What are the top 10 highest grossing movies in 2012?

January 25th, 2013 by

Per TheWrap, here are the top 10 highest grossing movies, domestic and international, from last year:

Marvel’s The Avengers: $1.5B

The Dark Knight Rises: $1.08B

Skyfall: $1.03B

The Hobbit: $888.3M

Ice Age: Continental Drift: $876.4M

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: $822.7M

The Amazing Spider-Man: $754.8M

Madagascar: Europe’s Most Wanted: $743.8M

The Hunger Games: $691.2M

Men In Black 3: $625M

Let’s see: Sequel, Sequel, Sequel, Prequel, Sequel, Sequel, Reboot, Sequel, Adaptation, Sequel. Hm. Is there a possible trend here?

If we drill down beneath this obvious news, we find something else: 9 of the 10 movies generated more revenue in international markets than domestic, most at least twice as much with Ice Age leading the way: $161.2M domestic / $715.2M foreign, which means 82% of revenues by this film derived from international box office.

The only movie in the top 10 that did not earn more dollars overseas was The Hunger Games: $408M domestic / $283.2M foreign. Why? Is the book series not popular overseas? The only movie in the top ten with a female lead? People internationally haven’t discovered how fantastic Jennifer Lawrence is? Your thoughts?

One takeaway for screenwriters: If you want Hollywood to froth over you and fling massive coinage your way? Write a franchise movie.

10 thoughts on “What are the top 10 highest grossing movies in 2012?

  1. Avengers, Skyfall not sequels so much as true franchises (I know, nit-picking, but imho it makes a huge difference wrt the number of movies and revenue that can be generated from leveraging the underlying properties…)

    wrt Hunger Games, let’s not forget that the 1st Twilight movie essentially made the same amount of money here & abroad. As the Hunger Games series progresses, you’ll see the foreign take increase in percentage terms, just like Twilight.

    The same is true of Avengers, imho, because despite being a Marvel movie, it’s also the 1st in its series and ended up being far more skewed towards US Box Office ($620M domestic vs $890 foreign) than other movies in that list.

    Moreover, movies like Ice Age, Adventures of Tintin ($70M domestic, $300M foreign) and Marigold Hotel show that if you can write a movie that has legs in a foreign market and perhaps even a foreign sensibility, Hollywood will fund and produce that movie. Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kaman have been kings of this niche for years.

    Finally, I think it’s true that stars like Will Smith and Silvester Stallone can still open movies abroad even if they don’t have that ability here anymore. Writing something that can be a vehicle for “faded” Hollywood action stars might also be a way forward.

    1. Debbie Moon says:

      I’d have to quibble with Avengers being the “first in a series”. Technically, yes – but realistically, surely it’s a sequel to Iron Man, Thor, etc?

      1. Kinda why I apologized for nit-picking, but imho what Marvel/Disney are doing is unprecedented in the movie making business: individual properties under the umbrella of an overall story telling world/universe.

        Most sequels have a narrative continuity from their predecessors, in such a way that when you view them together you could have a single, long movie.

        What’s going on here is that there’s only a slight narrative continuity in terms of the shared universe each story inhabits, but strong *character* crossover.

        It would be like if W.B. decided to take Harry Potter and make a movie about the adventures of the Weasley twins or the young Dumbledore or McGonagall.

        Now, you’re right in the sense Avengers doesn’t exist without the other movies and all the set-up and universe building they do, in terms of building an audience, art direction, etc… but the numbers show that many if not most of the people who saw The Avengers hadn’t seen the earlier movies, especially Thor.

        IMHO, that’s proof that Avengers really does stand on its own.

  2. swinefever says:

    Continuing the nit-picking theme, the Hobbit is not a prequel, it’s part one of a three part series which isn’t really the same thing.

    Also no mention of the fact that 7 out of 10 are either sci-fi or fantasy, which is interesting, two of them are animated kids movies and the other is an action move. What hope for original drama, comedy, rom-com, thriller etc?

    Also, does this take onto account that it’s nigh-on bloody impossible to see these movies in 2D, at least where I live, so the added cost of inflated ticket prices for 3D movies needs to be factored into these numbers.

    1. The Hobbit movie *is* a prequel to LOTR because the Hobbit *book* is the prequel to the LOTR book (and was published earlier, I might add).

  3. Debbie Moon says:

    I keep an eye on what’s happening in the teen book market, and in the UK, The Hunger Games doesn’t seem to have been as big as it was in the US. So, yes, maybe less international name-recognition…

    1. How did Twilight do in the UK?

  4. David Joyner says:

    Another trend consistent with this data, which is independent of the sequel-or-not dicotomy, is the media/word-of-mouth factor. The movies listed were talked about between friends since they all had some pre-existing basis for which to write a news item/blog post about, or have a friendly conversation between movie-lovers. (“Are we going to see the new XYZ movie? Yeah, I really liked the last one.” Here XYZ is your favorite sequel/prequel.) The more coverage in the media, the more conversation about a movie, the more word-of-mouth on the streets, the better it does in the box office.
    All these seem to fit that pattern.

  5. Daniel Smith says:

    The Hunger Games is overrated. It also reeks of american concepts, ideals, and values – mostly the bad ones. Is it any wonder it’s a turn-off internationally?

    I mean here is a whole country (the real USA) going to see a movie where the primary draw is a death game that – wait for it – is enjoyed by a privileged aristocracy (the real USA compared to the rest of the world). The irony hit me the moment I saw all the goofy outfits and impossible makeup and recognized the parallel. WE are just like THEM. Because we went to a movie aggrandizing such a spectacle (granted it wasn’t real, but that doesn’t matter in psychological terms).

    THG also lacks a satisfying ending IMO. It lacks any meaning. And in no culture in the history of humanity has there ever been this level of suppression and persecution without religion bursting forth. And there is NOTHING of a spiritual nature to the entire movie. For all the blood and gore it’s practically antiseptic in its practical atheism. Again, it lacks meaning.

    Is there any wonder why this movie bombed overseas?

    1. Daniel Smith says:

      OK, bomb is a bit harsh. It was a “Smash” according to IndieWire’s system, but it was still far less than desired.

      We’ll see what the future installments make since –SPOILER ALERT– the aristocrats get what’s coming to them. For that reason alone, if I’m right about the reason for the first film’s international showing, the next two ought to drastically improve.

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