erik lundegaard

Friday August 02, 2019

Box Office: How Often is the Biggest Movie of the Year (Worldwide) Not a Sequel?

I recently found out Box Office Mojo has a page that breaks down worldwide box office by year. This is helpful. I think of all the times I went to its overall worldwide box office page and searched by year. Now, no need. 

If you go to the year-by-year page, what do you immediately notice? In the ‘90s, those titles were sure shorter, weren’t they? Because? Yes, they weren't sequels. No need for colons. Sometimes just a word would do. “Ghost.” “Aladdin.” “Titanic.”

A few years ago I did a post where I broke down, by decade, how often the biggest domestic movie of the year was a sequel. Wait, a few years ago? It's been 10 already. It looked like this:

  • 1970s: 0
  • 1980s: 2
  • 1990s: 2
  • 2000s: 7

Except this was before “Avatar” was released and it looked like “Transformers 2” would be No. 1 for 2009, so I included it in the 2000s. So if you correct that, and add this most recent decade (I'm assuming “Avengers: Endgame” has got it this year), it looks like this:

  • 1970s: 0
  • 1980s: 2
  • 1990s: 2
  • 2000s: 6
  • 2010s: 9

I should clarify: I'm not just counting sequels, but prequels and “continuing universe” movies. So, to me, both “Avengers” and “Black Panther” fit that bill. The one year in the 2010s the No. 1 domestic movie wasn't a sequel, prequel or continuing universe movie? 2014: Clint Eastwood's “American Sniper.” It's also the lowest-grossing of the decade's top-grossing films: $350 million. About a third of what “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” made a year later.

Anyway, that's how we look domestically. 

And worldwide? For which we now have a page? It's similar:

  • 1990s: 2
  • 2000s: 8 
  • 2010s: 9 

The only top worldwide movies this century that weren't sequels, prequels or “continuing universe” movies were:

  • 2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (because it was first)
  • 2009: Avatar (ditto)
  • 2013: Frozen (ditto)

The top movies for the last six years have all been colon movies: Long titles with a colon in the middle, as “Transformers: Age of Extinction.” The days of one-word titles dominating? Gone like “Ghost.”

Posted at 09:26 AM on Friday August 02, 2019 in category Movies - Box Office  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard