The big winners and losers at the movies in 2011

Another year is already behind us, but the box office results were pretty clear by the end of December.

In short, box office is down, Paramount came out on top thanks to Transformers, and Harry Potter was also big business. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone, but there’s definitely more on this score.

The biggest movie of the year was the last Harry Potter, which according to the Hollywood Reporter had the best worldwide debut in history with $481.5 million, and first day domestic gross of $92.1 million, another record.

#2 was Transformers 3, which made $180.7 million  over the fourth of July weekend, and it also made Paramount the first studio to hit a billion in domestic grosses this year.

At year’s end, Paramount pulled in $5.7 billion worldwide thanks not only to Transformers, but also Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Rango, Paranormal Activity, and Super 8.

#3 was Pirates of the Caribbean, which had Disney’s biggest international take (the studios are counting on foreign theaters now more than ever), followed by Kung Fu Panda 2, Twilight Breaking Dawn, Fast Five, Hangover II, The Smurfs, Cars 2, and Rio.

On the indie front, as IndieWire tells us, Woody Allen is back on top with Midnight in Paris, with a take of $56 mil, followed by Alexander Payne’s The Descendants with $39 mil. Whether Allen’s latest has a shot against The Artist, the silent black and white film that has gained serious oscar buzz, remains to be seen, although both films have been dearly beloved by audiences and critics alike.

Of course, there’s no winners without losers, so what were the biggest flops last year?

#1 was Mars Needs Moms, a computer animated disaster that cost $150 million and took in $39 million, second was Sucker Punch, the remake of Arthur, The Green Lantern (which has enough audience goodwill that there may still be a sequel), and Cowboys and Aliens, which was a particularly embarrassing flop for Dreamworks / Universal. Other flops in the top ten include the remakes of Conan the Barbarian, and The Thing.

Cinema Blend also listed its picks for the most  disappointing movies of the year, and the list included Sucker Punch, Super 8, J. Edgar, Cars 2, and Your Highness. 

With Super 8, Eric Eisenberg writes it wasn’t a bad movie, “and, in fact, [it’s] actually quite good. But walking out the theater it was hard to say you didn’t wish for more. The alien was dull and generic looking while the ending felt unearned and rushed.”

J. Edgar? “A complete and utter mess, an overdone slog that featured no real plot to speak of. A truly bad film from a director who is capable of doing much more.” 

Sucker Punch? “All style and absolutely no substance.” (Actually you could have figured that out watching the trailer.) Cars 2 “felt like little more than a cash grab,” Hangover 2 was “an unfunny mess,” and Your Highness was “excessively mediocre.”