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A Look at The Biggest Box Office Stories from 1972-present (THABOS: The History of Amazing Box Office Stories) | IT'S FINALLY COMPLETE!!!!!!!

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4 hours ago, Giesi said:

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. 

 

To me (history student and generally extremely interesed in modern european history and especially the 19th and 20th century), Dunkirk is like a shining pillow of an otherwise plagued genre (Hollywood historical/war movies). Because the film just depicts an historical event very accurately and somewhat documentary-like, which i can really appreciate. Doesnt hurt that the movie is very well paced, shot and acted throughout. One of my personal Top 10 films of 2017 for sure, maybe Top 5.

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A straight-forward Nolan epic that centered around Churchill and co. that begins with the rapid fall of France/miracle of Dunkirk and ends with the Battle of Britain while capturing the horror and paranoia of Britain during the raids would have been truly awesome and probably a significantly larger hit. $70m/$250m domestic and another $500-600m overseas.

 

The "France disaster followed by Dunkirk miracle and Battle of Britain triumph" is a highly cinematic WW2 story that I am surprised has never really been developed into one giant film. It is similar to what Pearl Harbor and Midway (2019) both tried and mostly failed to do by telling the story of the Pearl Harbor mess followed by one of the triumphant retaliation efforts (Doolittle Raid triumph in PH and insane intelligence miracle/ game-changing win at Midway island shown in Midway).

 

I enjoyed Dunkirk but it reminds me of Tora Tora Tora where the fact that I just do not give a shit about any of the characters removes any and all tension. It is the polar opposite of Saving Private Ryan which was anchored by Hanks incredible performance. 

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The Greatest Showman slowly going from seemingly heading towards a meh total after its Christmas weekend opening to becoming a full-blown sensation that's lasted long after its theatrical run ended is definitely among the most impressive turnarounds in the last several years. The sky is literally the limit for the inevitable sequel.

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24 minutes ago, filmlover said:

The Greatest Showman slowly going from seemingly heading towards a meh total after its Christmas weekend opening to becoming a full-blown sensation that's lasted long after its theatrical run ended is definitely among the most impressive turnarounds in the last several years. The sky is literally the limit for the inevitable sequel.

They need to hurry the f up if it is coming out. 

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2017 was the year that I kind of stopped coming here (and discussion boards in general) for personal reasons, so it's interesting looking back at the runs of these films and thinking that I wasn't following them from a box office standpoint but from a film goer standpoint. I remember hearing about It and Wonder Woman doing well, as well as The Last Jedi's run, but I had no idea that Beauty and the Beast was #2 or that Thor: Ragnarok was the lowest grossing of the MCU movies that year. Then stuff like Get Out and The Greatest Showman, whose runs I would have loved to follow if I had known.

 

I'm even more removed from 2018 than 2017 when it comes to box office, so I should be getting a big history lesson then. Thank you for the write up!

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Love the posts and the various trips down memory lane. 

I've been active on boxoffice forums since the 90s (and even began use of the term "multiplier" within the context of the boxoffice about 22 yrs ago). Witnessed quite a few paradigm shifts. My favorite boxoffice runs are:

 

Titanic

Avatar

MBFGW

Force Awakens

Sixth Sense

Endgame

 

Not a surprising list but chock full of great memories of tracking and discussing the B.O. runs in real time.

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Films are windows into the very soul of society and pop culture at any given time. Their success or failure is fascinating in this respect. 

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On 2/6/2021 at 9:46 AM, 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. 

You miss the thing where Dunkirk was film by 2nd biggest director working today after James Cameron.

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2 hours ago, jatvision said:

You miss the thing where Dunkirk was film by 2nd biggest director working today after James Cameron.

Nolan is big no doubt but the marketing for his last 2 films has been rough, especially TENET which is partially on Nolan for making an unmarketable movie. Dunkirk looked solid but it was clear the scale was relatively small compared a SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or PEARL HARBOR high profile WW2 films which I worried would hurt it commercially.

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1 hour ago, Borobudur said:

Jumanji is the biggest surprise in 2017, bigger than wonder women

Excellent marketing (Jack Black used perfectly) and the film itself was very enjoyable. Good combo.

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2018

A school shooting in Parkland, Florida sparks the March for Our Lives movement, 60 people are killed in a shopping mall fire in Kemerovo, Russia, and a chemical warfare attack hits Douma, Syria. NASA launches InSight, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are married, Saudi Arabia allows women to drive, and Canada legalizes cannabis for recreational use. Japan is hit with several floods, twelve boys and their football coach are rescued from a cave in Thailand, the longest lunar eclipse in history arrives, Brett Kavanagh joins the Supreme Court to heavy backlash, journalist Jamal Khashoggi is murdered in Istanbul, and Apple hits a market cap of $1 trillion.

 

In music, Cardi B saw her debut album while Donald Glover’s This is America becomes one of the most talked-about music videos in years. Video games include God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and Spider-Man. The big television headline was the return of the comedy hit Roseanne, which would be promptly canceled after an infamous tweet from horrible person Roseanne Barr. Last Man Standing also returned after an infamous cancelation, while other shows like Queer Eye, Muppet Babies, Double Dare, Murphy Brown, and Magnum, P.I. all got rebooted or revived in some capacity. 

 

Actual new shows that premiered were 9-1-1, The Resident, Station 19, Craig of the Creek, Cobra Kai, Succession, Pose, Jack Ryan, Mayans MC, Hilda, FBI, and New Amsterdam. Conclusions were Star Wars Rebels, The X-Files...again, Portlandia, Scandal, New Girl, Once Upon a Time, The Middle, The Thundermans, The Fosters, Nashville, Adventure Time, and House of Cards. Departures this year were Stephen Hawking, Winnie Mandela, Isao Takahata, Milos Forman, R. Lee Ermey, Avicii, Verne Troyer, Margot Kidder, Tom Wolfe, Anthony Bourdain, Joe Jackson, Harlan Ellison, Aretha Franklin, Burt Reynolds, Nicolas Roeg, Stephen Hillenburg, John McCain, Barbara Bush, George H. W. Bush, Penny Marshall, and Stan Lee.

 

Of course, the box office was one that was very much dominated by one franchise in particular. While always a major player throughout the 2010s, this was the year it became the big kahuna. The biggest fish in the pond. The almighty titan of the blockbuster landscape. The Marvel Cinematic Universe truly became a dominant, almighty force this year, and it was all thanks to two monumental pieces. And in the domestic lead was the afrofuturist epic Black Panther.

 

After the death of his father, Prince T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, is pronounced king of Wakanda, a nation that hides itself from the rest of the world, posing itself as a Third World Country. But under the veil, Wakanda is a bustling city unlike any other, that prides itself on incredible technology ahead of the rest of the world by decades. But when a former member of Wakanda named Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan, threatens to take down the nation and start a global revolution after centuries of isolationism, T’Challa must protect his homeland, while also perhaps learning a thing or two about what Wakanda, and being king, could truly do for the world itself.

 

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First appearing in 1966, during the Civil Rights Movement, Black Panther was the very first superhero of African descent, leading the way for characters like Sam Wilson, John Stewart, and Miles Morales. Such an important figure deserved his own movie, and plans for one started all the way back in the 90s. Wesley Snipes mentioned he wanted to create a Black Panther movie in 1992, because he believed Hollywood has failed to portray the beauty and technology of Africa and its history, and felt Black Panther, a noble hero who was the antithesis to all African stereotypes, was the perfect vehicle for a pro-African title.

 

Snipes officially worked on the film with Columbia Pictures in January 1994, with the plan for him to star as T’Challa. Stan Lee joined the project in March. Several different screenwriters and directors were talked to about the project, including Mario Van Peebles and John Singelton, but by January 1996, Snipes’ project stalled, partly due to the scripts not being up to quality, and partly because of the obscurity of Black Panther the character. When Snipes was pushing the film to people, many assumed he wanted to make a film about the Black Panther political party.

 

Things stalled for a while, apart from a brief plan for Snipes to play the role in the early 2000s when Marvel struck a deal with Artisan. But of course, it wasn’t until 2005 that it was announced that Black Panther would be one of many characters that would get a movie under the newly-created Marvel Studios. The late great John Singleton was approached as director in 2007, while Snipes left the project in 2010 due to his convictions after failing to file a tax return. The film slowly moved through development in the years to come, with writers and producers coming and going, trying to figure out how to make this film work.

 

Finally, in October 2014, a Black Panther movie was formally announced at a major MCU press junket, revealing several juicy details. It was set for release November 2017, 42 and Get on Up star Chadwick Boseman would play T’Challa, and he would first appear in Captain America: Civil War. Boseman did not audition for the role, but called up Marvel Studios and talked about what he wanted to do with the role. It impressed Papa Feige and co. so much that Boseman was cast on the spot and was given $2 million for the role. Wesley Snipes also supported Boseman in the part, despite not being involved in the project.

 

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At the time Black Panther was announced, Papa Feige didn’t have a writer or director, though he ensured he would get a minority filmmaker in charge. This resulted in Black Panther getting pushed back to July 2018, and a quest to find a strong creative Black talent. Joe Robert Cole, a member of Marvel’s writers program, was tasked to write the screenplay, but a director was still an issue. Ava Duvernay, fresh off the success of Selma, was courted in early 2015, but left the project after creative differences, disliking the story and refusing to compromise her vision with Marvel. F. Gary Gray was also in talks, but he said no as well, preferring to work on The Fate of the Furious instead. 

 

Finally, despite negotiations cooling down in late 2015, Creed director Ryan Coogler signed on to helm the project, fresh off the box office and critical success of the Rocky title. Coogler cited this as his most personal film yet, as he grew up reading comic books. However, Coogler was very strict with Papa Feige on the project. Specifically, he wanted to bring his collaborators from his other movies, Fruitvale Station and Creed, to join the project. Specifically, Rachel Morrison as the director of photography, production designer Hannah Beachler, and composer Ludwig Goransson. Coogler wanted Black Panther to feel unique and distinct from all the previous MCU titles, and felt using the same Marvel in-house team would dampen this uniqueness.

 

Coogler later began working on the script with Joe Robert Cole in April 2016, with the plan for the film to start shooting in 2017. Throughout 2016, several cast members joined the project, resulting in an incredible ensemble full of Black talents. Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan, the latter a frequent collaborator with Coogler, signed on first, and in the coming months, more and more Black talents, veterans and newcomers, joined the fray. Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Kaluuya, and Letitia Wright. The film’s screenplay was heavily inspired by the current run of Black Panther that was occurring at the same time as pre-production, written by famed author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. Coates’ dialogue and Brian Stelfreeze’s art were the main sources of inspiration, though the comic runs of Jack Kirby, Christopher Priest, Jonathan Hickman, and Reginald Hudlin also played a part. And as the film was a geopolitical espionage adventure that focused on family, both The Godfather and James Bond, as well as other Francis Ford Coppola films from the 1970s, played a heavy part in shaping the film we have today.

 

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Another important aspect when developing the film was the design of Wakanda itself, in terms of architecture, people, costumes, and culture. The filmmakers consulted several experts of Africa, essentially rooting the film in reality first, and building off it from there. The southern African country Lesotho was the initial inspiration, and it kept going from there. Hannah Beachler’s production design and sets honored the original comics, but also pulled from areas like Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, and Ethiopia. All the while, Beachler took inspiration from the designs of architect Zaha Hadid and the former Mali Empire, essentially creating a love letter to Africa and its architecture. 

 

Costume designer Ruth Carter also took heavy reference from African nations and peoples. The Maasai, Himba, Dogon, Basotho, Tuareg, Turkana, Xhosa, Zulu, Suri, and Dinka people all played a part in the general costume design, while Winnie Mandela’s wardrobe in particular shaped up the costumes for Angela Bassett’s Ramonda. Other fashion designer influences include France’s Yves Saint Laurent, Japan’s Issey Miyake, and America’s Donna Karan. For the Dora Milaje in particular, the army of women set to protect the king, Carter used red to reflect different African cultures, and made sure the Milaje didn’t look like women in swimsuits. Rather, their battle armor was full and sturdy, perfect to fight in battle with. Hair department head Camille Friend also referenced traditional African art, fabrics, hair, and textures in her designs as well.

 

This approach to authenticity, essentially creating a unique celebration of African art, history, and culture into one giant package was perhaps the biggest reason why Black Panther became the success that it was. And while some of us didn’t realize it at first, the second the first teaser dropped in June 2017, during Game 4 of the NBA Finals, it was destined for greatness. The teaser was praised by Marvel fans and critics alike, citing the film’s production design, action setpieces, and unique vision that was distinct from all previous Marvel movies. All the while, Run the Jewels played in the background. Black Panther saw more than 89 million views in its first 24 hours and was the biggest discussion point that week.

