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A Look at The Biggest Box Office Stories from 1972-present (THABOS: The History of Amazing Box Office Stories) | 2019 p. 64 - Disney does it again!

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@Eric Gardner

Thanks for the notification, and it was interesting to hear about the original pitch meeting. I didn't know it went exactly like that.

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BvS was an insane, epic catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. It killed Cavill's Superman and ended Affleck's marriage and sent him into downward style with alcoholism. It caused immense stress on Snyder and his family. It is shocking that WW and Aquabro were able to have the success they had.

 

 

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2016: The year i lost half my brain cells watching Independence Day 2.

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The megastar deaths were too depressing! Prince, Bowie and George hit too hard and Carrie’s passing broke my heart.

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The amount of work that you put into these is crazy, and very much appreciated. ^_^ Great write up on a big year that as you said pretty much set us on the stage to where we are today.

 

I'm looking forward to 2017, there were a lot of big movies that I saw in that one.

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2017

 

Donald Trump is sworn in, creating travel bans, firing FBI director James Comey, and withdrawing from the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as sparking a Unite the Right rally, where Charlottesville sees alt-right and neo-Nazis take over the town. And during that time, Hurricane Harvey becomes the most deadly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Not a good time to be American. Elsewhere, the Labour Party in the UK sees Parliament gains and a suicide bomber kills 22 at an Ariana Grande concert. Hurricane Irma also causes devastation in the Caribbean, while Las Vegas saw 59 dead in a mass shooting, the deadliest US shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history. So...yeah, bit of a bummer year, and we haven’t even gotten into Hollywood or movies yet.

 

In music, Jay-Z’s 4:44 album saw critical acclaim, Harry Styles and many of the other former One Direction band members began making their own solo careers, and Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer for his album Damn. Gaming saw the debut of the Nintendo Switch, a handheld/console hybrid that quickly became one of Nintendo’s biggest consoles ever, selling nearly 80 million units as of December 2020. Alongside Switch games like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild were games like Cuphead, Horizon Zero Dawn, Resident Evil 7, Night in the Woods, and Fortnite, the latter of which is now a cultural phenomenon and one of the most lucrative games in history.

 

Television saw the premieres of Riverdale, Big Little Lies, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, 13 Reasons Why, The Handmaid’s Tale, Ozark, Star Trek: Discovery, The Good Doctor, and Young Sheldon. Samurai Jack and Will & Grace also returned in the form of revivals, a popular subgenre in the massive world of remakes and reboots. At the same time, TV departures included Bones, Duck Dynasty, Grimm, 2 Broke Girls, The Leftovers, The Fairly Oddparents, and Pretty Little Liars. We also saw the departures of John Hurt, Mary Tyler Moore, Al Jarreau, Bill Paxton, Chuck Berry, Don Rickles, Charlie Murphy, Jonathan Demme, Roger Moore, Adam West, Martin Landau, George A. Romero, Jerry Lewis, Hugh Hefner, Tom Petty, and tons more.

 

We’ll get into the box office in a bit, but two major revelations happened in Hollywood that needed to be discussed. The one that generated less headlines but is most important to this site has to do with the acquisition of 21st Century Fox from Disney. Initiated on December 14, 2017, this deal meant that Disney would have ownership of the Fox film and TV library, its several studios and cable channels, as well as a stake in National Geographic and Hulu. News Corp soon spun off into Fox Corporation and Disney now had the catalog titles of Alien, Avatar, Planet of the Apes, Modern Family, Empire, and The Simpsons, as well as film rights to both X-Men and Fantastic Four and the distribution rights to Star Wars: A New Hope. This was all done to bolster Disney’s plans for streaming, including majority ownership of Hulu and their own Disney-branded streaming platform. We’ll...put a pin on that last one. This of course led to heavy criticism and backlash over its antitrust issues and Disney’s possible monopolization of the entertainment industry, but the deal was ultimately finalized in March 2019.

 

The other big story from Hollywood came after The New York Times published reports about decades of sexual harassment and assault from Hollywood megaproducer Harvey Weinstein. This destroyed Weinstein and his company’s reputation, resulting in all of his assets selling off and many of his upcoming movies left in limbo, only to be dumped on streaming services or during the pandemic. These accounts soon led to a massive trend where dozens of horrible powerful men throughout several industries were exposed and saw their reputations tarnished. Matt Lauer, Dustin Hoffman, Charlie Rose, Al Franken, Leslie Moonves, Louis C. K., Ben Affleck, Brett Ratner, Jeffrey Tambor, and Kevin Spacey, just to name a few. This soon led to the global Me Too movement, a social movement that shows how widespread sexual assault is throughout the world and how these horrid crimes must be stopped. This was a major blemish on Hollywood that is sadly still an issue today.

 

Despite the horrors of Hollywood finally being exposed, things were more or less the same when it came to the box office. It was a decline from 2016 domestically, but overseas saw such a massive boost it resulted in a record $39.92 billion global haul. And the cream of the crop, the victor of the spoils, was none other than Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

After joining the Resistance, Rey finds Luke Skywalker, who has since become a lonely hermit, and asks for him to aid her to defeat the First Order. And while their training is going on, Rey finds herself stuck in contact with Kylo Ren, while the rest of the Resistance try to create a new attack on the First Order with what little support they have left.

 

One of the more exciting attributes of the sequel trilogy was that with Lucas no longer at the helm, there was a greater chance for exciting and bold filmmakers to take charge and create something unique in one of the most beloved franchises of all time. So for the first time since the Original Trilogy, each film was supposed to have a new director in its place. After J. J. Abrams kicked things off, Looper and Breaking Bad director Rian Johnson passed the torch for Episode VIII.

 

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At the time, not every detail for the trilogy was mapped out, but both Abrams and Johnson did work together to make the transition easier. Abrams collaborated with Johnson to help ensure a smooth transition, while Johnson would continue that with Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow...then well...things happened. Still, this was Johnson’s movie, and his film took influence from several other classic titles, including Twelve O’Clock High, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gunga Din, Three Outlaw Samurai, Sahara, and Letter Never Sent. There’s even a Brazil reference during the infamous Canto Bright sequence.

 

Filming began in February 2016, and like Force Awakens, practical effects were a major part of the film’s special effects. In fact, the film featured about 180 to 200 different practical effects, the most for any Star Wars film ever, with some even cut from the final edit. The film also had some cuts before production started, as Johnson’s script had 160 different sets, with a rewrite that would cut it down to 125 sets on 14 different sound stages.

 

Opening on December 15, The Last Jedi was destined to be yet another success story for Disney and Lucasfilm. Sites like Fandango crashed once tickets were on sale, the advertising and media hype was just about everywhere, and projections had the film opening to about $200 million. But much like Force Awakens, Last Jedi broke away all those expectations. With $45 million in Thursday previews, the second-best for any movie, it earned $104.8 million on the first day, becoming the second movie ever to hit $100 million in a single day, with only The Force Awakens doing it beforehand. And with an opening weekend of $220 million, it was, again, the second-biggest opening weekend in history.

 

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Star Wars wasn’t just back, but it was here to stay. At least, that’s what it seemed before things came crashing down. The film earned acclaim from professional critics, and saw strong audience scores initially on Cinemascore and PostTrak. And even today, people find Johnson’s film to be a unique, daring, and bold take on the Star Wars legacy and philosophy. However, things weren’t totally nice amongst certain fandoms and it was easily seen with user-generated scores on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. These pages were getting review-bombed, notably by bots tampering with the online score. But even with this tampering, that didn’t mean there weren't a lot of people who didn’t care for this movie. 

 

Many criticized the film’s progressive messaging, its character arcs, and how it betrayed certain ideas and fan theories. Characters like Snoke failed to materialize the way people wanted, Rey’s backstory wasn’t as strong as people had hoped, and Luke Skywalker’s grand return wasn’t as epic or triumphant as some had hoped. Even Mark Hamill mentioned his disagreements with the characterization of Luke Skywalker. Perhaps most tragically, one of the actresses, Kellie Marie Tran, was hit by racist messages on social media, solely because people found her character Rose Tico annoying (she isn’t btw), effectively making her leave Instagram all together. This soon led to much of the cast and crew getting bad mouthed on social media, and viscerally attacked by online fans, thinking that a movie they didn’t like completely destroyed the series forever.

 

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But despite the manbaby outrage, it wasn’t like things weren’t smooth sailing for the rest of the movie’s legs. And the weekend after The Last Jedi, its legs failed to take off, despite the value of the Christmas break. It dropped 67%, although it wasn’t helped that Christmas Eve was its Sunday, grossing only $71.6 million, earning the biggest drop ever for a Star Wars movie.

 

And when the dust was settled, The Last Jedi grossed $620.2 million, failing to even triple its opening weekend. But this is far from doom and gloom for the movie. It still landed in the top 10 highest-grossing movies in North America, and it earned $1.33 billion worldwide, making it the ninth-biggest film in history. Adding onto that a net profit of $417.5 million, and it was clear that Star Wars was still a huge brand name that got people excited. And to this day, The Last Jedi is still considered one of, if not the best Star Wars movie ever made.

 

Regardless, this backlash and mediocre legs were telltale signs that Star Wars wasn’t as mighty or as powerful as it seemed only a couple years ago, and that led to bad omens, and an awful culture war that is still being felt today on the series as a whole. We still have these omens today.

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Second place on both accounts is where we find Disney’s live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s the story of a woman named Belle who stumbles upon an enchanted castle full of talking animated objects. It’s here where a cruel prince has turned into a hideous monster, and is cursed to be this way unless he is able to find love. And while Belle and the Beast seem unable to see eye-to-eye, patience and true love might just conquer all in the end.

 

The film we got today was first announced in April 2014, but a live-action Beauty and the Beast has been in the works since 2009. Disney’s first attempt was more an adaptation of the 1994 Broadway musical, which expanded the story and featured several original songs written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice. Ultimately, things stalled and the project was canceled, though it would be reworked again and again, especially after the success of Alice in Wonderland and Oz the Great and Powerful. Bill Condon later signed on as a director for the movie in June 2014.

 

For a while, Disney wanted this movie to be as far away from the 1991 film as possible. The idea was for the film to be more like Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, where this timeless fairy tale is darker, grittier, and more brutal. And most importantly, it would not be a musical. However, none of these ideas seemed to click. But thankfully, one film made the executives realize the error of their ways. When Frozen, a lavish Broadway-esque musical adventure, became the highest-grossing animated film in history, Disney realized there was a strong market for musicals and the iconic Renaissance numbers that influenced Frozen. So Disney chairman Alan Horn urged the live-action department to include the famous musical numbers, and embrace the Disney side of the movie. Alan Menken and Tim Rice also wrote new songs for the movie.

