I was looking at The Numbers.com, and apparently some of the BO numbers have been revised, if you go by that, the top 3 pre-2009 ST movies are:
STFC: $150 million
STTMP $139 million
$STIV: $133 million
A STNG movie tops the BO. They also make more than the TOS movies overseas.
If you're looking at http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/series/StarTrek.php#
, those figures don't appear to be adjusted for inflation.
Comparisons of movies at different times is meaningless, if the figures aren't adjusted.
I of course realize those are not adjusted but absolute figures are what most people use to compare films. STFC still made the most in absolute dollars for any of the movies before ST09. ST09 and STTMP sold the most tickets. There are often inaccuracies with using the adjusted numbers based on what method used to adjust, and international sales were less accurate back in the 70s and 80s and figuring out the ticket prices is even more problematic.
I'm still trying to figure out why STTMP's original take of $175 million has been readjusted from almost every source I see to $139 million.
Using the Consumer Price Index, the inflation calculator on this site... http://www.westegg.com/inflation/
reveals 1979's $139,000,000
to be worth approx. $432,787,275
in 2012 money. Out of interest, according to Box Office Mojo, First Contact took $146,027,888
worldwide in 1996, which translates to $210,978,720
2012. I have no idea if this is the most accurate, or even an appropriate, method of comparing box office figures.