 

This soon led to a massive, ultra-expansive marketing campaign of $150 million. Papa Feige knew from the dailies he had something special, and he was gonna let everybody know it. The following trailer in October was a smash hit, as it highlighted what made the Black Panther character so cool. Promos were smartly placed during the College Football Playoffs and on several hit ABC shows, a Super Bowl promo for Lexus heavily featured Black Panther characters, and New York Fashion Week saw several designers take inspiration from the movie. Kendrick Lamar also produced the film’s soundtrack, bringing in talents like SZA and The Weeknd into the fray. Perhaps the biggest marketing tactic, one that ensured this film would be taken to the stratosphere, were the fundraisers. A GoFundMe was created in January 2018 that would allow children of color at the Boys & Girls Club in Harlem a chance to see Black Panther for free. Other drives occurred across the platform, many backed by major celebrities, resulting in over $400,000 raised for theater screenings of Black Panther across the country.

 

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And it’s here, in that very last part, was why Black Panther was a hit. Simply put, there was never a single other movie like this...ever. Oh sure, there were plenty of Black-led blockbusters. There were even several Black-led superhero movies. But what Black Panther was truly about? Like Wesley Snipes said in the 90s, there was no other movie like this. There was no other major Hollywood movie that celebrated Black people, their culture, their legacy, their history, their strengths, their art, their intellect, their bravery, their power. And it did so with little in the way of stereotypes. Rather it was empowering a group of people that only until recently were starting to have a voice in the mainstream Hollywood conversation.

 

So yeah, having a Black Power movie in one of the most popular movie franchises in the most popular movie genre today really, truly meant something. Especially when people still refuse to recognize that Black Lives Matter. And so, it was pretty clear at this point that this was tapping into an audience that has been underserved for decades in film. And when the film finally opened on February 16, everything changed. Thursday night previews, after earning the fourth-largest presales for any movie on Fandango, amounted to $25.2 million, the second-biggest number for Marvel at that time. Naturally, this led to an astonishing opening day of $75.8 million, the eighth-biggest opening day in history.

 

Saturday would soon see $66 million, the fourth-biggest Saturday ever. And sure enough, Sunday, helped by President’s Day the following day, is when things got crazy, as it dropped a slim 9% to earn $60.1 million. This was, by all accounts, the second-biggest Sunday in history, only behind The Force Awakens. And sure enough, this led Black Panther to a three-day weekend of $202 million. And when you include its $40.1 million Monday, the biggest Monday in history, Black Panther’s 4-Day was $242.1 million.

 

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For the 4-Day, there were a few notable records. It far exceeded Deadpool’s opening to become the biggest President’s Day opening in history, and was only behind The Force Awakens for the largest “first four days” total. As for the three-day, Black Panther earned itself the fifth-biggest opening weekend in history, and beat out Beauty and the Beast to earn the largest January-to-April opening. And it’s here where Black Panther, as a movie, truly shined.

 

There was significant hype from Marvel fans and general audiences, white and Black. But what really pushed Black Panther’s hype into the stratosphere, and resulted in the film gaining even greater box office in the days ahead, was its quality. I was one of the first people to see Black Panther, February 15 @ 7 PM. And I knew right then and there that this was a masterpiece. And to this day, I feel confident in saying this is one of the greatest blockbusters ever made. Everything you could ever want in an epic sci-fi action movie is here, and is done with the utmost care and precision. The action is glorious and larger than life. The production design is unbelievable, as if you were transported in another world. The music is incredible, both in its hit singles and orchestral score. The cinematography is gorgeous, complimenting the look of the film expertly. But it's the story and characters that truly ties everything together with a masterpiece. And this is Black Panther’s ace in the hole.

 

Black Panther’s ensemble is absolutely incredible. Not only is every actor on top of their game, but the characters are all so likable, charming, and memorable. From Forest Whitaker’s wize Zuri and Angela Bassett’s kind Ramonda, to Letitia Wright’s playful Shuri and Lupita Nyong’o’s level-headed Nakia, to Winston Duke’s brash M’Baku and Daniel Kaluuya’s determined W’Kabi, all the way to Danai Gurira as the fierce Okoye. But by far the strongest of the supporting cast is the antagonist, Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger. Erik Killmonger is a masterclass of antagonist writing. He’s cold, calculated, dangerous, and yet through it all, you understand his motivations. He is frustrated with Wakanda and how it ruined his life. And the fact that an amazing nation like Wakanda, which can do so much to help people around the world, especially Black people, just refuses to help and show what his people can do, angers him and causes him to go down a sinister path.

 

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Killmonger, quite honestly, is somewhat in the right here. His actions come from a place of anger and frustration, but it's still valuable. And it’s here the film tackles so many tough, difficult subjects related to the African diaspora. Colonialism, biases, attacks on the monarchy and how the powerful elites fail to help the common folk. Nothing that Killmonger says is sugarcoated and ignored. If anything, Ryan Coogler forces this on the audience, both Black and white, so they can really think about these heavy subjects. Yet at the same time, Coogler made sure this was still a fun, action-packed family blockbuster. And thus, the film’s themes strike an incredible balance of being felt and honest, without being confusing for kids, and not being patronizing to adults. It is a very tough balancing act to follow, but Coogler did it.

 

And this is of course helped by T’Challa himself. Chadwick Boseman gives T’Challa an incredible performance. He’s kind, noble, brave, quick-witted, and even a touch dorky. But T’Challa serves as a strong blank slate for the audience itself. T’Challa finds himself bouncing off of and listening to several supporting characters, each with their own ideas, viewpoints, and mindsets. And it’s through T’Challa we the audience interpret all these complex themes of the African diaspora. This allows the messages to truly be felt, give the audience a chance to come to their own conclusion, and allow this goofy fun blockbuster to truly feel like a powerful, beautiful social statement.

 

And I really believe it is through T’Challa the film works as well as it does and it got audiences invested. Word of mouth spread like wildfire, and it became a film where you had to see, or else you would miss out on an incredible film unlike anything else. This boosted the opening weekend, as everybody had to check it out right now, and only served to give the film incredible legs unlike anything else. On its second weekend, despite being right after a holiday weekend, Black Panther saw only a 45% decline, a $111.7 million weekend haul. This wasn’t just the smallest MCU decline ever, but it was the second-biggest second weekend ever, only behind The Force Awakens. In just 10 days, Black Panther generated $403.6 million, beating Passion of the Christ to become the biggest February movie ever. And it didn’t stop there. In its third weekend, Black Panther repeated at #1, falling 41% to earn $66.3 million, the third-biggest third weekend in history, and $501.7 million in just 17 days. Weekend four had it stay at #1 yet again, resulting in the third-biggest fourth weekend of all time. Weekend five had Black Panther #1 one last time, earning $26.6 million. It became the first film since Avatar to repeat at #1 five weekends in a row. The film was finally toppled on weekend #6 by Pacific Rim: Uprising of all things, but Black Panther continued to play well in the weeks to come, staying in the top 5 until weekend 8, popping into the top 5 during the release of Avengers: Infinity War, and was a top 10 mainstay for 13 whole weeks. And after a little bit of fudging, Black Panther finally left theaters in August, earning $700 million. And thus, Black Panther ended its domestic run by toppling Titanic and becoming the third-biggest film in domestic history.

 

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Overseas was also impressive, though nowhere near as electric as in America, leading to Black Panther grossing $1.35 billion worldwide, making it the ninth-biggest film in the global box office. With a net profit of $476.8 million, Black Panther was a game changer and a true milestone in the current global cinema box office. This was a character that was so obscure in the 90s that the people pitching it confused the hell out of the studio executives. But more than 20 years later, Black Panther served as one of the greatest, most important films in history, and basically turned the hero into a powerful icon in cinema and even civil rights almost overnight. And to this day, Black Panther, the movie and character, is still celebrated and hailed as one of the greatest films of the 2010s and is destined to be one of the films that defined the decade.

 

With all this money of course, Disney was more than eager to capitalize on this success. With so much merchandise sold since then, a sequel was announced later in 2018, with Ryan Coogler returning to write and direct the piece. At first planned for a May 2022 release, Black Panther was sadly met by tragedy. On August 28, 2020, Chadwick Boseman passed away due to colon cancer. He fought this for four years and kept it private from everyone, including Marvel. Boseman was 43.

 

Any death is a tough one and Boseman’s death hit pretty hard. He was a superhero and a true king, both in his brief time in Hollywood and how he impacted the lives of children and adults around the world as one of, if not the greatest superhero who ever lived. This naturally led to a very tough question for every one: what will be done about Black Panther II? What could be done? Is it wrong to keep the series going without Chadwick? Is it wrong to stop it because Chadwick wasn’t there? Ultimately, the decision was made to keep Black Panther II trucking along, though Papa Feige did emphasize that T’Challa would never be recast by another actor. Black Panther II is set to film this summer and is set for release July 2022.

 

I’ll admit for a brief moment that I didn’t want another Black Panther II. Without Chadwick, there was no reason to keep this series going. But I have thought about it in the months since, and while Chadwick is one of the many reasons I love this movie, he wasn’t the sole factor. Black Panther was a masterpiece because everyone, from the actors to the crew members to Coogler himself, made the best movie they possibly could. Everyone brought their A-game, and everybody made this movie something special. And I think it’s selfish to take that away and pin it all on one person for all this success.

 

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So now, I can plainly say that I am beyond excited for Black Panther II, because I know that Ryan Coogler will make something truly special. Not just for the people who loved the first movie, but for Chadwick himself. Wakanda Forever baby!

 

 

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And now we come to the other major Marvel piece. The one that did just as much as Black Panther in solidifying the cultural impact of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, reinvigorating the brand and taking new viewers into an incredible world unlike anything else. Second domestic and first worldwide was the one, the only, Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos, the big purple baddie that was teased and hyped for years and years, is on a conquest. He is finally set to collect all six Infinity Stones. When combined with the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos looks to wipe away half of the Earth’s life from existence in a bad case of population control. And only The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy together can keep the world safe.

 

Even in the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there was a germ of an idea to adapt the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, with several different MacGuffins found in other movies being the Stones in disguise. It wasn’t until horrible person Joss Whedon teased Thanos back in The Avengers and during production of Thor: The Dark World that the idea truly took off and Papa Feige knew what he wanted to do.

 

And in October 2014, Avengers 3 was announced...kind of. Instead of just one sequel to Age of Ultron, Avengers 3, titled Infinity War would be split into two parts and both films would be shot back-to-back, with Part 1 in 2018 and Part 2 in 2019. This was back when two-parters were still considered cool. In April 2015, Anthony and Joe Russo made a deal to direct both parts, after the great success of Winter Soldier and the soon-to-be massive success of Civil War. Captain America writers Chris Markus and Stephen McFeely also joined. Despite being labeled as two parts initially, Papa Feige and the Russos felt the two films were very distinct and had their own stories and tones, resulting in Part 1 just labeled Infinity War and Part 2 not having any name just yet. More likely, it was because Mockingjay floundered by Part 2 and Papa Feige didn’t want any mistakes here. Truly a visionary.

 

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For both movies, the one requirement Papa Feige asked to Markus and McFeely was that it should have Thanos and the Infinity Stones. They could have any characters they wanted and could even kill off characters if they wanted to, but the first two things were priorities. The duo soon brainstormed from there, by deciding what would be the most interesting character groups, as well as what would be the most interesting scenes to write, including Thanos gaining all the Infinity Stones. The outline was finished by late 2015, and by January 2016, Markus and McFeely began the first draft. It is estimated that the duo wrote five or six drafts of both films.

 

During the writing process, both the writers and the Russos worked with all of the other Phase Three filmmakers, both to establish a strong continuity and ensure everybody was on the same page in terms of hyping up the big event. Scott Derrickson was consistently in the loop on how Doctor Strange would be used in both Avengers films and even gave notes on the plot. James Gunn wanted to ensure that the Guardians were just as funny and clever as they were in his movies, and even suggested a few comedy bits and dialogue, as well as the song “The Rubberband Man” to help introduce the team. Taika Waititi also was brought in as a consultant because his comedic take on Thor in Thor: Ragnarok messed with the team’s plan for Thor being the straight man against the Guardians.

 

The real hype that came with this, even more than with the first Avengers, was the ensemble. There were so many characters, 23 of them on the poster. All the characters put into Infinity War were chosen through a combination of actor availability, who would be the most exciting to see, as well as who would fit most organically in the film’s storytelling. This may have seemed like a challenge, but because The Russos and the writers already worked on Civil War, the project was far less daunting. They knew how best to structure the film with all these characters. Basically, they built the story around a handful of characters and their emotional arcs, while having the rest of the supporting cast step in as ancillary members.

 

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What also helped was that the one thing the filmmakers made sure, first and foremost, was to not have all of these characters forced into the same room or be in scene after scene with each other, as that would lead to some characters not doing or saying anything. As a result, the characters were all split into their own separate groups, becoming what Anthony Russo describes as “Nashville for superheroes”. Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and Star-Lord in one group, Thor, Rocket and Groot in another, Captain America, Black Widow, Bruce Banner and Black Panther in another, and so on. The reason why they created these groups with these specific characters was a combination of creating new, fun dynamics and developing pre-existing ones. The hardest group to create was between Thanos and Gamora, as Thanos was still more or less being introduced to audiences.

