There is so much written about awards every year, especially the Oscars. But the fact of the matter is… movies are meant to be seen. Movies are meant to make money. Movies are meant to entertain around the world.
All that press on who is going to win Best Picture… and yet not enough is written about what is the biggest movie of the year. The one movie that makes more money around the world than any other. The one movie that sells more tickets than any other.
In 2013, that movie was Iron Man 3.
No matter what happens at the Golden Globes or the Oscars, the most successful movie of the year – when it comes to cash – was Marvel and Disney’s third Iron Man movie. Period. If you look at ticket buying around the world, it was basically seen as a sequel to last years biggest global hit, The Avengers. And it cements Marvel as the next huge brand in global ticket sales.
Take a look at the list of the number one movies – globally – from the past 25 years, and you see some trends. Some trends that are over, some on a downward slide, and still others that might point to what will be the most successful movies on the coming years:
2013 IRON MAN 3 - $1.22B
2012 MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS - $1.52B
2011 HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 - $1.34B
2010 TOY STORY 3 - $1.06B
2009 AVATAR - $2.77B
2008 THE DARK KNIGHT - $1.00B
2007 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END - $963M
2006 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST - $1.07B
2005 HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE - $897M
2004 SHREK 2 - $920M
2003 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING - $1.12B
2002 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS - $923M
2001 HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE - $975M
2000 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 - $546M
1999 STAR WARS: EPISODE I – THE PHANTOM MENACE - $984M
1998 ARMAGEDDON - $554M
1997 TITANIC - $2.13B
1996 INDEPENDENCE DAY - $817M
1995 DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE - $366M
1994 THE LION KING - $878M
1993 JURASSIC PARK - $984M
1992 ALADDIN - $504M
1991 TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY - $520M
1990 GHOST - $506M
1989 INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE - $474M
Superheroes are enormous.
There are no superhero movies on this list until 2008… and then The Dark Knight arrives. Of the past 6 years, 3 have been topped by superhero movies. In 2014, the hero movie to beat is Amazing Spider-Man 2. Globally, the first Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 was only 7th with $752m, but the sequel seems much more impressive, the global marketing will be enormous, and you would think there is going to be a Marvel “halo” that reaches beyond Avengers and Iron Man and could touch the web-slinger. That said, this year Spider-Man will face off against the third Hunger Games movie (this year’s movie has topped $800m globally) and the final Hobbit movie (this year’s will top $800m).
Warner Bros. needs the DC universe to become its new HARRY POTTER/LORD OF THE RINGS.
In 5 different years since 2001, Warner Bros studios topped the global box office thanks to 2 franchises: Harry Potter and The Lord of the RIngs. Actually, Hobbit has a decent shot to top 2014. But we’re years away from JK Rowling’s new potential franchise, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and seemingly The Hobbit/Rings films are going to end in 2014. DC then becomes Warner’s main franchise. Looking over the past 10 years, Warners just doesn’t have many other options. The Hangover franchise seems over. You can’t really build too much on Argo or Gravity. Deeper than that, we’re talking about Journey to the Center of the Earth or Clash of the Titans. Now maybe I’m greedy, but Warners… please use Batman vs. Superman to launch at least 2 DC movies a year. Please. You don’t have Bond, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Star Trek… etc. Get some balls. Where is James Marsden as Plastic Man? Matthew McConaughey as Green Arrow? Dwayne Johnson as Cyborg (I’m spit-balling here)?
Disney is brilliant.
About 4 years ago, Disney CEO Robert Iger announced that they were basically in the brand building business instead of the movie business. No more “small” movies. Only giant blockbusters. The main point: movies don’t exist to just sell tickets… movies exist to sell tickets, toys, video games, TV shows, theme parks and any other thing they can think of. Movies are just part – a key part – of a much larger, brand strategy. This Disneywide mandate has begun to work and is now quickly being copied by the other major studios. Just take a look at the global box office for this year. Out of the top 15 movies of the year, 5 of them (a full 1/3) are Disney movies. The next biggest studio is Warner Bros with 3. Now… look closer. The 5 Disney movies were Iron Man 3, Frozen, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Monsters University, and Thor: The Dark World. Warners had The Hobbit, Gravity, and Man of Steel. For Warners, only Man of Steel can be used to build a franchise. Conversely… ALL 5 Disney movies could spawn multiple sequels – on TV, video games, at theme parks, in theaters, etc. – for years to come.
James Cameron is a one man machine.
Basically, every decade or so James Cameron releases a movie and – wham – it’s the biggest global hit of the year. It’s the biggest global hit of all time. This one man has done it 3 times in the past 25 years, with 3 wildly different movies: Terminator 2, Titanic, and Avatar. Starting in 2016, however, Cameron should be in the hunt for biggest movie of the year for three straight years. Avatar 2, 3, and 4 are slated to arrive in December of 2016, 17, and 18.
2015 is the Year of the Blockbuster.
Whatever has been written about the potential size of the box office for 2015… it’s not enough. There are going to be new Avengers, Star Wars, and Bond movies. In the same year. There’s also going to be a Batman/Superman movie. There’s going to be new Jurassic Park, Terminator, and Mission: Impossible movies. There’s even going to be new Fast & Furious, Despicable Me, Hunger Games, and Bourne movies. Plus Ant-Man. Even if some of these movies end up getting pushed into 2016… 2015 is going to be the single biggest year in the history of motion pictures. No doubt. A Geektopia. A Geekpocalypse. The Geekmageddon.
Make no mistake… in 2015 the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth.