By Daniel Bukszpan
CNBC.com

On Friday, Sept. 24, 2011, the Brad Pitt movie "Moneyball" opened across the U.S. It had the misfortune of opening alongside the 3D re-release of "The Lion King," which easily and unsurprisingly became the highest grossing film of the weekend. "Moneyball" was right behind it, however, earning a respectable $21 million at the box office.

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Slideshow: Highest grossing sports movies

The movie is based on the 2003 book of the same name. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A's, whose job is to create the best possible team with a fraction of the money that other teams pay to recruit star players. Beane recruits players based on an analysis of their performance, as opposed to a general appraisal of their overall statistics. In the end, Beane builds a competitive team at a low cost.

"Moneyball" did well in part because it had what a lot of sports movies have -- the inspiring tale of an underdog who beats the odds. It's a simple formula, but when filmmakers get it right the result is often a story for the ages -- one that remains popular long after the movie leaves the theaters.

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CNBC.com collected the domestic gross box office of sports movies, using data from BoxOfficeMojo.com and adjusting the numbers for inflation. What are the highest grossing sports films of all time? Take a look.

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    5. Rocky II (1979)

    Domestic Gross: $85 million
    Adjusted for Inflation (2011): $266 million

    The original "Rocky" was hugely successful and won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1976. While the sequel didn't quite reach those same heights, it more than held its own, earning both positive reviews and more than $85 million at the box office -- a gold mine in 1979. This was enough to earn “Rocky II” the distinction of highest grossing sequel of all time, before "The Empire Strikes Back" took the title the following year.

See more top grossing sports movies.

Check out Sports Biz with Darren Rovell.

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