 

Principal photography for Infinity War began January 23, 2017 and ended on July 14. It was a massive undertaking for Marvel, with a production cost estimated to be between $316-400 million, making it one of, possibly the most expensive film ever made. But of course, Marvel was more than secure as a property that there was no concern or risk when it came to putting so much money into this. And just like in 2012, Infinity War pretty much broke all the records.

 

It was very clear once the trailer dropped this wasn’t going to be a typical Marvel movie or even a typical Avengers movie. This was something that looked real special. The first trailer dropped late November 2017, and earned 230 million views in the first 24 hours. This was, by far, the biggest trailer launch in film history. And every step of the way, Infinity War’s hype grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Its Super Bowl commercial was the biggest movie spot that day. Its second trailer earned 179 million views in the first 24 hours, making it the biggest second trailer of all time. The Burj Khalifa was lit up each night, counting down the days for its premiere. It had a tie-in with Fortnite. Every promotional partner you could think of boosted this movie’s marketing campaign. It was just about everywhere and just about everybody had to check it out. Especially after Black Panther introduced many to the MCU, if you didn’t see Infinity War, you were basically a loser.

 

Opening on April 27, a last minute date change that allowed a worldwide launch, Infinity War already generated at least $50 million in presales, the third-largest presale count only behind The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. All of this led to $39 million in Thursday previews, the best for an MCU title and fourth-best overall. Naturally, Infinity War’s opening day amounted to a jaw-dropping $106.7 million, the second-best Friday, only behind The Force Awakens. And of course, as Marvel movies often do, it excelled on Saturday, grossing $82.1 million, the biggest Saturday in history. And with a $69.2 million Sunday, the biggest Sunday in history, Infinity War debuted with $257.7 million, beating The Force Awakens to earn the biggest opening weekend in domestic history. Elsewhere in the world, Infinity War grossed $382.7 million in 52 different markets, resulting in the second-biggest overseas debut, only behind The Fate of the Furious. This global opening of $640.5 million meant it beat out Fate of the Furious to become the biggest worldwide opening in film history.

 

And in the domestic side of things, it continued to be the main hotspot for film viewers. Weekend two saw it drop 55%, earning $114.8 million, becoming the second-biggest second weekend in history, and resulting in $453.1 million in the span of just 10 days. The following 11th day saw Infinity War cross $1 billion worldwide, becoming the fastest film to do so. Weekend three had the film drop only 46%, earning $62.1 million, and grossing $548.1 million in just 17 days. Weekend four saw it move down to second place, but despite Deadpool 2, the film was not deterred, and dropped only 53% for a $29.4 million weekend haul. On May 23, Infinity War crossed $600 million in the domestic box office, and on June 12, it passed $2 billion, the fourth film and the first superhero film to beat this incredible milestone. The dust finally settled with Infinity War grossing $678.8 million domestically and $2.05 billion worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing film on both accounts. It is estimated the film earned a net profit of $500 million.

 

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I’ll go into more detail about this when I get to 2019, but Infinity War is very much the epitome of reaping the rewards that have been sowed. Papa Feige took 10 years to develop this sprawling epic of a story. He slowly introduced each character to the masses and cultivated a devoted audience through fun, action-packed sci-fi adventures. People became quickly attached to the likes of Tony Stark and Peter Quill and were beyond excited to see the crossover to end all crossovers. And it’s through dedication and quality filmmaking that Papa Feige took Marvel from a comics company just getting out of bankruptcy into the biggest thing in pop culture, even up to today.

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Superhero craziness continued in third place (fourth worldwide) with the highly-anticipated sequel Incredibles 2. Immediately following the events of the first movie, superheroes are still outlawed and the family is still trying to figure out where to move to next. As luck would have it, a pair of eccentric millionaires look to use Mr. and Mrs. Incredible to help change the public perception of superheroes everywhere. Sure enough, Mrs. Incredible is out on an adventure saving the world and discovering a dark conspiracy, while Mr. Incredible has to adjust to being a stay-at-home dad, far away from the glory days he was looking to get from the first movie.

 

The Incredibles was considered one of the best Pixar movies the moment it came out, and what both kids and adults could agree on was that The Incredibles had, frankly, incredible potential for a good sequel. The characters are great, the action is fun, there’s a lot of cool teases about the world of supers. It was easily the one Pixar property everybody wanted to see another movie of. But director Brad Bird was just not ready for it. There were a few ideas he had, but he wasn’t going to make a sequel unless he could make a story from these ideas that made it better than the first film. So Bird moved to several other projects, like Pixar’s Ratatouille and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Finally, on March 2014, Bob Iger announced in a shareholders meeting that Incredibles 2 was in production and Brad Bird would return as writer and director. Initially, the film was set for release in 2019, but because of production troubles with Toy Story 4, Incredibles 2 was actually pushed up a whole year early.

 

Incredibles 2 came out 14 years after the last movie, and the film release calendar was very different. While The Incredibles was just one of a few superhero titles in 2004, Incredibles 2 was coming out during a glut of superhero movies. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was getting bigger and bigger every year, while WB, Fox, and Sony all had their own titles invading multiplexes. Bird wanted Incredibles 2 to stand out from both the first movie and the other superhero movies that were releasing. So this meant Bird’s sequel focused less on superhero tropes and more on the family dynamic. In fact, what Bird loved about the first movie was the family and how their relationships and issues played into a superhero setting. Bird also wanted the film to start immediately after the first movie so that the characters could be kept the same and not have to worry about Violet or Dash being adults and how that can change up the formula. This also allowed Jack-Jack to stay as a baby, allowing for some great comedy and playing into the idea that babies are an unpredictable sort.

 

Another major change in the 14-year gap between both movies was the advances in technology. Not only was Pixar consistently upgrading their tech and pushing the envelope for what computer animation could do, the crew had way more experience with this kind of tech than they did in 2004. As such, Bird and production designer Ralph Eggleston used this upgrade to help realize the designs that weren’t possible back when computer animation was in its infancy. They could do long hair, muscles, and realistic humans, while also making them aesthetically pleasing. And with it being a sequel safety net, this gave Bird a $200 million production sandbox to play around with, in terms of new character designs, backgrounds, and lighting techniques, making it a true feast to the eyes.

 

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Incredibles 2 was backed on a massive $150 million marketing campaign and was pushed both as a major superhero title in a summer full of major superhero titles, and a strong nostalgia play in the same vein as Toy Story 3 and Finding Dory. And this got everybody hyped. By the time this came out, kids and especially adults could not wait to see these great characters on the big screen in another epic adventure. The first teaser trailer became the highest-viewed animated trailer ever, and projections were rising steadily, going from $110 million to $140 million all the way to $150 million. But wouldn’t you know it, Incredibles 2 had a super opening that was for the ages.

 

Including previews of $18.5 million, a record for an animated film, Incredibles 2 saw the biggest opening day in animation history, with $71.6 million, beating Finding Dory’s first day by 31%. This soon led to a debut of $182.7 million, the largest animated opening ever by a very significant margin and the eighth-best opening ever. To put that into perspective, Incredibles 2’s first three days outgrossed a fair amount of other Pixar titles. It continued to be the hot destination in the coming days, earning the biggest Monday and Tuesdays in animation history, and by Thursday, it already outgrossed the first Incredibles’ entire run. It ultimately landed in second place the following weekend due to Fallen Kingdom, but it still grossed $80.3 million, leading to a 10-day total of $349.8 million, already placing in the upper echelon of Pixar’s filmography.

 

The weeks continued and Incredibles still packed in audiences, with it finally passing Finding Dory on July 7 to become Pixar’s biggest domestic hit and the biggest animated domestic release. It soon crossed $1 billion on July 30, becoming the fastest animated film to cross the mark in just 46 days, and becoming the seventh animated film to reach this milestone. It later passed Toy Story 3 on August 12, making it the biggest Pixar film worldwide. And finally, after Labor Day weekend, Incredibles 2 grossed $600 million domestically, becoming the first animated film to ever achieve such a milestone. It wrapped up with $608.6 million domestically and $1.24 billion worldwide, becoming the second-biggest animated film in history, only behind Frozen, and the fifteenth-highest grossing film of all time.

 

It was a film that truly had a perfect storm. No competition, great reviews, a genre that was on fire, and a nostalgic audience that was eager to see something they adored as kids. And sure enough, The Incredibles franchise has still maintained incredible popularity, with several short films, a hit ride at Disney California Adventure, and a wide variety of merchandise. And while an Incredibles 3 isn’t confirmed just yet, Bird has said he had so many other ideas he couldn’t fit in due to the truncated production schedule. So hey, never say never for a part 3.

 

Going from 3rd DOM 4th WW to 4th DOM 3rd WW is the hyped sequel Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. After Jurassic World is shut down, there’s debate on whether to protect and keep the dinosaurs alive. And wouldn’t you know it, Owen and Claire go back to the island one more time to rescue some of the remaining dinosaurs, and soon find themselves in a greater conspiracy that may cause even more harm to the dinos.

 

Follow-ups to Jurassic World were discussed between Spielberg and Colin Trevorrow pretty much since the beginning of development. Both because of the endless money they were gonna make, but also because Trevorrow’s ideas for the franchise, like the open-source dinosaurs and military dinos, left enough to chew on for new installments. However, while Trevorrow was interested in directing a sequel at first, he felt it was best if different directors could bring their own unique qualities to the series, though he still would be involved with a new sequel.

 

And one month after the monster success of Jurassic World, Universal announced a brand new sequel set for release in June 2018. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard would return, Frank Marshall would stay on as producer, Spielberg and Trevorrow would exec produce, and Trevorrow would still write the screenplay with his buddy Derek Connolly. During this announcement, Trevorrow ensured this would not be a repeat of the first film and would look to expand away from the theme parks. By October 2015, Spanish director J. A. Bayona was courted to direct the title. Funny enough, he was one of the directors considered for the first movie. Spielberg, Marshall, and Kennedy loved his work on The Impossible and Trevorrow loved his work on The Orphanage.

 

At first, Bayona rejected the job, on account of him already being attached to World War Z 2. Bayona soon left the Brad Pitt project because...well, because it was World War Z 2, and Trevorrow went back to courting Bayona. Upon reading the script’s second half, which plays out like a haunted house movie, Bayona was immediately on board and signed on as director. But that didn’t necessarily mean the script was completed. Trevorrow went on a road trip with Derek Connolly, as the two men worked together on ideas for the movie. Such ideas included how a mistake made years ago can never be undone, as well as themes of political megalomania, greed, animal abuse, and how decisions can impact other people’s lives. Bayona expanded on their ideas further when he joined the party, including expanding the opening action sequences and adding a few more action scenes into the movie.

 

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With $145 million in advertising as well as a shitload of toys, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom had a few issues launching overseas, due to the World Cup. This resulted in the film launching early in 48 countries between June 6 and June 8. And in that first weekend, despite getting hit by mixed-to-negative reviews, Fallen Kingdom did rather well, grossing $151.1 million. Its second weekend of international release was when it opened in China. It also did very well there, with an opening of $111.6 million, the fourth-best opening for a Hollywood release. This pushed the film all the way to an international total worth $372.1 million, more than Jurassic Park III’s entire worldwide total.

 

And finally, on June 22, Fallen Kingdom finally debuted in the United States to very solid results. Despite the massive breakout success of Incredibles 2 the week prior, Fallen Kingdom earned $148 million. Sure, a 29% fall from the last movie, but still incredibly impressive, resulting in the 20th-best opening weekend ever and the second-best opening for Universal ever. It also represented only the second time ever two films opened to over $100 million back to back. The film did see a steep 59% fall on its second weekend, earning $60.9 million for a $265.7 million 10-day total. But the weeks saw it stabilize pretty smoothly, and Fallen Kingdom finally finished with $417.7 million domestically and $1.31 billion worldwide. This was historic for Universal, because it meant the studio was the second, the first being Disney, to have at least two films from three different franchises hit the billion-dollar mark. Truly an incredible signifier that Jurassic World was more than a fluke and that this was a reboot series here to stay. Net profit amounted to $222.8 million.

 

Fallen Kingdom’s success soon led to countless of other franchise extensions in the next two years. Two theme park rides, a Netflix animated series, and even a short film Battle at Big Rock in September 2019. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, this short was supposed to play with Hobbs & Shaw, but didn’t...for some reason, and it soon premiered on FX...for some reason. But of course, the one thing Jurassic Park fans are most excited for is the third film in the Jurassic World series, Jurassic World: Dominion. Promising the return of the original cast from Jurassic Park and to follow up that major cliffhanger teasing a Flintstones-style world, Dominion was sadly one of the many productions to get hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, this is currently set for release June 2022, and Frank Marshall has said this isn’t a trilogy ender. Rather, a new beginning for a new saga. So that can only mean more toys for everybody!

