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A Look at The Biggest Box Office Stories from 1972-present (THABOS: The History of Amazing Box Office Stories) | 2016 p. 61 - Rogue Dory: Civil War in The Jungle Book of Zootopia

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@Brainbug @excel1 @YourMother the Edgelord @Webslinger @charlie Jatinder @Noctis @Plain Old Tele @DAJK This was by far the hardest to write for, because of three reasons. There was tons to talk about with some of these movies, with entire novels of research and information to discuss, though I do think I paced itself pretty well by discussing the most interesting materials. Another big one was just deciding what to write for the non-top 10 titles. I honestly felt there were about 8 or 9 or so really compelling stories that could be worth talking about, but I tried to limit it down to 4, and I think I chose some really good ones that really encapsulate what the year was all about, both in terms of interesting stories and legacy to the future of the industry.

 

The hardest one though was talking about The Dark Knight Rises. It was really tough for me to know how to tow the line between discussing the Aurora shootings in relation to the box office without seeming tasteless or disrespectful to the lives that were lost, but I feel like I did an okay enough job there.

 

Can't wait to write about 2013. I know that at least for Frozen, writing about that movie is going to be a doozy!

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The Avengers was the film that made me (albeit temporarily) a giant Marvel Fan and Fan of Supherhero Movies in general. I still rewatch it at least 3 times a year because it just is so god.damn.entertaining. What makes the movie and all good Marvel team-up movies is the interactions between these very likable, but also crazy characters. The dialogue is the strong point in The Avengers and ultimately i think it wasnt the big action scenes that sold this movie but the clever script and character writing.

 

After Endgame i personally stopped with Marvel and Superhero movies, i feel like its just too much. But oh boy, The Avengers is one of the prime examples of a perfect summer movie imo.

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THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - the most disappointing opening weekend ever (not for financial reason)

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I will unironically say that The Avengers is the most impactful and most important films of the past decade for several reasons.

 

Firstly, as mentioned, it opened the floodgates for what the MCU would become: the highest grossing film series of all time. While the movies ahead of it are very respectable box office successes, the success of The Avengers was insane, and really made the filmmakers behind the MCU more confident, showing them that audiences are interested and invested in these characters that they have to offer. Without this movie's success, films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel might not have ever been made.

 

Secondly, the impact that it had on other Hollywood movies was immense. Everyone else wanted a piece of that Avengers money, whether it was the failed Dark Universe, the Spider-Man Cinematic Universe which was dead and revived multiple times (remember all that Sinister Six setup in ASM2, or that rumored Aunt May movie?), and finally convinced WB to take a DC Universe seriously. The very way films were made to set up potentially infinite sequels and spinoffs, the idea of crossovers between vastly different characters, all of that was influenced by this movie. 

 

Lastly, I would say that The Avengers was the first of what I like to call the "hyper blockbusters" (basically the $200 million+ openers/$600 million+ DOM grossers). Beating DH2 by $40 million one year after it set the OW record was unthinkable. $623 million domestic and $1.5 billion worldwide were unthinkable. But the thing is that these unthinkable feats shaped the way we thought of box office and the limits of it. Remember how for years, we believed in the $70 million daily cap? To explain, The Avengers' first Saturday of just under $70 million was matched by Jurassic World and The Force Awakens, but never exceeded, and because of that, many people thought that $70 million was as high as a film could realistically gross in a single day (emphasis on realistic and not theoretical gross). For a film to shape our very idea of what the limits of box office are as a whole, I think is a very powerful thing. Even now we can look at The Avengers' box office run to predict how other hyper blockbusters will perform. 

 

For those reasons, as a film lover and box office enthusiast, that is why I think The Avengers is the most impactful and most important movie of the past decade.

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The most fun was tracking Titanic's historic run in 1997 on the old Time Inc. Pathfinder box-office forum. I believe I've mentioned it before. Happy to share those stories. 

 

Avatar, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Sixth Sense, Endgame, TFA were other great experiences (BOM  and BOT forums). But it was Titanic that was a ride for the ages.

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I remember thinking SKYFALL was going to explode for months. Just vibe from it from day 1 - the look, the marketing, the selection of Anton Chigurh, parachuting into the olympics with queen - knew it was going to blow up.

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The 2013 section is set to publish. And this one's gonna be a crazy one. This time, three, yes three, different movies will have their own dedicated section, because all three of them had such significant stories they deserved to have some all to their own. Basically, you guys are going to love what I have in store here.

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2013

 

Two bombs explode during the Boston Marathon, a meteor hits the Russian city Chelyabinsk, and India launches the Mars Orbiter Mission. Typhoon Haiyan becomes one of the fiercest tropical storms for the Philippines, Edward Snowden leaks information about the NSA, and Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi is deposed in a military coup d’etat. Vine and Google Glass were unveiled to the public, Apple released two new iPhones and the iOS 7, and Reese Witherspoon was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

 

The biggest story in music this year was Miley Cyrus, who shed her Disney Channel image completely through a complete revamp of her music and image, culminating in an infamous twerking performance at the MTV Movie Awards. The Super Bowl halftime show also saw a surprise reunion of Destiny’s Child. Gaming saw the Xbox One and Playstation 4 debut, the latter of which would go on to sell over 106 million units, making it the second highest-selling home video game console in history. 

 

Television finales included Fringe, 30 Rock, The Office, Futurama, Burn Notice, and Dexter, the latter of which was...not warmly received. Of course for premieres, the biggest headlines came from, of all places, Netflix. At first a DVD mail-in service, 2013 was the year the company pivoted hard into online streaming video. And sure enough, this led to the creation of exclusive Netflix shows produced by Netflix themselves that audiences couldn’t find anywhere else. Shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and the revival of the cult comedy Arrested Development all released in 2013 to massive headlines and critical praise, earning the company numerous accolades and massive subscriber boosts. This not only was the beginning of the end for live broadcast and cable television, but would encourage major studios to invest in their own subscription video on demand services to make extra money. But that’s a story for another day. Other premieres included Vikings, Bates Motel, Orphan Black, Hannibal, Ray Donovan, Drunk History, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Blacklist, Steven Universe, Rick and Morty, and PAW Patrol.

 

The box office was full of major stories this year. The summer box office hit an all-time high, while Jurassic Park was re-released in 3D, thus crossing the billion-dollar mark 20 years later. And while only two other films hit a billion worldwide, three films crossed $400 million domestically, a record for North America.

 

And while only reaching #5 worldwide, the domestic victor was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. After Katniss and Peeta become the first two people to win The Hunger Games simultaneously, Katniss notices a sense of rebellion across all the 12 districts against the oppressive and dangerous Capitol. This does not make President Snow happy, and thus Katniss and Peeta are forced to compete once again in the 75th Hunger Games against all the previous victors. And through some alliances, as well as the public airings of the games, Katniss makes sure her rebellious spirit is broadcast loud and clear.

 

A sequel to The Hunger Games was a no-brainer, with Lionsgate announcing an adaptation of the second novel, Catching Fire, to be released in November 2013 with filming in September 2012. The plan was for the film to finish filming just in time for Jennifer Lawrence to film X-Men: Days of Future Past in January 2013. In April 2012, Gary Ross, the director of the first film, dropped out of the project due to the tight schedule crunch, resulting in a massive shortlist of directors to take up the mantle. Bennett Miller, J. A. Bayona, and Joe Cornish were all in talks, but I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence was announced next month. It was also announced next month that Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine writer Michael Arndt would rewrite the screenplay, written by Simon Beaufoy.

 

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While the plan was for Catching Fire to wrap up production in December 2012, the departure of Matthew Vaughn from Days of Future Past meant a delay in filming for the X-Men title. And thus, Lionsgate allowed Francis Lawrence extra filming, with the last set of reshoots ending in April 2013. For Jennifer Lawrence, she dyed her hair brown yet again for the part and went back to archery training to get in shape for all the action scenes in tow. And for the other Lawrence, Francis wanted to make this sequel bigger than ever, with a huge emphasis on scope, scale, and intrigue. And a big factor was an emphasis on IMAX. For the last hour or so of the movie, all the Arena scenes were filmed with IMAX cameras. This was a huge selling point as an event film in the format and showed that Catching Fire wasn’t just gonna be another sequel. It was going to be a huge sequel that will take the series to even greater heights.

 

Lionsgate knew they had to push this film hard, with the first teaser trailer releasing one year before its release in front of Breaking Dawn Part 2. A sweepstakes competition was also made where fans could have their name in the credits, while the first look of Katniss was unveiled on Entertainment Weekly in January 2013. Trailers and stills continued to drop in the months to come, tying into events like the MTV Movie Awards, San Diego Comic-Con, and the World Series. Lionsgate had a top-tier franchise for the first time ever, and they were going to do everything in power to keep it that way. And sure enough, with the massive success of the first movie, as well as the book series becoming more and more popular every month, Lionsgate would see the fruits of their labor pay off.

 

Opening on November 22, Catching Fire was practically destined to be the biggest hit for the holiday season. And sure enough, the odds were in Katniss’ favor with a grand opening weekend of $158.1 million. So many records were made on that fateful weekend. Not only did Catching Fire eke out the first movie’s opening, a rarity for breakout smash hits like The Hunger Games, it earned the third-biggest 2D opening of all time, the biggest non-summer and November opening of all time, eking out New Moon’s opening, and the sixth-biggest opening weekend in history.

 

On its second weekend, the long Thanksgiving break, Catching Fire managed to drop 53%, an incredible feat when you compare it to the drops of the Twilight and Potter sequels before it, resulting in $74.2 million for the 3-day. Along with a 5-Day of $109.9 million, this gave Catching Fire the biggest Thanksgiving weekend of all time, beating Philosopher's Stone's 12-year record. Its first 10 days, $296.3 million, made it the third-biggest 10-day haul ever. And sure enough, despite competition from The Hobbit, Catching Fire continued to bring in audiences well into 2014. And when the dust finally settled, the unthinkable happened. Somehow, Catching Fire increased from its predecessor domestically with $424.7 million. Worldwide pulled out $865 million.

