Take a look at the top five grossing films of the year.
2. TRANSFORMERS 2
3. HARRY POTTER
4. TWILIGHT: NEW MOON
Did you happen to notice there isn’t a ‘Marquee’ name amongst them? Sure people are familiar with the name Daniel Radcliff, and Robert Pattison. Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are famous, but none are ‘Movie Stars’. The appeal of most of 2009’s biggest hits were the films themselves. Whether it was the CGI spectacle of ‘Transformers 2’ , the 3D worlds of ‘AVATAR’, the love triangle in ‘New Moon’, or the ridiculous comedic situations in ‘The Hangover’. Audiences went to films in record numbers during 2009 spending over $10 billion in domestic ticket sales, aided by the highest grossing film of all time (in unadjusted numbers) for ‘AVATAR’.
To be fair many top stars had either no films slated for release or films that were pushed back to 2010. Top draws such as Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and Leonardo Dicaprio were absent from screens last year. Brad Pitt had a nice hit with ‘INGLORIOUS BASTERDS’, but that has to do more with Tarantino’s fan base than Pitt’s star power. Johnny Depp and Vince Vaughn had solid hits in ‘PUBLIC ENEMIES’ and ‘COUPLES RETREAT’, respectively. But Tom Hanks stumbled with ‘ANGLES & DEMONS’, which grossed half of its predecessor’s 2006 ‘DA’ VINCI CODE’. Bruce Willis crashed with the expensive flop ‘SURROGATES’ and Adam Sandler’s ‘FUNNY PEOPLE’ barely cracked the $50 million mark.
-OUT WITH THE OLD?-
Maybe audiences are growing tired of aging actors. Young up and comers navigated a number of films to box office riches. Channing Tatum helped ‘G.I. JOE’ open to $54 million and a worldwide gross of $300 million. Shia LaBeouf’s sizeable fan base and Megan Fox’s sex appeal propelled ‘Transformers 2’ to over $400 million domestically and into the top ten grossing films of all time. The biggest opening weekend of 2009 goes to ‘New Moon’. A media frenzy detailing Pattison and Stewart’s relationship and Lautner’s abs sold many magazines which in turn generated an amazing amount of interest in the modestly budgeted film. It’s easy to forget because of ‘AVATAR’s phenomenal box office run, that ‘New Moon’ still holds the record for largest single day in the history of box office tracking at $73 million. That’s nearly what ‘AVATAR’ made in its entire opening weekend! It’s no wonder Paramount has signed Lautner to a multi-picture deal. Reportedly to star alongside Tom Cruise in a quasi sequel to ‘TOP GUN’ currently titled ‘Northern Lights’. Further down the ladder is Zac Effron who delivered solid business for ’17 AGAIN’ doing over $60 million domestically. Which is especially impressive considering that film wasn’t an event picture or sequel released during the summer or holiday season. Rather a ‘BIG’-type knock off released in the typically barren spring season. I saw girls taking pictures next to the poster on separate occasions last March; this kid is going to be around for awhile.
Several actresses scored major hits in 2009. Among them was Katherine Heigl who expanded on her ’27 Dresses’ success by scoring with ‘The Ugly Truth’, which grossed nearly $90 million domestically. Meryl Streep also continued her hot streak, with two films ‘Julia & Julia’ and ‘It’s Complicated’ grossing over $110 million domestically apiece. But no other star burned brighter in 2009 than Sandra Bullock. After a few years absence, she returned to the screen and audiences welcomed her back in droves. First pushing last summer’s ‘The Proposal’ to over $160 million domestically, ranking it as the highest grossing romantic comedy of all time. Then there was ‘The Blindside’ which astonished analysts by grossing close to $250 million in the U.S. alone, ranking it as the bestselling sports film of all time.
Will the stars shine at the box office again? With new releases from Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio, Russell Crowe, Adam Sandler, and Robert Downey Jr., it will be interesting to see how well they rebound in 2010. The numbers never lie.