 

Fifth place on both accounts had the DC bro himself, Aquaman. Arthur Curry is a young man who was raised by a human father and an Atlantean mother, and finds himself protecting and peacekeeping the surface world and the underwater world. But when his evil half-brother sets to unite the seven underwater kingdoms in a full assault against humanity, Arthur and his girlfriend Mera go on an epic quest to save all of the world, aquatic and non.

 

An Aquaman movie was one of those things that wasn’t as stewed in development hell as many other DC titles, but still took a while to get off the ground. Sunrise Entertainment planned to make an Aquaman movie in 2004, but that never got off the ground. In 2009, Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way was working on an Aquaman movie, but that also didn’t go anywhere. And apart from a joke in the series Entourage, it seemed like an Aquaman movie was not a priority.

 

Of course, with the launch of Man of Steel, suddenly every DC character was a priority. And by August 2014, things finally got going. Jason Momoa was announced to play Aquaman in the DC Extended Universe and signed a four-picture deal, which included Justice League and an Aquaman movie. Two different screenwriters, Will Beall and Kurt Johnstad, were competing with each other to get their movie off the ground. And finally, in 2015, we got the Aquaman movie we had today, as James Wan, fresh off the huge success of Furious 7, signed on as a director and oversaw Johnstad’s script. Later, David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick, writer for Conjuring 2, was in charge of the screenplay, though it’s unknown if it was a new script or not. And then after all that, all the previous scripts were scrapped and Will Beall wrote a brand new one, with Johnson-McGoldrick rewriting it...I wish it was less complicated than that.

 

The one aspect that made Aquaman so unique and hyped up amongst fanboys and general audiences were the visual effects. 2,300 different visual effects shots were in this movie, and much of that had to do with the Atlantis scenes. Actors were shot dry-for-wet and put in special rigs, the backgrounds were filled to the brim with unique buildings and architecture, ILM created hair simulations to make it feel like they were underwater. There was even some digital de-aging done for actors like Nicole Kidman and Willem DaFoe. In many ways, this made Aquaman a film more along the lines of Avatar than anything else. A film that transported viewers to a new world and used state-of-the-art visual effects to pull it off. This, alongside a bevy of other factors, helped make Aquaman the big holiday event that year.

 

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Opening on December 21, the first audience members to see Aquaman was China on December 7. And pretty much right out of the gate it was a smash hit, opening to $93.6 million. Far and away the biggest DCEU and Warner Bros. opening ever in China, to the point it beat out Wonder Woman’s grand total in three days. And that led to some good things domestically. The film first premiered in the US with Amazon Prime-only previews on December 15, and quickly sold out across the country, earning $2.9 million. This soon paved the way for $67.9 million for the 3-day. While the lowest DCEU opening up to that point, the December holidays meant it would be a leggy beast in the weeks to come. And yes, that was the case. After some very strong Christmas Day and Boxing Day numbers, Aquaman’s second weekend tallied to $52.1 million, a 23% decline and $189 million after the second weekend. It stayed #1 for a third weekend, falling 40% to earn $31 million and $260 million overall. It went #2 the following weekend, and Aquaman later finished its domestic run with $335.1 million, only behind Wonder Woman in DCEU movies. And with it becoming a smash hit across the world, including a record $298.3 million in China, Aquaman grossed $1.15 billion worldwide. As such, Aquaman was both the biggest DCEU movie, and passed Dark Knight Rises to become the biggest movie based on a DC character.

 

If you told me back in 2014, when DC first announced their big film slate, that Aquaman was gonna outgross Batman v Superman and Justice League, I assumed you would be lying. But hey, crazy times we live in. And it was that craziness that got people excited to check it out. As I have reiterated many times, giving audiences something they’ve never seen before, or at least the appearance of it, is a huge factor for some of the biggest success stories. And Aquaman was set to be one of the silliest comic book movies yet, offering underwater battles, sharks with lasers, a chase through Italy, and so much more. It was a roller coaster thrill ride with a set of likable actors to keep it all in tow. And despite mixed reviews, it seemed like a lot of people dug what they got.

 

And so Aquaman, once a joke of a character mocked on Robot Chicken all the time, quickly became one of the coolest DC heroes and Momoa’s portrayal, along with Gadot’s, is the one thing most, if not all DC fans can agree was actually done well in this current universe. And Aquaman looks to grow into something truly incredible as a franchise. A horror-themed spin-off called The Trench is in the works, and an animated miniseries is currently in the works for HBO Max. But of course, the real hype is the upcoming sequel, which is currently set for release in December 2022.

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Sixth domestic and ninth worldwide was the glorious return of the Merc with a Mouth. In Deadpool 2, Wade Wilson finds himself dealing with the loss of his girlfriend. He reluctantly joins the X-Men and finds himself forced to protect a young mutant from the time-traveling super soldier Cable. This soon leads to the creation of a new team titled X-Force, and a whole bunch of goofy nonsense.

 

A Deadpool sequel was already being worked on by the creatives. So much so, they spelled out to the audience that a sequel was coming and Cable was going to be a major part in the post-credits scene of Deadpool 1. And when Deadpool became one of Fox’s biggest hits ever, a sequel was greenlit. Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick would still write, Tim Willer would still direct, and Ryan Reynolds would soon produce and star. After all these men had such a great time together and their own unique talents helped make Deadpool into a phenomenon, it would be smooth sailing, right? Sadly, that was not the case.

 

Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds had very different ideas on where Deadpool 2 should go. Miller wanted the film to be more stylized, while Reynolds wanted an emphasis on raunchy comedy. Miller wanted Kyle Chandler as Cable, but Reynolds was opposed to that. Miller also wanted characters like Rusty, to have Wilson’s girlfriend play a larger role, and even have The Thing from Fantastic Four appear. Ultimately, these creative differences ended in October 2016, as Miller, who had far less bargaining power towards Fox compared to Reynolds, left the project. Several directors would be in contention after, like Drew Goddard, Rupert Sanders, and Magnus Martens, but John Wick director David Leitch, who Reynolds was a fan of, signed on for the sequel.

 

The screenplay also went through creative issues, with multiple drafts being made as late as January 2017. The film was juggling a lot of different goals, including introducing the X-Force, which was set to have its own movie, giving the spotlight to characters like Cable and Domino, now played by Josh Brolin and Zazie Beetz respectively, and still keep the focus on Deadpool. They also wanted a different tonal theme, with the X-Force used to focus on family. By February 2017, Fox wasn’t happy with the script, resulting in Reynolds, Reese and Wernick bunkering down and rewriting the film to pieces. Drew Goddard was also brought on as a consultant for the screenplay. The film’s screenplay was ready in time for its June 2017 production start date, though during post, several Disney-themed jokes were added into the film after news broke out about the Fox acquisition.

 

Production was hit with major tragedy on August 2017. During filming for a stunt with Domino, stuntwoman Sequana Joi Harris, who became a stunt performer for the first time with this movie, tragically lost her life in a motorcycle accident. She was 40. While veteran stunt double Melissa Stubbs was willing to do the role, Harris’ skin tone matched Beetz’s more. This led to heavy backlash from the stunt community, but Harris was still honored in the film’s credits.

 

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Like before, Deadpool 2 had a very unique ad campaign that helped hype the movie up. Deadpool appeared as Bob Ross, a Cable teaser had Deadpool playing with action figures for a while, and Deadpool himself live-tweeted the Super Bowl. This, alongside many more traditional trailers, showed that Deadpool 2 had all the same stuff people loved about the first movie. It was still funny, it was still weird, and it was still subversive as hell. And along with strong reviews, Deadpool 2 was set to be yet another hit for Reynolds, Fox, and Marvel.

 

Opening on May 18, Deadpool’s first day total was $53.3 million, making it the biggest opening day ever for an R-rated title. This would soon lead to $125.5 million, the second-best opening for an R-rated movie, only behind the first Deadpool. Remember, Deadpool was a surprise hit that benefited from crazy good word-of-mouth, so this was bound to be more frontloaded. Its initial run finished with about $318.5 million domestically and $734.5 million worldwide, just slightly down from what the first movie generated. But this wasn’t the end for Deadpool 2’s box office.

 

Later that December, Fox released Once Upon a Deadpool, a PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 that cut a lot of the raunch and swearing through a Princess Bride-style framing device. This was done for a number of reasons, both confirmed and rumored. It was done so kids not old enough to see Deadpool 2 can see it in theaters, it was done so Fox could get some money during the Christmas season after delaying Alita: Battle Angel, it was done to raise money for the Fuck Cancer charity organization. But most importantly, it was done to get a China release. Chinese censors are very strict when it comes to mature, offensive content, so this was basically Fox trying to get that China money out of their movie before the Disney merger. And while it did very little in America and the rest of the world, it did earn a decent $42 million in China, which boosted the film to about $785.8 million. So, on a technicality, Deadpool 2 was now the highest-grossing R-rated movie in history. Net profit was about $235.4 million.

 

Now when reading how well this movie did, showing that Deadpool was still a popular name, it may seem like Deadpool 3 was quickly greenlit. Yet this is where Deadpool, and the X-Men brand itself, finds itself in murky waters. I briefly talked about this in the 2017 section with Logan, but the Disney acquisition is when Deadpool and X-Men went through some very odd growing pains. When Deadpool became a massive success, Fox wanted to build a whole sub-series around their foul-mouthed antihero. Not only was a Deadpool 2 and Deadpool 3 planned, but there was plans for another film titled X-Force. X-Force, based on the comic spin-off series, was going to be a grittier, R-rated form of X-Men that would also feature Deadpool in the cast. Drew Goddard was going to write and direct and it was part of a major push from Fox for big Marvel projects.

 

Ultimately, the Disney acquisition changed everything. Having two different Marvel universes would complicate things, and it felt like people were already getting tired of X-Men as a brand once late 2017 rolled around. X-Men: Apocalypse did lukewarm business critically and financially, and Logan was the big send-off to the most popular character in the series. A planned Gambit movie starring Channing Tatum was stuck in development hell for eons and there were many who just wanted to see the X-Men pop up with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers already.

 

So this meant that by March 2019, when the deal was finalized, every X-Men film that was in development was immediately canceled and scrapped. The Gambit movie? Gone. X-Force? Gone. An X23 movie? Gone. A Kitty Pryde movie? Gone. A Multiple Man movie starring James Franco? Gone. Sequels for a planned X-Men spin-off called The New Mutants? Gone. All that was left from Fox’s X-Men series were two movies that, simply put, nobody gave a shit about.

 

June 2019 saw the release of Dark Phoenix, the direct follow-up to X-Men: Apocalypse and a remake of the maligned The Last Stand that tried to give “The Dark Phoenix Saga” justice. Directed by Simon Kinberg, this was a film that had pretty much everything against it, even before the Disney buyout. It was delayed three times, was delayed literally one day after its first teaser trailer, completely reshot its third act, was panned by critics and audiences, was surrounded by intense summer competition, was forced into said competition by James Cameron, opened in second place behind The Secret Life of Pets 2, and grossed $252.4 million worldwide on a $200 million budget, making it the lowest-grossing X-Men movie in the main series and became the biggest box office bomb of 2019, estimated to have lost $133 million. It was so bad that it was the main reason why Disney’s revenue that quarter hit below expectations. And this was the summer when Disney hit a billion with all their movies!

 

One year later, The New Mutants, a horror spin-off, released to theaters. It too was a disaster. It was supposed to release April 2018, was delayed five times, was supposed to be reshot to improve the movie, but ended up not getting reshot at all, was thrown to the wolves in theaters in August 2020, saw just as bad reviews, was panned by the co-creator of the comics, and grossed only $46.7 million worldwide, making it by far the lowest-grossing X-Men film in history.

 

And thus, X-Men finished not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with a fart. Simply put, even diehard fans were more excited in the upcoming MCU reboot than paying to see their favorite heroes one last time. However, one character from the FOX-Men was one Papa Feige did want to keep around. Deadpool was still an easy moneymaker and Ryan Reynolds was a good get to have. So Deadpool 3 was still a film that was in development and worked on. Reynolds later confirmed it would still happen, though produced by Marvel Studios. And just this past November, many exciting new developments took place. A new set of writers, Wendy Molyneux and Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin of Bob’s Burgers fame, were working on a new screenplay for the third movie. And just this past month, Papa Feige did ensure fans Deadpool 3 would be R-rated despite being a part of the MCU. It’s still a while away, filming is set to commence in late 2022, but within all the chaos and mayhem this merger caused, at least something good is around the corner.

 

Seventh place saw Illumination’s The Grinch. Based on the Dr. Seuss story, The Grinch is a green curmudgeon who has a deep hatred for Christmas and the Christmas-loving Whos that live down in Whoville. This soon leads to The Grinch doing one thing to stop all this nonsense. If Christmas can’t be stopped, he’ll have to steal Christmas from everybody else. But through his heist he discovers there is much more to Christmas than trees and presents.

