2011: The Measured Circle Year in Review

2011: The Measured Circle Year in Review

Movies

I had suggested that 2011 might be the Geekiest Movie Year Ever, and certainly, looking at the top movies, they did very well.

There are some late year releases that are going to join the top tiers (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked will all make over $100m domestic gross). Those are all sequels, and there are fewer originals in the box office champs this year. Four of 2010’s top ten weren’t sequels (Inception, How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, and Despicable Me). At this point. only Thor and Captain America are non-sequels in the top ten (and that may not be final…MI may get up there for one).

However, if we look at non-geek movies in the top twenty, they definitely were on the rise this year. In 2010, we had True Grit (#13), Grown Ups (#15), Little Fockers (#17), and the King’s Speech (#18) (and I’d entertain arguments about the Karate Kid #11). This year (based on rankings of domestic gross on December 31st…it will change), it’s The Hangover Part II (#4), Fast Five (#6), The Help (#11), Bridesmaids (#12), and Horrible Bosses (#20).

Originality still works in animation…successes included Rio (#15), Rango (#19), Hop (#22), and Gnomeo & Juliet (#27).

When we look at live-action geek originals, there really is no comparison with the cartoons: Super 8 (#18), Battle Los Angeles (#32), Immortals  (#33), Zookeeper (#34), and Contagion (#39).

Some movies that weren’t as successful?

  • Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil: wide release (over 2500 theatres), big stars (Glenn Close, Joan Cusack, Cheech Marin, and many more), a thirty million dollar budget, and a 50m+ first movie, this one only earned about 10m
  • Straw Dogs: again, big names, big release, remake of a cult classic…you probably would have budgeted $25m for this, too. Gross: about 10m dogro
  • The Thing: okay, not star-studded, but still…prequel to a cult classic, promotable genre…I would have bet the 35m here, probably. Return in dogro: aobut 16m. Not the best year for R-rated horror
  • Some other 2011 geeky movies that didn’t make 25m dogro: Apollo 18, Fright Night, Shark Night 3D, Conan the Barbarian, Dream House, Mars Needs Moms, Your Highness, Season of the Witch

I’m still working on the 2011 Box Office MVPs…hope to have that soon.

TV

It was a good year for geek TV. While The Cape failed to get a second season, a number of new geek shows did. Cable continues to be the best bet, but Once Upon a Time drew good numbers as a network show. Here’s a look at some highlights from the year:

Some 2011 Debuting Series and Their Status

  • Alphas on Syfy (renewed) team of people each with an extraordinary ability
  • American Horror Story on Fox (renewed)
  • Being Human on Syfy (USA version) (renewed) ghost, vampire, and werewolf are roommates…based on BBC series
  • The Cape on NBC (canceled) superhero
  • Death Valley on MTV (renewed) mockumentary: cops deal with zombies and such
  • Face Off on Syfy (renewed) competition show for special effects makeup artists
  • Falling Skies on TNT (renewed) aliens invade Earth
  • Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet (renewed) reality show search for Bigfoot
  • Game of Thrones on HBO (renewed) based on George R.R. Martin’s book series
  • Grimm on NBC (ongoing) cops and fairy tales
  • Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness on Nickelodeon (ongoing)
  • The Nine Lives of Chloe King on ABC Family (canceled) Discovered Destiny series
  • Once Upon a Time on ABC (ongoing) fairy tale characters in our world
  • Paranormal Challenge on the Travel Channel (unknown) reality competition
  • Paranormal Witness on Syfy (unknown) nonfiction
  • Person of Interest on CBS (ongoing) computer predicts crimes
  • Prophets of Science Fiction on the Science channel (ongoing) documentary
  • Teen Wolf on MTV (renewed)  more serious take on the movie
  • Terra Nova on Fox (unknown) time travel and dinos
  • Unforgettable on CBS (ongoing) special (but medically real) power
Special note: Congratulations to Peter Dinklage for winning an Emmy for a performance in a geek series (Game of Thrones). That’s certainly noteworthy…Leonard Nimoy was nominated for playing Spock, but didn’t win for it.

Books 

Bestselling geek books listed at Amazon.com for 2011:

  1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney
  3. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini
  4. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  5. The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan
  6. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  7. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris
  8. The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  9. Miss Peregrim’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  10. The Land of Painted Caves by Jean M. Auel

Games

Released in December, Star Wars: The Old Republic (an MMORPG…Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) got to a million players faster than any of its predecessors. While that takes a considerable personal commitment, there is no question that the game with the biggest crossover cultural impact could be played for thirty seconds at a time: Angry Birds. Traditional gamer games, like Call of Duty (both Modern Warfare and Black Ops) and Madden were in the top ten, but so was Just Dance 3 (and 2). Games being marketed for fitness and for party interaction seems like a bit of an evolution. The Kinect was  part of the national conversation…and “hacking” it was promoted in a TV ad. The Kindle Fire provided another platform…and home hardware expanded its offerings (giving you movies/TV and the web). What’s the future of dedicated home gaming hardware? Will games be played overwhelmingly on portable platforms…and “gaming systems” become simply entertainment systems?

Miscellaneous Pop Culture

  • A major story was the Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical on Broadway. It became the subject of jokes when it had difficulties getting up and running, including some injuries. There was backstage drama as well. However, it would eventually set a one-week Broadway record of nearly three million dollars. That may not be enough to make it profitable, but it is popular
  • Watson’s IBM won a highly-touted Jeopardy tournament…and would later help with medical research
  • Telepresence robots were in the news…allowing an immunochallenged child to attend school, buying a scone
  • Netflix changed its pricing plans, and ran into massive bad publicity.  Amazon gave free video streaming at no additional cost to paid Prime members
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published information on how to survive a zombie apocalypse
  • To great fanfare, Pottermore, an online Harry Potter experience was announced. Harry Potter e-books did not materialize when expected
  • DC Comics renumbers and reinvents its comic books with the “New 52”

In Memoriam

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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