Summer is almost over and with the end of summer comes the end of the movie blockbuster season. While this summer has seen larger-than-life characters such as Superman, Iron Man, and Captain Kirk tower over the competition at the box office, now the silver screen prepares for the unsung heroes of Hollywood’s Oscar hopefuls.
Before we move into the fall season of prestige films, it’s as good a time as any to talk about what films were the top grossing films of a very lucrative summer of 2013. While the summer season is not officially over — the summer season is defined in industry terms as the first Friday in May through the Labor Day weekend — there don’t appear to be any films capable of breaking into the top ten domestic grossing films of the summer so far. The musical, documentary One Direction: This is Us, which follows the boy-band One Direction, could possibly reach the top ten, but I’m willing to bet against it.
10. The Conjuring - Warner Bros. ($128 Million)
Warner Bros. (NYSE:TWX)’s The Conjuring is the most recent film on this list, released July 19, and although it’s still in theaters, it doesn’t seem likely to reach the numbers of the next film on this list. So far, the supernatural horror film has made $128 million domestically and $65 million on the foreign market, good for a total of $193 million. With a production budget of $20 million, this is one of the huge winners of the summer as far as return on investment goes.
In the film’s opening weekend, The Conjuring made $41 million, good for number 22 all-time for R-rated opening weekends. The film also places sixth all-time for supernatural horror and stands at number 24 for total box office in the past 365 days.
9. The Great Gatsby (2013) - Warner Bros. ($144 Million)
Warner Bros.’ The Great Gatsby was released on May 10 and made $144 million domestic and $186 million foreign, for a worldwide total of $331 million. With an strong opening weekend of $50 million, The Great Gatsby actually lost to another film in it’s second weekend – Iron Man 3, which made an incredible $72 million in its second weekend. That puts it on the rather unique list of films with the best openings without a number one placement at the box office, placing number six all-time.
8. The Heat - 21st Century Fox ($155 Million)
21st Century Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA)’s The Heat was released on June 28 and has made $155 domestic, $49 million foreign, and $204 million worldwide. While the film doesn’t have the same eye-popping number as some of the other films on this list as we move up, there’s at least one thing this film has going for it — return on investment. With a budget of only $43 million, the film has made nearly four times its budget back, which makes the film potentially more profitable than some of the higher films on this list.
7. World War Z - Paramount Pictures ($198 Million)
Paramount Pictures (NASDAQ:VIA)’s World War Z was looking like a train-wreck in the making in the months before it was released. There were reports of a spiraling budget, a studio displeased with the film’s director, and massive reshoots. Everything pointed towards this film being the biggest box office bomb of the summer and then the film ended up surprising just about everyone — especially Paramount.
World War Z ended up making $198 million domestic and $319 million foreign for a worldwide total of $517 million — making it the number one zombie film of all-time. During the film’s opening weekend starting June 21, the film made $66 million — which, most surprisingly, was not good enough for number one at the box office as Disney (NYSE:DIS)’s Monsters University took number 1 with $82 million.
That fact opens up World War Z to some interesting rankings, including number two on the list of biggest openings without placing number one at the box office; number five on the list of movies that never hit number number one at the box office; and number three on the list of biggest opening without placing number one at the box office when adjusted for inflation. While those numbers are strange, Paramount isn’t likely to care when the film also placed number six all-time for June openings and number eleven at the box office for the past 365 days.
6. Star Trek Into Darkness - Paramount Pictures ($227 Million)
Paramount’s Star Trek Into Darkness was released on May 16 and made $227 million domestically, $226 million in foreign markets, and $453 million overall. In its first weekend in theaters, Star Trek Into Darkness made $70 million. In comparison, 2009′s Star Trek made $257 million domestic, $127 million foreign, and $385 million total.
While Paramount had likely hoped for a bigger box office take than the $190 million Star Trek ended up with, the film still performed slightly better than the previous Star Trek film, making up for a lower domestic gross with a much higher foreign take. The film ranks as number ten in the last 365 days.
5. Fast & Furious 6 - Universal Pictures ($238 Million)
Universal Pictures (NASDAQ:CMCSA)’s Fast & Furious 6 seems like it came out of nowhere, becoming one of the most popular films of the summer. Released on May 24, the sixth film in the action, car-racing franchise made a domestic total of $238 million, a foreign gross of a $547 million, and a worldwide total of $785 million.
