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:
Jason Statham is one of the last true action stars in film. His movies tend to elicit the excitement and adrenaline-fueled rush that Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Norris were so good at creating back in the 80s. What would Statham’s Flickchart look like? Let’s have a look, shall we?
|Movie||Weekend $||Total $||Average $/Theater||Add to Flickchart|
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||$47.0 Mil||$261 Mil||$11,503|
|Horrible Bosses||$28.1 Mil||$28 Mil||$9,247|
|Zookeeper||$21 Mil||$21 Mil||$6,031|
|Cars 2||$15.2 Mil||$149 Mil||$3,812|
|Bad Teacher||$9 Mil||$79 Mil||$3,038|
|Larry Crowne||$6.2 Mil||$27 Mil||$2,105|
|Super 8||$4.8 Mil||$118 Mil||$2,105|
|Monte Carlo||$3.8 Mil||$16 Mil||$1,537|
|Green Lantern||$3.1 Mil||$110 Mil||$1,551|
|Mr. Popper’s Penguins||$2.9 Mil||$58 Mil||$1,428|
Source: Box Office Mojo
It can’t be worse. Can it? After the writer’s strike shortened the story plotting window for most summer blockbuster, Michael Bay‘s last crack at Robots in Disguise suffered the most. It may have looked more polished than his previous effort, but the lackluster story and dialogue brought down the flick significantly. Thankfully, the third film of the series salvages its predecessors.
Sam’s (Shia LaBeouf) life has changed considerably since we last saw him. Gone from his life are the days of college as well as his high-school sweetheart Mikaela. He has been thrust into one of the worst economies in recent memory – cue John Malkovich as the worst boss imaginable – and the thrill of running with the Autobots is also missing. Fortunately, he has the love of a good woman (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who is given exactly as much to do as Megan Fox was; nothing.) so all is well.
After the last battle between Autobots and Decepticons the world seems to be at relative peace. Optimus and co. are always keeping an eye on the figurative sea for lurking danger. The safety of Earth has always depended on mutual cooperation between the government and the Autobots. As it turns out our government has been keeping secrets and they could soon come back to haunt us. Despite what we have been lead to believe our first official contact with the Transformers was not in 2007. It was in 1969, after the first moon landing. The ship crash on the Moon was the last bit of supplies sent from Sentinel Prime to aid the losing Autobots on Cybertron. Not so coincidentally John F. Kennedy promises to put a man on the moon shortly thereafter. Optimus, now under the order of the U.S. Military is not pleased in the slightest. He, unlike the new head Mearing (Frances McDormand) knows what is in store for Earth, and it is far worse than anything Megatron could concoct.
Overall most of the original complaints against the franchise have never been quieted. Sam and his human counterparts have plenty to do, but they seldom manage to make the audience care whether they live or die. We came to see the robots fighting anything else is superfluous. To scripter Ehren Kruger’s credit the Jim Crow relics Skid and Mudflap are both missing in action. It is not explained but, frankly, I’m glad they’re dead.
Industrial Lights and Magic really outdid themselves this time. The carnage in Dark of the Moon is cranked up to eleven and Lucas’s effects house does not fail to live up to expectations. Residents of Chicago might be tempted to look outside of the theatre and make sure that the city is in fact still there. The last act of Transformers: Dark of the Moon is intense. And when the final battle plays out in all of its technical glory it almost makes it worth sitting through Sam’s irritating parents, John Turturro as the way over-the-top Agent Simmons, and Skid & Mudflap in all of their gold-tooth specter in the previous films. Almost. No final battle scene could ever make up for that.
How Does This Compare to Michael Bay’s Other Movies?
Is ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ Bay’s best Transformers flick? Yes, but only because the final battle scene goes all out in a way that only Michael Bay can. The sheer visceral thrill of watching a city torn apart as Earth’s last battle carries on makes up for the other rather disappointing domestic aspects of the film.
Ultimately, this is one of Bay’s better works and is behind only The Rock on his filmography. Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon ranks #495 out of #826 on my Flickchart.
There’s been a backlash against 3D lately, and studios are feeling the hurt. Films like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Green Lantern have sold more tickets in 2D than in 3D, with a big complaint among audience members being the dimness of the image being projected.
Paramount Pictures and Michael Bay have taken notice, and are taking measures to pump up the brightness for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. They are releasing a special mastered digital print that aims to deliver almost twice the brightness of standard 3D projection.
Interestingly, Paramount has also taken the step of telling theaters that they must show the digital print if the theater is equipped; 35mm Technicolor prints are unacceptable if the theater has digital available. And they are also insisting on a four-week minimum release for Dark of the Moon in digital. (That’s quite a tactic to squeeze Cars 2 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II out of 3D theaters.)
It sounds like Bay and his studio are insisting on the best possible exhibition of Transformers for audiences (much like James Cameron did with Avatar), but what does this really mean for the theaters themselves? In a lot of cases, the way theaters handle 3D has been hurting the format: The brighter projection of Dark of the Moon will mean that theaters burn through highly expensive projection bulbs a lot faster. (In past cases, theaters have been turning down the intensity of said bulbs, prolonging their life, but darkening the picture for audiences.)
It sounds like Paramount is telling the theaters to fork over the dough to give their audience the best possible experience, and squeeze out the competition in the process. Nice, in theory, for people who want to see Transformers 3, but this is quite a tactic for the follow-up to one of the most maligned movies of 2009.
And another question: Will they advertise the fact that some 3D theaters will offer a better picture quality than others when there is no price difference?