 

Casting was crucial for this title, especially for the role of Belle, often considered one of the best Disney heroines ever. But Alan Horn knew that only one actress could pull the role off. Horn, who oversaw all of the Harry Potter movies, knew Emma Watson was a perfect choice. And coincidentally, she was cast in another Beauty and the Beast adaptation for Warner Bros. directed by Guillermo del Toro that never went anywhere. Watson signed on and earned a $3 million payday, with an agreement that her final payday would be as high as $15 million if the film generated numbers similar to Maleficent.

 

The rest of the supporting cast was full of veterans and incoming actors making their mark, like Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ian McKellan, Ewan McGregor, and Emma Thompson. But one of the biggest headlines was Josh Gad as LeFou. Not because Gad was fresh off of Frozen and would soon be in every Disney-related thing ever, but a bizarre controversy that really left little impact on the film itself. Director Bill Condon revealed in an interview that LeFou was gay and would have an exclusively gay moment in the film, which was basically him dancing with a guy for all of 10 seconds. This led to backlash from both parties. Many thought it was nothing more than queerbaiting and poor representation, while others thought it was a disgrace to wholesome family values, because homophobia is sadly still alive and well. This even got to the point where the film was banned in an Alabama theater, got a 16 rating in Russia, and was almost banned in Malaysia. But that really didn’t impact anything, as the buzz and hype for this movie was unlike anything else.

 

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With a $140 million marketing campaign, Beauty and the Beast was destined to be a smash success the moment the first teaser came out. That teaser, showing the castle and enchanted rose, was viewed over 91.8 million times in 24 hours, becoming the most-viewed trailer in history. The first full trailer was an even bigger hit, earning 127.6 million views and still maintaining the record. With strong promos at the Golden Globes, as well as a cover of the titular song by John Legend and Ariana Grande making waves, everybody was aware of it and everybody was hyped for it. The Disney remakes excel thanks to both nostalgia and the novelty factor of seeing what was once drawings come to life in the real world. But the real X factor for this one was the power of 90s nostalgia. This was the first of these remakes based on a film that many millennials and Gen Xers, the people who saw the 1991 film as kids, saw in theaters. And with kids of their own, as well as starring an actress from another millennial favorite, this made the film even more exciting for people.

 

With record ticket sales for a family film, Beauty and the Beast was one of those films where projections rose higher and higher each week. From $100 million to $130 million, all the way to $150 million. But when it finally opened on March 17, Beauty and the Beast beat out all projections and earned $174.8 million. This was not just the biggest March opening, but also served as the biggest opening for a female-led film, the biggest PG opening, the biggest musical opening, and the sixth-largest opening weekend in history. This kind of historic opening is attributed to a lot of things: positive reviews, Emma Watson’s casting of Belle, 90s nostalgia, and an incredible campaign that targeted everyone, from kids to adults to men to women. And of course, the Disney brand. That always helps.

 

With Spring Break still to come, Beauty and the Beast continued to play to packed houses, ultimately finishing with $504 million domestically, beating out the 1991’s film worldwide gross. This made it here in North America the biggest March release and the biggest musical, animated or live-action, by a country mile. And thanks to boffo grosses across the world, especially in China and the United Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast soared to even greater results. It got a worldwide opening of $357 million, the second-highest March opening ever, and finished with $1.26 billion worldwide. It beat Mamma Mia! to become the biggest live-action musical ever, and is only behind Frozen in terms of musicals overall, as well as earning the distinction of the highest-grossing remake of all time. It saw a net profit of $414.7 million.

 

It was a true event, becoming the equivalent of a Marvel or Star Wars movie for women. This continued Disney’s dominant reign in female-led blockbusters and inspired future remakes for other Disney Renaissance titles. Follow-up films were considered in the years since, but currently a prequel series starring Gaston and LeFou is in development over at Disney+.

 

Third domestic and tenth worldwide was the DC Comics classic Wonder Woman. In the distant island of Themyscira, a land populated only by Amazonian women, Diana, an Amazon princess, dreams of becoming a great warrior. And when she stumbles upon a man named Steve Trevor, she finds herself caught up in the brutality of World War I. Believing the war was created by Ares, the enemy of the Amazons, Diana comes to America and plans to stop the war itself in any way she can.

 

Wonder Woman is one of those timeless superhero icons where it’s crazy to believe it took this long for a movie to come out. But actually, a Wonder Woman movie has been in development as early as 1996. Ivan Reitman was the first producer, and since 1996, countless producers, writers, and actresses were working on bringing Diana Prince to life. Actresses like Sandra Bullock, Mariah Carey, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lucy Lawless were all in talks over these years. The movie that went farthest was in 2005, with a screenplay written by Joss Whedon of all people. Whedon’s script, which emphasized Steve Trevor more than Diana, failed to be completed and he left the project in 2007. And aside from the purchase of a World War II-themed spec script, things were pretty quiet on the Wonder Woman front.

 

But in the new decade, DC was getting aggressive in terms of getting movies out there, and a Wonder Woman movie or series was a top priority. It wasn’t until 2013 that the ball started to roll and a Wonder Woman movie finally saw traction, with the earliest being the casting of Gal Gadot in Batman v Superman. Fans criticized Gadot and her appearance, because the Internet is horrible, but Zack Snyder mentioned that out of all the women who auditioned, Gadot’s headstrong nature and kindness represented everything that made Wonder Woman such a great hero. Gadot went through a strict diet and training regimen and gained 17 pounds of muscle for the role.

 

Warner Bros. focused on getting a female director for this movie, believing it would give the film a feminine and feminist touch that would make the movie shine. Though funny enough Paul Feig did try and pitch a Wonder Woman movie. Game of Thrones director Michelle MacLaren was the first to direct, but left due to creative differences. Finally in 2015, Monster director Patty Jenkins took the helm, with a screenplay written by Allan Heinberg and a story co-written by Heinberg, Snyder, and Jason Fuchs. Jenkins and Geoff Johns rewrote parts of the script as Heinberg was too busy with the short-lived Shondaland series The Catch.

 

Wonder Woman was backed with a huge marketing campaign, specifically tailored towards women and female superhero fans. And while expectations were somewhat muted to about $65-75 million for initial projections, it was expected to still be a solid success, despite being banned from Arab countries because Gal Gadot is #problematic, and controversy over a women’s only screening because men are trash. But what really sealed the deal for many were its reviews. The film saw massive acclaim by critics, praising Patty’s direction, several action sequences, and the performance of Gadot. It was a godsend for Warner Bros., whose quality track record of DC movies was pretty spotty up to that point, and made people aware that this was not an embarrassment. It wasn’t a failed attempt to depict one of the greatest fictional heroines, but a sincere love letter to the character and what makes her so special to millions.

 

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As such, on June 2, Wonder Woman debuted to a very strong $103.7 million, becoming the biggest opening for a woman-directed film, the sixth-biggest superhero debut, and the sixth-biggest June opening. And right away, it was the biggest female-led superhero movie ever. And with positive reviews, a solid opening, and summer weekdays, it was expected that Wonder Woman would play well in the weeks to come. And play well it did. Its second weekend saw a drop of only 43%, a rarity for superhero movies. These types of films are fan-driven and frontloaded, meaning a 50% drop or higher is inevitable. So this meant Wonder Woman saw the best drop for any superhero movie ever, earning $206.3 million in just 10 days.

 

Weekend three saw Wonder Woman slip only 30%, earning $40.8 million to become WB’s second-biggest third weekend ever. Weekend four was only 39% for $25.2 million, making it only the tenth film in history to gross $25 million on its fourth weekend. Weekend five was only 38%, getting $15.6 million, and becoming the fourth-biggest fifth weekend for a superhero movie. And in its sixth weekend, despite the juggernaut that was rival superhero title Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman did the unthinkable and dropped only 36%. Wonder Woman wasn’t just a big superhero title. While the other weekends proved this, that weekend solidified Wonder Woman as a game changer and a cultural milestone, grabbing more than just the fanboy audience.

 

The film continued to have minuscule drops in the weeks to come, and finally finished with $412.6 million, a staggering 4 times its opening and toppling Spider-Man’s 15-year record to become the highest-grossing superhero origin story ever in the States and Canada. Its worldwide gross came to $821 million, becoming the highest-grossing film solely directed by a woman. But either way, Wonder Woman’s success was not just a step in the right direction for DC Films after three consecutive critical duds, but it was also a showcase about what the American public really needed at this time: heroines.

 

After the inauguration of that horrific orangutan who no longer lives in 1600 Penn, there was a massive resurgence in the interests of feminism and basic civil rights towards both genders. And this year, Hollywood finally got exposed for the countless horrible men who let several terrible actions against women slip under the radar. And as such, there was a push amongst audiences to seek out female-driven, feminist-minded programming. And 2017 had quite a few notable ones. This was the first year since 1958 the top three domestic releases were women-led. People saw heroes like Rey, Belle, and Diana as role models and integral figures for people’s theatrical movie watching. This in many ways was a stepping stone for global cinema, as representation of women and racial and ethnic minorities became a huge selling point to all audiences.

 

Wonder Woman’s massive success quickly turned both Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins into household names, with both of them seeing several major projects in the coming years. And in 2020, Gadot and Jenkins returned for a sequel with Wonder Woman 1984. There’s a lot to say about that film when I finally get to the end of this retrospective, but let’s just say things weren’t as rosy there.

 

Fourth domestic and fifth worldwide was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a sleeper hit nobody saw coming. Four high schoolers are stuck in detention and happen to stumble on a video game in the school’s basement. That game? Jumanji. The kids are sucked into the video game itself and transform into four of the playable avatars. Alongside somebody who was stuck in the game since the 90s, the foursome have to brave the elements and face bad guy after bad guy in order to beat the game and return home.

 

The 1995 Jumanji film had a sequel in the works as early as the late 90s. The earliest idea was very different however, as it focused on the President of the United States getting sucked into the board game (stay with me on this), and had to find a way out or else the evil Vice President, played by Steve Buscemi, would take the office. With a premise like that, how could it not have been greenlit right away? The film was supposed to boast incredible CGI technology, as the President worked alongside a variety of animals designed by famed visual effects artist Ken Ralston, who was also set to make his directorial debut with this. But despite a planned Christmas 2000 release date, development stalled after Ralston stepped down.