 

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In a way, Catching Fire’s opening is a true anomaly when it comes to the patterns these types of sequels get. The Hunger Games broke countless records, so it would have made sense for Catching Fire to come down to Earth. Still a hit to be sure, but nowhere near the frenzy or phenomenon of the original. But this became the very first sequel to a $400 million hit to do the impossible and increase from a film that already overperformed every metric. Through an inventive premise, critical praise, Jennifer Lawrence’s massive starpower, and marketing that promised viewers they would get what they loved from the last movie, while also adding in plenty of new elements to spice things up, it got everybody excited to see the sequel here. And with it being such an exciting and well-made feature, far superior to the first film in fact, everybody kept on coming back.

 

And along with Frozen and Gravity, Catching Fire, and The Hunger Games movie series as whole, is perhaps most notable for making Hollywood realize there was value in having women be your star. Catching Fire was the first solo female-led film to hit #1 domestically since The Exorcist. And while obviously women-led films were hits beforehand, very few hit the box office milestones this one did. Very few made the kinds of shockwaves in the industry that this one did.

 

And with this being a sci-fi tentpole, the typical domain for men, it showed that women were interested in these kinds of big-budget sci-fi/fantasy vehicles and that men are interested in a film that focuses on a woman in these kinds of movies. The Hunger Games was the stepping stone for countless other female leads in current blockbusters. Without The Hunger Games, we probably wouldn’t have gotten Rey. Without The Hunger Games, Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel probably would have lingered in development hell. It’s through The Hunger Games we got the movies we have today, and it’s very much something to celebrate here.

 

We all joke about the lack of cultural impact the series has today, but that doesn’t mean Catching Fire didn’t shape a lot of the industry. And we’re all better off for it.

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Second place on both accounts was the first real sense of Avengers goodwill with the release of Iron Man 3. After saving New York in The Avengers, Tony Stark finds his mental health on the fritz. And at the same time, a terrorist organization led by the mysterious Mandarin is set to attack the United States. Tony then finds himself on an odyssey where he tries to get back on his feet, and earn retribution.

 

As I said with The Avengers, Iron Man 3 was another victim of a confusing custody battle between Paramount, the studio contractually obligated to release the title, and Disney, the company that just bought Marvel Studios during the film’s development. The arguments were long, with no real compromise being made for a while. But in October 2010, Disney agreed to pay Paramount $115 million to earn worldwide distribution for the film, set for a May 2013 release.

 

Jon Favreau, the director of the first two Iron Man movies, declined to direct this film, as he was set to work on a Disney film titled Magic Kingdom that sadly never got off the ground. So in 2010, Robert Downey Jr. reached out to Shane Black, who directed the Downey hit Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Sure enough, final negotiations were made with Black to write and direct Iron Man 3 in February 2011, with Drew Pearce set as co-writer. Downey explained, “Bringing in Shane Black to write and direct Iron Man 3 to me is basically the only transition from Favreau to a 'next thing' that Favreau and the audience and Marvel and I could ever actually sign off on."

 

One of the most important things to Black was an emphasis on realism. Instead of being a two men in iron suits duking it out, Iron Man 3 would play out like a Tom Clancy thriller, with real-world terrorism as a backdrop. The magic and space elements found in The Avengers were ignored entirely, as Black and Pearce wanted the action to feel believable and down-to-earth, at least as much as you could with a film about a flying metal man. The first two acts remained character-centric like the previous films, but with the hectic and frenetic energy Shane Black was famous for. Meanwhile, the third act of the piece delivered nothing but over-the-top action to help make the finale seem larger than life and, according to Pearce, “giving a sense of opera”.

 

The initial draft went through a lot of heavy rewrites to the unfortunate sexism of Marvel Entertainment President Ike Perlmutter. Initially, the character of Maya Hansen, played by Rebecca Hall, was set to be revealed to be the leader of the terrorist organization. The Mandarin was later introduced in a draft as a way to set up a bait-and-switch. Drew Pearce suggested to Black that Mandarin should be a fake, an over-the-top British actor that served as a coverup. And while the Mandarin idea did stay, Hansen was not the big bad guy. Rather, the villain was Aldrich Killian, played by Guy Pearce. No relation to Drew. Reportedly, Marvel executives, including Perlmutter, were concerned that having Rebecca Hall as the bad guy would harm merchandise sales. Many of the other female characters in the film also had diminished roles at the behest of Marvel...2013 was a horrible time to be alive.

 

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Iron Man 3 came out around the same time China was beginning their exponential box office growth, and studios were very excited to exploit that audience for all its worth. Not only did Iron Man 3 feature Chinese actor Wang Xueqi, there was an extended cut of Iron Man 3 specifically made for Chinese audiences. The cut was four minutes longer, featuring an extended scene featuring Xueqi, as well as an appearance of fellow Chinese actress Fan Bingbing, who only appears in the Chinese cut. Product placement for several Chinese products was also in this version. Gotta love that corporate pandering!

 

Speaking of corporate capitalist garbage, one of the biggest complications heading towards the release of Iron Man 3 in the US had to do with contract disputes with the major theater chains. With Iron Man 3 tracking to do amazing business, thanks to a killer ad campaign and becoming the first MCU title since The Avengers, Disney wanted a bit more of the money split between them and the exhibitors when it came to ticket sales. This led to presales being put on hold two weeks before its US premiere at all Carmike, Regal, AMC, and Cinemark locations, with Regal removing all promotional material of the film at their locations. But thankfully, on April 25, all parties ended their disputes and presales continued.

 

And sure enough, Disney knew what they were doing here. Including Thursday previews, Iron Man 3’s opening Friday amounted to $68.9 million, which made it the eighth-biggest opening day ever. It certainly set the film up to do great box office numbers, and it was a lock for the film to reach the top 10 biggest opening weekends ever. Possibly even the top 5. But then Saturday hit. With a huge Friday number, as well as this being a threequel, it would be easy to say that the film would see a bit of a decline with a more fan-driven, frontloaded performance. However, Iron Man 3 managed to do the incredible and drop only 10% on Saturday for $62.3 million. That’s a smaller percentage than The Avengers’ 14% Saturday decline! Sure enough, Iron Man 3 would open with $174.1 million, making it the second-biggest opening weekend in history, only behind The Avengers.

 

If The Avengers proved that Marvel and Papa Feige wanted to be dominant in the conversation, Iron Man 3 showed they were victorious and that their crazy universe idea was here to stay for a few more years. And sure enough, thanks to some positive reviews, though backlash towards the Mandarin twist, Iron Man 3 continued to rake in the dough, finishing with $409 million domestically and $1.21 billion worldwide. China represented $124 million, the biggest Hollywood title in the region that year. All told, Iron Man 3 became the highest-grossing Iron Man title and the fifth-biggest film of all time worldwide. Deadline has estimated the film earned a net profit of $391.8 million.

 

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While Iron Man was always a popular franchise, it really does showcase how powerful The Avengers was. Not just as a hit movie, but as a marketing tool for future Marvel titles. The Avengers introduced even more viewers to Tony Stark, and the film was so fun and exciting it kept audiences hooked to these characters. It’s very hard to pull that off, as you can see with all the other shared universe attempts. You can’t just expect a popular movie to sustain spin-offs or other films in the same universe and keep those invested. But it’s through The Avengers that people got excited over Marvel, made them watch the old ones, and got Iron Man 3 to finish nearly double what Iron Man 2 grossed in 2010. An Iron Man 4 was rumored for a while, but nothing went far in development, and with Tony Stark no longer with us...yeah, it’s not happening. Though this was far from the last we would see of Mr. Stark.

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We now come to third place, but the #1 movie worldwide. And in many ways, despite only being in third place in the one race that matters (don’t @ me), this would become one of the most important movies of the decade. You could even make a compelling argument that it’s the greatest, most notable success story of the 2010s. Let’s talk about Disney Animation’s Frozen. In the kingdom of Arendelle, there lives two princesses. One princess, Elsa, has the power to control and create ice and snow. But due to a mishap while playing with her sister Anna, Elsa finds herself forced to hide herself and her incredible powers to the rest of the world, so as to make sure her sister is safe and she is not outcast by the kingdom’s denizens. But upon Elsa’s coronation as Queen, a celebration that allows the castle gates to be open to the public again, Elsa’s secret is revealed and through her anxieties and fears, she accidentally puts Arendelle into a permanent winter and runs away from the rest of the world. And thus, Anna, with the help of a rugged woodsman and a talking snowman, must find Elsa and find a way to reverse the curse and save summer.

 

The origins of Frozen go pretty far back in the history of The Walt Disney Company. All the way to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in fact. After Walt Disney finished up production on Snow White, the next logical question was simple: what’s next? And sure enough, Disney began negotiating with producer Samuel Goldwyn over a co-production of a biopic based on the life of author and poet Hans Christian Andersen. Goldwyn’s production studio would shoot the live-action segments, while Walt’s animation studio did animated segments based on Andersen’s many acclaimed works, including The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, The Little Matchgirl, and The Snow Queen, among others. That last one was a tricky challenge for Disney, as the character of the Snow Queen was difficult to adapt to the tastes of modern audiences. But when Disney was forced to make wartime propaganda for the US government, the plans fell through entirely, though Goldwyn still released a HCA biopic in 1952 with Danny Kaye as Andersen and earned six Academy Award nominations in the process.

 

It wasn’t until the late 90s, fresh off the Disney Renaissance, that the studio went back to the idea of a Snow Queen adaptation. But despite pitches from the likes of Glen Keane and Harvey Fierstein, every idea for the project was turned down with the movie completely scrapped in 2002. Michael Eisner then tried to get Pixar head John Lassetter on board on the heels of a planned contract renewal with the Emeryville studio. That fell apart once again, and the project laid dormant.

 

And then, Eisner left and Bob Iger took charge, acquiring Pixar and making Lasseter the chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios. And with a love for the pre-production art of the previous Snow Queen adaptations, Lasseter convinced Tarzan director Chris Buck to come back to Disney after directing the Sony Animation title Surf’s Up. When Buck pitched a Snow Queen movie, Lasseter’s eyes lit up and production began for a traditionally animated title called Anna and the Snow Queen.

