One Wasn't Enough: The Best Series-Based Blockbusters of the Last Year
This past year was red-hot year for Hollywood at the box-office. In the last 12 months more than 25 movies passed the $100 million century mark at the box-office, and if you look at the international stats, that figure swells to outpace 50. Franchise seems to be the key word this year, with six of the top 10 films of the year being part of some kind of pre-established franchise. Sometimes one just isn't enough. From Iron Man to the Fast and the Furious, here’s a list of five of the biggest box-office bonanzas of the year.
1. Fast & Furious 6
Domestic: $238.7 million International: $550 Million Total: $788 million Why it was a hit: Remember when The Fast & The Furious was considered a B-movie franchise. Those days are long-gone, with the franchise, under the stewardship of director Justin Lin, having evolved into a high-stakes action franchise that owes more to Mission: Impossible, than the early movies in the series. Stars Vin Diesel & Paul Walker were once again backed up by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with Michelle Rodriguez returning to the franchise after having been (presumably) killed off in the fourth installment. The broad-action appeal, multi-ethnic cast, hip soundtrack, and solid reviews all played a hand in making this the biggest film in the franchise to date. What’s Next: Universal Pictures is understandably keen on the series, and a seventh installment is due in theaters this coming summer, with Diesel, Walker, Rodriguez and more all confirmed to return, along with new baddie Jason Statham, and Kurt Russell. One person that won’t be back: director Justin Lin, with Insidious and The Conjuring helmer James Wan taking over the franchise.
2. Monsters University
Domestic Gross: $268 million International: $475.1 million Total: $743.1 Million Why it was a hit: Pixar is a sure-thing at the box-office and has been for years. Chalk it up to their consistent quality, and broad appeal, with parents, kids, and even older teens and singles all flocking to their films. Following-up on Monsters, Inc., the success of this film was a no-brainer, but despite mixed-reviews (for a Pixar movie) it surpassed even the most enthusiastic box-office predictions. What’s Next: More Pixar movies are in the pipeline, but the next one’s not due until 2015.
3. Despicable Me 2
Domestic: $364.8 Million International: $547 Million Total: $911.8 Million Why it was a hit: The first Despicable Me was a surprise hit for upstart animation studio Illumination Entertainment, but with grosses approaching one billion dollars, the franchise has suddenly become one of the hottest in town. It didn’t hurt that the first film’s rave reviews, and goodwill drummed up from the mega DVD/Blu-Ray sales had anticipation for the family film at a fever pitch before it opened. Like the Pixar films the audience appeal was broad, although Despicable Me 2’s success meant the ultimate failure of several other highly-touted animated films, including the mega-budget Turbo. What’s next: Not only is a third film on tap, but July 2015 sees the release of Minions, a spin-off film highlighting Gru’s adorable pint-sized yellow helpers. The franchise looks to be a juggernaut in the making.
4. Iron Man 3
Domestic: $409 Million International: 806.4 Million Total: 1.215 Billion Why it was a hit: Even by Marvel standards, Iron Man 3 was a major blockbuster, with only last year’s THE AVENGERS out-grossing it at the box office. While that film had a whole team of superheroes, the weight here rested entirely on star Robert Downey Jr.’s shoulders. The franchise has always been popular, but The Avengers made it even more so, with Iron Man 3 almost doubling Iron Man 2’s worldwide box office take. What’s next: The Marvel franchise continues with Thor: The Dark World due out this month and Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy due out in 2014. Downey Jr. has since signed a new deal with Marvel, meaning he’ll be back as Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of Ultron, due out in 2015. Meanwhile, Downey Jr.’s solo box-office mettle will be put to the test in a new thriller called The Judge, which comes out in a very-awards friendly slot.
5. Man of Steel
North American Box Office: $291 million
International Gross: $371.8 million
Total: $662.8 million
Why it was a hit: Superman movies are far from a sure-thing at the box-office. Sure, back in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, the first three Christopher Reeve movies broke the bank, but the infamous Superman IV: The Quest For Peace was an all-out disaster, and even Bryan Singer struggled to revitalize the franchise with Man of Steel benefitted from the guiding hand of Dark Knight Mastermind Christopher Nolan, screenwriter David Goyer, and 300’s Zack Snyder in the director’s seat. While the reviews were mixed, the movie was a smash, and made an instant star out of Henry Cavill, who was backed-up by a super-powered cast of actors, including Michael Shannon, Amy Adams and Russell Crowe.
What’s next: Not only will Cavill be back as Superman, but next time, Batman’s along for the ride, with Ben Affleck’s controversial casting as the Caped Crusader in the next film in the franchise, which sees the superheroes pitted against each-other.
January 23, 2014 via Pepsi