 

Things were quiet for more than a decade, though murmurs did emerge around 2012. But finally, in August 2015, it was announced a new interpretation of Jumanji was being fast-tracked for development with Sex Tape director Jake Kasdan at the helm. This did not go over well with many, as this was announced a year after the tragic passing of star Robin Williams. But the film was still made, and delivered a pretty stellar cast. Box office powerhouse Dwayne Johnson served as star, and he was rounded out by the likes of Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, and Karen Gillan.

 

The plotline for the movie was revealed March 2017 at CinemaCon, and it served as a very different take than most people expected. The film was not a reboot, but a very loose continuation of the 1995 movie, and its plot, focusing on getting sucked into a video game and the players turning into the complete opposites of themselves, was nothing like the 1995 movie. This served as a very strong blend of both nostalgia and originality. People became intrigued by the connection to the 90s hit, while also enjoyed the goofy premise and creative avenues given to the plot and characters. And this ensured it would be a hit. But nobody could predict the numbers it ended up generating.

 

Welcome to the Jungle debuted to the general public December 20, but the first people to see the movie were Amazon Prime members on December 8. These exclusive screenings were done because Sony knew the film was an easy crowd pleaser, what with its broadly appealing cast and clever premise. And these previews did surprisingly well, earning $1.9 million in just 1,200 theaters. And sure enough, this early word-of-mouth boosted the film’s positive buzz, and the film was an easy hit on its holiday weekend, earning $70 million in its first six days. It was clear this would be the #2 to The Last Jedi that Christmas, but things got very interesting after Christmas. On its second weekend, the film rose. Common for Christmas movies, sure, but its 38% jump from the 3-Day meant it saw the fourth-best jump for a movie in more than 3,000 theaters in its second weekend. With $169 million for its first 12 days, this solidified it as one of the biggest hits of 2017.

 

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Its third weekend is where things got crazy. Dropping only 26%, Welcome to the Jungle actually jumped to #1, unseating The Last Jedi, and earning $37.2 million for a then-$245.6 million. It repeated at #1 once again, earning $28.1 million, and repeated at #1 once again for its fifth weekend, earning $19.5 million. The movie stuck in the top 10 for 12 weeks with minimal drops, and finally ended with $404.5 million domestically, passing Spider-Man’s 15-year record of Sony’s biggest domestic moneymaker. Man, it must have been hard to be Sam Raimi that year. It grossed $962.1 million worldwide, and earned a profit of $305.7 million.

 

Welcome to the Jungle’s box office is still surreal. 90s nostalgia and a great cast meant it would have been an easy hit, but top 5 material? It just goes to show that when you have the right elements and a fun picture, the returns will be simply glorious. And this was one of the many titles that helped Sony earn an impressive comeback at the box office, with future hits like Peter Rabbit, Into the Spider-Verse, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and Bad Boys for Life all coming in the next few years. A sequel was released in 2019 and we’ll talk about that when the time comes.

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We’re finally getting to Marvel here in fifth place (eighth worldwide) with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. This is a film all about family, as the Guardians continue to look out for one another while taking part in different odd jobs. But things start to get a little crazy when Peter Quill stumbles on his biological dad Ego, played by Kurt Russell. This reunion soon leads to a crazy adventure for all the members, resulting in reconciliations and crazy space battles.

 

During the run-up to the release of the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Bob Iger mentioned they had high hopes for this niche Marvel property, believing it could be another Avengers. And when Guardians of the Galaxy became one of the biggest hits of the summer, it was a given that a sequel would be made, specifically with James Gunn back as writer and director. A release date was announced at Comic-Con 2014 for July 2017, but the following October Papa Feige announced it would be put into the plum first weekend of May slot that all the iconic Marvel titles received.

 

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Gunn wanted to have fewer characters in this installment, though he did want to introduce Mantis and Adam Warlock to this film. Warlock was sadly taken out of the film however due to script constraints, though he did appear in a mid-credits scene. James Gunn also wanted this film to be completely different from the first movie in terms of structure and tone. People loved the first film because it was unique and fresh, so Gunn saw it was natural for this to be unique and fresh from the first one. This included the introduction of Quill’s father, an emphasis on Yondu, and a complete revamp of Groot from a gentle giant to a cute little baby. Baby Groot, while an easy marketing sell nowadays, was a bit of a risk to Gunn. Groot was considered the fan-favorite of the first movie, so radically changing him for a new installment might have alienated audiences. But Papa Feige approved, which allowed Gunn even more creative avenues and an easy selling point for the marketing campaign.

 

Opening on May 5, Vol. 2, helped by a massive campaign including several promotional tie-ins, a Super Bowl TV spot, and the premiere of the new Disneyland ride Guardians of the Galaxy -  Mission: Breakout!, earned $146.5 million, a 54% jump from the first Guardians’ opening. While not in the top 5 May openings, it was the second-best for a movie without Iron Man in it, and still served as the 17th biggest opening of all time. Even when Marvel doesn’t break records, they still make all the money. The movie soon repeated at #1 for a second weekend, and finished with $389.8 million domestically and $863.8 million worldwide. This was a jump of 17% and 12% respectively, showing the brand was still alive and well and one of Marvel’s major titles. It would go on to see a net profit of $154.7 million.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 was announced shortly after and was set for 2020, but after James Gunn’s more controversial tweets were brought up by horrible person Mike Cernovich, Disney split ties with Gunn, only to bring him back March 2019 and the film being delayed. A smart decision in hindsight. Vol. 3 is set for production later this year and is planned to release in 2023. A long wait for sure, but Disney is still tiding fans over with a short series starring Baby Groot titled I Am Groot, and a Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, inspired by the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, set for release in 2022.

 

Another big Marvel smash was sixth place’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Peter Parker just helped Tony Stark with an epic clash against superheroes, and is now trying to juggle his high school life with being New York’s biggest crimefighter Spider-Man. But when a new villain named the Vulture, who is seemingly tied with Tony Stark, threatens to kill Spider-Man and create dangerous advanced weapons to sell to others. And only our friendly neighborhood hero can stop him.

 

I’ve already gone into long details about this back in the 2014 section, but Spider-Man was going through some rough patches, despite the clear box office success stories. The mixed reception to The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the diminishing returns for each Spidey installment  put Sony into a panic. They planned a whole shared universe around Marc Webb’s movies, but it was clear audiences were just not into these films, and plans for sequels and spin-offs were quietly shelved.

 

In contrast, Disney and Papa Feige’s Marvel movies were bigger than ever, growing exponentially every year. But Papa Feige wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to have Spider-Man, one of the greatest Marvel characters, to be a part of his weird cinematic universe, because he had an idea for him to be an integral part of Phase Three, but he didn’t have the character film rights. So to sum up, Sony had Spider-Man, but a nonstarter of a shared universe. Papa Feige had a massively successful universe, but no Spider-Man. Sure enough, Sony got their peanut butter into Papa Feige’s chocolate and vice versa. 

 

The Sony hack revealed emails between Sony co-chairman Amy Pascal and president Doug Belgrad that stated they wanted to get Marvel Studios involved for the next Spider-Man movie. And those emails came true as in February 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios announced a joint venture. They were going to completely reboot the Spider-Man property and have the next Peter Parker be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Studios would produce the films and get full control over the merchandising rights, while Sony marketed and distributed the titles.

 

Next up on the docket was finding a new Peter. The one thing the creatives wanted was for Peter to actually be played by a high schooler, rather than a guy in his late 20s pretending to be in high school. Several young actors were in consideration, including Asa Butterfield, Nat Wolff, Charlie Plummer, and Timothee Chalamet, the love of my life and the reason I get up every morning. But because the universe hates me, Timothee was rejected and Tom Holland, who impressed Papa Feige and Amy Pascal with his performances in The Impossible, Wolf Hall, and In the Heart of the Sea, was given the iconic role of Peter Parker after several successful screen tests with both Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans. Several directors were in consideration, like Jonathan Levine, Ted Melfi, Jason Moore, Jared Hess, and John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with the somewhat obscure Jon Watts landing the role. Daley and Goldstein would later write the screenplay.

 

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Homecoming was going to be unique from the previous Spider-Man titles, as it was less about heroics and more about high school, with John Hughes being a major influence. That’s why they named the movie after a school dance. This not only made Holland’s Spider-Man more unique compared to the previous film iterations, but also gave Peter a strong starting point for his character growth and development, as he matures and understands his responsibility in a coming-of-age style format. This was also the first on-screen depiction of the Vulture, which also helped make the movie stand out from the other Spider-Man movies.

 

With Papa Feige in charge, this was going to be a hit no matter what, but there was concern that with the lukewarm reception to the Webb films, as well as oversaturation of the character in general that it could ding the movie a bit. But on July 7, Spider-Man: Homecoming opened to $117 million, the second-biggest Spider-Man debut. And while it seemed like smooth sailing, considering the strong critical reception and raves received by Holland, the film actually dropped 62%, comparable to both Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the two most infamous Spidey flicks. Yet the difference between those two is that despite the rough second weekend drop, Homecoming recovered quickly, seeing smaller and smaller drops in the weeks to come. 50% in weekend three, 40% in weekend four, 33% in weekend five, 32% in weekend six, 29% in weekend seven. It may have been fan-driven at first, but people started to pick up on it and were looking to seek it out. As such, Homecoming finished with $334.2 million domestic, a massive spike from the Webb movies, though still below all the Raimi titles.

 

Worldwide was a different story however. With a massive $140.5 million overseas debut, Homecoming finished with $880.2 million worldwide, making it the biggest superhero movie of the year, as well as the sixth-biggest Marvel title and the second-biggest Spider-Man movie, only behind Spider-Man 3. Its net profit is estimated to be $200.1 million. And since then, Tom Holland’s interpretation is still beloved by Marvel fans, in Homecoming, its 2019 sequel, and in other MCU titles like Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, and has arguably made the Spider-Man brand bigger than ever, with some help from some other Sony movies that we’ll get into next time and the recently released Playstation 4 video game.

 

Seventh place was yet another movie nobody saw coming, as we get to Stephen King’s beloved It. It’s the story of seven children in Derry, Maine in 1988. All of them are going through their own struggles and insecurities, but none are more terrifying than the self-titled It, an ancient cosmic evil that can shapeshift, manipulate reality, and go completely unnoticed by adults. Taking the form of a terrifying clown named Pennywise, It forces the children to confront their personal demons, resulting in the kids forming a group named the Losers’ Club, who spend their summer trying to find a way to stop It from destroying their lives and others.

