Genre still rules at the box office

It probably isn’t a major surprise for genre fans, but when it came to making big bucks at the box office, superheroes, sci-fi and fantasy ruled 2012.

Even with mediocre reviews, The Hobbit’s been having quite a nice run so far, and with the help of a number of big genre films, including, of course, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, movie going made a hell of a comeback.

In reviewing the box office for 2012, The Wrap tells us that “Hollywood is on its way to the best year in box office history,” but it wasn’t all one smooth year of hits. The Hunger Games kicked off the first quarter with a big bang, but the box office sunk to its lowest levels since 9/11 in the fall, then picked up again big this Thanksgiving. Indeed, as the New York Times reports, 1.36 billion people went to the movies this year, whereas the numbers in 2011 were significantly less at $1.29 billion.

The Hunger Games had a huge opening weekend with $152 million and was in the #1 spot for a month. As you may recall, the anticipation for the big screen version of Games had been palpable for months. The Avengers, of course had the third biggest box office take in movie history with $623 million domestic and $1.5 billion world-wide. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight Rises also had a huge opening weekend with $160 million and an impressive world-wide take of $1.08 billion. 

With Skyfall, James Bond is headed to a billion dollar take worldwide, and it brought movies out of the doldrums this November. And of course Twilight, which we thankfully will no longer have to hold our collective heads in pain over, did $780 million world-wide. Kirsten Stewart also had a hit with Snow White and the Huntsman, which made close to $400 million world-wide. And in terms of sleepers, Ted racked up a total of $500 million world-wide. 

Closing out the year, The Hobbit has (thus far) hauled in $157 million domestic, and a world-wide take of $445,503,000. Although it took a pretty big drop in its second week stateside, The Hobbit still came in at #1 on the box office charts, partly because it had no serious competition in Jack Reacher and This is 40. 

There were also, of course, big genre losers, with the two biggest flops of the year, Battleship and John Carter, were pretty much doomed from the get-go. The $200 million dollar fiasco Battleship, which no one thought was a good idea from day one, took a big hit and sunk in the States with a $65 million gross, but it did do well overseas with $225 million. And of course, poor John Carter, which was a particularly embarrassing stiff, cost Disney $200 million, and also cost Disney chairman Rich Ross his job. Cloud Atlas never caught on with audiences either, and made less than $30 million in the States.

Yet with the big movies this year, you knew with The Hunger Games and the last Chris Nolan Batman that people would hit the theaters in droves, and before The Avengers even went live, the audience tracking was enormous.

All three films played a big help in brining people back to the movies again, and 2013 also promises to be a hell of a genre year. Just to name a few, we’ve got Iron Man 3 on May 3, Star Trek Into Darkness on May 17, Man of Steel on June 14, Pacific Rim on July 12, Wolverine on July 26, Ender’s Game on November 1, Thor: The Dark World on November 8, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire on November 22, 2013, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug on December 13, 2013.