 

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But once again, trouble came in making the Snow Queen, the antagonist of the piece, into an interesting threat and create a compelling story around her. And with the underperformance of Princess and the Frog, Anna and the Snow Queen went back into development hell yet again. But in December 2011, fresh off the success of Tangled, Disney announced the project is coming back, was re-named Frozen, and set for release in November 2013 as a CGI feature. Chris Buck stayed on as director, but another key player joined the writing room in March 2012. Wreck-It Ralph screenwriter Jennifer Lee joined the project. Lee was in many ways the important linchpin in the film we now have. 

 

Some key concepts were already there before she joined the film. Anna being a younger sister to Elsa, the snow queen, was an early decision made when the project kickstarted in 2011. To Buck, this served as an easy way to give stakes and connect the hero and villain together. The hook of a “frozen heart”, where Anna ends up saving Elsa, was also a guarantee. But a lot of shifts and changes were made by Lee to make the film more exciting and interesting. Lee decided to make Prince Hans a surprise villain at the end to help give a compelling reason for Anna to end up with the woodsman Kristoff, as well as fix the “frozen heart” problem. Lee used adventure epics like Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia as an influence for the scope and scale of the movie. Both Anna and the snowman sidekick Olaf went through several rewrites to make them not be as annoying as they were in earlier drafts.

 

But as we all know, the biggest breakthrough came from one certain song that just so happened to sweep the nation. The husband-and-wife songwriting team Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, best known at the time for the acclaimed musical The Book of Mormon, were no strangers to Disney. In 2007, they wrote the songs for the Disney World stage show Finding Nemo - The Musical (yes that’s a thing), and in 2011 wrote the music for Winnie the Pooh. So it was no surprise that Disney would have the Lopezes work on this movie. And as the duo were given the movie, they started to divert from the original plans Buck and Lee and Disney had in mind.

 

The Lopezes didn’t see Elsa as a bad guy like the producers did. They saw a scared, confused, vulnerable woman trying to understand and appreciate the incredible gift she has. While Bobby and Kristen were walking in the park, they began to think to themselves what it would be like to be Elsa. Not the character in the story, but Elsa the person. What it feels like to be who she is, keeping something as beautiful as her powers hidden away for so long. The idea that she is alone and free upon creating her own ice age and leaving the world behind. And at the same time, feeling so alone. And this led to the very catchy earworm we all know as “Let it Go”.

 

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Buck and Lee loved the song. It was so well-written, so powerful, and with Idina Menzel cast as Elsa, this had the chops to be one all-timer of a performance. A "Part of Your World" for the new generation. And because both of them knew they had to make this song be built up to be as well as the song itself, Elsa, and the entire first act for that matter got a total rewrite. Jennifer Lee would go on to rewrite the entire film, turning Elsa into a protagonist and changing the motivations and dynamics of both Anna and Elsa. Elsa is a woman who shuts herself away from the world and Anna is a woman who is too extroverted for her own good.

 

During development, the animation process went through some developmental breakthroughs. Disney wanted to make sure the snow and its interactions with the characters were as believable and organic as possible. Several Disney animators visit Wyoming to study the physics of walking snow, and Caltech professor Kenneth Libbrecht was brought on to teach the animators the science of snow and ice. Several programs were created to help make the process easier for the animators, with Matterhorn being the most-used program. Matterhorn depicted realistic snow in a virtual environment and maintained the sticky quality found in snow. It was used in 43 different scenes in the film. Other tools were used to help in the design of Olaf, the movement of twigs and leaves, and the hair of characters like Anna and Elsa.

 

Going back to the story process, Jennifer Lee’s heavy contributions to the film’s development prompted Lasseter and fellow studio head Ed Catmull to promote Lee as director for the film in August 2012, which made Jennifer Lee the first woman to direct a film for Walt Disney Animation Studios. And Lee’s contributions to the screenplay continued well after her promotion. While the crew felt the story was done and ready in November 2012, according to producer Peter Del Vecho, the team realized the film wasn’t working in February 2013. So through February to June, five months before the film’s release, the film went through even more rewrites. Songs were rewritten, characters were removed, plot points were shifted. It reportedly wasn’t until the song “For the First Time in Forever” was added into the piece in June that the film finally satisfied everybody.

 

Also that June, Disney put out two different test screenings for Frozen in Phoenix, Arizona. One for families, the other for adults. A lot was riding on these screenings for the then incomplete project. Jennifer Lee and the rest of the story team put in a lot of work to make this film as good as it should be, and these test audience reactions would be an important factor as to whether this movie would land when it released later in the year. As it turns out, both audiences loved it. Really loved it. The reaction was so positive, both Lasseter and Catmull congratulated Lee for her work, and positioned the movie to be a hit when it released that November.

 

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Before the film was released, box office experts believed Frozen would be successful. Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph were some of the biggest hits from Disney Animation in years, and there were literally no other kid-friendly titles releasing that holiday season. But with a lack of a strong male figure like Ralph or Flynn to attract boys, as well as an average marketing campaign that avoided any showcase of the sister dynamic or the catchy songs, the elements the film was known for, it was predicted the film would gross about $170-185 million or so. That all changed, upon its wide release on November 27.

 

Its opening Wednesday, after an initial first 5 days at the El Capitan Theater, set the scene for a very impressive holiday weekend. Its $15.2 million Wednesday was the biggest Thanksgiving opening Wednesday, beating Tangled’s previous accomplishment. By this point, the first batch of audience members saw the title and word began to spread about its quality. Not only was the film earning rave reviews, with some citing it to be the best Disney animated title since The Lion King, people saw several elements that made it unique from the other Disney Princess titles. Its characters, its music, its storyline. All of which seemed to captivate that initial audience. And sure enough, Frozen would see $67.4 million over the three-day and $93.6 million over the five-day. This made it the biggest Thanksgiving opening for a movie on both accounts, beating Toy Story 2’s then 14-year long record, as well as making it the second-biggest Thanksgiving weekend of all time, only behind Catching Fire the same weekend, as well as the second-biggest opening for a movie that did not open at #1. With strong reception and healthy initial sales, it was easy to say Frozen would hit at least $250 million. Maybe even $300 million with the lack of competition.

 

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But after that weekend, buzz went through the roof. The hidden depth that wasn’t mentioned at all in the marketing as well as a catchy song made people more invested to check this film out. And almost overnight, despite Catching Fire’s objectively amazing box office, it was actually Frozen that would become the talk of the town. On the weekend after Thanksgiving, when heavy drops happen across the board, Frozen managed to see only a 53% fall, resulting in $31.6 million for that weekend. Not only did this mean Frozen became #1 in its second weekend, it also meant it earned the biggest post-Thanksgiving weekend in history. Breaking $30 million on one of the slowest weekends of the year is an unheard of feat, and showed people were excited to check this film out.

 

Weekend three, with The Desolation of Smaug taking up a lot of theater space, Frozen was undeterred by the competition. Dropping only 29%, Frozen saw a $22.6 million haul and a current total of $164.8 million. It was well ahead of what Tangled did in 2013, 43% ahead in fact. The gap rose even further on weekend four, with $19.2 million, a 15% decline. And then, the fifth weekend, Christmas weekend to be exact, rolled around. And things got crazy. While still at second place, Frozen leaped over 45% for an opening weekend of $28.6 million. By that point, Frozen was well above Tangled, with about $248.1 million in the bank. This made $300 million a certainty, with a chance at possibly even getting to $400 million. The sky was the limit for this movie going into the new year, and it was there when things really got crazy.

 

On weekend 6, Frozen actually returned to the #1 slot, dropping only 31% despite the holidays being over. And through January, February, and March, nothing stopped it from having record holds. To put it into perspective, when The Lego Movie, another animated title, earned almost $70 million, Frozen only dropped 10% upon its arrival. Frozen was in the top 5 for 11 weeks, and in the top 10 for 16 weeks, only leaving when it landed on Blu-Ray and DVD. And when the dust finally settled, Frozen earned $400.7 million, 4.3 times its 5-day opening.

 

And this was just domestically. Overseas was just as crazy. It saw the biggest opening for a Disney animated title in Russia and it became the second-largest foreign film in South Korea. But Japan was the real story here. Opening to $9.73 million in the region, the film exploded in popularity there, helped by the already strong popularity of Disney films in the region, as well as catching on with teenage girls. It saw increases in its weekend gross over the next three weekends, stayed number one in the Japanese box office for 16 weeks, and saw admissions of nearly 18.7 million, with both the original and Japanese dubs becoming sensations. This resulted in Frozen grossing $247.6 million, becoming the third-biggest film of all time and the second-biggest foreign film, only behind Titanic. Along with impressive box office in every other region, Frozen earned $880 million overseas, resulting in an incredible $1.28 billion worldwide. This made Frozen the eighteenth film to hit $1 billion, the fifth-highest grossing film of all time, and the highest grossing animated movie in history.

 

And that was just the beginning. With such record-breaking numbers and incredible holds, Frozen became a phenomenon unlike any other. And in just a few short months, Frozen didn’t just become a Disney franchise, but the Disney franchise. Things already seemed like they were going in a crazy direction when there reports of merchandise shortages during the film’s release. "Let it Go" was also becoming a smash on the Billboard charts, becoming the first Disney tune since "Colors of the Wind" to reach the top 10, and becoming the ninth best-selling song of 2014. And as the months went on, people started to notice that kids were really getting into the music. It seemed like kids knew every line by heart and would sing any of the songs at a moment’s notice. They became obsessive of Anna and Elsa in a way that was never seen before by any other Disney character. Wait times for the characters at the parks were exceeding four hours. Elsa was even becoming a popular baby name after the film came out.

