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:
Once again, James Cameron will pioneer new filmmaking technologies in one of his movies. As his sequels to Avatar promise to spend time deep in Pandora’s oceans, Cameron and his crew will now utilize their groundbreaking performance capture technology underwater, according to producer Jon Landau.
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.
Earlier this month, writers Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier were hired by Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures to pen the script for the next installment of the Terminator franchise. And though it has not been officially confirmed, former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has revealed that he will return to the franchise that spawned his most famous role.
The news came during a London press conference for Schwarzenegger’s new film, The Last Stand, which is currently in theaters. Schwarzenegger stated Terminator is on his slate of upcoming movies along with Triplets - a followup to his 1988 comedy with Danny DeVito, Twins - and a new Conan movie.
The previous film in the franchise, Terminator Salvation, focused on an adult John Connor portrayed by Christian Bale battling against the machines that had nearly wiped out humanity in the wake of Judgment Day. Schwarzenegger’s participation in that film was limited to having his face rotoscoped onto a different body builder’s frame. What his role will entail in the next film is uncertain. Termination Salvation was co-written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who also penned the screenplay for Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Both performed below expectations at the box office, and neither film was as well-received as the original The Terminator or Terminator 2: Judgment Day, both of which were co-written and directed by James Cameron.
What direction the story is taking for the fifth film is not yet known. Kalogridis co-wrote Martin Scorsese‘s Shutter Island and was a co-producer on Avatar for Cameron. Lussier co-wrote and directed Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine.
The Last Stand, Schwarzenegger’s first starring role in 10 years, is currently in theaters. Well-received critically, it is nonetheless underperforming at the box office. You can check out Flickchart’s review of the film here.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has returned in The Last Stand, a sort-of amped up, extra-violent version of Unstoppable. It’s not perfect, and starts off kind of slow, but once the film gets going it becomes the mindless fun you’d expect.