2012 The Year in Movies

2012 The Year in Movies

While the counting certainly isn’t over (and we just saw Les Miz in a crowded theatre), this is clearly a great year for geek movies!

Let’s talk about box office first.

If we look just at the domestic gross (dogro), geek movies dominated the top 100.

Title Dogro
The Avengers 623
The Dark Knight Rises 448
The Hunger Games 408
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 281
Skyfall 279
The Amazing Spider-Man 262
Brave 237
Ted 219
Madagascar 3 216
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 214
MIB 3 179
Wreck-It Ralph 172
Ice Age: Continental Drift 161
Snow White and the Huntsman 155
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 150
Hotel Transylvania 144
Taken 2 138
21 Jump Street 138
Prometheus 126
Safe House 126
The Vow 125
Lincoln 117
Magic Mike 114
The Bourne Legacy 113
Argo 106
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 104
Think Like a Man 92
Flight 91
The Campaign 87
The Expendables 2 85
Wrath of the Titans 84
Dark Shadows 80
Rise of the Guardians 80
Life of Pi 76
John Carter 73
Act of Valor 70
Contraband 67
Looper 66
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection 66
Battleship 65
Mirror Mirror 65
Chronicle 65
Pitch Perfect 64
Hope Springs 64
Underworld Awakening 62
The Lucky One 60
The Dictator 60
Total Recall 59
Titanic 3D 58
American Reunion 57
Paranorman 56
This Means War 55
Project X 55
The Woman in Black 54
Paranormal Activity 4 54
The Devil Inside 53
The Odd Life of Timothy Green 52
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 52
The Grey 52
Red Tails 50
The Possession 49
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days 49
Sinister 48
Beauty and the Beast 3D 48
Savages 47
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 46
Moonrise Kingdom 46
The Three Stooges 44
Star Wars Episode 1 3D 43
Here Comes the Boom 43
Red Dawn 43
Resident Evil: Retribution 42
The Cabin in the Woods 42
What to Expect When You’re Expecting 41
Finding Nemo 3D 41
End of Watch 41
Rock of Ages 39
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 38
Lawless 37
That’s My Boy 37
Trouble with the Curve 36
The Watch 35
Step Up Revolution 35
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds 35
Frankenweenie 35
2016 Obama’s America 33
House at the End of the Street 32
The Pirates! Band of Misfits 31
Joyful Noise 31
Chimpanzee 29
The Five-Year Engagement 29
Cloud Atlas 27
Alex Cross 26
One for the Money 26
Katy Perry: Part of Me 25
Sparkle 24
Premium Rush 20
Big Miracle 20
Silver Linings Playbook 20
The Secret World of Arrietty 20

Geek movies can also cost more to make, though. Take a look at the movies ranked by profit. I’m using budget figures from Box Office Mojo. They don’t have budgets listed for every movie, and I’m leaving off ones where they don’t. These appear to be production budgets, and there can be considerable costs beyond that (especially marketing).

Title Dogro Budget Profit
The Avengers 623 220 403
The Hunger Games 408 78 330
The Dark Knight Rises 448 250 198
Ted 219 50 169
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 281 120 161
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 214 70 144
Magic Mike 114 7 107
21 Jump Street 138 42 96
The Vow 125 30 95
Taken 2 138 45 93
Think Like a Man 92 12 80
Skyfall 279 200 79
Madagascar 3 216 145 71
Ice Age: Continental Drift 161 95 66
Argo 106 44.5 61.5
Flight 91 31 60
Hotel Transylvania 144 85 59
Act of Valor 70 12 58
Chronicle 65 12 53
Brave 237 185 52
Lincoln 117 65 52
The Devil Inside 53 1 52
Paranormal Activity 4 54 5 49
Pitch Perfect 64 17 47
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection 66 20 46
Sinister 48 3 45
Contraband 67 25 42
Safe House 126 85 41
Titanic 3D 58 18 40
Looper 66 30 36
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 46 10 36
The Possession 49 14 35
End of Watch 41 7 34
The Amazing Spider-Man 262 230 32
Moonrise Kingdom 46 16 30
The Grey 52 25 27
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days 49 22 27
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 104 79 25
House at the End of the Street 32 10 22
The Three Stooges 44 30 14
Katy Perry: Part of Me 25 12 13
Sparkle 24 14 10
Wreck-It Ralph 172 165 7
American Reunion 57 50 7
Savages 47 45 2
Step Up Revolution 35 33 2
What to Expect When You’re Expecting 41 40 1
The Five-Year Engagement 29 30 -1
Silver Linings Playbook 20 21 -1
Prometheus 126 130 -4
Paranorman 56 60 -4
Frankenweenie 35 39 -4
The Dictator 60 65 -5
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 52 57 -5
Underworld Awakening 62 70 -8
Red Tails 50 58 -8
Alex Cross 26 35 -9
This Means War 55 65 -10
The Bourne Legacy 113 125 -12
One for the Money 26 40 -14
Snow White and the Huntsman 155 170 -15
The Expendables 2 85 100 -15
Premium Rush 20 35 -15
Mirror Mirror 65 85 -20
Big Miracle 20 40 -20
Red Dawn 43 65 -22
Resident Evil: Retribution 42 65 -23
The Pirates! Band of Misfits 31 55 -24
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 38 69 -31
That’s My Boy 37 70 -33
The Watch 35 68 -33
Rock of Ages 39 75 -36
Life of Pi 76 120 -44
MIB 3 179 225 -46
Rise of the Guardians 80 145 -65
Wrath of the Titans 84 150 -66
Total Recall 59 125 -66
Dark Shadows 80 150 -70
Battleship 65 209 -144
John Carter 73 250 -177

As you can see, geek movies are still at the top, but other movies like Magic Mike, The Vow, and Think Like a Man move much farther up the list. Note that the biggest losers are clearly the geek movies (hello, John Carter and Battleship).