 

After the disastrous reception of 2003’s The Cat in the Hat, Seuss’ widow Audrey Geisel banned all live-action film productions of her husband’s work. But that didn’t mean animated movies, which fit better with Seuss’ visual style and sensibility, were off the table. Blue Sky would soon develop 2008’s Horton Hears a Who!, which was a critical and financial success. And this success led to a strong relationship between Blue Sky President Chris Meledandri and Audrey Geisel. So much so that when Meledandri left Blue Sky in favor of creating his own animation studio Illumination, Geisel quickly followed suit. 

 

She mentioned to Meledandri she wanted to do The Lorax next at his new animation studio, and sure enough Lorax would see a release in 2012. While it garnered mixed reviews and controversy over its marketing campaign, it was a big hit, grossing $348.8 million worldwide on a $70 million budget. So this led to other Seuss projects at Illumination. One of them being yet another adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Titled The Grinch, this was the third screen adaptation of the story, after the beloved 1964 animated special and the "beloved to those who saw it as kids even though it's actually pure garbage" live-action movie starring Jim Carrey. The big superstar this time was Benedict Cumberbatch, whose voice seemed to fit the character. In fact, Illumination wanted him to use his normal speaking voice, but Cumberbatch felt since the rest of the cast was American, he should have an American accent...okay buddy.

 

Another notable cast member here was Pharrell Williams. Pharrell was in charge of the music for the Despicable Me trilogy, and upgraded himself to the role of narrator. In his place for the music was rapper Tyler, the Creator, himself a huge Seuss fan. Not only did he write a new song for the film, he and composer Danny Elfman collaborated on a new version of the iconic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”, which was featured in both the trailer and in the beginning of the movie.

 

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With Illumination’s consistently clever, omnipresent marketing, as well as the iconic source material, The Grinch was set to be yet another hit for the animation studio. And wouldn’t you know it, on its November 9 opening, it very much was. The film debuted to $67.6 million, the third-biggest animated November opening. And seeing as how Christmas movies do extremely well in terms of legs, as the holidays keep creeping up, the film was a consistent mainstay. It dropped to second place on its second weekend, earning $38.6 million. Thanksgiving weekend followed after, and despite competition from animated hit Ralph Breaks the Internet, it only fell 21% for a $30.4 million 3-Day. It earned $180.5 million in 17 days. The movie still stuck around in second place for the next two weeks. With Ralph Breaks the Internet at #1, it was the first time ever animated films were in the top two spots in back-to-back weekends.

 

The Grinch finally finished its run with $270.6 million domestically and $512.5 million worldwide. Not only did this mean The Grinch earned a net profit of $184.6 million, this became the highest-grossing Seuss adaptation and finally toppled Home Alone’s 18-year long record to become the highest-grossing Christmas movie of all time. And like with most Christmas movies, Illumination’s The Grinch is not done making money. Being a holiday title, this is a film that will consistently see profits every holiday season, and it has already become a Christmas classic to many. In 2019, The Grinch appeared on Netflix, and in 2020, it was one of the top 10 most streamed movies of the year. And it’s fair to say that with annual DVD sales, annual airings on cable TV and annual rentals on digital stores, The Grinch, like its 2000 counterpart, will forever be an evergreen title for Universal.

 

Sadly, Universal lost the Seuss license to Warner Bros., who are looking to continue making Seuss movies with their animation group. The Cat in the Hat, which was almost an Illumination production, is set to be the first, along with Oh, the Places You’ll Go, which is set to be produced by J. J. Abrams of all people.

 

Eighth place on both accounts saw Tom Cruise being crazy with Mission: Impossible - Fallout. When a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to create a nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Mecca via plutonium, the IMF are forced to team up with CIA assassin August Walker to save the world from disaster.

 

Mission: Impossible 6 was in the works as early as Rogue Nation’s release. And it was Rogue Nation’s massive success that shaped this newest installment. With the past five movies, a new director has always taken the helm, as it helps spice things up from movie to movie. But after Chris McQuarrie did such a good job with #5, he was actually brought back to write and direct a second time, leading to a very strong relationship between him and Mr. Cruise. Rebecca Ferguson also returned in this film, though Jeremy Renner left the project due to filming conflicts with Avengers: Endgame.

 

Pre-production soon came to a halt in August 2016 over a pay dispute with Cruise. Cruise wanted to be paid equal to or higher than he was with 2017’s The Mummy, because this psycho Scientologist really needed to pay for that big yacht that could hold all his smaller yachts. This dispute was resolved and filming finally happened in April 2017. We’ve already gone into the moustache situation last year, but filming was one that was full of even more turmoil. Cruise actually injured his right leg during filming, resulting in production shutting down for nine weeks. This costed Paramount $80 million, though the injury was later offset by insurance, and Cruise was back in action earlier than expected, seven weeks after his injury.

 

The Mission: Impossible movies are more or less Cruise trying to test the limits of what he can do in terms of stunt work, and this was perhaps the biggest one yet. Production saw Cruise take part in a High Altitude Low Opening jump, which was the first time an actor ever took part in this kind of activity in a movie. Cruise and the crew did over one hundred takes in order to get this shot right, and due to taking place during a sunset, they could only make one jump a day. Ultimately only three takes were used by McQuarrie.

 

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The film was hyped hard through featurettes detailing Cruise and the insane stunts he took in this simple movie. And including a Super Bowl debut trailer and ads throughout the summer, Fallout’s biggest ace in the hole were its reviews. Fallout was praised by critics as the most exciting and action-packed M:I movie yet. It wasn’t just considered the best of the series though. Rather, Fallout was considered one of the greatest action movies of all time. With that kind of hype, you better believe everybody went out to see this. Sure enough, Fallout was an absolute banger of a release.

 

Opening on July 27, Fallout opened to $61.2 million, the biggest opening for the series, finally toppling M:I 2’s 18-year record. And with great reviews on its side, Fallout continued from there to great results. Its second weekend, repping $35.3 million, was the best second weekend for any M:I title. And after weeks of consistent success, Fallout finally finished with $220.1 million domestically, the biggest M:I title and the second-biggest Tom Cruise title, only behind War of the Worlds. It also grossed $791.1 million, which was Tom Cruise’s biggest result ever.

 

So yeah, Cruise sticking to McQuarrie was a smart idea. So much so that McQuarrie will take charge with Ethan Hunt not once, but twice more. Both Mission: Impossible 7 and 8 were announced concurrently following Fallout’s release, with both movies shooting back-to-back from each other. And their production has already been one full of headlines, becoming one of the first productions to get hit by COVID shutdowns and public audio releasing of Cruise yelling at some chuds for not following the COVID guidelines upon returning to shoot. Both films are set to release in 2021 and 2022, and with Cruise getting on the older side, it’s fair to say #8 will be the last time Ethan Hunt is on the big screen. Let’s hope McQuarrie will end Cruise’s tenure on a high note.

 

In ninth place we have the one Marvel movie that didn’t break any records, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Scott Lang, a former thief that has taken the heroic mantle of Ant-Man, is under house arrest after the events of Civil War. But it seems he’ll have to break these rules, as a new villain is running amok, and only him and his partner/love interest Hope van Dyne, the Wasp, can stop her. Along the way, both try to work with Hank Pym, the first Ant-Man, and try to get into the quantum realm to rescue Hank’s wife Janet.

 

I didn’t have time to talk about the first Ant-Man, so I’ll make it quick. Developed before the MCU was even a thing, this was going to be a major directing job for Cornetto/Scott Pilgrim director Edgar Wright. This went through several drafts before pre-production began in earnest in 2013, but Wright soon left the project in May 2014 over creative differences with Papa Feige. Bring it On director Peyton Reed took charge, Adam McKay and star Paul Rudd rewrote some of Wright and Joe Cornish’s script, and Ant-Man released in July 2015. While not the biggest Marvel title, it did pretty solid, earning good reviews and $519 million worldwide, making this yet another solid franchise for Disney and Marvel Studios.

 

Caught up? Good. After the release of Ant-Man, Peyton Reed was very excited about a sequel. Considering he came in late into development, this was a chance for him to work on some characters he quickly grew to love, and was excited he got to create his own story completely from the ground up. And in October 2015, Ant-Man and the Wasp was announced for July 2018. Reed was super excited about bringing Hope Van Dyne into the universe as Wasp, and wanted to make sure both her and Lang were equals in the movie.

 

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Reed also wanted to experiment with regards to tone and genre. While the first Ant-Man’s heist film attributes would be in tact, Reed wanted Ant-Man and the Wasp to feel more unique. So this meant it was part action film, part romantic comedy, and featured several flashback sequences and explore more of Hank Pym’s backstory. Films like After Hours, Midnight Run, and What’s Up, Doc? were all inspirations for Reed. During production, the Russos were also in constant contact with Peyton, ensuring story elements would match up with the events of both Infinity War and Endgame. This is of course best seen with the mid-credits sequence that got everybody’s jaw dropping.

 

While somewhat lost in the shuffle within the Marvel mania that year, Ant-Man and the Wasp still had considerable hype to it. This hype would naturally translate to a strong, but frontloaded opening on July 5. Earning $75.8 million, this was a 33% improvement from the last movie, a testament to the first movie’s appeal and Marvel’s consistent dominance. The film did see a concerning 62% drop on its second weekend, a $29.1 million weekend haul. But like Deadpool 2 and Fallen Kingdom before it, Ant-Man and the Wasp soon stabilized and finished with a strong $216.6 million domestic finish, a 20% leap from the last movie. It also grossed $622.7 million worldwide, another 20% jump.

 

Ant-Man and the Wasp was a nice palate cleanser over the last few months. After Black Panther made history and Infinity War changed the MCU forever, Ant-Man and the Wasp was a nice, small-scale, goofy adventure that was a fun send-off to Marvel fans and the franchise’s banner year and a nice cool down before we got to the real big boys in 2019. The third Ant-Man movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, is set to be the biggest Ant-Man release yet, with major Marvel baddie Kang the Conqueror appearing and Jonathan Majors attached to the role. It is currently set for release in 2022.

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Tenth domestic and sixth worldwide was the musical biopic smash hit that nobody saw coming. The Queen dramatization known as Bohemian Rhapsody. Rami Malek stars as rock superstar Freddie Mercury, as this details the entire life of Freddie. From his love of music to the formation of the band Queen all the way to the iconic 1985 Live Aid performance, with plenty of toe-tapping songs along the way.

 

A film about Queen was a no-brainer, due to the band’s iconic legacy and Mercury’s incredible life story. And the first plans were revealed in September 2010 by Queen guitarist Brian May. The plan was for Sacha Baron Cohen to play Freddie Mercury, Graham King to produce, and Peter Morgan to write the screenplay. Production continued to move forward in 2011, but things came to a screeching halt in 2013, as Cohen was not a fan of how the movie was going. Cohen wanted this to be a gritty, R-rated tell-all of Mercury’s life story, while Queen, who were producers and overseers on the project, wanted a PG-rated tale about the band that sanitized the story. And reportedly Mercury was killed off halfway through, with the rest of the movie focusing on how the band dealt with Freddie’s 1991 death. The band was also not a fan of Cohen’s creative decisions in terms of who would work on the film. They didn’t like Peter Morgan as the writer and they didn’t like David Fincher or Tom Hooper being the director.

 

So Sacha Baron Cohen left the project, with Ben Whishaw next in line to play Freddie and Dexter Fletcher set to direct. Ultimately, Fletcher had creative disagreements with producer Graham King and he left too. Whishaw also left shortly after. But the film we got finally saw form in November 2015 when screenwriter Anthony McCarten attached himself to the project. Now titled Bohemian Rhapsody, McCarten used interviews from May and Roger Taylor to help shape up this story, with his first draft sent in February 2016. By November 2016, things finally began falling into place. McCarten’s script would be used, Bryan Singer would direct, and the film would be produced by 20th Century Fox and New Regency with plans for a 2018 release.

 

Another tidbit made in November 2016 was the new actor playing Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek, best known for the critically acclaimed series Mr. Robot, was chosen after the producers saw his work in that series. Rami was not a huge Queen fan, only having a casual knowledge of the band. So to embody the larger-than-life figure, he went through several intense sessions with a movement coach to help Rami replicate the man’s stage moves. Malek also took singing and piano lessons, even though archival recordings from Mercury and Mercury imitator Marc Martel filled in a lot of the work. Either way, this showed that Rami was going to do everything in his power to make this important music icon lovingly handled and treated carefully.

 

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Too bad the director Bryan Singer didn’t care. On December 1, 2017, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that production was halted due to Bryan Singer not showing up after the Thanksgiving week break, leading to cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel in charge of directing for a while. Singer’s reason absence was a conflicting one. Reports came it was due to a family matter, as his mother was pretty ill. Other reports was that Singer’s behavior was unprofessional, as he was frequently late to the set and him and Malek clashed frequently. Or most likely, Bryan Singer, known for being a pedophile, left after the Weinstein scandals meant his goose was cooked. Whatever the reason, this meant the last weeks of shooting were directorless. But sure enough, Dexter Fletcher, the man who left the project years ago, stepped in for the last few weeks, effectively finishing a whole third of the movie. Ultimately, DGA rules meant Singer was the sole credited director. Laziness unprofessionalism wins again!

