Welcome to my annual Box Office Year in Review column, where I look at the winners and losers of the year 2011.
I suppose we might as well get the Loser of the Year nominations out of the way first of all and say the whole 2011 box office gets that title. For the second year in a row, domestic box office revenues are down. Since the ticket prices were all jacked up due to increased 3D and IMAX, that means actual attendance was down even more. According to Box Office Mojo, domestic box office fell from approximately $10.5 billion in 2010 to an estimated $10.1 billion for 2011. That’s around $400 million -- the usual intake a top blockbuster movie would make in a year.
So if you measure the box office in blockbusters, the box office was down by one blockbuster. When you think about it, maybe that’s why revenues were down in 2011 – Hollywood simply failed to produce enough blockbuster movies.
In any event, a look at the top 10 grossing movies for the year gives you a stark view of the box office situation in 2011. The overwhelming majority of them were summer releases, which really says it all because the fall months were a complete washout as far as the box office was concerned.
Another interesting thing to note is that we are looking at an almost clean sweep of the top 10 by sequels and other such movies. If Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows continue to make money at their current pace, that would mean the only non-sequel movie left in the top 10 would be the Marvel superhero pic Thor.
So much for all the talk, then, by the movie fans about how fed up they are with sequels. This isn’t going to encourage Hollywood to try something else, with most of the top ten dominated by sequels.
In any event I am going to run down the top 10 finishers for 2011.
10. I’m going to pencil in Thor at number 10 for the year with a domestic gross of $181 million and a weekend haul of $65.7 million when it opened in May. The only way it drops out of the top ten is if Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked somehow catches it. Right now that release sits at $97 million, which is pretty far back, but it is still in theatres. I think Thor is safe in the top ten, but you never know.
9. I am going to pencil in Cars 2 in here at number 9. Its domestic gross was $191 million.
Cars 2, of course, is notable for being the very first Disney/Pixar flick in history to get spurned by the movie critics. Usually, Pixar movies are hailed as masterpieces; not this time. Maybe that’s the reason why Pixar’s top movie release of 2011 finished so far down the charts, for a change. In 2010, Pixar’s Toy Story 3 actually won the box office race for the entire year at $15 million. Maybe critics and word of mouth made a difference this time.
8. I am guessing Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows will end up in this spot for 2011 once all is said and done, but it could end up higher. It was up to $172 million as of Jan. 16 and is still in cinemas climbing the charts, so I expect it to finish somewhere in the Top Ten by the time it is all over.
7. Fast Five was the latest in the series of Fast and the Furious movies, and it was again a smash hit. It raked in $209 million domestically in 2011 following a late-April opening weekend of $86 million.
6. I am penciling in Mission:Impossible –Ghost Protocol for this spot, but it could end up higher than this. Let’s just say that I expect it to finish no worse than this spot.
It was up to $189 million as of Jan 16 and I expect it to continue to take in gobs of money before it is done. Interestingly, this was one of the few blockbuster releases in 2011 that wasn’t in 3D. They filmed their skyscraper action scenes specifically for IMAX instead.
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides raked in $241 million and opened at $90 million in late May.
4. The Hangover Part II opened at $85.9 million in May and ended up with $254.4 million for the year.
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 made $276 million in 2011 after a massive opening weekend of $138 million in November. It is also still in theatres making money. I expect Part 2, to be released in 2012, to also make a ton of money.
2. There is still no stopping director Michael Bay and the Transformers franchise, with the latest edition rolled out in 3D. Transformers: Dark of the Moon made $354 million in 2011 following a June opening weekend of $97.8 million.
1. Finally, the winner and champion for 2011 is Harry Potter, whose movie series goes out as it should: on top.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had the best opening day ever on July 15 at $92.1 million. It had the best domestic opening weekend of the year at $169 million and a total domestic gross of $381 million. Factor in the foreign grosses and it made $1,3 billion worldwide.
So those were the biggest hits of 2011. There were a few honorable mentions, like The Help, which finished just outside the top Ten at $169 million, as well as Bridesmaids, which also earned $169 million and was the sleeper hit of the year.
Now, I have to come up with a movie worthy of being the Box Office Disappointment of the Year. There were a few big name movies out there whose box office showing failed to match the hype – Cowboys and Aliens, and The Green Lantern both come to mind.
Big things were expected from both of them, and they both fell short of expectations. But with domestic grosses of $100 million and $116 million respectively you couldn’t really say they were all that disappointing, either. I am going to have to dig deep for the Disappointment of 2011 title this year.
After much reflection I decided the honors go to Anonymous, from famed end-of-world-movie schlockmeister Roland Emmerich (2012, The Day After Tomorrow). This movie, theorizing on whether Edward De Vare was the man who actually penned the works of William Shakespeare, asks the age-old question “was Shakespeare a fraud?”
The public answered back: “Who cares?!” It cost $30 million to make Anonymous, which has earned back a domestic grand total of $4.4 million. Ouch!!!
One reason I picked Anonymous for the dubious Disappointment of the Year honor was because it had exactlythe right title. People probably don’t even remember seeing the trailers or the ads for this flick, it was so “Anonymous”.
Come to think of it, another reason I picked this movie was because Emmerich made the infamous “2012”, about the end of the Mayan calendar and the prophesized end of the world. So it is the perfect movie to end this column on.
Enjoy the upcoming year at the movies, because it may be your last! (I hope not).