 

King’s 1986 novel is one of those books that is synonymous with the author. A sprawling 1,138-page epic, It saw mixed reviews and controversy over its sexual content towards children, there’s a reason why one scene in particular didn’t make it into the movie, but it was a smash success, becoming the best-selling fiction book of 1986 and garnering a legion of diehard fans. This led to a two-part miniseries on ABC in 1990, which also earned mixed reviews, but became ABC’s biggest success of the year, earning 30 million viewers and praise towards Tim Curry over his performance of Pennywise.

 

So naturally, a big-budget film adaptation was in the works as early as 2009. And Warner Bros. was so adamant about getting this one film made that it went through several directors and phases before filming. Things first began with a screenplay written by Blood Creek’s David Kajganich, who immediately approached WB when he heard they were making a movie. However, Kajganich had to follow a few rules. He had to make the script R-rated, which was understandable, and he had to take a dense, 1,100+ page epic and condense all these characters and two different time periods into 120 pages. As you can imagine, there were problems here.

 

Later in 2012, True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga signed on as director, with him co-writing a new script with Chase Palmer. New Line Cinema was in charge of distribution now, with the new plan being two movies. One movie would focus on the kids being tormented by It in a coming-of-age storyline, while the second movie would leap forward in time and show the kids as adults banding together to continue the fight. Fukunaga only planned to direct the first film, but he was in negotiations to co-write the second. And most importantly, Stephen King gave Fukunaga and producer Dan Lin his blessings on the project, believing this was a great adaptation of his work. In May 2015, Will Poulter signed on as Pennywise, and production was set to commence in summer 2016. Surely nothing could go wrong.

 

I’m lying of course. Shortly after Poulter’s casting, Cary Fukunaga left the project due to creative differences. While it was reported this studio clashing was because of budget cuts that threatened Fukunaga’s artistic vision, Cary explained that the real reason was the direction the story was taking. Fukunaga wanted to make an unconventional horror film, while New Line Cinema wanted a more audience-friendly fright fest. Fukunaga loved the original story, and out of fear his film would bastardize the book, the man left.

 

In July 2015, New Line announced the next director who would bring King’s story to life: Andy Muschetti, best known for the 2013 Jessica Chastain film Mama. Annabelle writer Gary Dauberman later signed on for the screenplay, and while Will Poulter was still attached as Pennywise, he later dropped out due to scheduling conflicts in April 2016. Bill Skarsgard filled in for the role that June, with his performance using Heath Ledger’s Joker as inspiration. One of the big things that made this It so interesting was the time period. While the book’s flashbacks took place in the 50s, since the present day was the mid-80s, this film took place in the 1980s. This helped It serve as an homage to 80s movies and culture, including classic Steven King, Steven Spielberg movies, The Goonies, and even Stand by Me. 80s horror was also a huge influence on the film, with The Howling, The Thing, and Near Dark all helping to give the film its visceral edge.

 

During the run-up to It, this movie felt like something that was very clearly going to be a massive hit in hindsight, but nobody was realizing it until it actually happened. The advertising campaign first began in June 2016, when the first look at Pennywise, costume and all, was unveiled online. This saw massive headlines, with horror sites and entertainment journalists discussing the unique, horrifying new interpretation of the famed dancing clown. This spike of interest showed that the King story was still a popular one for many. However, the ball really didn’t start rolling until late March 2017, when the first teaser trailer dropped. And at that moment, everything changed.

 

The tension, the music, the scares. All of them were so finely-tuned and sharply edited that it gave audiences just enough of a scare without going too overboard or revealing the best parts. And this simple teaser did...shockingly well. It earned 197 million views in the span of 24 hours, making it the most-viewed online trailer in one day in history, dethroning movies like The Fate of the Furious, Beauty and the Beast, Fifty Shades Darker, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, all of which were established film franchises. It was probably at that moment WB and New Line realized what they had. This wasn’t just going to be a successful horror release, but the interest among the general public rivaled that of Marvel and Disney. This had a chance to be a game-changer and a literal blockbuster. Not just a horror hit.

 

And by that point, the advertising for this was just about everywhere. A second teaser trailer during the MTV Movie Awards, new images from Entertainment Weekly, a major presence at Comic-Con, and even five minutes of the film playing in front of fellow New Line horror release Annabelle: Creation. By this point, if you didn’t know about It, you were living under a rock.

 

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So on September 8, It opened to the general public, and made history, with an opening day of $50.4 million, the largest opening day ever for an R-rated movie. And shortly after, It earned $123.4 million, becoming the second-biggest R-rated opening, the biggest September opening, and the biggest horror opening in cinematic history, all by a country mile. And keep in mind, Hurricane Irma was still ravaging Florida, so it could have made even more money that weekend. The film continued to play well, ultimately finishing with $327.5 million domestically and $700.4 million, receiving an estimated net profit of $293.7 million, as well as the distinction of being the highest-grossing horror film of all time, as well as the third-biggest R-rated film of all time.

 

There’s a lot of reasons people will point for this movie’s sudden success, because it really wasn’t something anybody predicted. Horror movies never crossed $300 million domestically before, so how did this film manage to do it? If I can say it bluntly, it was, simply put, the power of nostalgia. The nostalgia cycle has always been a constant in media, but it’s become insanely popular and insanely profitable over the past few years. Just about every TV show from the 80s and 90s has been brought back in some capacity, and we’re still getting remakes and reboots of famed 80s and 90s properties. And It played this to a tee. Not only was the film based on an iconic 80s book, with a successful miniseries that was a major cultural touchstone for both kids and adults, but the film’s 1986 setting helped the film earn favorable comparisons to 80s horror and kids movies. The film has elements of Stand By Me and The Goonies, both in terms of time period and lead characters, and Stranger Things became the biggest hit in Netflix history one year prior. So a film with Stranger Things vibes based on a Stephen King book, right when younger readers who grew up with King are now adults, just made this perfect event viewing. Oh, and well-made trailers certainly didn’t help.

 

It was just one of many films this year and beyond that helped make horror movies become the lucrative cash cows they are now. New Line has been pumping out Conjuring titles left and right, while Blumhouse is bigger than ever. And Stephen King has also flourished. At the same time as this movie, Netflix has produced several King adaptations, including 1922, Gerald’s Game, and In the Tall Grass. And while recent films like Pet Sematary and Doctor Sleep failed to take off, it’s fair to say It’s success means King has found many new fans, and many more film adaptations in the years to come.

 

In 2019, It: Chapter Two released to theaters, this time focusing on the kids all grown up and played by Hollywood actors. Ultimately, while a hit, it wasn’t quite the same sensation as before, earning worse reviews, and grossing only $473 million worldwide, though still repping a solid profit of $169 million. A third film has been mentioned by screenwriter Gary Dauberman, but nothing has really been made on the idea so far.

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Eighth place DOM and ninth WW is where we have the last, but not least MCU title, Thor: Ragnarok. After the events of Age of Ultron, Thor discovers that his homeland of Asgard is in danger. Not just from the new baddie Hela, Thor’s estranged older sister, but also from Ragnarok, the end of all things. Stuck on an alien planet, Thor, alongside Bruce Banner, Loki, and a new character named Valkyrie, tries to get back home before time runs out.

 

Thor 3 was something that was mentioned by Chris Hemsworth and Papa Feige during the press tour for The Dark World, but things weren’t fully announced until October 2014, with the film earning the subtitle Ragnarok. The film was initially set for release July 2017, but after the Spider-Man agreement, Ragnarok was pushed all the way to November 2017. Alan Taylor, director of Dark World, stated he would not return to the franchise, resulting in the hunt for a new director. And boy, did Papa Feige find himself a good director.

 

Several directors were in consideration, including Ruben Fleischer, Rob Letterman, and Rawson Marshall Thurber. But the winner of this fight was New Zealand comedian and filmmaker Taika Waititi. The way Papa Feige had the men fight against one another was simple: he would share the 10 ideas he wanted for this new movie, and then they had to come back with a new pitch that made these ideas clearer. Waititi’s pitch was a bit different, as he edited a sizzle reel that described the film’s tone, and some of the comedy ideas, using clips from movies like Big Trouble in Little China and songs like “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. This practice was discouraged by Marvel, but Papa Feige did not care. He loved everything about Taika’s sizzle reel and immediately signed him on the movie.

 

Taika Waititi was initially hesitant about making any big-budget blockbuster, let alone a Marvel title, because he believed the art of a tentpole would be sacrificed in favor of profits. However, Papa Feige gave Waititi as much creative freedom as possible, making him happier to work on the film. Taika wanted this film to serve as both a solid stand-alone adventure, ensuring it was his movie that happened to be in the MCU rather than the other way around, as well as reinventing the Thor franchise itself. This not only meant the film was structured more like a road movie, as well as featured more comedy bits, but also stayed far away from Earth as possible. 

 

Outside of two or so scenes, one of which included a cameo from Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, the film took place entirely in the cosmos and on alien planets, a breath of fresh air as the Earth scenes in both previous Thor titles were not well-received. This soon led to the inclusion of Hulk and several new characters like Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Jeff Goldblum’s Grandmaster, and Korg, a rock being voiced by Taika Waititi himself. All the while, ditching Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, as her and Thor broke up inbetween movies. Jamie Alexander was also removed, though that was due to scheduling conflicts with the television series Blindspot.

 

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This fresh new look for the Thor franchise immediately garnered headlines when the first teaser trailer dropped. Put under the backdrop of “Immigrant Song”, the trailer promised this to be a goofy, non-stop roller coaster ride full of bright colors, crazy action, and funny one-liners. This led to Ragnarok’s first teaser garnering 136 million views in the first 24 hours, making it the biggest Disney trailer debut and the third-biggest trailer debut in history. The film also became the most-discussed movie at 2017’s SDCC, and continued to earn major social media impressions in just about every part of the marketing campaign. This hype soon led to the film becoming the most-hyped film that Fall on Fandango and ensured the MCU would end with a true bang in what was a pretty incredible year.

 

On its November 3 opening weekend, Ragnarok debuted to $122.7 million in the first three days, becoming the sixth-biggest November opening and seventh-biggest MCU opening of all time. It was also a massive 43% jump from Dark World. With rave reviews from critics and audiences, Ragnarok was a hit all throughout November and December, despite Justice League releasing two weeks later. It finished with $315 million domestically and $854 million worldwide. Its net profit is estimated to be $174.2 million.

