The Biggest Movie of the 2000s Ranks Just Behind the Third-Biggest Movie of 1965
The good and bad of blogging is that there's always something to write about because there's always something online worth refuting. This is good because you always have a subject. This is bad because you always have a distraction from what you should be writing about.
Allow me to be distracted this morning.
I came across this HuffPost piece via IMDb.com, which, for some reason, thought it link-worthy. Danny Groner argues that the biggest hits of the decade are cartoonish, explosive granfalloons but the "Twilight" series is character-driven and appeals to both fortysomething parents and their tweens. Plus they're boffo box office. So Hollywood should take notice. Or already has:
Fourties [sic] these days skews younger, not older, and that's where Hollywood is seemingly heading in the next decade. Sure, new parents are bound to pop up to replace the young moms who have outgrown Dreamworks' animated films. Nevertheless, if this decade's enormous box office stats has taught us anything it's that people are willing to see twice as many movies as long as it keeps them feeling young and in touch with what's popular.
His point seems to be that Hollywood movies, driven by animation and explosions, are more popular than ever, but they can be even more popular if less attention is paid to kids, and the kids in all of us, than to tweens and the tween-parents in all of us. Or something.
Despite whatever argument that is, my disagreement with him comes earlier, when he talks about how popular movies have been in the 2000s:
It's evident that big blockbuster franchises reigned supreme in a way they never had before and nobody would have anticipated. And they did it bigger than any decade before. These so-called "kids' movies" pulled in huge numbers around the world.
So few words there, so much wrong.
- This decade, blockbusters continued to reign supreme in the way they have since the 1970s. It's nothing new.
- I believe this was anticipated.
- They did it bigger than any decade before only if you don't adjust for inflation. Once you adjust for inflation, it's a different, sadder story.
I'm sure someone, somewhere, has a spreadsheet of adjusted numbers for international box office, but inflation-adjusted domestic numbers are easily accessible online. And what do they tell us? That, at least it terms of individual films, the blockbusters of this decade blocked little and busted less.
Since the advent of sound, six of the eight decades are represented in the six highest-grossing (and inflation-adjusted) domestic films of all time:
- Gone with the Wind (1939): $1.4 billion
- Star Wars (1977): $1.2 billion
- The Sound of Music (1965): $1 billion
- E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): $1 billion
- The Ten Commandments (1956): $.9 billion
- Titanic (1997): $.9 billion
Which decades are missing? The 1940s and the 2000s. The 1940s don't show up until no. 20, "Fantasia" ($.6 billion) while the 2000s don't show up until no. 27, "The Dark Knight" ($.5 billion). And what ranks just ahead of the biggest hit of our decade? "Thunderball," which wasn't even the biggest box-office hit of its year. It wasn't even the second-biggest box-office hit of its year. It came out in 1965 and both "The Sound of Music" and "Dr Zhivago" did better at getting our asses in the seats.
So the biggest hit of this decade ranks just behind the third-biggest-hit of 1965...and movies are more popular than ever?
I'll admit that if you toss in DVD sales and rentals, TV, PPV, etc., movies may be more popular than ever. But not in terms of box office, which is Mr. Groner's sole measure.
I'll also admit that the way blockbusters reigned supreme did change a bit this decade. But that's a discussion for another day.