There's no question "Gone With The Wind" is the most successful movie of all time, when you count tickets sold, but it's not the most influential. Nor is "Star Wars."

A network analysis instead shows that title goes to "The Wizard Oz", the definitive Judy Garland film. released in the same year as "Gone With The Wind."

The analysis was of 47,000 films listed in IMDb (the internet movie database) and based on how much each film had been referenced by subsequent films.  To calculate the influence score for the 47,000 films investigated in this study, the authors treated the films as nodes in a network and measured the number of connections each film has to other films and how influential the films connected to it are.

Credit: MGM

"We have developed an algorithm that uses references between movies as a measure for success, and which can also be used to evaluate the career of directors, actors and actresses, by considering their participation in top-scoring movies,"  said lead author Dr. Livio Bioglio from the University of Turin.

Obviously you have to be an older film to be influential to newer ones - "Battle Royale" was a giant chunk of "Kill Bill Vol. 1" but wouldn't have gotten a good score back then - so the films were before 1980.  "The Wizard of Oz" came in first, followed by "Star Wars" and "Psycho."

What about newer films?

When seeking to statistically remove the bias toward older movies, a look at directors had Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma scoring in the top three spots, whereas previous generations of directors dominated the original analysis - Victor Fleming, George Cukor, King Vidor, Mervyn LeRoy, Norman Taurog all have incredible influence, they are all in the top 10, but few can name them today.

When the bias against the influence of the new was removed, the algorithm ranked Samuel L. Jackson, Clint Eastwood and Tom Cruise as the top three actors while females barely showed at all. The only female in the top ten was Lois Maxwell, who played the recurring role of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond franchise.  

However, they caution that the results can only be applied to Western cinema as the data on IMDb are strongly biased towards films produced in Western countries.