 

By all accounts, Ragnarok was a massive success, a testament to both the popularity of the MCU and Taika’s unique vision. Thor was not really considered the best Marvel series, as both entries saw lukewarm reception. But it’s through Ragnarok’s fun vibes, clever comedy and 80s aesthetic that Thor captured a new audience and got people invested, excited, and interested in the land of Asgard. And since then, Thor has seen a bit of a resurgence in popularity, with his appearances in both Infinity War and Endgame being praised by fans.

 

And Taika was greatly rewarded for his work, as he very quickly became close to Disney and its many production companies. In 2019, not only did his film What We Do in the Shadows become a television series on FX, which is currently in development on a Season 3, he also directed and starred in the controversial comedy Jojo Rabbit for Fox Searchlight. Jojo Rabbit would then earn good reviews and see Taika win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. He would also go on to direct an episode of the hit series The Mandalorian, appear in the Ryan Reynolds film Free Guy and WB’s The Suicide Squad, and now he has three different film projects in the works. His next film is Next Goal Wins starring Michael Fassbender, he is currently developing his own Star Wars project, and he is now filming Thor: Love and Thunder, which will see Natalie Portman return as Jane Foster and feature the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s set for release in May 2022.

 

Ninth place saw the return of the Minions...again with Despicable Me 3. After Gru fails to capture a criminal mastermind played by Trey Parker, he’s out of a job. But luck turns around when Gru’s long-lost twin brother Dru invites the former supervillain to his place. And this soon leads into yet another hilarious adventure.

 

A third entry was first announced by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke in September 2013, with the same creative team from the first two movies back in the fray. While the Minion mayhem was expected, one big shakeup was who would be the antagonist. As said before, Trey Parker of South Park fame was added as Balthazar Bratt, a former child star still stuck in the 1980s. It was an odd stunt casting, seeing the South Park guy in a kids movie, and...that’s because it was. I dunno man, I could barely find any information about the movie on Wikipedia, and there’s really not much else you can say about the movie’s backstory, so I’ll just go into the box office stuff.

 

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Releasing on June 30, Despicable Me 3 saw mixed reviews like its predecessor Minions, but it was still set to be one of the biggest hits that summer, projected to open around $85-95 million. Ultimately, the film opened below expectations with about $72 million. This was not only below projected expectations, but was a troubling 35% fall from Minions only two years ago. It was even worse than Secret Life of Pets, a completely original IP. But with little in terms of competition for younger viewers, DM3 still earned $264.6 million, the second-lowest of the franchise domestically.

 

However, when you include overseas grosses, the film soared to $1.03 billion worldwide, which meant it was the fourth-highest grossing film of 2017 and the fourth-highest grossing animated film of all time. Net profit is estimated to be $366.2 million thanks to an $80 million production budget. Despicable Me 3’s performance also meant this was the first animated series to have more than one billion-dollar title, and surpassed Shrek to become the highest-grossing animated franchise of all time, a record it still holds to this day. As said before, Minions: The Rise of Gru is slated to be the next film in the series this July (y’know, allegedly), and a Despicable Me 4 is currently in development.

 

Tenth place was home to the infamous debacle that was Justice League. After the events of Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince have tried to set up a new team of crime-fighting superheroes at a time when Clark Kent is dead. And when a new baddie named Steppenwolf looks to take over the world, only Batman, Wonder Woman, and a few other people can save the day.

 

Ooh boy. We got a lot to talk about here about a movie with a rare kind of troubled history that was nobody’s fault, but everybody’s fault at the same time. To talk about this movie and its convoluted and confusing production history, we have to go back. All the way to 2007, when the MCU didn’t exist and Warner Bros. was still trying to get DC Comics movies off the ground. February 2007 saw husband-and-wife writing team Michele and Kieran Mulroney hired by WB to write a movie based on Justice League. This was immediately after both Joss Whedon’s Wonder Woman and David S. Goyer’s The Flash were canned, so Warner put all their eggs into a Justice League basket. The script, titled Justice League: Mortal, was submitted in June 2007. Warner loved it and immediately fast-tracked the script into production before the incoming Writer’s Strike could happen.

 

This was set to be a complete reboot for DC Comics, so Brandon Routh and Christain Bale were not going to reappear here. In the hunt for a director, the first choice for WB was Jason Reitman, who rejected because he felt he fit better into the indie scene. Luckily, the one and only George Miller signed on to direct in September 2007, with the film set to have a $220 million production budget and a cast full of young, hot actors. This was a deliberate choice by Miller, as he wanted the cast to grow into their roles. D. J. Cotrona was cast as Superman, while crazy cannibal Armie Hammer was cast as Batman. Megan Cale was Wonder Woman, Teresa Palmer was Talia al Ghul, Common was Green Lantern, Adam Brody was The Flash, Hugh Keays-Byrne was cast in an unknown role, Santiago Cabrera was Aquaman, and Jay Baruchel was the villain Maxwell Lord.

 

Despite having a cast and crew lined up and ready to go, the Writer’s Strike put the film immediately to a hold, and it wasn’t until February 2008 when the strike ended that development went further. Both WB and Miller wanted the movie to start right away, but production was pushed back three months due to issues with the Australian government. The film was supposed to be shot in Sydney, but it was rejected by the government because it wasn’t Aussie enough. Even though almost all of the production crew was Australian, and several members of the cast were Australian, the government felt the cast didn’t have enough Aussie actors that would allow the film to get a 40 percent tax rebate. And thus, filming was shifted to Vancouver and was pushed back considerably.

 

Yet by the time filming was set for July 2008, Warner got cold feet. The production delays grew more and more tiring and the planned $225 million production budget was worrying. But it was the massive, record-breaking success of The Dark Knight that made Warner change their minds on Justice League: Mortal. Why spend millions on a big crossover when a solo adventure focusing on one hero could do just as strong, if not better box office? So Warner decided to ignore Miller’s Justice League, opting to finish Papa Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and create solo films for certain heroes.

 

The track record for said solo films was still a problem. The Flash and Wonder Woman were still suck in development hell and 2011’s Green Lantern starring Ryan Reynolds...well, less said about that the better. It wasn’t until Man of Steel when things started rolling. David S. Goyer was hired to write both a Man of Steel sequel and a Justice League title, while Zack Snyder would direct Goyer’s script. For a while, it was planned to be a two-parter, though that was scrapped.

 

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Man of Steel was the big set-up for the DC Extended Universe, which allowed other DC Comics heroes a chance to shine on the big screen. And the crown jewel of it all was a five-film story arc that went as follows: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and an entire Justice League trilogy. All the while, solo films based around Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash would fit as a side dish. The idea for this series was for the films to start out dark and get progressively lighter and jovial as time goes on, with Batman v Superman being the darkest, though Justice League’s script was reportedly still dark and scary.

 

Things seemed a bit shaky, as Man of Steel was a polarizing title, and things got even worse when Batman v Superman hit. The film was a critical disaster and a mild box office disappointment, with heavy critiques over its dark tone and lack of humor. This soon led to a complete reorganization of the production of DC movies, with Geoff Johns and John Berg serving as overseers, as well as heavy alterations to upcoming titles like Suicide Squad and Justice League, which would begin filming less than a month after BvS’s release. And thus, the production from hell was born.

 

Snyder already began rewriting his Justice League film to be more hopeful and optimistic, as well as more linear. But even then, the film saw even further rewrites from Geoff Johns, which caused issues between writer Chris Terrio and other WB executives. Other executives were not a fan of how the film was shaping up under Snyder’s vision, with insider sources saying it was unwatchable, causing even more rewrites to the film while production was going on.

 

During post-production, tragedy sadly struck the Snyder family as Zack’s daughter Autumn lost her life to suicide. Snyder then left the film altogether in May 2017, with Avengers director Joss Whedon handling post duties in Snyder’s place. And shortly after, in July 2017, Justice League went through two months of reshoots that cost about $25 million to the budget, ballooning the film to a $300 million behemoth, making it one of the most expensive films ever made. And it’s here where things went from bad to worse.

 

While Snyder still got final credit as director, Whedon’s rewrites amounted to about 80 pages of the script, and Snyder stated only a quarter of his shots were actually used in the movie. All the while, Joss Whedon’s behavior on the set was abusive and unprofessional, according to accusations by actor Ray Fisher. All the while, Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara demanded the film be less than two hours long and not be delayed from its mid-November release date, even though both would have likely helped the film creatively. The first reason was so Justice League could get more showtimes, but the other reason was so Warner’s executives could receive their cash bonuses before the planned merger with AT&T. Capitalism wins again!

 

Perhaps the funniest woes coming from the reshoots came with Henry Cavill as Superman. The reshoots coincided with Cavill’s time filming Mission: Impossible - Fallout, where his character has a mustache. While Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie gave permission to the Justice League producers to have Cavill shave in exchange for the $3 million it would cost to shut down Fallout and digitally fill in the mustache, executives at Paramount refused to allow Cavill to shave. And thus, Cavill filmed the entire movie with his facial hair, and the VFX team were required to digitally remove the mustache during post. They...tried their best.

 

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Justice League finally opened on November 17, more than a year after the first sizzle reel was shown at Comic-Con 2016. With mixed reception and the badwill of the previous DCEU titles, the hype for Justice League was a bit more muted than one might expect for a big superhero team-up release. Projections had the film opening at around $110-120 million, only a few million ahead of Wonder Woman’s opening. But with an ultra-competitive holiday movie season, sandwiched in between films like Ragnarok and The Last Jedi, Justice League debuted to $93.8 million, a 45% fall from Batman v Superman, and the first DCEU title to open below $100 million.

 

This bad run up until release was exacerbated, like Batman v Superman before it, by poor reception from all audiences. The film saw mixed reviews from critics, but saw even worse reactions from paying audiences. The big issue here was that through these production woes and overhaul of the film’s script turned it into a weird, Frankenstein’s mess of a movie that tried to be dark and lighthearted all at once. The Snyder diehards couldn’t get into it because it wasn’t like Batman v Superman, superhero fans weren’t into the weird tonal shifts and awkward moments, and for casual audiences, there were simply better options to choose from.

 

This soon led to the film quickly sputtering away, dropping 56% on its second weekend, despite the Thanksgiving holiday, earning second place behind Pixar’s Coco. It finished with $229 million domestically and $657.9 million worldwide. And because of the film’s massive budget and a breakeven point of $750 million, it is estimated that Justice League lost around $60 million, serving as a box office flop. This soon led to a complete reorganization and reshuffling of DC Films itself. In early 2018, Johns and Berg were replaced by Walter Hamada, an executive producer on horror titles like The Conjuring, Annabelle, and It, and Chantal Nong. And since then, the DCEU has continued to be an odd beast of a franchise, with incredible highs, scary lows, and comfortable middles.