 

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And sure enough, Frozen became a merchandising bonanza, with demand for Frozen products arriving just about everywhere. Shortages continued well into 2014, with reports that Disney sold $1 billion worth of Frozen merch in 2014 in the United States alone, including over three million Elsa costumes. Over eight million Frozen-themed books have been sold since 2014. There was a time when Frozen toys were a hotter commodity with girls than Barbie dolls. Home media sales were also incredible, with it selling 3.2 million units in the first day, as well as setting records in digital downloads. It earned over $308 million in home media sales altogether, with an estimated 7.5 million Blu-Ray copies sold, making it the most successful Blu-Ray in history. Deadline has estimated the film turned a profit of $400 million since March 2014, with it soaring even higher in the years to come.

 

And that’s just with toys. It appeared just about everywhere in the theme parks, with rides, stage shows, parades, and even an entire land set to be built in both Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. Disney on Ice shows based on Frozen also popped up, and a Broadway adaptation of the film went into development in 2014 and premiered in 2018. In fall 2014, the ABC series Once Upon a Time released an entire story arc based on the movie Frozen, which saw the show get a huge boost in both ratings and popularity. In 2015, a short film titled Frozen Fever was released and played during screenings of the Branagh Cinderella movie. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a holiday special intended to go to television, also saw a theatrical play, airing before Pixar hit Coco, albeit to massive backlash.

 

And since then, Frozen has not lost any steam with kids or adults, with a recent short titled Once Upon a Snowman recently debuting on Disney+. In just a few short months, Frozen went from being a hit animated title to becoming one of Disney’s top 5 franchises. And as Frozen II proves, which we’ll talk about when I eventually reach 2019, this is a property that won’t go away anytime soon. But of course, that leads to one crucial question: why? Why did this film, of all the Disney animated titles, become so lucrative? Why did this become so beloved to a young generation? Why did this become bigger than Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King?

 

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There’s a lot of different reasons you can point to, with a big one being the song selection and the popularity of Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, but if I can explain it to the best of my ability, Frozen did so well because it both encapsulated everything people love about Disney while also serving as an evolution to the Disney formula. Frozen has just about all the characteristics and charm of the Disney animated tales of old. The artistry of Cinderella, the creativity of Snow White, the spirit of The Little Mermaid, and the characterization of Beauty and the Beast are all present here. And in many ways, Frozen, albeit somewhat obnoxiously, proclaims that it isn’t anything like the other animated fairy tales Disney put out. Elsa could have been written as a villain, and almost was in fact, but she wasn’t. A movie about sisters is still rare in animation. The heroic act of true love wasn’t from a handsome prince, but an act of sisterly love. There are several instances where the movie critiques the idea of a woman marrying a man they just met. It felt so distinct and fresh, as if Disney was evolving their formula and fitting in with modern sensibility. 

 

This combination of nostalgia and evolution was nothing new for Disney. Films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast adapted the classic Disney formula to modern sensibilities. And direct spoofing of the formula can be traced back to 2007’s Enchanted. But Frozen was the one that truly perfected that mantra, allowing for something that truly felt modern and distinct, while also not shying away from what people like about Disney movies in the first place. And through it all, Frozen would become the definitive animated franchise, with its tropes, ideas, and subversions continuing to play a part in almost all Walt Disney Animation Studios projects for years to come. And while there are plenty of success stories over at Disney within the entire decade, I think it’s fair to say Frozen is the biggest crowning achievement of them all.

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Just below Frozen on the domestic charts is another animated hit with Despicable Me 2. Gru has abandoned his villainous ways, focusing instead on raising his adopted daughters. But one day, an agent for the organization Anti-Villain League named Lucy Wilde comes to Gru’s doorstep. A dangerous villain named El Macho is on the scene, and only another supervillain can stop him. And so, Gru finds himself on a journey full of action, mayhem, and Minion fun.

 

A sequel to Despicable Me was announced almost immediately after the success of the first movie, with Illumination CEO Chris Meledandri planning to take this sequel and bring his animation studio to the next level. At Illumination Mac Guff, the French-based animation studio, the first movie only had 100 artists working on the title. For the sequel, Meledandri expanded the team to 400 to 650 artists and pushed for more ambitious special effects. So much so, certain elements like water and jelly proved to be so technically challenging to the animators and their tech that some of their drives crashed and had to be replaced with brand new ones.

 

For the villain of El Macho, Javier Bardem was in negotiations, but they didn’t go anywhere. Sure enough, even though he’s not Hispanic, Al Pacino took the role as antagonist. But despite Pacino recording all his lines and his character being fully animated, on May 2013, one month before the film’s premiere, Pacino dropped out of the project because of creative differences. Benjamin Bratt, another actor that was in consideration for El Macho, took over the role shortly after, recording all his lines in five days. Initially Bratt tried to imitate Pacino’s voice and mannerisms. However, while he did match Pacino’s timing so the character’s mouth movement fit the final animation, Bratt knew he couldn’t out-Pacino Pacino, so he utilized his regular voice.

 

With Despicable Me 2 fresh off the success of the first movie, which was still a huge hit on home video, Universal went all out on the marketing campaign. Not only did its first teaser trailer release more than a year before the film’s release date, Illumination partnered with over 100 licensing and promotional partners with all its deals valuing $250 million. McDonald’s, Hasbro and even Chiquita Banana were sponsors, while a Minion-dressed blimp named the Despicablimp toured across the United States. This made sure every kid in the world knew Despicable Me was getting a sequel. And sure enough, Despicable Me 2 exploded, taking Illumination to the next level.

 

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On July 3, Despicable Me 2 was a major draw over the Independence holiday weekend, with its first five days repping $143.1 million, the highest five-day start for an animated film. Even its three-day of $83.5 million, the third-biggest 4th of July opening and the fourth-biggest animated film opening, was well ahead of the first movie’s debut and proved just how iconic the franchise was compared to the likes of Toy Story after just one movie. And with a mediocre summer lineup of other family titles, Despicable Me 2 continued to bring in crowds, finishing with $368.1 million. Along with $970.8 million worldwide, this meant the sequel jumped 46% domestically and 79% worldwide. In fact, its worldwide performance meant it surpassed Shrek 2 to become the highest-grossing animated film not made by Disney.

 

Like Frozen, this success also translated to the soundtrack. Pharrell Williams, who contributed to the first movie’s soundtrack, had two major hit singles in 2013, with both "Blurred Lines" and "Get Lucky" becoming huge hits. With this new Despicable Me installment, Pharrell returned and created the single “Happy”. While it wasn’t a big selling point when the film was coming out, the song saw a life of its own when it hit the charts the following November. “Happy” was an instant sensation, peaking number one in 24 countries. It became the most downloaded song in the history of the UK, was the highest-selling song of 2014, was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars, and won two Grammys. People got sick of the song’s overplay shortly after the song’s success, but it’s still considered a favorite in Pharrell’s discography and showed how big Despicable Me 2 was. It was so popular even its radio single went on to be just as, if not more successful than the film it originated from.

 

And thanks to Illumination’s inexpensive business model, this film’s $76 million budget against an almost billion dollars meant that Despicable Me 2 became the most profitable film in the history of Universal Pictures, with Deadline estimating a net profit of $394.5 million. This success showed Illumination was here to stay and there were going to be a lot of Despicable Me movies for years to come.

 

In fifth place, DC brought back Superman in a big way with Man of Steel. A reboot of the previous movies, this retells the story of Clark Kent, a young alien who left Krypton to become the hero to all of mankind. But is mankind willing to let him be the hero, even when an imposing threat known as General Zod is set to destroy humanity?

 

After Superman Returns earned lukewarm reception, both critically and financially, Warner Bros. saw fit to reinvent Superman, with comic book writers like Grant Morrison, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, and Brad Meltzer giving their own pitches. Some ideas stayed around, with Warner Bros. focusing first on making sure Papa Nolan completed his Batman trilogy. When he signs on and a release date was found, the next Superman project would come shortly after.

 

And wouldn’t you know it, during production for The Dark Knight Rises, writer David S. Goyer told Papa Nolan his idea for a Superman movie and how to place the character into a modern context. Nolan loved the concept and pitched the idea over to Warner Bros. Sure enough, WB greenlit the reboot, with Papa Nolan serving as producer and Goyer serving as writer. But to WB president Jeff Robinov, this Superman title was going to be a stepping stone for something grand.

 

Much like Marvel, Man of Steel would set up an entire universe, with plans for the movie to have references to other superheroes, as well as set up a tone that would be used across all other DC Comics films. And thus, the DC Extended Universe was born. And who would be in charge of directing this title? Guillermo del Toro was the first to be approached, but he was in the middle of developing a Mountains of Madness adaptation that never went anywhere. Other contenders were Robert Zemeckis, Ben Affleck, Darren Aronofsky, Duncan Jones, Jonathan Liebesman, Matt Reeves and the late great Tony Scott. But finally, in October 2010, 300 director Zack Snyder took the helm.

 

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Similar to the Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel had a massive marketing campaign with much of the same techniques as other films. Viral marketing stunts, promotional tie-ins, action-packed trailers. However, one unique demographic WB targeted were Christain and faith-based viewers. Because Man of Steel has several religious allegories in its themes and title character, Warner hired the Christain-based marketing firm Grace Hill Media to push Man of Steel as a religious title, with sermons even created by Pepperdine University professor Craig Detweiler titled "Jesus: The Original Superhero." This was a huge boost to the film’s popularity, ensuring that all kinds of demographics were ready and excited for this new interpretation of Superman.

 

Opening on June 14, Man of Steel, helped by previews hosted by Wal-Mart for some reason, earned $128.7 million in just its first three days. Not only was this far ahead of the opening week of Superman Returns, this also served as the biggest opening weekend ever for a June release. It seemed clear at first glance that this reboot was a success and Superman was set to follow in the footsteps of Batman. However, things weren’t quite as rosy when it came to the film itself. Among critics, general audiences, fanboys, and even comic book writers, Man of Steel was one of the most polarizing titles of the decade. Some lauded it for its ambition and action, others found it unpleasant and generic. The characterization of Clark Kent also fell into heavy scrutiny.

