The film year is coming to an end and in a few weeks I’ll publish my list of the top 10 and bottom 10 films of the year. If you’re really keen, you can hear me speak about them on 612ABC with Spencer Howson this Thursday morning 6:50am. We’re still the highest rated breakfast show in Brisbane (note: shameless plug).
We’ve all got different opinions when it comes to movies and no two lists of favourites will ever be the same. Part of the fun of top 10 lists is that they generate debate and discussion.
This week, I thought I’d look back at which films were the big winners and losers at the box-office in the United States. This statistics are often a guide as to what the public felt about these movies as a whole. A film may be critically loved but if it doesn’t pull in dollars from the public, then it isn’t a good sign. Let’s get to it…
Toy Story 3
If you’re asked about the highest grossing film of 2010, then the answer is Toy Story 3. This franchise has been huge. The original Toy Story was the highest grossing film of 1995 and the sequel was the 3rd highest of 1999. It may have been more than 10 years since that last film but it didn’t stop the public turning up in masses. It finished with $415m for the year. If you want to take into account international ticket sales, it clocked it at just over $1 billion. Does anyone dare bet that they won’t make another one?
Alice In Wonderland
I didn’t think much of it but Alice In Wonderland was the second highest grossing film of the year with a take of $334m. It’s easily Tim Burton’s most successful movie. Also unusual is that the film came out back in March – traditionally a quiet time at the cinema. I’m sure a lot of people were attracted by the 3D (with all the hype post Avatar) which contributed to its additional ticket sales.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 was the highest grossing film for the year which wasn’t shot in 3D. That’s worth noting because the ticket prices aren’t as high. It opened the run of summer blockbusters and finished with a solid $312m. That’s just a dash under what the original took in back in 2008. It’s just more proof that Robert Downey Jr is as popular as ever.
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
I have to call this film a success based on the fact it grossed $300m. It showed a lot more stamina than I thought it would. Twilight: New Moon opened with a ridiculous $142m over the Thankgiving Day long weekend in 2009 but could only end up with $296m. Twilight: Eclipse opened with a much smaller $83m but managed to surpass the total of its predecessor. With the last book to be split into two films (Harry Potter style), this series is set to make a lot, lot, lot more money.
It’s my favourite film of the year so far and I’m glad to see post a healthy total of $292m given there were many people who didn’t like it. I’m sure it benefited from those who saw it multiple times in an attempt to try to understand it.
It had an odd premise but Despicable Me was perhaps the surprise animation success of the year. It cost just $69m and took in $249m. That’s not a bad return on investment. In comparison, Shrek 4 made $238m on a $150m budget and How To Train Your Dragon made $217m on a $165m budget.
The Karate Kid
I’m not often a fan of remakes but I really enjoyed this new version of The Karate Kid. It seems many others did as well. It finished with $176m at the box-office. With a rumoured budget of around $35-$40m, that’s an excellent result. Also impressive is that it doesn’t feature a big name star (with all due respect to Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith).
At a cost of around $20m, Jackass 3D has pulled in around $117m at the box-office. That’s pretty amazing when you consider their last film made just $18m.
We weren’t “treated” to it here in Brisbane but Jonah Hex (starring Josh Brolin, John Malkovich and Megan Fox) cost a reported $47m but could only manage a meagre $10m at the box-office. It’s even worse when you consider that it opened on 2,825 screens. I’d hate to see the per screen average.
Another film we missed here in Australia was Extraordinary Measures with Brendan Fraser and Harrison Ford. Both of these guys could use a hit but it certainly didn’t come from this flick. At a cost of just over $30m, it only pulled it $11m from the paying public. To make matters worse, both actors featured in other underperforming films. Furry Vengeance (with Fraser) and Morning Glory (with Ford) both failed to recover their costs within the United States.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Nicolas Cage. He can be so good (Leaving Las Vegas) and yet he can be so bad (Ghost Rider). This one fell into the later category. The budget was $150m and the take was a dismal $63m.
Television remakes don’t always work. The A-Team is proof of that. It cost a hefty $110m but it’s total local take was just $77m. The good news (since I didn’t like the film) is that there won’t be a sequel.
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
This also looks like being another one film series. The attraction of Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t enough to get bums on seats. At a ridiculous cost of $200m, it took in a meagre $90m.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
It pains me to include Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World on this list. It’s one of my top 10 films of the year but with a $60m budget and a gross in the United States of just $31m, I think I was in the minority with my love. Sad to see.
How did this film cost $150m to make? I have no idea but that’s what the Internet Movie Database is telling me. It had very few fans and the $61m box-office reflects that. Not a good one for Universal.
Australia’s leading actors struggled to find their feet in 2010. Robin Hood (starring Russell Crowe) could only pull in $105m on a budget of $200m. Just as poor was Mel Gibson in Edge Of Darkness (budget of $60m, gross of $43m). Perhaps Hugh Jackman did the right thing by laying low – he released no films in 2010.
Knight & Day
Once upon a time, if you put Tom Cruise in a movie, it was a guaranteed winner. It’s kind of like Will Smith and Robert Downey Jr are today. Times have changed however. Knight & Day made only $76m against a cost of $117m. Where will Mr Cruise go from here?
It’s worth pointing out that the profitability of some films can’t necessarily be judged from their box-office. It’s often a good indicator but there are some films which might do a little better than expected overseas or on video. Without a neat profit & loss statement sitting in front of me for each film, it’s hard to know for sure what return the investors got on their money.
I should also note that the above costs are usually for the film only – they don’t include marketing costs and studio overheads. When you look at the size of those budgets, it makes you realise just how expensive some films are.
All Rights Reserved. Matthew Toomey. 2012.