Photo of the Footloose soundtrack disc
Credit: Kraft74/ Shutterstock

A killer movie soundtrack can really add to a movie’s bottom line and overall success. These unforgettable soundtracks serve as proof that sometimes, the soundtrack can be even more memorable than the movie itself.