 

When the first trailer released in May 2018, it smelled like a hit was in the air. The trailer saw over 5 million views in 24 hours, and three Queen songs hit the top 20 on the Billboard charts. And as the months went on, more and more trailers and promos were making this movie feel like something special. Backed by Queen music and having distinct concert shots, the marketing team smartly played this movie out as more than just a dramatic biopic. Rather, Bohemian Rhapsody was a concert, full of epic Queen music and showy sequences that begged to be seen on the big screen with surround sound.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody first hit in the United Kingdom in October 24, and was an immediate hit. Despite mixed reviews, criticizing the accuracy of the story, as well as the direction, writing, and editing, it earned $12.5 million its first weekend, boding extremely well for the next few weeks in other territories. And in the United States, it too surpassed expectations. Initially slated to open to around $35-40 million, Bohemian Rhapsody zoomed all the way to $51.1 million, the second-best opening for a musical biopic. This already meant great things for this troubled production, but the success didn’t stop here. Rather, the next few weeks was when Bohemian Rhapsody truly excelled as a mega blockbuster sensation.

 

In its second weekend, the film fell 39% for a second weekend total of $31.2 million and a 10-day of $100.4 million. For most music biopics, this is on the high end for a final total. And by that point, the film surpassed Straight Outta Compton worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing musical biopic in history. And it didn’t stop there. People couldn’t get enough of the catchy songs here in the US, and with strong appearances across the awards circuit, particularly for Rami Malek, everybody had to check it out, regardless of mediocre reviews. Holding steady in the weeks since and expanding with the help of award wins, Bohemian Rhapsody ended with $216.4 million, 4.24 times its opening weekend and far exceeding all expectations, becoming the highest-grossing musical biopic and the highest-grossing LGBT film of all time.

 

And it didn’t stop in the UK and US. Particularly in Asia, Bohemian Rhapsody was a worldwide juggernaut. In Japan, it became the highest-grossing live-action musical of all time, earning $115.7 million. South Korea also fell in love with this movie, grossing $74.2 million, making it the most successful musical of all time and the sixth-best foreign release in the country. Alongside incredible numbers everywhere else, Bohemian Rhapsody soared to $687.2 million overseas and $903.6 million worldwide. This resulted in a net profit of $350.8 million and Bohemian Rhapsody becoming the fourth-biggest Fox movie of all time, the highest-grossing biopic of all time, the highest-grossing LGBT film of all time, and the highest-grossing drama of all time.

 

Its a release that is truly unlike any other. This didn’t have splashy special effects or an iconic movie franchise to back up its success, but nothing more than nostalgic love for one of the greatest rock bands of all time, a perfect swan song for Fox before getting swallowed up by the Disney machine a few months later. And this success did not stop there. The film was a major presence in the awards scene, with the film winning Best Picture at the Golden Globes, and winning four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Rami Malek. This win was a historic one, as Rami Malek became the first actor of Egyptian heritage to win an Oscar. Rami would soon be a major force in the industry, with him recently appearing in the Denzel thriller The Little Things, and is currently set to play the next Bond villain in No Time to Die. He’s also currently filming the next David O. Russell film.

 

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But the one thing Bohemian Rhapsody’s legacy has created is one that we’re still in the midst of and sadly has been upended due to the pandemic: a huge push for music biopics on just about every band and music artist you can think of. 2019 saw Rocketman, directed by Dexter Fletcher. It wasn’t anywhere near as huge as Bohemian, but was a solid success in its own right, earning great reviews, giving star Taron Egerton a Golden Globe, and grossing $195.2 million. And now, we’re getting films about Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, The Bee Gees, Whitney Houston, and countless others in the next few years. But despite all these movies, I’m confident in saying none of them will touch the incredible box office results of Bohemian Rhapsody.

 

Eleventh place saw yet another remake of A Star is Born. Bradley Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a country superstar struggling with both alcoholism and drug addiction, both of which are just about ready to end Maine’s career. Things finally perk up in Maine’s life when he discovers a young, talented singer named Ally, played by Lady Gaga. This soon blossoms into love, as the duo deal with struggles between Ally’s rising fame, Jackson’s alcoholism and popularity decline, tragedy and loss, all leading to a star being born.

 

A Star is Born is one of those movie plots that are universal and easy to adapt to the changing times. If anything, the appeal of this story comes from how they define the era they come out. As shown with the 1937 film starring Janet Gaynor, the 1954 musical starring Judy Garland, and the 1976 version with Barbra Streisand. That final version was actually a huge hit when it came out, becoming the second-biggest film of 1976, only behind Rocky.

 

So naturally, a fourth adaptation of this story would be in the works, as early as the 1990s in fact. Will Smith was set to star in this initial version, but chose Ali instead. In 2000, Jamie Foxx and Oliver Stone of all people wanted to work on this next iteration, with the late great Aaliyah and the late great Paul Walker. Other actresses in contention were Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, and Mariah Carey. Ultimately, the project was shelved for over a decade. But luckily, things started to pick up in 2011.

 

Clint Eastwood was set to direct this piece, with the female lead, the star being born, being the Queen herself Beyoncé. Ultimately, the production was delayed due to Beyoncé’s pregnancy and the film had to go back from scratch. But that didn’t stop Eastwood or WB from trying to get this new remake off the ground. Actors in contention for the male lead included Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp and Will Smith. Ultimately, after Beyoncé left the project, Bradley Cooper signed on for the lead male role. Eastwood was gunning for Esperanza Spalding for the female role, though Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna, Shakira, Selena Gomez, Janelle Monae, Demi Lovato, and Kesha were all in consideration. Ultimately Eastwood didn’t get to pick.

 

In March 2015, fresh off the massive success of American Sniper, Cooper was looking to expand his artistic talents. He didn’t just want to star in the movie, but have this be his directorial debut. This was a bit puzzling, as Cooper never directed and was suddenly tasked to remake one of the most beloved stories of all time. But deciding to avoid an upfront salary and have a back-end one, Cooper was officially announced to direct and star in the upcoming A Star is Born in March 2016. August 2016 was when the female star was found, pop star icon Lady Gaga. Gaga was just one of many in a who’s who of a pretty bizarre cast at face value. Sam Elliott was Cooper’s brother, Andrew Dice Clay was Gaga’s father, and Dave Chapelle had a brief scene as well.

 

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Bradley Cooper brought in Lukas Nelson, son of Willie Nelson, to help work on the film and its soundtrack. This was a movie about country music, so you need somebody in that genre. Nelson would write several songs for the movie and even appear as one of the members in Jackson Maine’s band. Other contributors to the soundtrack include Jason Isbell, Mark Ronson, Natalie Hemby, Diane Warren, and many more. This resulted in a beefy soundtrack of 19 songs, all with different styles, genres, and tones attached to them.

 

A Star is Born first hit the Venice Film Festival on August 31, with appearances at TIFF soon to come. This quickly made the film an easy critical darling. People raved about the acting, music, direction, and cinematography, hyping this as a film that could not be missed. And sure enough, on its October 5 debut, A Star is Born had a box office run that legends were made of. Debuting to $44.3 million, A Star is Born stood on its own despite Venom launching the same day. And right away, A Star is Born was an incredibly strong crowdpleaser. It earned the smallest drop in the top 10 its second weekend, earning $28.4 million. It soon outpaced Venom despite its major headstart on its third weekend, staying in second and grossing $19 million, a 33% decline. And staying in second place for the fourth weekend, earning $14 million for a 26% drop, it was clear A Star is Born was here to stay. And thanks to rave reviews, a brief stint in IMAX, as well as frequent popping ups at the awards circuit, A Star is Born was a consistent moneymaker, finishing with $215.3 million domestic, the fifth-largest total for a movie that never hit #1. It also grossed $436.2 million worldwide.

 

This success benefited every party you can think of. Helped also by strong soundtrack sales, A Star is Born would see eight nominations at the Oscars and seven nominations at the Grammys, including both Best Picture and Song of the Year. The song “Shallow” won the Oscar and the performance at the ceremony garnered significant praise. Bradley Cooper also saw his already incredible starpower rise astronomically, turning him into both a hot actor and hot director and reinvigorated his career after the 2015 critical and financial failures Aloha, Burnt, and Joy. He would go on to be a producer for Joker, and is set to star in the newest films from both Guillermo del Toro and Paul Thomas Anderson. He is also currently developing a biopic on Leonard Bernstein for Netflix. Lady Gaga also saw a huge career boost, as she won four Grammy Awards, and her sixth album Chromatica, released in 2020, became her sixth consecutive number-one album, with her single “Rain on Me” debuting at number one on the Billboard charts. Her next major film role is the Brad Pitt action thriller Bullet Train.

 

It was yet another grand success, following in the footsteps of the films before it. And when the inevitable next remake comes, featuring the hottest new talents, it’s easy to say it’ll follow suit, assuming theatrical exhibition is still a valuable source of revenue for a movie within the next 20 years or so.

 

We’ve been talking about a lot of successes, but we also need to talk about some failures. And perhaps the most tragic failure of all was 12th place’s Solo: A Star Wars Story. Depicting the early days of Han Solo and his first time meeting Chewbacca, the duo find themselves caught up in a heist within the criminal underworld of the galaxy. And it’s here Han becomes the charming roguish hero we see today.

 

Believe it or not, a Han Solo prequel was something George Lucas was interested in for years. When Lucas was writing the screenplay for Revenge of the Sith, he had plans to include Han Solo as a kid, but that was scrapped for a while. And during development for the series Star Wars: Underworld, he planned episodes that would feature Han meeting Chewbacca and winning the Millenium Falcon from Lando. But the ball truly didn’t start rolling until 2012, as George was developing a Han Solo movie with Lawrence Kasdan. Of course, shortly after, Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney and Lucas had no more input on this movie, though Kasdan would go on to write the screenplay for The Force Awakens, leaving his son Jonathan Kasdan in charge of the script for this Han Solo movie.

 

In February 2013, Bob Iger formally announced this Han Solo movie as a part of an aggressive push for more Star Wars titles via anthology films. The script was written by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan, with 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller at the helm. And in 2016, Lucasfilm was looking to find their next Han Solo. Actors like Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Taron Egerton, Dave Franco, Scott Eastwood, Logan Lerman, and more were in consideration, with Alden Ehrenreich of Hail, Caesar! fame landing the part in May 2016. The female lead role of Qi’ra was also in heavy contention, with actresses like Naomi Scott, Tessa Thompson, Zoe Kravitz, Kiersey Clemons, and more in consideration. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke landed the part, while Donald Glover, fresh off Community and set to have both his own FX show Atlanta and his next album “Awaken, My Love!”, was also cast in the role of Lando Calrissian.

 

Filming began in January 2017, and it’s here where the film became an utter hassle for all parties. Phil Lord and Chris Miller reportedly butted heads with Lucasfilm execs and Lawerence Kasdan. They intended to make and assumed they were picked so that they could make a Star Wars comedy. However, Lucasfilm wanted them to only add a comedic touch to the piece. Lord and Miller also encouraged too much improvisation with the actors, which did not sit well with the Kasdans, who wanted the words they wrote spoken. Ultimately, Lord and Miller left the project during filming over these creative differences in June 2017. Ron Howard, a good friend of Lucas, would sign on to the project two days later, taking charge of the last three weeks of filming as well as the next five weeks of reshoots.

 

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This soon led to Lord and Miller’s film being 70% reshot, resulting in a $275 million budget, making it one of the most expensive films ever made. This behind-the-scenes drama was one of the many issues Lucasfilm had going into the film’s marketing. Really, Solo was a film that just didn’t stick out even compared to the other Disney Star Wars titles. There didn’t seem to be much clamoring for a young Han Solo film, and the idea of recasting Harrison Ford was sacrilegious to some (it isn’t). And simply put, this was the fourth Star Wars movie in the span of 29 months, and Last Jedi, a divisive piece of Star Wars canon, was only five months prior. People were getting tired of Star Wars and it made a film that was already looking pretty unspecial look even more so.

 

And alongside a lackluster ad campaign that only began three months before release, Solo became one of those rare bombs that changed everything. Opening on May 25, 41 years to the day the first Star Wars came out, Solo was projected to open around $130-150 million for the 4-Day, but failed to surpass even the lowest expectations, debuting to $84.4 million for the 3-Day and $103 million for the 4-Day, becoming the lowest Star Wars debut since Attack of the Clones. The reasons are plentiful, and nobody can really draw on one major consensus, though it’s fair to say a combination of Star Wars fatigue, poor marketing, and The Last Jedi quickly turning Star Wars into a toxic brand.