I’m also interested in profit percentage. Some low budget movies make many times what it cost to produce them, which means there is less risk. This is a place where low budget horror movies shined this year.

Title Dogro Budget Profit%
The Devil Inside 53 1 5200%
Magic Mike 114 7 1529%
Sinister 48 3 1500%
Paranormal Activity 4 54 5 980%
Think Like a Man 92 12 667%
End of Watch 41 7 486%
Act of Valor 70 12 483%
Chronicle 65 12 442%
The Hunger Games 408 78 423%
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 46 10 360%
Ted 219 50 338%
The Vow 125 30 317%
Pitch Perfect 64 17 276%
The Possession 49 14 250%
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection 66 20 230%
21 Jump Street 138 42 229%
Titanic 3D 58 18 222%
House at the End of the Street 32 10 220%
Taken 2 138 45 207%
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax 214 70 206%
Flight 91 31 194%
Moonrise Kingdom 46 16 188%
The Avengers 623 220 183%
Contraband 67 25 168%
Argo 106 44.5 138%
Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 281 120 134%
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days 49 22 123%
Looper 66 30 120%
Katy Perry: Part of Me 25 12 108%
The Grey 52 25 108%
Lincoln 117 65 80%
The Dark Knight Rises 448 250 79%
Sparkle 24 14 71%
Ice Age: Continental Drift 161 95 69%
Hotel Transylvania 144 85 69%
Madagascar 3 216 145 49%
Safe House 126 85 48%
The Three Stooges 44 30 47%
Skyfall 279 200 40%
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 104 79 32%
Brave 237 185 28%
American Reunion 57 50 14%
The Amazing Spider-Man 262 230 14%
Step Up Revolution 35 33 6%
Savages 47 45 4%
Wreck-It Ralph 172 165 4%
What to Expect When You’re Expecting 41 40 2%
Prometheus 126 130 -3%
The Five-Year Engagement 29 30 -3%
Silver Linings Playbook 20 21 -5%
Paranorman 56 60 -7%
The Dictator 60 65 -8%
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance 52 57 -9%
Snow White and the Huntsman 155 170 -9%
The Bourne Legacy 113 125 -10%
Frankenweenie 35 39 -10%
Underworld Awakening 62 70 -11%
Red Tails 50 58 -14%
The Expendables 2 85 100 -15%
This Means War 55 65 -15%
MIB 3 179 225 -20%
Mirror Mirror 65 85 -24%
Alex Cross 26 35 -26%
Red Dawn 43 65 -34%
One for the Money 26 40 -35%
Resident Evil: Retribution 42 65 -35%
Life of Pi 76 120 -37%
Premium Rush 20 35 -43%
The Pirates! Band of Misfits 31 55 -44%
Wrath of the Titans 84 150 -44%
Rise of the Guardians 80 145 -45%
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 38 69 -45%
Dark Shadows 80 150 -47%
That’s My Boy 37 70 -47%
Rock of Ages 39 75 -48%
The Watch 35 68 -49%
Big Miracle 20 40 -50%
Total Recall 59 125 -53%
Battleship 65 209 -69%
John Carter 73 250 -71%

I was curious about how profit tended to trend against budget. The sweet spot seemed to be around $40m to $50m budget, and it was unlikely to make a profit (The Avengers excepted) on a budget over $100m.

2012 Budget versus Profit

I think this will be a tough year for geek titles to get much love in terms of awards. That’s always hard, but this year, I think the mainstream movies are so strong that it will be particularly difficult.  I wrote back on November 10th that I thought that 2012 is a strong contender for the best movie year since 1939 and its odds have only increased since then. Even for technical awards, the Academy would rather give them to a Les Miz than a movie like The Dark Knight Rises, but we’ll see what happens when we get the Oscar noms on January 10th and then the awards themselves on February 24th.

Before I list some trends/stories for the year, let me remind you that you can see more detail at

2012 Movie Box Office: 40, 80, 1, 2 , 3

and

2012 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs

  • Directors mattered at the box office. It wasn’t just what they put on the screen. I think the audiences cared that Joss Whedon directed The Avengers, Sam Mendes directed Skyfall, Gary Ross directed The Hunger Games, and Tom Holland directed Les Miz. Look for directors to start getting more money
  • While I thought earlier this year that Baby Boomer nostalgia had faded, and I still think that to some extent, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spider-Man arguably benefited from it
  • Interestingly, remakes of Total Recall (1990) and Dredd (1995) suggest that the 1990s may not be prime time for second servings yet. The 1980s? They were hot, with 21 Jump Street and Wreck-It Ralph
  • Books (not just comic books) were good sources for the movie box office. The Hunger Games, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, and The Hobbit will all have studio development teams looking at lit. However, One for the Money and Alex Cross may make them more cautious about adapting titles without a lot of young adult appeal

Those were a few things I noticed. Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think are the trends by commenting on this post. Later, I’ll look ahead to 2013.

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

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