The titans of the turnstiles from 2019
It was a strong year overall at theaters this year, despite what initial prognostications say. Yes, the annual total for the year was down close to -5% from last year, but this is where analysis comes into play. For the six years prior to 2018 there was an average of between 825-850 titles released in theaters. Last year was 7 films shy of having 1,000 titles released, and in 2019 that output eased by almost 100 fewer titles, to 903. Understandably the total did fall, but the average take per title actually increased.
And for that you can thank Walt Disney Studios. The House of Mouse had a remarkable, record-setting year. It landed the top 6 grossing titles of the year, with another in the top-10 (and technically you could say 8, with a Sony co-production at #7). Half a dozen different Disney films grossed over $350 million domestic and more than $1 billion worldwide.
This all meant that Disney became the first studio to ever earn over $10 billion within a calendar year. It managed to cross that landmark before the release of its latest ‘’Star Wars’’ effort in December, and that also is not counting the receipts earned from 20th Century Fox, which the studio acquired earlier this year. Adding those to the haul takes the gross revenue well north of $12 billion for the year
Here is the final box office grosses for the owner of Hollywood, as well as the also-rans.
25. GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS – $110.50 Million
To give a sense of the fractured economics in Hollywood behold that a movie grossing $385 million globally can be regarded as a money loser. Coming in well below the 2014 title, it might take some healthy TV licensing deals over the coming years to approach a break-even status with this title.
24. GLASS – $111.035m
The final entry in the M. Knight Shyamalan hero franchise did well in January with a meager $20 million budget.
23. MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL – $113.294m
While looked at as disappointing her the film more than tripled its international box office, coming in just under $500 million in worldwide totals.
22. DUMBO – $114.766m
Tim Burton directed this live-action remake of the Disney classic but it failed to actually fly. Its large $170 million budget means that after marketing expenses the $350 worldwide total was not enough to see a profit.
21. KNIVES OUT – $115.726m
While Rian Johnson is licking his wounds after being chased from the Star Wars franchise he can take solace that ‘’Rise of Skywalker’’ is doing worse than ‘’The Last Jedi’’ at the box office, and that this smaller adult-themed whodunnit is doing great business while still in theaters.
20. AQUAMAN – 136.001M
A holdover from last Christmas this became a welcome hit for Warner Brothers after the dismal failure of ‘’Justice League’’. Taking in over $1.1 billion globally will help heal some wounds.
19. SHAZAM! – $140.371m
Maybe this would help Warners see the errors of all of its prior superhero ways. When ‘’Justice League’’ imploded they purged some of the executives in the DC Comics production offices and reexamined its approach to DC properties. The result – an engaging hero film people wanted to see, and without Zack Snyder’s murky film style audience actually got to see things!
18. ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD – $141.759m
Quentin Tarantino returned with this period piece set in the studio backlot environment with Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio playing a stuntman and the star for whom he takes the fall. Typical fun fare from QT.
17. POKEMAN DETECTIVE PIKACHU – $144.145m
A surprising amount of money was spent on this – $150 million – and it was surprisingly a big enough hit to justify the budget. Ryan Reynolds voiced the CGI critter, which had to help things.
16. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 – $158.257m
While a sure hit and turning a profit this came in making less than half of the original smash hit.
15. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD – $160.799m
Closing out the franchise the global total ended up over $500 million
14. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 – PARABELLUM – $171.015m
The first two installments were modest hits for a cult audience. This sequel suddenly became highly anticipated and kept on churning out the business, earning more than the previous two films combined.
13. FAST AND FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW – $173.810m
A ridiculous, physics-defying plot-averse action film — in other words, just like every other F&F movie. Audiences had fun with this lark, especially overseas, where it more than tripled this total.
12. US – $175.005m
A sign of modern Hollywood is summed up thusly: Jordan Peele’s acclaimed horror-thriller is the only movie in the top-15 not based on a prior subject matter. There exist only three titles on this entire list that could be considered an original property.
11. JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL – $192.094m
A testament to the hit is nearly landing in the top-10 while only being in release for three weeks, and competing with a Star Wars release.
10. IT: CHAPTER 2 – $211.593m
While failing to soar as high as the red balloon original it still managed to make a pretty Pennywise. (SWIDT…)
9. JOKER – $393.494m
Warner Brothers at one point wanted to discourage director Todd Phillips from making this when Jared Leto complained bitterly about a different origin story film being made. Had the studio listened to the cranky actor it would have missed out on this grossing over $1 billion globally.
8. ALADDIN – $355.559m
Despite early unease with the appearance of a blue Will Smith as The Genie, the crowds turned out for this one.
7. SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME – $390.532m
Despite the conclusion of another Marvel franchise that technically affected this franchise, and despite a squabble the erupted between Sony and Marvel over this franchise, the crowds ate up this release from the summer.
6. STAR WARS: EPISODE IX – THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – $390.706m
With only ten days on the schedule this is a mammoth haul…but really it should have been better. Considering this is the culmination of a decades-long beloved franchise there should have been even bigger crowds.
5. CAPTAIN MARVEL – $426.829m
It shows the power of Marvel that despite the activist bleating of star Brie Larson antagonizing the audience that this managed to go on to make this haul of cash.
4. FROZEN 2 – $430.144m
It has been doing better business here in North America than the original, but interestingly it is slightly off in foreign markets, on the way to banking over $1.22 billion.
3. TOY STORY 4 – $434.038m
Some wondered if this franchise may have become tired, but this went on to become the highest-grossing entry in the franchise. It lands in the to-25 of all time grossing movies.
2. THE LION KING – $543.648
It seemed a can’t-miss enterprise and it was all the hit as expected, and more so. Director John Favreau may be a bigger power at Disney than J.J. Abrams — after directing this he created the immensely popular Disney Plus series ‘’The Mandalorian’’.
1. AVENGERS: ENDGAME – $858.373m
Bringing the current phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a close it was a historically massive success. It ranks as the second biggest box office haul in North American history, behind ‘’The Force Awakens’’, and globally it became the top-grossing film of all time, passing ‘’Avatar for the all-time title. Historic is not a hyperbole.