As of last Friday, Iron Man 3 has become the latest film to gross more than $1 billion at the worldwide box office. It has become only the 16th film in history to do so (at least, not adjusted for ticket price inflation), and did so in only 22 days. Now, Shane Black has become the most unlikely of candidates to have directed a billion-dollar flick.
It’s a club that’s becoming slightly less prestigious with every passing year. Foreign markets are becoming even bigger box office draws to the studios than the domestic one, and greater advertising pushes, bigger and more bloated sequels, and effects-heavy action (not to mention rising ticket prices) are leading to bigger and more top-heavy opening weekends. And it’s becoming more common: Four of these films (a full quarter of the list) were released in 2012.
Here are the 16 films that make up the Billion-Dollar Club, from the lowest- to highest-ranked on Flickchart:
Anne Hathaway is getting set to star alongside Matthew McConaughey in Christopher Nolan‘s upcoming super-secret sci-fi epic, Interstellar. Nolan is known for working with the same actors – though his desire to have McConaughey in the lead came as a surprise – and, of course, Hathaway, now an Oscar winner for Les Misérables, portrayed Catwoman in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Who knows which other Nolan regulars may crop up in this one? [Deadline]
Screen legend Robert Redford is in final negotiations to star in his first comic book movie. Redford is being cast as a high-ranking member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization in Captain America: Winter Soldier. [Heat Vision]
Christopher Nolan‘s long-time cinematographer, Wally Pfister, is set to make his directorial debut with Transcendence, a sci-fi film gearing up for a 2014 release. Nolan is already on board as an executive producer. From a screenplay by Jack Paglen, not much is yet known about the secretive project, beyond the basic plot: A scientist’s brain is uploaded into a supercomputer of his own creation after he is assassinated by anti-technology terrorists.
The movie is set to star Johnny Depp and Paul Bettany, and now The Town‘s Rebecca Hall has been added to the cast. Reportedly, Hall beat out the likes of Rooney Mara and Emily Blunt for the role. Nothing is yet specified about the three principal actors’ roles, but I’d wager on Depp being the scientist and Bettany leading the terrorists.
As a cinematographer, Pfister has shot all of Nolan’s movies since Memento, and has been nominated for a Best Cinematography Academy Award for four of them. He won the Oscar for his work on Inception, which is currently ranked #9 on Flickchart’s list of the best movies to have won the award.
Hall has previously worked with both Pfister and Nolan, having starred in The Prestige. She can next be seen on the big screen in Marvel’s Iron Man 3 in April, and in Closed Circuit, a thriller co-starring Eric Bana, in August.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has become the 15th film to cross $1 billion (not adjusted for inflation) in worldwide ticket sales.
The first chapter of Peter Jackson‘s new trilogy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien crossed this threshold thanks to a 10-day, $37.3 million opening in China. It is the second of Jackson’s films to do so, after The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King grossed over $1 billion after its release in 2003. This makes Jackson the third director to have helmed two billion-dollar movies, after James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.
Of the 15 billion-dollar films, only three – the top two, Cameron’s Avatar and Titanic, and Tim Burton‘s Alice in Wonderland - were not part of pre-existing franchises. The Hobbit is the fourth film released in 2012 to hit the milestone, after The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall.
It is interesting to note that The Hobbit‘s domestic take of $301.4 million is well below that of the three Lord of the Rings films, despite having the additional boost of IMAX and 3D ticket sales. It has done far better overseas; by contrast, Return of the King grossed only $10.4 million in China. No doubt controversy over the film’s 48 frames-per-second technology diluted ticket sales, but it has still certainly proven popular enough.
Word of The Hobbit‘s success is good news for New Line and Warner Bros. after the underwhelming and potentially disastrous $28 million opening of Jack the Giant Slayer, a film that reportedly cost north of $200 million, and might prove to be an even bigger train wreck than last year’s box office bomb, John Carter (which also opened in March).
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is currently ranked #8 among 2012 films on Flickchart.