Even if no one reads this thing, this is one of my favorite parts of my yearly wrap-up. All numbers come from Box Office Mojo through December 31, 2013.
SURE-FIRE HITS – The Kings of the Box Office
Iron Man 3 ($409 million)
*The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($395 million)
Despicable Me 2 ($366.9 million)
Man of Steel ($291 million)
Between the Numbers: It keeps getting worse. The only non-animated original film in the top 10 is Gravity, and I think everyone’s a little shocked the most-nominated movie this year did so well. At least these were pretty good (Man of Steel‘s failures are interesting in that they have nothing to do with keeping a franchise going.)
SURPRISE SUCCESSES – They got there through word-of-mouth or succeeded where others failed
We’re the Millers ($150.2 million)
The Great Gatsby ($144.8 million)
Now You See Me ($117.7 million)
Mama ($70 million)
Between the Numbers: Could anyone have guessed the August release of a pretty middle-of-the-road road movie would have been the No. 2 comedy of the year? I sure didn’t. Gatsby overcame its insta-flop label, while Now You See Me and Mama outgrossed some higher-profile films.
CONSOLATION PRIZES – Didn’t do so hot here, but made up for it overseas
The Wolverine ($132 million) – $282 million
Pacific Rim ($101 million) – $305 million
Oblivion ($89.1 million) – $197 million
A Good Day to Die Hard ($67.3 million) – $237 million
Between the Numbers: Once again, foreign grosses make or break a film. All these action films did poorly domestically, but audiences elsewhere ate them up.
DISAPPOINTMENTS – Movies that didn’t make back their budgets stateside
White House Down ($73.1 million) – $150 million
Ender’s Game ($61 million) – $110 million
The Internship ($44.6 million) – $58 million
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone ($22.5 million) – $30 million
Between the Numbers: I’m still shocked that the ridiculous White House Down fell victim to the grim Olympus Has Fallen ($98.9 million). These others never stood a chance.
FLOPPIEST FLOPS – These cost a lot and didn’t come close to returning their investment
The Lone Ranger ($89.3 million) – $215 million
Jack the Giant Slayer ($65.1 million) – $195 million
After Earth ($60.8 million) – $130 million
R.I.P.D. ($33.6 million) – $130 million
Between the Numbers: Despite Jack the Giant Slayer‘s No. 1 opening, this was a sorry lot indeed. At least After Earth can claim it wasn’t based an existing property. But it had much worse things to fend off (nepotism, bad special effects). The Lone Ranger, for all its vicious reviews, has two Oscar nominations to show for its troubles.
LOW BUDGET VICTORIES – Low-cost, high-yield successes
Insidious Chapter 2 ($83.5 million) – $5 million
The Purge ($64.4 million) – $3 million
Instructions Not Included ($44.4 million) – N/A
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain ($32.2 million) – N/A
Between the Numbers: Keep churning out cheap horror movies and stand-up comedy specials and you’ve got a recipe for success. Instructions Not Included once again proves there’s a huge Spanish-speaking audiences ready to see anyone resembling themselves onscreen. Studios will continue to ignore this fact.
Grown Ups 2 ($133.6 million) made more money on its first day ($16.3 million) than The Kings of Summer did the entire time it was out ($1.3 million).
*still in theaters