 

And sure enough, this polarizing reaction, alongside the release of two other major summer blockbusters, resulted in Man of Steel plunging 68% to $41.3 million. The film ended up earning $291 million, about 2.26 times its opening w/ Walmart preview money. However, that gross, along with $668 million worldwide, did mean that Man of Steel became the highest grossing Superman film of all time, and with a net profit of $42.7 million, it at least proved there was financial viability in both Superman and this Extended Universe. In 2016, a follow-up title named Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, which...we’ll get to that. A proper Man of Steel sequel has been on-again off-again, with Matthew Vaughn and Chris McQuarrie having ideas that never went anywhere. But now that Henry Cavill renewed his Superman contract, you never know.

 

Sixth place was the sci-fi (or maybe not sci-fi) modern classic Gravity. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are two astronauts in orbit on a routine fixing of the Hubble Telescope. But after a series of space debris hits the telescope and their space shuttle, Bullock and Clooney find themselves stranded in the middle of space, trying to find a way to get back home to Earth.

 

This film was directed by Children of Men director Alfonso Cuaron, with Cuaron writing the screenplay with his son Jonas. The two wanted to make a survival movie with the theme of adversity, but neither of them knew what the right setting should be. A desert was considered for the longest time, but then Alfonso had an idea: space. Space is an empty, vast location with no signs of life anywhere. The image of an astronaut spinning in circles away from human communication was a compelling one, and Alfonso was a huge fan of space programs, having seen the Apollo 11 landing when he was 8 years old. And thus, a space survival movie was born, with the film being pitched to Universal. However, the project lingered in development for too long and the pitch was sold to Warner Bros. instead.

 

The biggest issue the film had was the casting. Because this was a completely original property, the film needed big stars, especially for the female lead, in order to remain financially viable to WB. Angelina Jolie was the first pick for the role, but scheduling conflicts prohibited her from being in the project. This put massive doubts the film would get made, which resulted in Warner Bros. asking Jolie again to be in the movie. But again, Jolie declined. And wouldn’t you know it, scheduling conflicts became a key issue for this role. Marion Cotillard, Blake Lively, and Natalie Portman were all asked to join, but were busy with other projects. Other actresses considered were Naomi Watts, Carey Mulligan, Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, and Olivia Wilde. But finally, Sandra Bullock was attached in October 2010. Robert Downey Jr. was set to play the male lead, but also had scheduling conflicts, leading to George Clooney in the part.

 

For Bullock, this was by far the most demanding role of her career. For almost the entire day, she was on a mechanical rig that controlled her movements, making her appear as if she was weightless. And with the film focusing on isolation, Bullock often spent long hours by herself with nothing but hundreds of cameras for company. Thankfully, the crew tried to make things better for Bullock, by throwing a party every day for her. And while the process was still frustrating, Bullock said it was frustrating in the best way.

 

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The one thing the producers requested Cuaron to do when it came to the direction was to film it like an IMAX-style Discovery Channel documentary. This resulted in Cuaron using Arri Alexa cameras, as well as tracking shots and long takes. The first 13 minutes were done in one shot, while the film only featured about 156 shots with an average length of 45 seconds. This was both fewer shots and longer takes than the average film of its length. Not only did it make the film seem distinct and push the atmosphere of the title, but was also a huge selling point for the premium formats. Alexa cameras are IMAX-approved, and the setting allowed a chance for realistic and groundbreaking 3D technology. So despite not being filmed in 3D, Gravity served as an event title that demanded to be seen on the biggest screen possible. And sure enough, Gravity would use this tech as a way to get butts into seats.

 

Gravity opened to the general public on October 4, one month after festival premieres in Venice and Telluride. And with all the awards and cinematic hype, Gravity opened to $55.8 million. This resulted in the biggest October weekend of all time, beating Paranormal Activity 3’s record. It was an incredible feat to be sure. Yes, awards buzz and starpower helped, but this was a completely original movie opening in the middle of autumn, a time when moviegoing is depressed. The fact that Gravity was able to open with summer-esque numbers in a dead period like this was nothing short of miraculous and is even further proof that a great actor in a great concept can get you far financially. Even more impressive was its 3D share, with the film earning 80% of its opening from 3D showings. Pretty much a rarity back in 2013.

 

And seeing as how October is a dead period for big exciting movies, Gravity continued to pack houses and IMAX auditoriums. Weekend two saw a tiny 23% drop, meaning it earned $43.2 million for the weekend and $122.3 million in just 10 days. This was the third-biggest second weekend of the year, even more impressive as this opened far lower than the likes of Man of Steel or Despicable Me 2. Weekend three saw it stay at number one again, grossing $30 million, a 31% drop, and an incredible 17-day cume of $169.6 million. And when the dust finally settled, Gravity finished its run with $274 million domestically, 4.91 times its opening. Worldwide is an astonishing $723.2 million, making it the eighth-highest grossing film of 2013. It’s estimated a net profit of $209.2 million was made.

 

This was a huge get for all parties. Warner Bros. found a box office and awards juggernaut, while Cuaron became a household name upon this film’s success and his win as Best Director at the Oscars. George Clooney also saw the biggest box office hit of his career. But for Sandra Bullock, it was a historic one for her career. Gravity was her biggest movie ever, surpassing 1994’s Speed, and solidified her as one of the biggest box office draws of the decade, with her continuing to pull in people through a variety of genres, whether they be comedy (The Proposal), action-comedy (The Heat), dramatic (The Blind Side), or even experimental (Gravity), and turning her career around away from the mediocre romcoms people sadly associated with her. And sure enough, with nominations at almost all the awards shows, Bullock was not gonna leave the public consciousness any time soon. Gravity would go on to be nominated for 174 different awards, winning 98, including seven at the Academy Awards, and is still a favorite to this day.

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Seventh place on both accounts was the Pixar prequel Monsters University. We all know about Mike and Sully, the top scare duo of Monsters, Inc. However, how did they first meet? How did they know what they knew? Monsters University dares to ask that question, by showcasing the duo when they were in college and trying to get their foot in the door. This leads to the film showcasing their rivalry that soon transforms into their friendship.

 

Like Toy Story 3, a new Monsters, Inc. film was set for release even before Pixar had anything to do with it. In 2005, when Pixar and Disney were set to split, Circle 7, an animation studio created by Eisner to make direct-to-video sequels based on Pixar titles, were commissioned to make Monsters, Inc. 2: Lost in Scaradise. This would have seen Mike and Sully visit Boo in the human world on her birthday, only to discover she moved away. Thus, the duo find themselves lost in the human world and deal with how to find Boo and get back home before it’s too late. A screenplay was made and storyboards were made, but after the Pixar buyout, the entire sequel was scrapped.

 

Five years later, Pixar announced they were planning on a Monsters, Inc. follow-up with John Goodman and Billy Crystal reprising their roles. However, instead of a direct sequel, the film would be a prequel all about Mike and Sully in college. Because...someone demanded it? Anyways, a big issue director Dan Scanlon dealt with was a throwaway line in the first movie. Scanlon wanted to have Mike and Sully meet each other in college for the first time, but the first movie had Mike say “you’ve been jealous of my looks since the fourth grade”. This was a problem, because Scanlon didn’t want to mess with the first film’s continuity. For a while, there were plans for a scene where Mike and Sully are in elementary school, but the scene hindered the story. Finally, Scanlon talked to Monsters, Inc. director Pete Docter, and he said that they should just meet in college and ignore that line. Scanlon later said that Mike’s line from that movie was “an old monster expression”. Um...sure buddy.

 

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One of the biggest breakthroughs for Monsters University has to do with its lighting. Before MU, the Pixar artists had to manually apply shadows and reflections for the characters and props, which was becoming harder and harder to pull off due to the technologically complex character models and setups. So Pixar used global illumination, a lighting system that used path tracing, which simulated the behavior of light in the real world. This made the lighting process smoother, more realistic, and allowed the artists to spend more time creating complex scenes and models.

 

With nostalgia for the first movie and a year-long advertising campaign, Monsters University was coming into its June 21 release date with significant buzz and Disney estimating an opening of $70 million. And sure enough, MU’s opening day consisted of $30.47 million, making it the fifth-largest opening day for an animated film. This led to $82.4 million for the weekend, making Monsters University the fifth-biggest animated and June opener, and the second-biggest opening weekend for a Pixar title, only behind Toy Story 3. It was yet another slam dunk for Pixar, and it would stay at #1 on its second weekend. But due to intense competition from Despicable Me 2 and positive but not glowing reviews, it wasn’t as leggy as Toy Story 3. Still, the movie earned $268.5 million, ahead of the first movie. And its worldwide gross of $743.6 million meant it was the 11th highest-grossing animated film and the third-highest-grossing Pixar film worldwide. It’s estimated to have made a net profit of $179.8 million.

 

In 2014, a short film titled Party Central released in theaters behind Muppets Most Wanted, and that was the end of Monsters, Inc. for a while. However, a new television series based on the movies called Monsters at Work is currently in development and is set for release on Disney+ in 2021, with both Goodman and Crystal reprising their roles as Mike and Sully.

 

Eighth domestic but fourth worldwide was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Bilbo is still guiding Thorin and his fellow dwarves to the Lonely Mountain and reclaim the Mountain from the treacherous dragon named Smaug.

 

Like Lord of the Rings before it, The Hobbit was filmed back-to-back, with the original plan being for two movies. However, Peter Jackson announced in July 2012, months before An Unexpected Journey’s release, that The Hobbit would serve as a trilogy, with the second film focusing on the encounter Bilbo has with Smaug. Desolation of Smaug would of course feature the titular dragon, voiced and performance captured by Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch, but a unique aspect of this film was the return of Orlando Bloom as Legolas. Along with characters like Bard the Bowman, played by Luke Evans, and a new character named Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly, this all served to make this second title a bigger, grander, more epic film than the previous iteration. And with stronger, if still not glowing reviews, as well as an Ed Sheeran song, it wasn't ludicrous to say Desolation would follow in the footsteps of the previous Tolkien sequels and increase from Journey.

