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:
Capital 8 Theaters in Jefferson City, Missouri is coming under fire this week for a publicity stunt it pulled for the premiere of Iron Man 3. To promote the film, several people were hired to dress in full tactical gear with fake weapons and storm the screening.
Several 911 calls were fielded by the local police office from theatergoers who panicked at the stunt. “We’re just getting into the car when I spotted a man in full assault gear, carrying what appeared to be a modified M-4 and 9 mm on his side,” one patron, an Army veteran, said.
“We received a series of 911 calls stating that a man dressed in all black and body armor and a rifle was walking into Capital 8 Theaters,” Capt. Doug Shoemaker of the Jefferson City police told the local news. “Everything was in place, it’s the opening night of a superhero movie, it’s somebody walking in all-dark clothes, everything pointed to bad things about to happen. There’s really no good that can come of this.”
Given the shootings that occurred at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, California last year, one has to wonder how anybody could possibly have thought this stunt would be a good idea. But the manager of Capital 8 Theaters, Bob Wilkins, defends the stunt, and claims it was planned months in advance.
“My job is to entertain people,” Wilkins told the press.
This stunt, of course, goes above and beyond projecting a movie and selling popcorn. Wilkins and his staff did have somebody in an Iron Man costume, but it would be far too easy to mistake supposed “S.H.I.E.L.D. agents” as something more sinister. Somebody’s taking his job too seriously… or not seriously enough.
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.
Before beginning part 3 of my year-in-review opus I’d like to acknowledge how truly great a year we’ve had this year in regards to movies. For as many films and performances that will be nominated for awards, there will be just as many that have a right to feel snubbed. There were so many quality indie, genre, and franchise films that even the stingiest of movie watchers could easily find one movie they really enjoyed. This year was so great that they didn’t even abide by the normal January-February as dumping grounds mentality, releasing movies like Haywire, The Grey, Chronicle, and Wanderlust, which are all vastly superior to the normal dreck that’s usually released at the beginning of the year. Even some of the more disappointing movies of the year were at least interesting to discuss, like Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises.
Some Romances Are Stronger Than the Bonds of Time
Safety Not Guaranteed received quite a bit of love as the indie darling of the year. So much so that I assumed it would end up being this year’s annual indie movie that makes my top 5. Turns out, I didn’t like it nearly as much as everyone else. A lot of that had to do with my expectations being way too high, but the movie is far from flawless. As much as I like Mark Duplass his character is essentially a male version of a manic pixie dream girl and serves the purpose of being an eccentric person whose love saves the main character, Aubrey Plaza, despite being completely unrealistic to real life relationships. Jake Johnson has his own clichés to fight against as the guy who is a jerk but is funny enough where the audience doesn’t hate him. Then they find out his jerkiness is based around his unhappiness so they start to love him and he goes through a predictable character arc. Despite my complaints I still think the movie is good, just not as good as every other person seems to think.
Looper was writer/director Rian Johnston’s third feature film which starred Hollywood’s newest big man on campus Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis, or was Bruce Willis an old Joseph Gordon-Levitt? Time travel being used as a way for mobsters to have people killed with no evidence left behind? Awesomely brilliant idea, especially by having Jeff Daniels as the guy who traveled back in time to run it. Having numerous people have slight telekinetic powers? A little jarring and way more unbelievable than the idea of time travel for some reason. There was also a romantic sub-plot with Emily Blunt which felt a little forced, but since JGL and Blunt are so good, they made it work. That’s how the movie feels as a whole, though. It definitely has its problems and plot holes, but overall it’s so original and well-made/acted that it’s easy to forgive them.
And the Winner Is: Looper - but speaking of time travel let’s go back in time a few decades ourselves.
Already easily the most successful movie in the 50-year-old James Bond franchise, Skyfall has become the film in the series to cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office, a feat the movie achieved on Sunday, a little over two months after its October 23 world premiere in London. Skyfall had its wide release on North America on November 9.
Skyfall has grossed $289.6 million domestically and $710.6 million internationally. This handily beats the previous franchise-best, its predecessor, Quantum of Solace, which topped out at $586 million worldwide. It is also the first movie ever to earn more than 100 million pounds in the U.K., even beating out the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avatar.
Skyfall is only the 14th movie in history to cross the $1 billion mark, and the third for 2012, along with The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Further proving its popularity with audiences, it is currently the third highest-ranked movie of 2012 on Flickchart, after its billion-dollar counterparts, and has supplanted Goldfinger as the highest-ranked Bond movie.