If there is one constant in Hollywood, it’s that money gets things done. So, if we want some idea where Hollywood is going in the future, we have to look at the highest grossing films of the past year. What secrets do they hold? What truths do they tell? Let’s find out.
1. 2012 was way better than 2011: I don’t know if it was a sign of a recovering economy, or a sign that people have been going to the movies as an escape from their financial woes, but the top ten films this year grossed over $753 million from the top ten of last year. Not only that, but the number one film last year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II would only rank fourth this year. For an industry that is constantly expressing fears of being wiped out by home video, on demand, and digital downloads, this year is a pretty good sign that people still love going to theaters to watch their movies.
2. Comic book films came up big this year: As I mentioned earlier, this was the first year that there were three comic book adaptations in the top ten. For The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, their success can be expected, as both were the culmination of years and years of films that led up to them. The Amazing Spider-Man was a reboot of a popular franchise that was last seen only five years ago, done by an incredibly popular director who left on less that spectacular terms. It was a bit of a surprise that it did so well at the box office. While it did cover much of the same ground, its approach was fresh enough that people came back to see it again and again. It proves that comic book films still hold concepts that are popular with audiences. With 12 films coming this year based on comic books, it will be interesting to see if there will be concepts popular enough in that batch so that there might be more than three comic book films in the top ten of 2013.
3. Out with the old (TWILIGHT), in with the new (THE HUNGER GAMES): When the Harry Potter became a success right from the gate, Hollywood practically went through the entire young adult book section at Barnes &Nobles in order to find the next big thing. They eventually found it in 2008 when Twilight came to the big screen. Now, the Harry Potter series wrapped up in 2011, and, baring any book sequels down the line, Breaking Dawn, Part II will be the last for Twilight. Luckily, The Hunger Games came in at just the right time, and will hold on to the young adult fiction audience for the foreseeable future.
4. James Bond is an incredibly spry 50: It’s typical for film franchises to peter out after their third installment. But to have your 23rd installment be your highest grossing on by over a 2-to-1 margin to the next closest contender? That’s unheard of! But that’s exactly what happened with Skyfall, which has already surpassed a billion dollars worldwide in grosses. Fate provided the perfect series of events. MGM’s financial difficulties delayed the film’s release until it coincided with the film franchises 50th anniversary. This delay also built anticipation for the film and let the producers use the time to work on the script until it became one of the best reviewed Bond flicks of all time as well. And the cast and concept, with two films to work out any bugs, finally hit its stride. And the result is that instead of a film franchise hardcore fans will be waiting for, you have a franchise where EVERYONE is waiting for the next installment. Five decades in and James Bond has now become a box office force to reckon with.
5. BRAVE and TED show that there is a place for originality at the box office: In a list full of prequels, sequels and reboots, it’s refreshing to see 20% of the list taken up by films that only followed the filmmakers’ imaginations. Granted, Brave was from Pixar and Ted by Seth McFarlane, both known commodities with strong fan bases that will go see whatever they put out, but it shows that while most of the time audiences will show up for things the know they will like, they are willing to try something new.
6. BRAVE and MADAGASCAR 3 (and others) show that animation is still a force to be reckoned with: With those two films in the top ten and films such as Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (11), Wreck-It-Ralph (13), Ice Age: Continental Drift (14) and Hotel Transylvania(16) in the top 20, it looks like studios will still turn to kid-friendly computer animated fare to fill their coffers. For one, it’s like selling 2-3 tickets and the same time (not a lot of parents are going to let their 7-year-old in a movie theater unattended). And these type of films are easily converted into 3D, which means higher ticket prices. And animated films such as these play well overseas. Ice Age: Continental Drift did so well worldwide that it clocks in at #4 in the worldwide top ten. And even Rise of the Guardians, which has a rather disappointing $95,387,00 domestic gross, made more than enough to in foreign grosses to cover its production budget, and its combined worldwide take is with in a stone’s throw of doubling that budget. So if your kid (or even you) love these animated features, expect them to be around for a while.