 

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And yet, that wasn’t the case. In yet another instance of “disappointing but objectively successful”, Desolation of Smaug opened to $73.6 million, which turned out to be the fourth-biggest opening ever for a December title. The problem though was that the first Hobbit opened above it, which made it seem like this was more of a fans affair than an exciting return of Middle-Earth. And as the weeks went by, Smaug still packed in seats, with the film staying number one for three consecutive weekends, but nowhere near to the fervor of An Unexpected Journey. With $258.4 million, Smaug finished about 15% less than the last movie. But still, $250 million is $250 million, and with $958.4 million worldwide, it was still a massive box office hit that ensured people were still invested in Jackson’s interpretation. There was also a net profit of $134.1 million made here. But with one movie still left for release in 2014, was there enough in that film to keep most audiences hooked one more time?

 

Moving down to ninth place, we have Fast & Furious 6. After a successful heist in Rio, Dom Toretto and his gang have been granted amnesty by DSS agent Luke Hobbs in exchange for helping him take down Owen Shaw, the member of another crime organization. All the while, Dom’s supposed dead girlfriend Letty may be alive and connected to Owen Shaw.

 

As said before, Diesel wanted to continue Fast and Furious by reinventing the series itself. Instead of focusing on racing and car culture, F&F would transition into a heist franchise a la The Italian Job so as to increase audience appeal. While Fast Five was the transitional piece, Fast & Furious 6 would serve as the film that cemented this shift. In fact, director Justin Lin storyboarded, prevized and edited a twelve-minute finale for Fast Six before Fast Five finished filming. Fast & Furious 6 also continued in Fast Five’s tradition in making things more accessible to new audiences, with spy and adventure elements thrown into the mix.

 

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Universal also used the new audience they gained from Fast Five and tried to cultivate an online fan base that were invested in the world and characters in the same way as other movie franchises like Star Wars. The filmmakers responded to fans online, polls were made over what the title of the movie should be, Letty returned to fan demand. They even encouraged fans to publish and document the film’s production through unofficial photos. This was a brilliant strategy, as it allowed Fast and Furious to become more than a dumb action series. It’s a dumb action series that had an active fandom, kept them on the same level as the creatives, and gave them something to get invested about when it comes to the characters and world. For many of the most successful movie franchises, strong and memorable characters is what cultivates an active fandom, and the campaign pulled it off expertly, with a massively successful trailer during the Super Bowl and countless ads and TV spots showcasing the crazy action and fun setpieces. And sure enough, F&F soared to even higher heights.

 

Opening on May 24, Fast & Furious 6 served as the king of Memorial Day Weekend. Earning $117 million over the long weekend, Furious 6 not only saw a record opening for the franchise, it was able to claim the fourth-biggest Memorial Day opening weekend. And thanks to positive reviews, F&F continued to gain from Fast Five before it, finishing with $238.7 million domestically and $788.7 million worldwide. Becoming the second-highest-grossing film in Universal history for a brief moment, as well as generating $131.5 million in net profits, Fast and Furious was unstoppable, as people couldn’t get enough of the franchise. And somehow, people still flocked to see what Dom Torretto was gonna do next. This basically solidified F&F as a pillar series for Universal and would lead to several more blockbuster hits in the years to come.

 

Tenth place saw Disney re-create the timeless Frank L. Baum books with Oz the Great and Powerful. James Franco is the titular Wizard of Oz. Only this time he’s a young and deceptive magician named Oscar Diggs who finds himself swept into the magical land of Oz after performing a show in the real world. After encountering three different witches, one of the West, one of the East, and one of the South, Oscar discovers he must save Oz from peril while also resolving the conflicts all three witches have with one another and with Oscar.

 

Believe it or not, there was a time when Disney almost gave us a film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. After the success of Snow White, Walt Disney wanted to produce an animated film based on the Oz stories. However, Walt’s brother and Walt Disney Productions Chairman Roy O. Disney was informed by Baum’s estate they sold the film rights to Samuel Goldwyn, who then sold the rights to Louis B. Mayer. And sure enough, this led to the iconic 1939 Wizard of Oz by MGM. Ironically, Wizard of Oz took a lot of elements from Disney’s Snow White when adapting the story.

 

Over the years, Disney has tried to make their own definitive Oz title. A live-action film in the 1950s titled Rainbow Road to Oz was set to debut on the Disneyland TV series, but that was abandoned. In 1985, Disney did release Return to Oz just before they would lose the film rights, but that became a critical and commercial failure, though it would earn a cult following years later. Shortly after, Wizard of Oz would fall into the public domain, and aside from a Wizard of Oz movie starring The Muppets for some reason, Disney did nothing with the property.

 

Then we flash forward to 2009. The MGM film celebrated its 70th anniversary and on Broadway, Wicked, a retelling of Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the Wicked Witch, was becoming the biggest musical phenomenon in years. That year, screenwriter Mitchell Kapner, who himself wanted to make a movie about the origins of the Wizard but felt Wicked stole his chance, was pitching some ideas to Alice in Wonderland and Dolittle producer Joe Roth. When Kapner outlined the plot of the Oz books, Roth stopped him when he got to book 6, The Emerald City of Oz, which followed the Wizard and his backstory. Roth felt that fairy tales, from Cinderella to Sleeping Beauty, leaned too hard into female leads, and felt now was the time for men to take charge in a female-dominated genre. So Roth encouraged the idea of taking a property that largely focused on women and matriarchal characters and focused on the one dude...you make your own metaphor on this.

 

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The project would be greenlit at Disney, with Sam Raimi directing the title. The only problem was finding the right actor to play the Wizard. Robert Downey Jr. was sought for the part, but he declined the project. Johnny Depp was then considered, but he had commitments to The Lone Ranger. But finally, James Franco, who worked with Raimi on the Spider-Man trilogy, accepted the part for a payday of $7 million. And thus, filming would begin five months later in July 2011.

 

This was a very troubling film to produce. Not because anybody had a difficult time on set, but rather because of a lot of legality issues. While Oz was a public domain property, many elements and designs from the 1939 classic were owned by Warner Bros. And Disney’s Oz, despite not actually being a direct prequel to the 1939 film, was trying to be a companion piece. This meant the filmmakers had to walk a fine line between calling the 1939 film to mind while not infringing upon any copyright issues. A copyright expert was on set every day, with elements exclusive to the 1939 film, like the ruby slippers and character likenesses, being forbidden to appear in the film. So areas like Emerald City and Munchkinland look quite different from the movie people know and love. In fact, for the Wicked Witch of the West, Disney had to use a different shade of green for her skin, as well as remove the Witch’s signature chin mole. Funny how Disney, the company known for making copyright laws the nightmare they are now, had such big issues with copyright for their Oz movie. Anyways, with all this legal hoopla, cast members having to leave the project for other commitments, causing filming delays, as well as the expensive work done to make Oz come to life, Oz the Great and Powerful costed an exorbitant $200-215 million to produce. So this title really needed to be a big hit, arguably on the level of Alice in Wonderland, in order to pull it off. And it did...kind of.

 

Domestically, Oz opened on March 8 to mixed reviews but immense hype, earning $79.1 million in the process. This was the third-biggest March opening ever, and led to a solid total of $234.9 million, albeit a far cry from Alice in Wonderland. Overseas was a bit of a different story. The American-friendly brand and setting failed to excite many other markets, with the film only reaching $493.1 million, barely above the colossal production budget. And while it still earned a net profit of $38.1 million, it was clear it wasn’t the Alice-style monster some expected it to be. But regardless, it was still considered solid enough for Disney, and ensured many more live-action fairy tales in the years to come, albeit much more connected to Disney and with less need to adhere to rival studios and their copyright issues. A sequel to Oz the Great and Powerful was in development, but no word has been made since 2013. But with Oz being in the public domain, some other Wizard of Oz projects from rival studios have popped up in the years since.

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Eleventh place was the return of the Enterprise with the controversial title Star Trek Into Darkness. During development of the 2009 Star Trek reboot, Paramount realized Abrams and co. had something special with their movie, believing there was potential for a major franchise. And sure enough, in March 2009, a preliminary script was set to be completed in Christmas 2009 with plans for a 2011 release. Ultimately, that couldn’t happen.

 

Writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci failed to find a compelling villain, and Abrams was both busy working on Super 8 as well as refusing to sign onto the project until a script was completed. Even after a draft was submitted in April 2011, Abrams was still uncertain if he would follow through, and both budget costs and getting the cast together made things tricky, which made a planned summer 2012 release all the more shaky. Finally, after Abrams made sure he had the perfect script, he signed on as director in September 2011, with plans for a winter 2012/summer 2013 release date.

 

A way that the creative team tried to raise the stakes was the return of perhaps the most famous Trek baddie Khan. The writers tried to ensure that his inclusion seem natural and try to avoid any obvious references to Wrath of Khan, trying to make Into Darkness work as a standalone for people who haven’t seen Star Trek before. Benicio del Toro was in negotiations for the role of Khan, but he soon left. Demian Bichir almost got the part, until finally non-Hispanic actor Benedict Cumberbatch got the part. Why they decided to cast a non-Hispanic actor for a Hispanic character is beyond me, but Abrams’ mystery box marketing made sure that Khan, and much of the rest of the plot, was kept hidden by the public, so as to cause shock and surprise. And...boy were people surprised.

 

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The massive critical and commercial success of the 2009 Star Trek, especially considering how it converted so many to become Trekkies, meant expectations for Into Darkness were really high. Paramount themselves said they expected a $100 million 4-Day weekend. So it came as a surprise to many when Into Darkness opened on May 16 that it did so lukewarm. With $83.7 million from Thursday to Sunday, Into Darkness was actually below Star Trek 09’s first four days, and that was from Friday to Monday. The reasons have been debated in the years since: it was too long of a break between movies, Iron Man 3 was heavy competition, Star Trek 09 was a one-and-done for most, the marketing failed to deliver something new, the mystery box tactic surrounding Khan failed to intrigue. Whatever the reason, Into Darkness didn’t quite catch on in the same way its predecessor did. And while reviews were positive, reactions toward Khan’s reveal, among several other story and character decisions, led to backlash from Trekkies and even general audiences. Sure enough, Into Darkness decreased from its predecessor, only generating $228.8 million domestically. However, with $467.4 million worldwide, it did become the highest-grossing Star Trek film worldwide. It’s estimated to have made a profit of $29.9 million.