Fast & Furious 6 dominated the competition on Memorial Day weekend to the tune of $97 million in its opening weekend. The overall total for the film places it at number one in the franchise for total gross. Some other rankings the film has to its name include number eight in total box office for the last 365 days, number seven single-day Monday gross, and number four for both Memorial holiday weekend openers and Memorial holiday weekends in general.
The subject of the film’s success led many analysts to study the interesting marketing for the film and the racial make-up of audiences. The opening weekend for the film saw an audience consisting of 32 percent Latino, 29 percent white, 22 percent black, and 13 percent Asian leading many to speculate on how the growing power of Latino film-goers can impact box office results.
4. Monsters University - Walt Disney Co. ($261 Million)
The Pixar animated film Monsters University from Disney, the prequel to 2001′s Monsters Inc., was released on June 21. The film made $261 million domestically and $397 million in foreign markets for a grand total of $658 million overall. If you’re wondering how that compares to Monsters Inc., that film made $255 ($289 with re-release) million domestically, $272 million foreign, and $562 million total. As you can see, they performed very similarly with the latter having the upper-hand overseas.
So where did it rank in other rankings? Well, in the past 365 days the film ranks number seven overall, along with having the fifth highest June opening of all-time, the second-highest G-rated opening weekend, and fifth best G-rated film performance of all-time. All spectacular numbers for the most consistent children’s (and adult’s) animation studio around.
3. Man of Steel - Warner Bros. ($290 Million)
The Superman reboot Man of Steel, released on June 14, is the proud owner of several distinguishing records, not the least of which are the total box office gross numbers. Man of Steel made $290 million domestically and $359 million in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $649 million. That number makes it the number one film in the Superman franchise, unadjusted for inflation.
As far as the past 365 days, Man of Steel’s numbers place it at number 6 overall, but where the film really broke records was in the time period of June. The film broke the record for June openings with a total of $116 million — also good for number ten all-time in summer openings — while also placing at number four when adjusted for inflation.
However, with a $225 million budget, even that $649 million worldwide gross isn’t as huge a number when marketing is factored in, but luckily we’ll be getting Superman & Batman in 2015, and hopefully Justice League in 2017, if all goes according to plan for Warner Bros.
2. Despicable Me 2 - Universal Pictures ($346 Million)
The second most-recent film on this list, Universal’s animated children’s film Despicable Me 2, released on July 3, has broken records all over the place. But let’s start with the basics. Despicable Me 2 has made, so far, $346 million domestically and $435 million in foreign markets, for a grand total of $781 million worldwide. Those numbers are sure to creep just a bit higher over the Labor Day weekend.
Now some more interesting facts about Despicable Me 2. Along with its eye popping numbers overall, the film also same some notable rankings, including number two film in the past 365 days; number five animated film of all time (unadjusted for inflation); and number 25 all-time domestic, or number 150 all-time domestic when adjusted for inflation.
In fact, when it comes to return on investment when it comes to a major, bigger budget release, Despicable Me 2 dominates the competition with a box office take of 8.5 times its $76 million budget. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke even proclaimed last month that the film ”is going to end up being the single most profitable film in the 100 year history of Universal Studios.” It’s safe to say that Universal has had a great summer.
1. Iron Man 3 - Walt Disney Co. ($408 Million)
Was this one ever really in doubt? Disney’s Iron Man 3 was the film that kicked off an extremely lucrative summer season for the studios, released on May 3 — the first day of the summer season at the box office. The film ended up grossing $408 million domestically and a whopping $804 million at the foreign box office. That’s a total of $1.2 billion worldwide.
Iron Man 3 was the first major Marvel superhero film released after the huge success of The Avengers and it seems like the third film in the Iron Man franchise definitely piggybacked off that success. Aside from the incredible totals that the film put up at the box office, the film also made $174 million in its opening weekend and $72 million in its second weekend for a drop of only 58 percent from opening to second week — most studios would kill to have an opening of $72 million.
One last thing to note — and a pretty amazing number to check out — is that, although the film had a huge budget of $200 million, the film was still able to make back six times its budget. It’s extremely rare that such a high budgeted film makes makes such a good return on investment, but Marvel and Disney have definitely had a lot of good luck with that recently. Now that Marvel and Disney are flying high with the performances of their recent blockbusters, what’s next up for the two studios? Upcoming are movies based on lesser known comic book franchises such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-man, and perhaps Doctor Strange. And don’t forget Avengers: Age of Ultron.