1928 in Film
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1928 in Film

The following is an overview of 1928 in film, including significant events, a list of films released and notable births and deaths. Although some movies released in 1928 had sound, most were still silent.


  • January 6 - The long-awaited Charlie Chaplin comedy The Circus premieres at the Strand Theatre in New York City.[1]
  • April 21 - The Passion of Joan of Arc is released.
  • July 6 - Lights of New York (starring Helene Costello) is released by Warner Bros. It is the first "100% Talkie" feature film, in that dialog is spoken throughout the film. Previous releases Don Juan and The Jazz Singer had used a synchronized soundtrack with sound effects and music, with The Jazz Singer having a few incidental lines spoken by Al Jolson.[2]
  • September 19 - The Singing Fool, Warner Bros' follow-up to The Jazz Singer, is released. While still only a partial-talkie (sequences still featured intertitles), 66 minutes of the film's 105 minute running time feature dialogue or songs, making it the longest talking motion picture yet. (Lights of New York runs a total of 57 minutes.) It is the highest-grossing film of the year, becomes Warner Bros' highest-grossing film for the next 13 years, and is the most financially successful film of Al Jolson's career.[3][4]
  • October 23 - RKO Productions Inc. created
  • November 10 - At the beginning of White Shadows in the South Seas, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's mascot Leo the Lion roars for the very first time, giving voice to one of the most popular American film logos.[5][6][7]
  • November 18 - Disney's Steamboat Willie premieres, marking the official introduction of Mickey Mouse. This animated short is the first film to include a soundtrack, completely created in post production, including sound effects, music, and dialogue.
  • December 25 - In Old Arizona, released by Fox Films, is the first sound-on-film feature-length talkie, utilizing the Movietone process. Previously, feature-length talkies used the less-reliable Vitaphone sound-on-disc process. It is also the first Western talkie, and the first sound film primarily shot outdoors.

Top-grossing films

Rank Title Studio Worldwide rental
1. The Singing Fool Warner Bros. $5,916,000[8]
2. The Circus United Artists $3,800,000[9]
3. The Road to Ruin True-Life Photoplays $2,500,000
4. Noah's Ark Warner Bros. $2,305,000[8]
5. Street Angel Fox Film $1,700,000[10]
6. White Shadows in the South Seas MGM $1,599,000[11]
7. The Trail of '98 MGM $1,578,000[11]
8. Abie's Irish Rose Paramount Pictures $1,500,000[9]
9. Four Sons Fox Film $1,500,000[10]
10. The Terror Warner Bros. $1,464,000[8]

Academy Awards

Note: Prior to 1933, awards were not based on calendar years, which is why there is no 'Best Picture' for a 1928 film.

Notable films released in 1928

U.S.A. unless stated

Short film series

Animated short film series



Film debuts


  1. ^ "The Circus (1928)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ Neibaur, James L. (2015). James Cagney Films of the 1930s. London: Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442242203.
  3. ^ Kiner, Larry F.; Evans, Philip R. (1992). Al Jolson: A Bio-Discography. Scarecrow Press. p. 107. ISBN 9780810826335.
  4. ^ Furia, Philip; Patterson, Laurie (2010). The Songs of Hollywood. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780199792665.
  5. ^ Munden, Kenneth White (1971). The American Film Institute Catalog - Feature Films 1921-1930. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. WH1. ISBN 9780520209695.
  6. ^ Brown, Allen (November 29, 2014). "The Story Behind MGM's Lion Logo". Movie Review World. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ Stafford, Jeff. "White Shadows in the South Seas". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ a b c Glancy, H Mark (1995). "Warner Bros Film Grosses, 1921-51: the William Schaefer ledger". Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television. 15.
  9. ^ a b "Biggest Money Pictures". Variety. June 21, 1932. p. 1.
  10. ^ a b "The All Time Best Sellers". International Motion Picture Almanac 1937-38. Quigley Publishing Company. p. 942. Retrieved 2018.
  11. ^ a b The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.

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