 

After that, the fate of Star Trek was pretty rocky. In 2016, the third Trek reboot title, Star Trek Beyond, released to better reception than Into Darkness, but poor marketing and intense summer competition resulted in Beyond becoming the lowest grossing of the reboot series. This pretty much killed plans for a fourth Trek title, which would have seen Chris Hemsworth return as Captain Kirk’s dad. And since then, Paramount has no idea what to do with Star Trek in movies. Quentin Tarantino of all people pitched a Trek idea to Paramount in 2017, but he stepped down from the idea in 2019. Also in 2019, another idea for a fourth Trek movie by Noah Hawley was in development, but was put on indefinite hold in 2020. And that’s all we’ve heard from the movie side of things. However, Star Trek has lived on through television with the streaming service CBS All Access, home to dozens of Star Trek shows, both released and in development, that from what I can gather people like fine enough. So...there’s that I guess.

 

Twelfth place was Marvel’s less-regarded hit, Thor: The Dark World. The Dark Elves are set to plunge the world into darkness and despair. And sure enough, Thor and his twisted brother Loki have to team up to save the Nine Realms as well as Thor’s true love Jane Foster, before it’s too late.

 

The first inklings of a Thor sequel were in April 2011, just one month before the first movie’s release, with Disney setting a July 2013 release date later that June. However, Kenneth Branagh, taken somewhat by surprise by this early announcement, declined a directing job, due to the long commitment needed for the title, as well as having to start right away on the script. And thus, the search for a director would emerge. Brain Kirk, best known for his work on Game of Thrones, was in negotiations, but he had to decline due to contractual issues. Future Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins was also set to direct, but she left the project due to the always classic creative differences. Ultimately, the job was set to be given to two different Game of Thrones directors: Alan Taylor or Daniel Minahan. Taylor won in the end. The screenplay was initially written by Thor screenwriter Don Payne, but heavy rewrites were made by comic book writer Christopher Yost and The First Avenger duo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Joss Whedon also reportedly threw in some rewrites.

 

With the film’s emphasis on both Asgard and Thor’s romance with Jane, almost all of the original cast members returned in some capacity. One notable cast change however came from Thor’s posse The Warriors Three. The character of Fandral was played by Josh Lucas in the first movie, but due to his commitments with the series Once Upon a Time, he wound up being recast by Zachary Levi, who coincidentally was set to play Fandral in the first movie, but dropped due to commitments with Chuck. Mads Mikkelsen was also set to play the main baddie Dark Elf named Malekith, only for him to later drop out due to schedule commitments, resulting in a recast from former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston.

 

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Similar to Iron Man 3, Thor 2 was coasting on the massive success of The Avengers. That film was so popular and beloved it pretty much turned all the Marvel heroes into film icons overnight, so the hype for this movie was pretty strong, albeit not to the level of the Tony Stark threequel. And after months of hype, The Dark World saw a massive boost from its predecessor, earning $85.7 million on its opening weekend, a 31% boost from the previous film. This put the film on the right track, but things weren’t quite rosy in the weeks to come.

 

With the immense competition from both Catching Fire and Frozen, as well as mediocre reviews, with many touting this as the worst Marvel title, Dark World kind of limped away into the night, with about 2.41x legs. Still, $206.4 million domestic wasn’t shabby, and still served as a 14% increase from the first movie. Worldwide was $644.8 million, a whopping 43% increase from the first movie, and further proof on how much The Avengers changed the game. A profit of $139.4 million was made, ensuring more Thor titles to come. But we’ll save that for when we get to 2017.

 

Thirteenth place was the hit zombie title World War Z. A zombie pandemic has hit the world, destroying governments and humanity itself. Only Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane, a former UN investigator, can save us all, in a globe-trotting adventure unlike any other.

 

The hit 2006 novel, written by Mel Brooks’ son Max, was in a film rights bidding war as early as 2007. And between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way and Brad Pitt’s Plan B, the Pitt won it all, with J. Michael Straczynski as writer and Marc Forster as director. Films like All the President’s Men and The Bourne Identity were heavy influences here, and a script leak in 2008 from Ain’t It Cool News argued it was a masterpiece of a screenplay. Plans were set for the film to begin production in 2009, but that was rejected as the script soon saw rewrites from Matthew Michael Carnahan. This seemed to infer confidence from Paramount, according to Max Brooks, but the studio soon were concerned over financing on the project, with the film almost set to be canceled during pre-production. Thankfully, the production company Skydance helped co-fund the project, and the movie was made. Skydance would work on several Paramount projects in the years to come.

 

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Filming occurred in 2011 with a budget of $125 million and filming locations ranging from Malta to Glasgow to Budapest, with the film set for a December 2012 release date. However, as the dailies came in, Paramount realized the film wasn’t working as well as it should have, especially in the third act. Pitt’s character felt watered down, and the ending felt so abrupt and incoherent because the script wasn’t finalized before shooting was set to begin. And thus, the film had to go through heavy rewrites and reshoots. World War Z was then delayed to summer 2013 and Damon Lindelof was brought on in June 2012 to take charge of rewrites. And even then, Lindelof didn’t have enough time to complete the ending, which meant the script would be passed over to fellow Lost alum Drew Goddard. All told, about 30 to 40 minutes of new footage was shot in September 2012, effectively rewriting the entire ending. This proved to be so lengthy and expensive that it ballooned the film’s budget from $125 million to $190 million. Several scenes and sequences were also cut to remove the novel’s political undertones and turn the film into an escapist summer blockbuster.

 

The reshoots drama did not go unnoticed by the entertainment media, and put a dark cloud over the film’s critical and financial prospects. But sometimes, these types of reshoots are necessary. More often than not, a good movie happens by accident, and Paramount and Plan B allowing the creatives to make the project stronger would pay off. Not only did World War Z earn decent critical reception, it overperformed significantly on its opening weekend, despite both Monsters University and Man of Steel taking up so many showtimes. With $66.4 million, World War Z earned the second-biggest non-#1 opening, the sixth-biggest debut for a June title, and the biggest opening ever for a Brad Pitt film. This would lead to solid legs in the weeks to come, with a final total of $202.4 million domestically and $540 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing zombie film and Brad Pitt film of all time, as well as the fourth highest-grossing horror movie of all time

 

Debate has been made on whether or not the film was truly successful. Variety said it was a hit, Deadline said it barely broke even. But it was certainly better than what its rocky reshoots would imply. A sequel lingered in development hell for years. And after a sequel set to be directed by David Fincher of all people was announced, the sequel was canceled by Paramount in February 2019, reportedly out of fear the sequel would be banned by the Chinese government.

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Ending 2013 on a spooky note, nineteenth place is where we find The Conjuring. Based on the real life paranormal investigation couple, Ed and Lorriane Warren come to assist the Perron family, a family who are struggling to deal with several paranormal and increasingly disturbing events that are occurring in their Rhode Island farmhouse.

 

The story of the Warrens are a fascinating one, as the duo have been associated with several supposed real-life hauntings, leading to the 1977 novel The Amityville Horror, which itself led to a 1979 film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. However, that was a fictional tale based on a supposedly true haunting. A film about Ed and Lorraine wasn’t ever greenlit, but one producer named Tony DeRosa-Grund tried everything to make this project happen. For 14 years he pitched the idea to very little success, with the closest being a deal with Gold Circle Films.

 

But things started to change when he started working with fellow producer Peter Safran and writing duo Chad and Carey W. Hayes. DeRosa-Grund focused his idea from the perspective of the Perron family, but the Hayes brothers decided to change the point of view of the story to the Warrens themselves. The brothers did several interviews with Lorraine Warren to make sure the film was as accurate to her life story. Sure enough, the screenplay became a hot property in mid-2009, with six studios taking part in a bidding war. Summit Entertainment did win out, but a transaction wasn’t completed between Summit and DeRosa-Grund, resulting in the project falling into turnaround. Sure enough, New Line Cinema picked up the project after losing the previous bidding war, with pre-production taking place in 2011.

 

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James Wan, fresh off the success of Insidious, was attached as director. Wan was given the idea after Insidious’ release, and instantly fell in love with it, because he thought the idea of telling a horror story based on real life characters would be fascinating. Patrick Wilson, also from Insidious, signed on as Ed Warren, while Lorraine was given to Vera Farmiga. Both actors also met with the real-life Lorraine Warren for research purposes. Lorraine also visited the set so that she could give her approval on the project.

 

After production wrapped up, test screenings for The Conjuring, then named The Warren Files, began. And Warner Bros./New Line noticed that these screenings were positive. Very positive. With positive ratings repping more than 90%, a rarity for films in general, much less horror. It was clear Wan’s movie had a lot of potential. Not just as a horror release, but as a bona fide summer blockbuster. This meant the film was pushed from a spring 2013 release date to a plum July 2013 release, and a giant marketing campaign. Trailers and TV spots highlighted the true story element, with interviews from the actual Perron family, and money shots that ensured the movie had to be seen.

 

In fact, a huge selling point, ironically, was the “R” rating. Wan intended to release the film as a PG-13 title, and asked what he could change to tone the film down. And the MPAA told upfront the film was so scary that it had to get an R no matter what. There was no specific scene or tone that could be taken out to get the movie to a PG-13. This sold the movie on its own, exciting horror fans and intriguing general audiences on the idea of a horror movie being given an R not for blood or language, but because it was too scary.