 

The film was also a nonstarter overseas almost across the board, debuting to $65 million internationally. This soon led to Solo earning $213.8 million domestically and $392.9 million worldwide, resulting in a loss of $76.9 million. This not only meant this was the lowest-grossing Star Wars movie, this became the first Star Wars movie ever to be a box office bomb. This naturally led to all planned sequels to Solo being scrapped, the anthology films supposedly being dead, and Bob Iger mentioning plans for a complete production hiatus on Star Wars movies after the release of Episode IX next year. And while fans of Solo have pushed for a sequel on trending sites and Ehrenreich has tried to tease future Solo projects, it’s unlikely any will come into fruition.

 

The failure of Solo did very little to change the attitude people were starting to have on Star Wars, as the franchise quickly went back to the days of the prequels with massive dogpiling and criticisms. And even today, the franchise is still on somewhat shaky ground theatrically. We’ll talk about this a little further when we get to 2019.

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Twelfth place domestic but seventh worldwide was the other Marvel movie released this year, Venom. Tom Hardy stars as Eddie Brock, a journalist who finds himself the host of a terrifying alien symbiote named Venom. This causes Brock to be controlled by Venom, gain superpowers, and transform into a horrifying alien demon.

 

Perhaps the most famous Spider-Man villain, a movie focusing on Venom has been in development for quite a while. In 1997, David S. Goyer was working on a script that would have Dolph Lundgren of all people in the title role, but that idea never went anywhere. Sony Pictures later got the rights for Venom along with Spider-Man, and Brock soon appeared in Spider-Man 3 despite director Sam Raimi’s objections. But producer Avi Arad put Venom into Spider-Man 3 for a good reason: to make money. The plan was for Venom’s appearance to kickstart his own spin-off, effectively becoming the Wolverine of the Spider-Man film franchise.

 

Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick worked on the script, while Hunger Games’ Gary Ross would rewrite and possibly direct the movie. Although despite Topher Grace originating the role, he was not expected to return. That’s gotta hurt. Ultimately, this interpretation wasn’t to be, because Sony decided to completely reboot the franchise. Things went back on track in 2012, when future Fantastic Four director Josh Trank was approached to make a Venom movie. His pitch, an R-rated Venom title in the same vein as The Mask, was not liked by producer Matt Tolmach, though Trank was willing to have it connect to the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man. Then of course, a Venom movie was supposed to be set up after Amazing Spider-Man 2 after Sony tried to create a shared universe, but that was immediately discarded after Sony made a deal with Papa Feige to bring Spider-Man to the MCU.

 

But in March 2016, Sony officially announced a Venom movie was going to be made. This was set to be a standalone film that would start its own separate franchise from the new Spider-Man films made concurrently with Sony and Marvel Studios. And one year later, the plans were formally laid out. It would release October 2018, it had Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner write the screenplay and was going to be a smaller-budgeted, R-rated Marvel title in the same vein as Deadpool and Logan before it. All the while, set up its own shared universe independent of the MCU. Tom Hardy was later cast as Eddie Brock in May 2017, and Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, a huge Venom fan, would direct the title.

 

Probably the most confusing thing about this movie was its connections to the MCU itself. That being, there were tons of mixed signals. Papa Feige said point blank this had nothing to do with the MCU. However, producer Amy Pascal said that Venom took place in the same world as Spider-Man: Homecoming. Tom Holland was even set to have a cameo in this film, but it was scrapped despite being shot already. But what was going to happen no matter what was that Venom would be the start of a whole universe of movies. Titled the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters” (sexy name right there), several Marvel releases focused on characters Sony had the film rights to were set to be produced, and Venom would be where it all started. Fleischer planned and developed much of this world, and wanted his movie to be unique compared to the other superhero competition. Not be light like Marvel, but not somber like DC.

 

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Venom’s first trailer didn’t get much traction or attention, mainly due to the lack of the big bad alien boy himself, which led to concerns this would be yet another dud for Sony in their futile attempts to get Marvel money. But then the second trailer hit. And it was glorious. With a combo of a sinister-looking Venom and plenty of goofy-ass moments, intentional or not, Venom’s second trailer exploded in popularity, earning 64.3 million views in just 24 hours. Keep in mind, a second trailer increasing on the first one is a rarity. This boost in positive buzz and excitement in seeing a fan-favorite Marvel villain justly portrayed was an easy sell to many, despite the PG-13 rating being a bummer for some who wanted to see full-on gore.

 

Venom debuted on October 5, with negative reviews that panned the film for being noisy and inconsistent. But even still, it surpassed all expectations with an $80.3 million debut, making it the biggest October opening weekend in history and the seventh-best Sony opening. And despite competition from the new Halloween release, Venom still served as the place to be, finishing with $213.5 million. But the big headlines with Venom were its Chinese results. Its $107.7 million opening was the biggest for a Sony movie, as well as the second-biggest for a superhero title, only behind Avengers: Infinity War. And its second weekend saw just as strong results, earning $51.2 million and staying #1, beating Fantastic Beasts 2. This phenomenal performance in China, along with everywhere else, resulted in Venom grossing $856.1 million, becoming the second-biggest superhero origin story, only behind Black Panther.

 

This was a godsend for Sony. After years of fumbling with the Marc Webb Spidey movies, they managed to make a much cheaper, and arguably much more entertaining movie to pull off a major new franchise for them. And for the SPUMC, they landed on the right foot and are ready to take action beginning this year. Currently, the sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage is set for release this June, while Morbius, a vampire movie starring Jared Leto (yes this is real), is set to come out in January 2022. This is among many other Sony/Marvel titles, which also may or may not have Tom Holland in them.

 

Fifteenth place has yet another Spider-Man hit from Sony with the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Starring a young teenager named Miles Morales, this has Miles not only trying to become the new Spider-Man for his city, but he soon finds himself in an interdimensional adventure as countless other Spider-Men from different universes and dimensions are being forced into his world by the nefarious Kingpin. So it’s up to Miles and his amazing friends to save the day!

 

Leaked emails from the Sony hack revealed that Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Chris Miller were developing an animated Spider-Man movie, as a part of Sony’s many attempts to rejuvenate the flailing brand. Of course, it wasn’t formally announced until 2015 CinemaCon, with a release date for July 2018, and that it would be set in an alternate universe from all the previous Spider-Man interpretations. It was later delayed to December 2018, and Bob Perischetti was director in June 2016. The film was written by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman, Chris Miller was not on the script for some reason, and the duo wanted to ensure that this Spider-Man movie was a unique one. With six movies already out by the time this did, what could you do to make this stand out?

 

There were two big reasons here. The first was who would be the lead. Because the past six movies were all about Peter Parker, it was best for this film to focus on Miles Morales, who never appeared in any Spider-Man movie. It gave the film a unique perspective and was a huge selling point to fans of the character. Peter Ramsey, director of Rise of the Guardians and the first African-American to direct a big-budget animated feature, later joined the project. 22 Jump Street writer Rodney Rothman was the third director added.

 

But of course, the major selling point was the film’s animation style. Lord and Miller wanted this movie to feel as if you were walking into a comic book. This resulted in a unique animated film that had CG animation combined with line work, Roy Lichtenstein aesthetics, misaligned colors and comic book techniques like thought bubbles and action bubbles, all of which made it look like the film was created by hand. Essentially, the film had CG-rendered frames, and those frames were later traced on top in 2D. And at the same time, each of the Spider-Men from each dimension had their own movements and distinct styles. Miles sometimes moved at 12 frames per second, while Peter Parker was at 24 frames per second, highlighting Miles’ inexperience.

 

This was an almost revolutionary form of animation never seen before, and instantly excited both comic book and animation fanboys. This was a film that could never be done in live-action as it cherished the artwork, creativity, and uniqueness of these incredible mediums. The first teaser trailer, releasing one year before the movie would come out, solidified this as a unique and offbeat superhero title, and future trailers and promos pushed this even farther.

 

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Into the Spider-Verse was part of a crowded holiday season, but on December 14, it managed to stick out with the ground. It debuted to $35.4 million, resulting in the biggest December opening for an animated film. The rewards continued to come as Into the Spider-Verse was loved. Really loved. The film was hailed as the best Spider-Man film from both critics and audiences, highlighting the film’s visuals, storylines, and characters, effectively serving as both a love letter to Spider-Man, comic books, and animation. This made the film instantly popular and one people had to check out. So the weeks went by, and people still checked it out well into the new year, as the film finished with $190.2 million domestically and $375.5 million worldwide. While the lowest-grossing Spider-Man film, it was still a major success for Sony and Marvel, and ended a banner year for Spider-Man, when you include Infinity War, Venom, and even the Playstation 4 video game.

 

And Into the Spider-Verse’s success has not stopped at the box office. The film saw immense love from the industry, from MCU actors like Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, to comedians like Patton Oswalt and Kevin Smith, all the way to acclaimed directors like Barry Jenkins, Rian Johnson, James Gunn, and even Papa Feige. This soon led to Into the Spider-Verse earning Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, becoming the first non-Disney/Pixar animated film to win the award since Rango in 2011. Miles Morales also saw a huge boost in popularity, with him quickly becoming a household name and earning his own video game on the Playstation 4 and 5 late last year, and has already sold 4.1 million copies. And Into the Spider-Verse is not stopping any time soon. A sequel is set for release in 2022, a female-centric spin-off is in development, and there are rumors for a television series based on the movie in the pipeline as well. 

 

Sixteenth place was the hit horror release A Quiet Place. The Earth has become a wasteland with few humans left. A series of blind monsters with incredible hearing skills attack and kill anyone who makes any sort of noise. This film follows a family that is trying to deal with this new normal and stay as quiet as possible, but it’s not quite that easy to stay silent. The parents are played by real-life parents John Krasinski and Emily Blunt.

 

This was written by Krasinski, as well as the duo Scott Beck and Bryan Woods. Beck and Woods grew up in Iowa together and watched numerous short films in college. This viewing gave them inspiration for a story that was all about staying quiet, while their time growing up in farmland created the film’s setting, as well as the grain silo climax in the film. They began writing the script in January 2016, and brought the script to John Krasinski in July 2016. Krasinski instantly fell in love with the script, especially its themes of parenthood. Krasinski just had his second child. Emily Blunt would encourage her love to direct the film, and the project was bought by Paramount Pictures and produced by Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay and Brad Fuller’s horror production company. Krasinski would rewrite and direct the script, making this his third movie and the first for a major studio. Blunt did not want to be in the film, but after one read of the script, immediately pestered John to play the mother. Krasinski would play the father, and this clever casting would be one of the many selling points for the film.

 

Krasinski was not a huge horror fan, but he enjoyed the script and felt it was an interesting avenue for political and social commentary. Recent hits like Don’t Breathe and Get Out played a part in Krasinski’s vision, as did Jaws, as that film was about a man moving from New York to an island to avoid trouble, only to find himself in new trouble. But of course, the big hook Krasinski had with his movie was the sound design. Because the film, and the audience, were trying to stay as quiet as possible, this meant simple sound effects were pushed so much higher. Diegetic synchronized sounds, like dice rolling on a board game, were recorded on set, then amplified in post, emphasizing how precarious every action the family made was. At the same time, the sound editors had to work with composer Marco Beltrami to make sure neither the sound editing nor the score interfered with one another. The editors would earn an Oscar nomination for their efforts.

 

The film also utilized American Sign Language to help create silent communication between the family. Deaf mentor Douglas Ridloff was brought in to teach ASL to the cast, while young actress Millicent Simmonds was cast as the daughter because she herself was deaf. Simmonds also helped her cast members sign, making sure it looked fluent. This not only showcased a language that is rarely seen in mainstream cinema, but also further developed the characters and their personalities. Krasinski is a survivalist, so his signs are quick and aggressive. Blunt wants her kids to be happy and experience life, so her signs are more expressive and smooth.

 

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A Quiet Place was one of those films that slipped under the radar, but Paramount knew since Day 1 they had a massive hit on their hands. The premise was an easy one to market and the two leads had strong starpower and were already a huge hit in the tabloids because of their relationship. This meant the film’s trailer played in front of movies like The Last Jedi and during the Super Bowl. But it wasn’t until it premiered as the opening night film of the SXSW Festival in March that A Quiet Place found a boost in popularity. The film premiered and saw instant critical acclaim. The film was heralded for its suspense, sound design, and acting, highlighting it as a unique horror film you could not miss out on.

 

This festival buzz boosted the film exponentially on social media, and made it a hyped hit among horror fans. The film was expected to open in the $20 million range according to industry insiders, but it was clear this film was getting talked about more and more every day. So on April 6, A Quiet Place surpassed any and all expectations out there, with an opening of $50.2 million. This was one of the biggest horror openings ever and was a god-send for Paramount, as A Quiet Place was their first #1 opener since Transformers: The Last Knight the previous summer, and was the biggest Paramount opening since Star Trek Beyond two summers ago.

