677 movies came out in 2013, the most ever released in a single year, grossing a record total of over $10.9 billion. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was the most successful picture of 2013 at the box office domestically and accounted for almost 4% of the year’s take.
Of the 677 movies released there were 68 (new record) that made it over $50 million, 33 (soon 35, also a record) past $100 million, 13 (record) more than $200 million, 4 over $300 million and 2 in the $400 million club.
Despite a slight drop in ticket sales (1.34 billion versus 1.36 billion in 2012), 2013 ended up with a record $10.9 billion thanks to an increase in ticket prices($8.13 on average versus 7.96 in 2012).
But enough with this stuff and let’s just look at the top 10 highest grossing movies of 2013 in North America.
10. Oz The Great and Powerful $234.9 million
Since Alice in Wonderland ended up such a huge hit (over $1 billion worldwide) Disney have been pushing hard for this live-action thing with famous children books. Oz worked out well in the end, maybe not as high as some would have hopped but still more than enough. Up next is Maleficent this summer (based on Sleeping Beauty), Cinderella next year and Alice in Wonderland 2 in 2016. There might even be an Oz The Great and Powerful 2 somewhere down the line.
9. Fast & Furious 6 $238.6 million
This series has turned into an insane phenomenon with each subsequent installment after the third one (Tokyo Drift) grossing more and more. The winning streak might come to an end after Fast & Furious 7 (guaranteed to make the most money), which was the final project of the late Paul Walker.
8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug $248.7 million (still in cinemas)
The least successful entry in the Lord of the Rings series, The Desolation of Smaug is a fun adventure that does just about everything right, setting up next December’s The Hobbit conclusion, There and Back Again. Now The Desolation of Smaug is still making good money in cinemas and it will probably end up higher than the next movie on the list, so keep that in mind before being too critical of its success.
7. Gravity $258.3 million (in cinemas)
Probably the second biggest surprise on here, and some might argue the biggest. Gravity is a very unique movie, extremely uncommercial yet so captivating. It goes up to 15 minutes and even more without a single cut (change camera), there are no flashbacks, no Earth shots while the main characters are in space, everything is very direct, visceral. It really is an experience unlike any other that has come before in a Hollywood movie, so expect many other studios to follow suit in the next few years. They will try (and most probably fail) to reproduce Gravity. Oh and it recently got 10 Oscar nominations including Best Picture.
6. Monster’s University $268.5 million
Pixar’s first prequel is a fun time in cinemas for both parents and kids (as you’d expect by now from them). It might not reach the emotional heights of Toy Story 3, Up or Wall-E but it is nonetheless a step in the right direction for the studio. Thing is they should maybe start stepping a wee bit faster because Walt Disney Animation sort of caught up and even surpassed them.
5. Man of Steel $291 million
Thank goodness this was a hit, right Warner Bros.? After Green Lantern‘s failure the prospect of a Justice League movie hanged in the hands of the man that brought us Sucker Punch. But I’m just being hard on the guy for no good reason, Man of Steel was fine and with a tighter script and more focused direction the sequel could be amazing. So far we know that sequel has Ben Affleck as Batman and Han’s girlfriend from the Fast & Furious films as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), so I can’t wait to see how they will handle all those superheroes. I mean what could possibly go wrong, right?
4. Frozen 332.6 million (in cinemas)
Disney struck gold with Frozen and from this point on they’ve raised the bar for the rebranded Walt Disney Animation Studios. After Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and now Frozen, Disney will have to work very hard to keep that bar high. I personally consider this one to be the biggest surprise of the year at the box office (but I confess to being biased when it comes to Frozen so take that statement with a grain of salt). Suffice to say Frozen is one of my favorite movies of the year, probably because I’m a sucker for classic Disney.
3. Despicable Me 2 $368 million
Good year for animations with 3 in the top 10. Now a week ago I would have told you no way Frozen could overtake this insanely popular sequel, but now I’m not so sure. Back to Despicable Me 2, you don’t see often the second movie in a series growing this much (from $251.5 million to $368 million). It will be interesting to see if Despicable Me 3 will follow Shrek (second grew a lot, third dropped) or become only the 4th animation to ever cross the $400 million mark domestically.
2. Iron Man 3 $409 million
So here’s a weird one, after an amazingly well received Iron Man (which turned up with $318.4 million), the sequel disappointed enough people to not make as much money ($312.4 million). Not even the good will from Iron Man was enough to push that mediocre second movie. But then came The Avengers ($623.3 million) and Iron Man 3 found itself in the best spot a superhero flick could ever hope to be, continuing only a year after the most successful entry of all time in its genre. No wonder Iron Man 3 was so big right? Well it also had to be a good enough movie, so despite what the internet may have you believe, Iron Man 3 was not the worst movie of the year. If you need any more proof just look at the lesser Thor: The Dark World (which didn’t make the top 10) and how it only grossed half as much as Iron Man 3, despite it too acting as a pseudo sequel to The Avengers.
1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire $417.9 million (in cinemas)
Where did this come from? I’m still baffled by the success of The Hunger Games series. Two years ago, for me at least, it looked like yet another young adult adaptation in a sea of young adult adaptations, all wanting to become the next Harry Potter or Twilight. Even Chronicles of Narnia numbers would have been enough for most of them. But The Hunger Games had something under its sleeve, Oscar nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence playing the lead. Unless the source material is of a certain quality, you don’t get to bring on board a promising young star like that. Then something clicked and in a matter of weeks The Hunger Games hit critical mass on the hype meter, opening with record numbers on its way to $408 million. So that had to be the ceiling for this series, no way would it be able to repeat, right? Well now the answer is simple, a resounding no. By the end of its box office run Catching Fire will have sold just as many tickets as the original. I can count on one hand the sequels that achieved such a feat after an incredibly strong first entry (I’m talking over $300-400 million domestically here). Yet now I too am a believer, having seen Catching Fire on the big screen myself. Mockingjay Part 1 can’t come soon enough.
There was something for everyone in 2013 and from the looks of things 2014 won’t disappoint either. To end this I’ll do something new. Following are my predictions for 2014’s top 10 highest grossing movies. This way next year we can look back and laugh at just how bad my numbers were.
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier $240 million – Because Marvel.
9. Big Hero 6 $245 million – Because Disney.
8. X-Men: Days of Future Past $250 million – Because future comes before the past.
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction $265 million – Because BOOM.
6. Fast & Furious 7 $270 million – Because we loved Paul Walker.
5. Amazing Spider-Man 2 $290 million – Because spider-man.
4. The Hobbit: There and Back Again $300 million – Because Smaug.
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 $320 million – Because dragons.
2. Interstellar $350 million – Because space.
1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 $430 million – Because Katniss.
What is your top 10?