 

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But this was not the end of the Justice League story. With reports about the film’s production history and Snyder’s departure from the project, Snyder fans began campaigning towards Warner Bros. for a director’s cut on Justice League that featured the scenes shot and produced by Snyder himself. A Snyder Cut if you will. And after years of obnoxious fan campaigning and Twitter hashtags, the Snyder fans finally got what they wanted as The Snyder Cut will finally be released. Planned to be a four-hour epic with more than $70 million pushed into it, The Snyder Cut will finally release on HBO Max on March 18.

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Eleventh place featured yet another superhero release with the R-rated X-Men hit Logan. In the not-so-distant future, mutants are a dying breed, and Logan, formerly Wolverine, is getting older and weaker, as his healing powers are starting to wither away. His friend Charles Xavier is also getting old, suffering from dementia that leads to disastrous consequences. The two are soon set to protect a young mutant named Laura from a villainous group, and it’s here where Logan truly becomes a hero.

 

After the success of 2013’s The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold, Fox began discussions for another solo Wolverine title. Mangold would write the treatment, while Hugh Jackman was in negotiations, because his contract ended with Days of Future Past. Both Jackman and Mangold discussed ideas for a new Wolverine movie in the months since the 2013’s release, with the plan being a more intimate title in the same vein as Unforgiven or The Wrestler. This was all coming at around the time when Jackman began thinking about retiring from the role of Wolverine, a role he’s been playing for 13 years at this point.

 

By March 2014, the decision was that Wolverine 3 would film immediately after production wrapped on X-Men: Apocalypse. A March 2017 release date was set and Mangold announced he would serve as director again. It was here where Jackman continued to discuss finality with the Wolverine character, though he mentioned he wouldn’t fully commit to this new Wolverine movie if the script wasn’t up to par. He liked the script.

 

Patrick Stewart later signed on in February 2015, with the film serving as a team-up between the two, and the story having a quasi-father/son relationship between Logan and Charles, which wasn’t really explored in the movies before. It was later revealed in September that this new Wovlerine movie would be a loose adaptation of the Old Man Logan story, which really helped make the movie stand out. With the focus on a lone fighter aging and at his wit’s end, this allowed Logan to take heavy inspiration from Westerns and noir cinema. Such films Mangold mentioned were an influence to the final product included Shane, The Cowboys, The Gauntlet, Little Miss Sunshine of all things, and the aforementioned Unforgiven and The Wrestler.

 

Alongside trailers that pushed the film as more moody and melancholy, Logan served as a unique superhero title. It was more grounded, more realistic, and focused on heavy subjects like aging and legacy, with Logan passing the mantle of the mutants to Laura, otherwise known as X23 in the comics. And the way the film was presented, it seemed like it was going to be a major send-off, as Logan was now an old, tired man. And sure enough, this really was the big swan song for Hugh Jackman. In 2015, Jackman announced this film was going to be the last time he would play Wolverine, ending a 17-year long career as the Marvel hero. It really felt like a true end of an era. Despite the Marvel Cinematic Universe long overtaking the popularity of the X-Men film series up to that point, Hugh Jackman was a major key player to the explosion of popularity superhero films have nowadays. Way back in the year 2000, Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine was praised by critics and fanboys, becoming one of the first instances where it seemed like Hollywood truly understood what Marvel was all about. X-Men and Jackman paved the way for Spider-Man and Iron Man and Black Panther. So to see Jackman go out in such a big way made this film seem real special and can’t miss appointment viewing.

 

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Logan debuted on March 3 to immense critical praise, hailing the film for its atmosphere, storyline, acting, and intense action. This, alongside many other factors, helped boost the film’s box office projections exponentially, going from $55 million to as much as $80 million. And sure enough, the film managed to surpass even the most optimistic of expectations, earning $88.4 million. Such incredible records include the biggest R-rated March opening, the fourth-biggest March opening in general, the fifth-largest X-Men opening, and the fifth-largest R-rated opening ever. This immense acclaim only pushed Logan further to even greater results, finishing with $226.3 million domestically and $619 million worldwide, becoming the third-highest grossing R-rated film of all time, as well as the third-biggest X-Men film of all time.

 

Logan’s success wasn’t just a reaffirmation of Jackman’s incredible legacy in the world of comic book movies. It also served, like Deadpool before it, a wake-up call to Hollywood that R-rated titles, especially superhero R-rated titles, have a very strong market that you can tap into. This would of course lead to many other R-rated hits, with the biggest one coming just two years later. And really, Logan, both critically and financially, served as a truly perfect end to the X-Men franchise. The face of the franchise left, so it’s fair to say the franchise was over, even though it would continue for a few more years.

 

It was announced that Disney would acquire 20th Century Fox later in 2017, which, among other things, consolidated almost all the Marvel film rights under one roof. And X-Men would see several major changes that pretty much upended all future plans. We’ll go into more detail on this stuff when we get to Deadpool 2 next year, but for Logan’s sake, a planned spin-off on the character of X23, tentatively titled Laura, was briefly in development by James Mangold, but since the buyout, this, among all other X-Men projects were completely stalled, and no word has really been made since. Still, James Mangold has slowly become a fixture at Disney, directing Ford v Ferrari, and has two major projects for the Mouse House, including a fifth Indiana Jones film.

 

Twelfth domestic was a film that managed to get third place worldwide, The Fate of the Furious. Dominic Toretto seems to have settled down with his new wife Letty. However, a cyberterrorist played by Charlize Theron managed to coerce Dom to work for her, resulting in him turning evil and working against his team. So now the Fast crew have to take down Dom if they want the day to be saved.

 

Reports for an eighth Fast and Furious film came as early as November 2014, when Universal chairwoman Donna Langley announced that three more sequels after Furious 7 would be produced. Of course, it wasn’t until CinemaCon 2015 that Vin Diesel himself announced the then-titled Fast 8 for an April 2017 release date. The script was completed in September 2015, and Diesel mentioned he wanted Rob Cohen, the director of the first movie and a horrible person IRL, to return as director for the series. Ultimately, F. Gary Gray, fresh off the monster success of Straight Outta Compton, would fill in the director’s chair.

 

Two big changes would happen to this film, according to producer Neil Moritz. First, and most obvious, Paul Walker’s character Brian would not return, despite rumors of Cody Walker, his brother, filling in for the role. The second was that Fate of the Furious would serve as another transition piece. While the last few films were heist titles, Fate of the Furious was more of a spy caper, tackling espionage and cyberterrorism. This again shows how this franchise consistently reinvented itself so it would avoid seeming stale and kept the world ever-expanding and interesting.

 

The film was shot across the world, in places like Iceland and New York City. However, the big headliner for the movie was its groundbreaking filming in Cuba. With filming happening just as U.S.-Cuba relations smoothed for the first time in decades, this meant that major Hollywood productions could finally shoot in the famed island. So this meant that Fate of the Furious had scenes shot and take place in Havana. This was a groundbreaking moment and only helped solidify the franchise as a globe-trotting epic.

 

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The Fate of the Furious launched in the United States on April 14, the same Easter weekend as the previous film. And while Fate did fall from the peak that was Furious 7, it was still a damn solid hit, earning $98.8 million on its opening weekend. This meant Fate of the Furious earned the third-biggest April opening, the second-biggest Fast and Furious opening, and the biggest opening ever for a movie directed by an African-American, beating Gray’s own Straight Outta Compton. It finished with $226 million in North America.

 

However, the worldwide opening was the real exciting part. Thanks to a huge debut of $192 million in China, Fate of the Furious saw a global opening of $541.9 million, earning the biggest worldwide debut in film history. It would later finish with $1.24 billion globally. And thus, Fast and the Furious, while down from an all-time high, was still not even remotely out. Sure enough, the hits kept on coming. Not only did Fast & Furious go on tour in Europe in 2018, we got our first spin-off. 

 

While Fate of the Furious saw mixed reviews, everyone agreed Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs and Jason Statham’s Owen Shaw, and their subplot together, was easily the best part of the movie. And thus, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw launched into theaters August 2019, and saw solid box office returns, earning $759 million worldwide and a net profit of $84 million. And in 2021, after a year-long delay due to...circumstances, F9 will release, which promises crazier action, John Cena, and the return of Han. Fast and Furious 10 and 11 are also in development, with 11 set to be the end of the main saga. But that doesn’t mean spin-offs won’t happen. A female-led F&F film has been rumored for a while, while a Hobbs & Shaw 2 is currently in development. And alongside an animated series on Netflix, a mediocre ride at Universal Studios, and a crappy video game released last year, it’s fair to say that Fast & Furious won’t go away any time soon.

 

Moving down to thirteenth domestic we have the Pixar hit Coco. This follows a young boy from Mexico named Miguel. Miguel’s family banned music in their household due to a tragic family issue, but that doesn’t stop Miguel from following his true passion. During Dia de Los Muertos, he accidentally is transported to the Land of the Dead, and alongside a skeleton named Hector, sets out to find his supposed musician great-great-grandfather so he can return to his family and possibly rescind the music ban along the way.

 

The idea came from director Lee Unkrich in 2010, right when his first film Toy Story 3 released. Unkrich loved the idea of Dia de Los Muertos, a Mexican holiday made as a way to help commemorate the family people lost, and he saw potential in the idea as an animated film. Initially the film was about an American child who learns about his Mexican heritage and deals with the loss of his mother. Ultimately, this initial story failed to really work because, simply put, it wasn’t authentic. While Pixar films focus on creating new worlds, this was actually focusing on a real culture, and a culture that didn’t have much representation in mainstream Hollywood animation. This caused anxiety for Unkrich, which led to the realization that the way the film was going, it was written and made by people who weren’t from Mexico.

 

Thus, the film shifted gears. The Pixar team took several trips to Mexico to help define the story and characters in the film. This also saw Pixar story artist Adrian Molina, of Mexican descent, on board as the film’s screenwriter and co-director, both a first time for Molina. But despite the attempts of authenticity, the biggest hurdle the film had to go through was the evils of Disney as a corporation. In 2013, Disney made a request to trademark “Dia de los Muertos” for merchandising purposes. As you can imagine, a company like Disney trademarking an entire holiday caused a heavy blowback, especially from Mexican-American communities. Mexican-American cartoonist Lalo Alcarez even drew a poster insulting Disney for this cultural appropriation. Ultimately, Disney would drop this trademark request and actually hired Alcarez, among many others, as a cultural consultant group.