 

And this excitement did not stop there. While horror movies are typically frontloaded even into their opening weekend, A Quiet Place got so much great buzz and word-of-mouth its opening Saturday actually increased from its opening Friday, a unicorn in the horror movie landscape. This showed this was a movie that was catching on with people, and A Quiet Place would see a very small drop of only 34% for a $33 million second weekend and a 10-day of $100 million. And despite the incoming summer competition one month later, A Quiet Place was a consistent leggy beast, as people couldn’t get enough of the scares and the cast. And so, A Quiet Place finished with $188 million, 3.75 times its opening, and grossed $340.9 million worldwide, earning a $93 million net profit on a $17-21 million production budget.

 

A Quiet Place’s massive success was just one of several horror releases this year to make a massive splash in theaters. Hereditary opened in June and became the highest-grossing A24 release ever worldwide. The First Purge became the biggest movie in the series worldwide. The Nun kicked off the fall movie season, saw a giant $53.5 million launch, and became the biggest movie in The Conjuring Universe worldwide. Halloween returned with JLC as the star, saw the second-biggest October weekend in history, and also became the highest-grossing Halloween movie and slasher film. This horror renaissance proved to be an especially lucrative one for Platinum Dunes, Blumhouse, and New Line. There was a strong audience for horror releases, especially ones that have strong franchise appeal, strong premises, and quality talent, and has really become one of the few genres to stick out from the current glut of superhero movies, live-action remakes, and animated comedies/musicals. And since Disney won’t ever make them, this has really been the only chance rival studios have managed to compete with the Mouse House nowadays. Sad but true.

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One notch down in seventeenth place was the romcom smash Crazy Rich Asians. Constance Wu plays Rachel, a Chinese-American woman who is traveling to meet her boyfriend Nick’s family in Singapore. What Rachel doesn’t know is that Nick, played by Henry Golding, is a member of one of the richest families in the region. With too much wealth and luxury they dont’ know what to do with, Rachel finds herself a fish out of water and forced to prove herself to Nick’s domineering and materialistic mother Eleanor, played by Michelle Yeoh.

 

Crazy Rich Asians first saw life as a novel by Kevin Kwan in 2013. The novel quickly became a bestseller, and with a bestseller comes film rights. One of the first to contact was Wendi Deng Murdoch, but that sadly didn’t go anywhere.  One of the first demands from one of the other producers was for Rachel to be whitewashed and played by a Caucasian actress, in order to supposedly boost ticket sales. Kwan promptly rejected that idea and the film rights were optioned elsewhere. Luckily, in August 2013, producer Nina Jacobson acquired the rights, saw eye-to-eye to Kwan’s requests, and her production company Color Force was a financier.

 

Under Color Force, the film would be produced independently outside of the studio system, with the backing from Asia and other non-US territories. This was sadly the only way this film could have an all-Asian cast and not be hit by studio interference or notes demanding the film be whitewashed. Kevin Kwan’s novel was fully protected and faithfully adapted his story in the best way. Peter Chiarelli was hired to write, while Jon M. Chu signed on as director shortly after. Chu impressed Color Force with his pitch, a visual movie detailing his life as a first-generation Asian-American. And when Chu joined, the first thing he advocated was a screenwriter of Asian descent. Enter Adele Lim, who reviewed and revised Chiarelli’s original script, by adding in more cultural details and strengthening Eleanor’s character.

 

With an all-Asian cast, just about every major Asian talent you can think of appears in this, both young and old. Constance Wu, who Chu specifically delayed production for so she didn’t have conflicting schedules with her series Fresh Off the Boat, was the lead. And all the while, the film had actors like Awkwafina, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Ken Jeong, and Jimmy O. Yang, among many others. The male lead Nick was played by Henry Golding, who made his major film debut with this film. Chu struggled to find a strong Asian-British actor who could pull off Nick’s charm and grace, but luckily Chu’s accountant Lisa-Kim Kuan knew a guy. This casting saw immense praise, as a rare film to feature an all-Asian cast. Yet at the same time, heavy criticism was made towards the casting. Despite the characters being ethnically Chinese, many of the actors, especially Golding, were not Chinese. And the fact that Singapore, which features a heavy Southeast Asian population, was largely made up of Chinese characters, made many believe the film was a poor representation of the city-state.

 

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Regardless, the film was made and Warner Bros. picked up the distribution rights. Netflix almost had it, promising a guaranteed trilogy and a massive upfront payday, but Chu knew there was more value in a representational landmark like this getting a theatrical release. The film was a pretty big deal at the time, as this was the first film from a major Hollywood studio that had an all-Asian cast since The Joy Luck Club in 1993. So after some sold-out advance screenings, Crazy Rich Asians opened on August 15 to a strong opening day of $5 million. The film saw instant acclaim from both critics and audiences, hailing it as a heartfelt love story with gorgeous production values and a very likable cast. This allowed the film a chance to hit it big on its opening weekend, earning $26.5 million for the 3-day and $35.3 million for the 5-day, earning the biggest comedy opening of the year. The film was particularly bolstered by Asian attendance, as a record 38% of the opening weekend audience were of Asian descent.

 

This strong debut and immense acclaim meant the many who did not check it out at first had a good reason to see it. So on its second weekend, Crazy Rich Asians saw one of the smallest second declines in history, falling only 6% for $24.8 million and earning $76.6 million up to that point. While this incredible hold was helped by the film opening on a Wednesday, this kind of hold still showed just how quickly the film caught on and how quickly the film became beloved by audiences. Through its historical significance and easy crowd appeal, Crazy Rich Asians went from a solid hit to a true phenomenon. It dropped 11% on Labor Day weekend, and continued to hold well throughout September, serving as the perfect conclusion to the summer box office. Crazy Rich Asians finally finished with $174.5 million, 4.95 times its 5-day opening. The film wasn’t quite as big a sensation overseas, with countries like China and South Korea failing to register, but that still led to a very solid $238.5 million and a net profit of $120.8 million.

 

Crazy Rich Asians is one of those success stories that benefited everybody. Tourism in Singapore jumped, while the book sold more than 1.5 million copies right after the film’s release. And for every creative, they got a huge career boost. Writer Adele Lim would leave the future sequels due to sexist pay gaps, but she quickly found herself writing the screenplay for the upcoming Disney release Raya and the Last Dragon, coming in just a couple weeks. Jon Chu also saw a major career boost. While he was a presence in the industry for years, he soon landed major high-profile jobs. His next film is adapting the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights and is set to release this summer. Chu is also in talks to direct a live-action Lilo & Stitch, a film adaptation of Wicked, and was set to direct the pilot for the Disney+ series based on Willow, but he sadly dropped out due to family commitments. However, he is developing a series based on Swiss Family Robinson on Disney+ with Ronald D. Moore of all people.

 

Of course, the big benefactor of the film was the cast, as just about all the major talents in Crazy Rich Asians found big roles and career boosts. Constance Wu would later appear in the 2019 drama Hustlers, another box office hit. Henry Golding is set to play Snake Eyes in the self-titled G.I. Joe spin-off. Michelle Yeoh will appear in Marvel’s Shang-Chi as well as the new Avatar sequels. Awkwafina got her own Comedy Central series, earned a Golden Globe for her performance in The Farewell, and will appear in several Disney titles, including Raya and the Last Dragon, Shang-Chi, and the upcoming Little Mermaid remake. Gemma Chan is in not one (Captain Marvel) but two Marvel movies (Eternals) and is currently filming the Olivia Wilde-directed Don’t Worry Darling. And it’s fair to say we’re not gonna see any of these guys disappear any time soon.

 

Two sequels based on the books China Rich Girlfriend and Rich People Problems are both in development and were supposed to be shot back-to-back in 2020, but...well, you know. It’s certain we’ll get this trilogy made, but who knows what shape they will be in?

 

And finally, we come to the very end of this lengthy year with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, 20th domestic but 10th worldwide. Gellert Grindelwald has escaped from his imprisonment and looks to divide the Wizarding World, creating a new evil brigade. So Albus Dumbledore contracts Newt Scamander to fix the job and try to save the day. This soon leads to action, adventure, cool fantasy, and dark secrets all revealed.

 

When Fantastic Beasts was first announced, Warner Bros. assured audiences this wasn’t going to be a Harry Potter one-off, but rather an epic trilogy. And by July 2016, J. K. Rowling already wrote the screenplay for #2 and was developing ideas for #3. As it turns out, Rowling had a lot of ideas, and in October 2016, Warner announced four entire sequels, the second film would move away from New York to another capital city, in this case Paris, and Eddie Redmayne would appear in all five movies.

 

While first appearing in the first Fantastic Beasts, this was the film that would really focus on Grindelwald. And in November 2016, it was revealed that Johnny Depp would play the iconic wizard. This...did not go over well. Depp was part of a massive scandal, as abuse allegations towards his ex-wife Amber Heard went public. For somebody known for her feminism, this caused heavy criticism and backlash towards Rowling. Joanne would try and defend this casting choice and refusal to recast in December 2017, stating that Depp and Heard hoped their mutual agreement meant they could move on from their issues with one another. Either way, this still did not persuade many, meaning this planned quintology was not starting on the right foot.

 

Albus Dumbledore also appeared, though this time as a much younger man. Yates felt that since this was a prequel, having Michael Gambon return to the part would just not work as well. Actors like Christain Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Jared Harris, son of Richard Harris, were all in consideration, but Jude Law ultimately won the role. The trailers hyped up the return of Hogwarts and Dumbledore, which seemed to imply that this was a major Harry Potter adventure that had to be seen.

 

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Surprisingly though, not a lot of people were eager to come back. The Crimes of Grindelwald debuted on November 18 to mixed reviews, criticizing the storyline and unnecessary plot details, making the film feel more like a set-up to future movies rather than a solid adventure. This made it by far the worst-reviewed Harry Potter release and damaged a lot of interest towards casual fans and general audiences. So Grindelwald opened to $62.2 million on its opening weekend, a 16% drop from the first Fantastic Beasts and the worst opening for a Wizarding World release. And with $159.5 million domestic and $654.8 million worldwide, Grindelwald was the lowest-grossing Potter film and a box office disappointment. Not a good sign for what soon became a five-movie series.

 

And since then, the future for Fantastic Beasts has been a mixed one. Johnny Depp’s public reputation has gotten worse over the years, while J. K. Rowling saw her reputation take a nosedive. And with the first Fantastic Beasts just earning fine reviews and Crimes of Grindelwald being a dud, it’s unknown if the series will hit that finish line. But even so, Fantastic Beasts 3 is currently filming right now and is set for release in 2022, with Grindelwald completely recast as Mads Mikkelsen. We’ll see if this will lead to new interest or not.

 

2018 was a year that honestly had too many stories to count, so let’s begin the rapid-fire segment. Ralph Breaks the Internet was a solid follow-up in both reception and gross. Mary Poppins Returns was a musical favorite. Hotel Transylvania 3 became the biggest Sony Animation title. The Meg became an instant hit franchise for Jason Statham. Ocean’s Eight was a gender-bent remake that actually worked. Ready Player One became part of an obnoxious discourse. Bumblebee brought Transformers to basics. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again featured the greatest title in the history of cinema. The Nun was a spectacular failure and dizzying success for The Conjuring Universe. Creed II kept the Rocky series alive. Peter Rabbit sadly gave James Corden his own franchise. The Mule was a Christmas Eastwood smash. The Equalizer 2 was Denzel’s first sequel.

 

Rampage was an okay video game hit. A Wrinkle in Time had the fudge of a lifetime.  Fifty Shades Freed ended the trilogy with...grace? Christopher Robin just missed $100 million. Green Book earned a lot of Oscars, arguably undeservedly so. I Can Only Imagine was a Christian-themed hit. Smallfoot was an okay hit for Warner Animation Group. Night School was an okay hit for Kevin Hart. Game Night became a cult success. Book Club was a surprise sleeper. A House with a Clock in its Walls was Eli Roth’s attempt at a kids movie. Skyscraper was a dud for The Rock. Insidious: The Last Key was a series high. Pacific Rim: Uprising failed to capitalize on the first film’s cult success. Tomb Raider rebooted the franchise to eh results. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms was an epic bomb for Disney. The Predator killed the franchise. Maze Runner: The Death Cure finished the trilogy to little fanfare. BlacKkKlansman became one of Spike Lee’s biggest box office hits. First Man was a sophomore slump for Damien Chazelle. Red Sparrow was a bloody J-Law spy film that little cared about. Love, Simon was a queer cult hit. And finally, The 15:17 to Paris...came out I guess.

 

This was 2018

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

 

This was a long one to write for, mainly because of those two big Marvel heavy hitters. But hey, I finally got the job done, and I'm glad I did. I never want to miss the chance to talk about how much I love Black Panther, and it's still up there as one of, if not my favorite box office run ever. And of course there were so many other amazing success stories this year that it was really nice to get through it all.

 

I only have two more years left and I'm finally done with this nonsense. Took a while, but it does feel nice to finally finish what was started four years ago.

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