 

And when The Conjuring finally opened on July 19, thanks to great marketing and extremely positive reviews, it managed to earn an impressive $41.9 million. Most horror titles that open that high are either sequels or remakes, and while this did have a true story behind it, it was still more or less a completely original piece, and showed just how much of an event this was for the horror community. And with positive reviews and a lack of competition, The Conjuring soared to greater heights domestically. While most horror titles are frontloaded, The Conjuring was so positively received, it actually dropped 47% on its second weekend, despite competition from X-Men title The Wolverine. Weeks continued, with consistent 40% drops, as The Conjuring finished with $137.4 million, 3.28 times its opening. Worldwide was $319.5 million. $181.7 million was its estimated net profit.

 

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The reason for its success was because, simply put, it was a breath of fresh air. The success of Paranormal Activity was commendable and astonishing, but it also led to a lot of cheap garbage. Found footage movies with no-name actors could be made for pennies and were destined to make a profit by the end of the first weekend. This also meant a lot of schlocky, mediocre garbage that was just made to get a quick buck. So the fact that The Conjuring had a solid budget and star power behind it, had a competent filmmaker with a distinct vision, and was pretty handsomely-made, helped the film stand out as something exciting and new. And with strong worldwide success, this made studios know that horror movies can make blockbuster numbers, so long as you put in good money to make an interesting movie with strong creative talent. The Conjuring’s success made studios put horror titles as a priority instead of a niche, with movies like Get Out, Split, It, and A Quiet Place all delivering insane box office numbers and commanding theater space.

 

The Conjuring was a trailblazer, but it also followed trends here. With the long and incredible history of the Warren family, there was potential for sequels. But what about characters and baddies the Warren faced in real life getting their own titles? Sure enough, this would lead to The Conjuring Universe, a franchise based around a shared universe all based around Ed and Lorraine. And that’s when things got crazy.

 

2014 had Annabelle, which was panned by critics, but generated $257 million worldwide on a $6.5 million budget. 2016 had The Conjuring 2, a direct sequel based on Amityville that saw Wan return as director and grossed $102.5 million domestically and $320.4 million worldwide. 2017 was Annabelle: Creation, from Lights Out and Shazam! director David Sandberg. It earned positive reviews, and grossed $306.5 million worldwide. 2018 saw The Nun, which saw the largest opening of the franchise, about $53.8 million, but was panned by critics, resulting in only $117.5 million domestically. However, it did become the highest-grossing Conjuring movie worldwide with $365.6 million. 2019 saw two Conjuring movies. The Curse of La Llorona was panned by critics, and only barely connected to The Conjuring, only grossing $123.1 million worldwide, making it the lowest grosser in the series. Meanwhile, Annabelle Comes Home released later that summer, only to gross $231.2 million worldwide, making it the second-lowest grossing film in the series.

 

All told, almost every Conjuring title have been some of the highest-grossing horror movies of all time, and The Conjuring Universe has earned over $1.9 billion worldwide, making it the second-biggest horror franchise of all time, only behind Godzilla. And with The Conjuring 3 set to release in 2021, as well as plans for a sequel to The Nun and a film based on the character of The Crooked Man, it’s fair to say this series isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

And finally, to conclude our spooky little detour, we end off with 55th place’s The Purge. It’s the distant, far-off year of 2022, and America seems perfect. The country is virtually crime-free and unemployment is non-existent. However, in reality, the country is in a dystopic state. The government has created an annual holiday titled the Purge. For 12 hours, all crime, including murder, is completely legal, and anything goes. A wealthy family, the patriarch is Ethan Hawke, are set to have their house on lockdown thanks to their fancy technology, with plans for a nice, quiet night. However, they soon become the target towards a band of murderers, and all hell breaks loose.

 

This idea came from producer, director, and writer James DeMonaco, who took the idea of a home invasion horror title and added in political intrigue and class warfare to the mix. This idea not only caught the idea of Jason Blum, believing it would fit right in with his other shoestring budget horror titles, but also Michael Bay, whose production company Platinum Dunes taps into horror remakes for titles like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street. And so, united in a common interest for murder, both Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes collaborated on this project.

 

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And while it wasn’t a Conjuring level success, The Purge would find itself with a unique legacy of its own. Opening on June 7, The Purge’s premise was an intriguing one for many. Even though the flaws of this idea were too many to count, the ideas and themes of class warfare and fighting the rich was a compelling one, and giving it a slasher spin was at the very least interesting. Sure enough, The Purge saw a surprise #1 opening, $34.1 million. This was already more than 10 times its production budget, and served as the third-biggest opening for a 2013 R-rated title at the time. Impressive for a film with no stars or brand recognition. Ultimately, due to its genre and poor reception, The Purge finished with $64.5 million domestically, not even doubling its opening. Worldwide was $89.3 million. Regardless, it was an objective hit and showed the premise was an appealing one. And with these being quick and easy to make, a lot of sequels would arrive.

 

In 2014, a little more than a year after the last one, The Purge: Anarchy was released, focusing on the Greater Los Angeles area and how the Purge impacts the middle and lower class. It not only earned better reviews than its predecessor, but it earned higher box office too, grossing $72 million domestically and $111.9 million worldwide. 2016 saw the appropriately named The Purge: Election Year, which looked at a politician who is being targeted by Purge attendees due to her attempting to end The Purge. It saw even better box office, earning $79.2 million domestically and $118.6 million worldwide. In 2018, a prequel titled The First Purge released to weaker box office domestically with $69.5 million, but $137 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film in the franchise. The fifth and final film in the series, The Forever Purge, is currently set for release in 2021.

 

As of now, The Purge franchise has generated $446.9 million overall, with it likely to become one of the top 25 biggest horror franchises in history when the next film releases...if it releases to theaters of course. And along with a 2-season television series on USA Network, The Purge has become a mainstay in both the horror scene and pop culture. Even though The Purge hasn’t crossed $100 million domestically, everybody knows about this movie. Plenty of people love both the goofy slasher elements and its scattered political elements. And every once in a while, even though the premise is stupid as hell, you’ll hear somebody say there’s a chance The Purge could happen in our future. And it was yet another victory for both Blumhouse and Platinum Dunes, one of many in the years to come.

 

Of course, that wasn’t all there was to say about 2013. The Croods served as another Dreamworks hit. The Heat was another feather in Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s caps. We’re the Millers was a late summer box office smash. American Hustle continued J-Law’s dominance. Baz Lurhmann adapted The Great Gatsby to great financial success. Identity Thief continued McCarthy’s comedy reign. Grown Ups 2 got the Happy Madison boys back together again. The Wolverine was almost the X-Men movie we deserved. Anchorman returned to the big screen. Marky Mark was in a wartime hit with Lone Survivor. G.I. Joe: Retaliation released after an epic delay. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was another Sony Animation hit. Now You See Me was the sleeper hit of the summer. The Wolf of Wall Street was another hit for Leo and Marty. Lee Daniels became a household name with The Butler. Captain Phillips saw a devastating Tom Hanks snub. Jackass continued to find success with Bad Grandpa. This is the End was another success for Seth Rogen.

 

Olympus Has Fallen gave Gerard Butler his own little franchise. 42 introduced the world to Chadwick Boseman. Elysium proved Neil Blomkamp was a one-hit wonder. Planes was a DVD title thrown on the big screen at the last minute. The Lone Ranger was an epic bomb for Disney. Insidious: Chapter 2 was James Wan’s other big hit. Saving Mr. Banks retold the classic story of Disney cultural appropriation. Turbo was a weird Dreamworks movie nobody wanted. White House Down was Olympus Has Fallen gone wrong. Mama gave us quality Jessica Chastain content. Safe Haven had a twist for the ages. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters was a sequel nobody asked for. A Good Day to Die Hard killed the franchise. Jack the Giant Slayer was an epic bomb for Warner Bros. After Earth hurt the goodwill for all parties involved. Free Birds tried to create a Thanksgiving classic. We got two found footage parodies this year. Walking with Dinosaurs was destroyed by greedy producers. Carrie was remade for some reason. R.I.P.D. was an epic bomb for Universal. The World’s End finished the Cornetto trilogy. And lastly, Kick-Ass 2...came out I guess.

 

This was 2013

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@Brainbug @excel1 @YourMother the Edgelord @Webslinger @charlie Jatinder @Noctis @Plain Old Tele @DAJK

 

This was by far the longest one for me to write. Not just because of how much there was to write about several of these movies, especially Frozen, but also because being a retail worker, I've been forced to work some extra hours to deal with all the holiday/Black Friday craziness. Thankfully, I still got the job done, and I feel pretty proud about what I wrote here.

 

Good thing 2014 looks to be more lowkey, unless there are some very juicy production details hidden in there.

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Great write ups! I wasn't on this forum until 2014 (it was actually Frozen that got me really interested in box office again in late 2013, so I suppose this is an appropriate place to come into this thread lol), but I do remember this being a big year for movies. I'm very much looking forward to seeing the next few years, quieter as though they may be in comparison. ^_^ Well done!

Edited by Sir Tiki
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Awesome write-up as always! Is it just me or has Gravity‘s popularity greatly diminished in the last years? When I hear people talk about the movie they always just mention the awesome 3D effect it had, but they rather wanna chat about Interstellar or even The Martian! 
 

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2 hours ago, Giesi said:

Awesome write-up as always! Is it just me or has Gravity‘s popularity greatly diminished in the last years? When I hear people talk about the movie they always just mention the awesome 3D effect it had, but they rather wanna chat about Interstellar or even The Martian! 
 

 

I experienced the same. Imo, it comes down to Gravity beeing effective literally only in the movie theater. If you watch that film at home, you will certainly not have the same kind of experience than back in 2013. Also, the story itself is hollow and kinda forgettable, while both The Martian and especially Interstellar present a way more interesting story and way better characters in my opinion.

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Honestly I just haven't seen Gravity since it came out because it was so anxiety-inducing for me that I don't want to go through it again. :lol: 

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I saw Gravity at a drive-in theater with my family a couple weeks after it released. The 3D was absent but I still found the movie to be an enjoyable film on my viewing, but definitely a "well that was really cool but I doubt I'll bother to see it again" kind of way. It was paired in the drive-in with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 which I thought was a really odd choice.

 

Great write up, btw. Hunger Games and Frozen frenzy were wild times on the boards. 

Edited by Mango

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