 

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Coco was one of the most challenging films ever for the Pixar animators, solely due to the skeleton characters. Skeletons don’t have a typical muscular system, so that caused a huge problem in contrast to the human characters Pixar usually worked with. With no muscles, skin, noses, or lips, it made it tricky to give these characters personality. Still, the crew did pull it off, studying and sculpting skulls in every angle and creating unique forms of movement that made them interesting and more appealing to mass audiences.

 

Coco came out in the United States on November 22, one month after the Day of the Dead festivities. However, the film’s first major market was Mexico on October 27. This was the first motion picture ever to cost more than $100 million and have an all-Latino cast, so there was considerable hype and intrigue with Mexican audiences. Hollywood ignored them for years, but here came this huge Pixar title that celebrated their culture and holiday. It also helped that Coco was an instant critical favorite, hyped up as one of Pixar’s absolute bests. This would lead to a very solid $9.3 million opening, the biggest debut ever for an original animated movie. With incredible word-of-mouth, Coco increased on its second weekend to $10.8 million. With $28 million in 10 days, Coco became the fastest ten-day grosser for any animated movie. The film continued to pull Mexican audiences in, finally finishing with $57.9 million, becoming the highest-grossing film in Mexico’s history. It just goes to show how representation done well can really impact and affect an audience.

 

For America, things weren’t as momentous, but still very impressive. The film debuted at #1 that Thanksgiving weekend with $50.8 million in three days and $72.9 million in five days, becoming the fourth-biggest Thanksgiving opening weekend ever. The film continued to play well in the weeks ahead despite all the competition surrounding it, ultimately finishing with $210.5 million. And Coco was a sensation just about everywhere else in the world, with the big one being China. While Pixar movies typically do okay in this region, Coco was a gigantic hit, grossing $189.2 million to become the second-biggest animated film in the region, only behind Zootopia. All of this led to Coco grossing $807.8 million worldwide, the third-biggest Pixar original and the 16th-biggest animated film of all time. It has since lived on as one of the most beloved Pixar titles, praised for its authenticity, animation, and storyline, resulting in two Academy Award wins and becoming a constant hit on Disney+.

 

14th place is Papa Nolan yet again with the war film Dunkirk. This details the incredible true story of the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II. From the perspectives of the land, sea, and air, this served to tell three distinct stories about that fateful day, and how it impacted the lives of the many brave men who were forced into a conflict they didn’t deserve to be thrown into.

 

Papa Nolan conceived this film in the mid-90s, after he and his fiance Emma Thomas sailed across the English Channel. The big reason was how it served as a bombastic Hollywood blockbuster, but also in and of itself was an inversion of the Hollywood formula. This didn’t have a happy ending, the Battle of Dunkirk was not a victory, and American forces played no part in this. But a screenplay didn’t emerge until 2015. This 76-page script was a major departure from Papa Nolan’s previous works. Through three different perspectives, land, sea, and air, the film was structured from the point of view of the characters, meaning the visuals were the centerpiece, rather than dialogue or backstory.

 

The screenplay was also very limited in terms of perspective in the sense that there were no outside forces. The Germans are non-existent in this story, while scenes featuring Winston Churchill were cut, so as to keep the sense of realism and destruction all the more damaging. Eleven different films were an inspiration for the project, including All Quiet on the Western Front, The Wages of Fear, Alien, Speed, Unstoppable, Greed, Sunrise, Ryan’s Daughter, The Battle of Algiers, Chariots of Fire, and Foreign Correspondent.

 

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Because the soldiers that were being rescued in real life were young and inexperienced, Papa Nolan thought it was best that the actors in the beach sequence, apart from Kenneth Branagh, would also be full of fresh-faced, inexperienced actors. Actors like Fionn Whitehead, Jack Lowden, and Tom Glynn-Carney were the stars here, though the beach sequences did have One Direction star Harry Styles in his film debut, prompting millions of teenage girls to check out a boring, old-fashioned WWII movie. The kind of ingenuity only Papa Nolan can obtain! Styles is currently set to star in the new Olivia Wilde piece Don’t Worry Darling, replacing horrible person Shia LaBeouf.

 

Papa Nolan’s Dunkirk was backed with a heavy marketing campaign by Warner Bros., beginning with the first teaser dropping in time for Suicide Squad. And with an IMAX-exclusive preview at the front of Rogue One, WB sold Papa Nolan’s war movie as an event piece. One you had to see on the biggest screen possible.

 

Sure enough, Dunkirk opened on July 21 to great success, earning $50.1 million. This made Dunkirk the third-biggest debut for a World War II release, as well as the fourth-biggest of Papa Nolan’s career. Dunkirk earned significant acclaim, with many critics citing it as Papa Nolan’s absolute best. With IMAX boosting a significant amount of its gross, this paved the way for the film to earn $188 million domestically and $525 million worldwide.

 

The film would go on to earn 8 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, and solidified Papa Nolan as one of the few filmmakers that could get butts into seats solely because of his golden directorial touch. This also solidified WB and Papa Nolan’s strong working relationship with one another that will surely not be tainted by a pandemic and streaming service strategy.

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Fifteenth place was the horror smash named Get Out. Daniel Kaluuya plays Chris, a Black man who is heading off to his white girlfriend’s family home for the weekend. Things seem a bit strange, in terms of how the family acts around him and the Black people that work in this house. They seem liberal and loving, they would have voted for Obama a third time if possible, but things get more and more suspicious. And it isn’t until Chris learns a dark, terrible secret that things start getting crazy.

 

The one big surprise people had when this was coming out was the director, Jordan Peele. Peele, best known for the Comedy Central sketch comedy series Key & Peele, had been in comedy for years and was looking to broaden his horizons. Peele was a huge fan of horror movies and felt that both horror and comedy were very similar in terms of pacing, tension, and pay-off. So he felt he could make a compelling, frightful flick. The Stepford Wives was an inspiration for Peele on this film, as it was a horror movie with a satirical edge.

 

The film dealt with racism, a subject Peele was familiar with as a Black man. But the film’s focus on racism isn’t any stereotypical, over-the-top redneck racism. Rather, it is on the quiet, more reserved, often unintentional side of racism. The wealthy liberals who mean well, but don’t really know Black people. The white elites who stay oblivious to the struggles Black people go through. The white liberals who are condescending and don’t even know it. The liberals who care about Black people, and donate the ACLU, but don’t realize they can be racist themselves.

 

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This doesn’t even get into other subjects and allegories Peele concocted in his movie, like The Sunken Place, a state that Black people fall in where they are in control by a rich white person. And in a way, that kind of made the film a risk financially. Peele himself stated his uncertainty the film would even be a success to the Los Angeles Times: "What if white people don't want to come to see the movie because they're afraid of being villainized with black people in the crowd? What if black people don't want to see the movie because they don't want to sit next to a white person while a black person is being victimized on-screen?”

 

Little did Peele, and the rest of the world know, that Get Out wasn’t just a hit movie. Rather, it became one of the biggest movies of 2017, and arguably the decade itself. The film first premiered at Sundance, one month before its release. And it was an immediate success. Critics and festival goers praised the film for its suspense, humor, storyline, and acting, citing it as an instant horror classic and immediately earning 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. This kind of buzz and hype, during a time when race relations were getting into the forefront due to the Trump administration, only made the film more and more discussed and talked about, ensuring, at the very least, it was a discussion starter. And on February 24, the film finally released to the general public. And with the film projected to hit around $20-25 million, a lot of heads turned when the film launched with $33.4 million.

 

The incredible reviews and interesting subject matter got everybody talking, and almost overnight, this became a movie people had to see no matter what. And wouldn’t you know it, general audiences loved the movie too, for its scares and social commentary, resulting in an A- Cinemascore, a rare high mark for a horror release. But it wasn’t until the following weekend when things got crazy and people realized Get Out wasn’t just a big horror hit. Rather, it was a cultural milestone.

 

On its second weekend, with Logan generating almost $90 million, Get Out bucked all conventions, horror movie or otherwise, and dropped only 15% for a $28.2 million second weekend. Horror films are infamous for being frontloaded and fan-driven. The fact that Get Out didn’t just hold well, but saw a damn-near minuscule decline? This was gonna take America by storm, and nothing was gonna hold it back. The following weekend saw Kong: Skull Island debut to more than $60 million, and still Get Out was not deterred from the competition, grossing $20.7 million, a 27% decline. In just 17 days, Get Out earned $110.7 million. You could easily argue that would have been an optimistic final total a few weeks ago, and it was just getting started.

 

Even when Beauty and the Beast dominated the box office with one of the biggest openings in history and commanded an incredible screen share, Get Out still only fell 35% that weekend, grossing $13.4 million that weekend. The weeks went on, and Get Out consistently saw minor drops, as people just had to see this instant classic and be a part of the conversation, other major movies be damned. As a result, Get Out earned $176 million domestically, a mind-bending 5.27 times its opening. Worldwide amounted to $255.4 million.

 

This was a film that, simply put, had no reason to do as well as it did. It wasn’t a big summer horror release, it had no stars, its director was a first-timer, and its subject matter was very controversial. But when you have a great movie and a studio and marketing team that knows they have something good on their hands, that’s plenty enough for a movie to soar. This very quickly became the film that helped everybody’s career. Daniel Kaluuya, the star, would see a Best Actor nomination for the film and saw a major boost of film roles, including Black Panther, Widows, Queen & Slim, and Judas and the Black Messiah next month, which is already a major Oscar contender. Blumhouse, the producer behind the movie, also had Get Out as the centerpiece for the company’s banner year. Not only did Get Out earn critical, financial, and awards acclaim, the M. Night Shyamalan thriller Split also became a massive box office hit, effectively smearing all of the bad will Night had with just one movie. All the while, Happy Death Day became a solid Halloween hit. This ensured Blumhouse as the place to go for fun, inventive, creative horror releases, and the studio is still seeing great financial rewards to this day.

 

Of course, the big winner of it all was Jordan Peele himself. He very quickly went from hit comedian to hit director, becoming the first African-American director to have his debut feature make over $100 million, and would win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, becoming the first Black man to win such an honor. And since then, Peele has been on a roll. He created the Tracy Morgan series The Last O.G., which was recently renewed for a fourth season, he’s overseeing and starring in the most recent reboot of The Twilight Zone, executive produced both Amazon’s Hunters and HBO’s Lovecraft Country, is producing the next Candyman film, set for release this August, and directed 2019’s Us, which was also a critical and commercial hit, earning the second-biggest opening weekend for a completely original live-action movie and grossed $255.2 million worldwide. And that’s only the beginning of what looks to be a long, fruitful, and successful career for the former sketch comedy star.

