2012 will be a watermark year for the movie business but this week looks a lot like the 1990s and presented some problems for TheOneRing.net’s Film Friday. I didn’t want to watch “Titanic,” or “American Reunion,” which are likely this week’s biggest new releases. In each case, I feel like I have been there before.
I have been much more interested this week in a discussion with some Facebook friends about which films will rule the 2012 box office numbers. “The Hunger Games,” is proving to be a powerful financial force. Some of these friends are fans of “The Hobbit,” but don’t think the film can win the finally tally for the year’s biggest moneymaker. I disagree. (Oh and while we are talking about the film, any media member who writes that it is a prequel is lazy, inaccurate and deserves a gentle kick in the shins. The story stands alone, came first and is so much more than just a lead-up to LOTR.)
While studios care deeply about the financial returns, fans are a lot more interested in art and a thrill at the movies. Still, there is some fun in watching the box office derby and it seems like a dozen websites have sprung up devoted to doing just that.
Lets take a look at one man’s predictions of the final top 10 box office films released in 2012.
#10. Prometheus — This might be a little optimistic for an R-rated horror film but the trailer wowed the crowd at WonderCon and those “Alien” films, which this is, are revered almost religiously these days so buzz may build and it may hit.
#9. Men in Black 3 — Will Smith is a still a great big movie star and it has been long enough for people to forget the unsatisfying second film in the trilogy. And, something needs to be funny in the top 10.
#8. Skyfall — James Bond. Remember him? This film, like Hobbit films was held up by MGM’s financial woes. So far, it isn’t on the public radar much, but a strong legacy and success from the last two, give this film a shot to be the biggest Bond ever.
#7. Brave — We haven’t heard from Pixar since “Up,” but “Cars,” aside, they don’t suck. The formula may be recycled but the characters never are for this group. Putting story first makes great movies for the widest possible audience.
#6. The Amazing Spider-Man — A franchise reboot? What? Why? Oh but then you see the trailers and the images and they are doing this right. All three Spidey films did big business, even the bad one. I confess to being a semi-hostile skeptic with a soft spot for the great Sam Raimi, but I am won over by everything I see and I believe buzz and word-of-mouth may push this higher.
#4. Hunger Games — A well-made franchise starter, this flick is popular with critics, fans and studio cash counters. Amazing that the director just walked away. It has legs too, enough legs to kick “Titantic 3D” around this weekend.
#3. Avengers — There has never been a film quite like this; it takes a bunch of known box office heroes and puts them all together. However, of the group only Iron Man has soared above $300 million in domestic cash, which is a mark the film needs to surpass to rise this high or higher on the final list. Director Joss Whedon excels at group dynamics in storytelling. If this thing has heart to go with the action, it might challenge the top two films on this list. Inside buzz says it is a strong emotional film that could feel more epic than it does. (Fine by me!) Personally, can’t wait.
#2. The Dark Knight Rises — It is easy to forget how much money this character has made for Warners, including with Michael Keaton in the suit. The last Dark Knight film grossed over $500 million domestically and despite what many say, not just because of the late Heath Ledger’s work. It worked on many levels, was wildly entertaining but also had depth and humanity. Director Christopher Nolan made “Inception,” in between these films and it made cash without being a sequel, without a franchise and with no superheroes. He has credibility. He makes money. He makes great cinema and this could end up first. Personally, beyond can’t wait.
#1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey — This isn’t me rooting for a Middle-earth film. This isn’t me pandering to an audience pre-destined to agree with me. I believe this film, not-so-patiently-anticipated for a decade, will be a thing — the thing in 2012. Seventeen years before “The Lord of the Rings,” existed, J.R.R. Tokien’s children’s book was beloved. Celebrating its 75th year of publication, it has been read by and read to generations. One of the most popular titles of the 20th Century, it has family appeal, heart, humor, excellent casting and a director in Peter Jackson working in his comfort zone with enough budget to solve problems. TheOneRing.net is about to see this first hand (see an article later today for details) but this has all the right elements to simply explode on its opening weekend (a given) and then keep sucking in audiences if it satisfies. Remember ROTK has the second best opening ever with $72 million, but, on a Wednesday!
Can it eclipse the billion-dollar mark like the last film to visit Middle-earth did? Yes. People will take off work and skip school and plan trips around this opening. For some, and this isn’t hyperbolic, it is the film event of a lifetime. It also has the 3D bump with its 48 frames-per-second jump in technology that might just improve the visuals for those who hate glasses. On every level this has a chance to be among the biggest film(s) ever and it will need to be to hold off Batman. WB doesn’t lose either way. Personally, not waiting.