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Superheroes, Animation Rule 2008 Box Office

As ridiculous as the box office numbers were for The Dark Knight, the 2008 box office will produce fewer $100 million earners than we saw in 2007. Overall, the year will be very near the the total box office for 2007; going into the final few days of the calendar, receipts are just under $100 million lower than they were last year. There were fewer tickets sold and fewer movies released.

But does that make 2008 a failure? No, even though some movies performed spectacularly poorly. After all, the movie industry made $2 billion more this year than it did in 2000. And since 2002, only one year has been under $9 billion in U.S. ticket sales, and that was 2005. So when you look at the $9.6 billion in gross revenue produced this year, you certainly won't feel sorry for Hollywood.

Obviously, The Dark Knight was the story of the year. Only one other film has ever made over $460 million, and I personally think when you factor in the amount of competition this film faced and compare it to the five $50 million movies released in the six months after Titanic, the availability of illegal downloads, and the much faster turnaround to DVD in 2008 versus 1998, you can make the argument that this is the bigger achievement. The number ten film of the year, Horton Hears a Who!, earned just over $154 million between March and September, and The Dark Knight did that in three days.

Here are the ten highest-grossing films of 2008:

1 - The Dark Knight - $531 million
2 - Iron Man - $318 million
3 - Indiana Jones - $317 million
4 - Hancock - $227 million
5 - Wall-E - $223 million
6 - Kung Fu Panda - $215 million
7 - Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa - $175 million
8 - Twilight - $167 million
9 - Quantum of Solace - $164 million
10 - Horton Hears a Who!
- $154 million

What do you notice looking at that list? Superheroes are big business, and so are cartoons. Hancock, Wall-E and Horton are the only movies that aren't yet part of franchises, meaning despite what people say about sequels, they actually love them. Half of the top 20 are either sequels or adaptations of TV shows or stage plays, and at least 13 of the top 20 movies are franchised already. So for those of you who think Hollywood has no originality, please, argue with these numbers.

Twilight, Sex and the City, and Mamma Mia! are three of the year's biggest hits, but it's not just the grosses that put them in that category. Look at the budgets: All three movies were made for about $150 million. Of the others movies in the year's top 15, only Wanted was made for less than that amount. So, for no reason in particular, let's wrap the three female-friendly movies up as one feature film with a $150 million budget. That "movie", which more or less encompasses the year at the movies for women, made roughly $463 million.

The interesting thing about this trio of movies is Sex and the City is the least consequential of the three. Twilight will most likely be a billion dollar franchise when it's all said and done, and Mamma Mia! opened against the Batman movie and still managed to do unbelievable business in theaters across the U.S., all over the world, and now is breaking records on DVD.

Comic book adaptations and superhero movies were enormous this year, accounting for about one in every seven dollars spent at the box office. Obviously, having three of the top four films of 2008 falling into that category doesn't hurt.

But the news wasn't rosy across the board. Tomorrow, we'll go over some of the year's biggest flops.


Reader Comments (1)

"Comic book adaptations and superhero movies were enormous this year" yes the Nerds are rising...

Monday, December 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterOrinn

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