 

Eighteenth place is home to the P. T. Barnum musical The Greatest Showman. Hugh Jackman plays Barnum in this, who just lost his job as a shipping clerk and is unsure where to go from there. Sure enough, this soon leads to Barnum creating a show unlike any other, celebrating the freaks and crazies of the world and what makes them special. And while hardships and issues do come between Barnum and his troupe, he just might create the greatest show and a new enterprise, the circus.

 

Hugh Jackman hosted the Oscars in 2009, and during rehearsals, the show’s producers, Laurence Mark and Bill Condon, noted that Jackman had a very theatrical, Barnum-like charisma in his appearance and personality. And wouldn’t you know it, Jackman was interested in a Barnum project. So Mark and Condon got Jenny Bicks, a writer for the ceremony, to work on a treatment. Bill Condon would serve as co-writer, Laurence Mark was a producer, and the project was formally announced in 2009 with Jackman as the star.

 

The project stayed in development for years, with more and more creatives joining the feature. Michael Gracey would make his film debut as director in 2011, while songwriting duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul would write the music in 2013. In 2016, a cast was fully solidified, including Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Zendaya, and Rebecca Ferguson. Logan director James Mangold also came on as an executive producer during post-production.

 

Debuting on December 20, The Greatest Showman was surrounded by intense competition that holiday season. Pitch Perfect 3 was another major musical debuting at that time, and both Star Wars and Jumanji were taking up a huge amount of the family audience for this film. And sure enough, Greatest Showman opened somewhat with a whimper, grossing only $19 million in its first six days and opening in fourth place at the box office. And it seemed like that was how Greatest Showman was going to end up. Alongside mixed reviews, this seemed like a whimper of a movie hit by major competition and audience disinterest. But like any great show, what truly matters is whether people will come back in the weeks ahead. And boy oh boy, did people come back.

 

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On its second weekend, The Greatest Showman earned $15 million, an increase from its $8.8 million weekend. This was a huge head-turner, as while December releases typically increase due to holiday breaks, this 76% jump was the biggest second weekend jump for a movie playing in over 3,000 theaters...ever. Turns out the few who caught the movie loved it a lot. And they were very, very eager to tell their friends to check it out, or catch it a few more times. Weekend three saw it drop 11% for a $14 million haul, earning $76.9 million up to that point. Helped by the holiday weekend, its fourth weekend saw only a drop of 10%, meaning Greatest Showman earned $12.5 million on the three-day, $16.2 million on the four-day, and a running total of $98.9 million. And it just dropped tiny amounts from then on. 15% on weekend 5, 10% on weekend 6, 19% on weekend 7, 16% on weekend 8, 22% on weekend 9. It managed to earn itself $174.3 million domestically, just about more than 9 times its first six days, and becoming one of the leggiest movies of the century. Worldwide was $435 million, becoming the fifth-biggest live-action musical in history.

 

You would have to go all the way to the 80s or 90s for holds like these, and it’s still astonishing this movie, of all things, was able to leg itself out from a major flop into a major success story. But like Get Out and Jumanji before it, if you’ve got the right blend of starpower, crowdpleasing moments, and the appearance of something fresh and new, you can go anywhere. And the success of The Greatest Showman didn’t stop there. The album for the musical was just as big, if not bigger than the movie itself, becoming the highest-selling album of 2018, was number one in the UK for 11 straight weeks, and stayed number one in 28 non-consecutive weeks, beating Adele’s 21 in the region for the record. The soundtrack is still a hit to this day, playing in retail stores for years to come. I know from experience. The soundtrack also saw a cover album, The Greatest Showman Reimagined, released in 2018 and becoming a solid hit in its own right.

 

Pasek & Paul also saw great goodwill from the movie. Alongside their success on La La Land and Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, the duo have become one of the biggest songwriters in Hollywood, with everybody looking to hire them on their projects, particularly Disney. They wrote a new song for the Aladdin remake titled “Speechless” and are currently writing songs for the upcoming remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Along with Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Lopezes, Disney really knows how to get the musical heavy-hitters. A sequel to The Greatest Showman was in development in September 2017, though little word has been made since. But with how much Disney loves musicals, never say never to anything Greatest Showman-related in the coming years.

 

We now come to the very end of 2017, and I think it’s best to end it with a film few Americans have proabably heard of, the Chinese smash hit Wolf Warrior 2. Wu Jing stars as Leng Feng, a loose cannon Chinese soldier who takes on special missions all across the world. Here he finds himself in an African country, with the duty to protect medical aid workers from some local rebels and vicious arm dealers.

 

This has been a US-centric lookback for a good reason: I am from America, and I think it’s fair to talk about it from my perspective as an American. But of course, box office is a global play, and out of all the countries in the world, China has been a major player in the overall box office, both in local hits and foreign Hollywood imports. And yeah, this is a pretty important piece of China box office history that I need to share.

 

The first Wolf Warrior was a strong success in the region back in 2015, earning $89 million, thus prompting a sequel that was more of a globe-trotting affair. It was shot on location in Africa and China through 2016, and was a film years in the making, with the script written in 2013, long before Wolf Warrior 1 even came out. What helped the script, and the film itself stand out, was its patriotic subject and nationalistic themes. So much so, the first poster had Long Feng giving the middle finger and featured the tagline, “Anyone who offends China, no matter how remote, must be exterminated." That’s...a bit on the nose.

 

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But it worked! On July 27, Wolf Warrior opened in China with $144.5 million in US dollars, becoming the biggest film to release that weekend globally, unseating Papa Nolan’s Dunkirk. And with the film earning immense acclaim from Chinese movie critics and Chinese audiences, the film soared to greater results in the weeks to come. In ten days, the film earned $406 million, beating Fate of the Furious to become the biggest film in China that year. And in its second weekend, it actually increased all the way to $162.2 million, making it the biggest second weekend in history for any territory. It later beat The Mermaid, the previous biggest release in China on the 12-day mark, and finally finished with $854 million in just China alone, beating Avatar to become the second-biggest grosser for a movie in one single territory, only behind The Force Awakens in the United States. This also meant Wolf Warrior 2 was the fastest film to reach $500 million in China and the first film in China to earn more than $600 million and onwards. Including more from other territories, Wolf Warrior 2 earned $874 million globally, becoming the seventh-biggest film of the year and the only non-English film to land in the top 100 biggest films in history. And ergo, Wolf Warrior 2 is the largest non-English film in box office history. By the way, in case you care, Wolf Warrior 2 grossed $2.7 million in America...172nd in the region that year...yeah that’s all I have to say.

 

And since then, China has continued to be a powerhouse in the global film market, with it becoming the biggest market in 2020, albeit because of outside circumstances. A Wolf Warrior 3 was confirmed as a mid-credits scene in Wolf Warrior 2, and one can only hope this sequel does as well, if not better.

 

And that was 2017. A pretty exhausting list of stories, but I'm still not done. The Lego Batman Movie served as a solid follow-up to the hit 2014 Lego Movie. Less said about The Lego Ninjago Movie the better. The Boss Baby became one of Dreamworks' biggest franchises. Pirates of the Caribbean came back to "eh" welcomes. Kong: Skull Island continued the Monsterverse with grace. Cars 3 went back to basics, yet few were interested. War for the Planet of the Apes failed to end the trilogy on a high note box office-wise. Split boosted M. Night Shyamalan's career for a while. Wonder was the November 17 film that actually did well. The Last Knight took Transformers off the rails. Girls Trip made Tiffany Haddish a star overnight. Baby Driver finally gave Edgar Wright an audience smash. Daddy's Home 2 was a sequel nobody asked for. As was A Bad Moms Christmas. Murder on the Orient Express became a smash hit for Kenneth Branagh. Annabelle: Creation curbstomped the awful first movie into the ground. Kingsman: The Golden Circle took the winds out of the franchise's sails.

 

Blade Runner 2049 was a cult hit that sadly failed to make money. John Wick: Chapter 2 doubled the previous film's earnings. The Emoji Movie turned Sony Pictures Animation into a laughingstock. Power Rangers was a frontloaded mess of a movie. The Mummy was an epic disaster of a franchise starter. Alien: Covenant killed the franchise. A Dog's Purpose became hugely controversial for some reason. The Shape of Water gave Guillermo del Toro Oscar gold. Baywatch was an epic misfire for Dwayne Johnson. The Dark Tower was the other Stephen King movie that came out in theaters. Timothee Chalamet became a household name with both Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name. 47 Meters Down was a surprise sleeper hit. Both Ghost in the Shell and The Great Wall became whitewashed disasters. And finally, The Star...came out I guess.

 

This was 2017

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@Brainbug@charlie Jatinder @excel1 @YourMother the Edgelord @Webslinger @Noctis @DAJK @Sir Tiki @Giesi @WittyUsername

 

This was actually a bit more exciting than I thought. I remember 2017 being a bit of a drag, but there were certainly plenty of fun stories to talk about here, and I was excited I got to talk about all of them. Hope you guys are hyped for 2018. Needless to say, my segment on Black Panther's gonna be a long one.

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I’ve got some interesting memories when it comes to 2017. In terms of the box office, I enjoyed following the legs for Wonder Woman, and I was annoyed at how much the BatB remake made. I was also disappointed by how poorly BR2049 performed, but in hindsight, that shouldn’t have been surprising. Same goes for JL. 
 

I suppose I’d say the biggest surprises of that year were Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Greatest Showman. 

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Interesting year full of deserved over &under performers. 

 

Once it became clear that DUNKIRK was going to be a weird, low-scale piece, I thought it would disappoint big time. That it managed what it managed, without 3D, has me more convinced than ever that bid-budget takes on PEARL HARBOR or D-DAY or even BATTLE OF BRITAIN from legitimate filmmakers with "artistic integrity" would make some legitimate dough. 

Edited by excel1

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7 hours ago, excel1 said:

Interesting year full of deserved over &under performers. 

 

Once it became clear that DUNKIRK was going to be a weird, low-scale piece, I thought it would disappoint big time. That it managed what it managed, without 3D, has me more convinced than ever that bid-budget takes on PEARL HARBOR or D-DAY or even BATTLE OF BRITAIN from legitimate filmmakers with "artistic integrity" would make some legitimate dough. 

Exactly, the numbers in the US were astounding with simply no connection to the source material. I‘m German and if I hadn’t been interested in those kind of things, I would have never known about the evacuation. I wasn’t taught in school, my grandparents never said anything (I bet even they didn’t have a clue). To me, it’s the greatest and most effective war movie ever made. 

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