There are five cardinal elements in film-making that sets the standard for a box office-worthy movie, and those are the script, cinematography, pacing, performances of the actors and special effects (whenever necessary). Come up short with any of these and you can be sure that your movie will be a failure or a Class B or C at that. Some movies have great scripts but they ended up tedious and sluggish due to poor direction and acting or really bad special effects. You can get away with subtle special effects but everything else is right, but you can’t get around a bad story, pacing and performance even if you paid tens of millions for movie effects.
Why Movies Flop
There are probably a ton of reasons why movies don’t deliver what they promised on the trailers, but perhaps the most prevailing ones could be, because of poor leadership particularly on the part of the movie directors and studio executives. Studio execs and movie directors at times disagree with the direction of the film, because while the directors lean more on their creative side, studio execs will always be cautious in spending the budget for the movie. An example of this can be observed on films such as Universal Studios’ “Waterworld” that starred Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper as well as Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Superman Returns” that starred Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey. The directors asked for so much money on production but didn’t deliver the excitement that everyone expected on screen and as a result, the movies barely got their production budget back with the income that the films made.
Now let’s look at those movies that broke the block buster records when they grossed to more than a billion dollars!
1.) “Avatar” (2009) – $2.8 Billion
James Cameron is among the top 10% of the best of the best Hollywood movie directors out there and he has a long list of films to prove it, but when he made “Avatar,” it dwarfed all the other movies that came before or after it. With the exception of “Gone with the Wind” ($3.3 billion) and “Star Wars” ($2.7 billion), there are no other films to date that has broken Avatar’s box office record. Following our formula for a great film, you can easily see why this film earned this kind of income. Basically it started out with a good script because it is rooted in our reality and how humankind comes into conflict with Nature and destroys the very thing that sustains it.
It was shot entirely on 3D which is unparalleled since the movie industry began, the pacing is perfect added with great performances by Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and other supporting cast; you will really get invested in the movie within the first 15 minutes of watching it. And finally the special effects became easy to incorporate in the film as it was already shot in 3D previously, making a great movie spectacle that nearly every living soul on the planet relate to it in a deep and respectful sense. It sent a clear message to all of us – we cannot survive here on Earth if we’ll keep destroying the environment.
2.) “Titanic” (1997) – $2.2 Billion
See why I said that James Cameron is one of the best film directors in Hollywood? That’s because his second hit just lags $600 million behind his best movie – “Avatar!” Once again “Titanic” follows our formula for a big movie success, although I must say that the pacing kind of feels a little sluggish, but overall it’s still a great movie experience nonetheless. This movie is where Leonardo DiCaprio’s career was launched into greatness and his performances have not diminished ever since. “Titanic” is a sad retelling of the tragedy that happened over 100 years ago in the Atlantic Ocean, how a short-lived love story fairy tale could last a lifetime even though Rose’s lover, Jack had died that night, and how the sinking of the ship on its maiden voyage was accurately depicted.
3.) “The Avengers” (2012) – $1.5 Billion
It was not so long ago that Hollywood was about ego and artistic storytelling by screenplay writers, movie directors and movie executives attempting to be nostalgic and relive the glory days of how the movie industry started out. Marvel Comics got a bit disappointed at how movie studios approved their superhero films and decided to create its own movie studio with the same name. And then the rest was history, but it wasn’t just that that they changed in Hollywood, they destroyed the status quo and made movies that had depth, artistic renderings and of course, often came back as box office smashers. “Marvel’s The Avengers” forever sealed the fate of superhero genres when it earned over $1.5 billion domestically and internationally! I suppose I don’t have to tell you how the movie had all the things that the five cardinal elements to make a great film, because it hit every category in an almost perfect harmonious rhythm.
But if you really want to peel every scene of it and spot the best parts that Joss Whedon put in, then I suggest you watch it, because no words can describe how good the movie is.
4.) “Fast & Furious 7” (2015) – $1.5 Billion
Universal Pictures together with brilliant director, James Wan, fired up the latest instalment of their proprietary franchise – Fast & Furious 7 – with a production budget of nearly $200 million, which of course resulted in a mega box office hit! Although the film suffered a major blow with the untimely death of Paul Walker (plays Brian O’Conner in the movie) back in 2013, fans didn’t abandon it and instead gave their undivided support that unofficially serves as a memoriam to the action superstar. You would normally expect that films like Fast & Furious is just your average dumb-down, running around and explosions flick that doesn’t deserve any praise; however, the movie does exhibit the same elements as any film on this list and that is the reason behind its success.
5.) “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) – $1.3 Billion
Joss Whedon ups his game in the most anticipated superhero movie sequel, “Avengers: Age of Ultron!” This film has not actually finished airing yet, but we’re already certain that it will surpass the earnings of the first film at $1.5 billion. Marvel has proven yet again that a great storyline plus a spectacular visual effects will almost always captivate people’s attention. What Marvel did has never been done in cinema history which is to bring several very talented actors together and make a great movie at the same time. This would have been a daunting task for any traditional Hollywood movie studio that’s been around for over 50 years now. Marvel literally did thought outside the box and set a new standard in film-making that most studios now follow, simply because of their unparalleled success.
As before Avengers: Age of Ultron has all the cardinal elements for a potentially great movie and it has got it in spades!
6.) “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2” (2011) – $1.3 Billion
I have to admit that fans said that this movie had huge plot holes that are almost impossible to ignore; however, Director David Yates and the marketing team of Warner Bros. Pictures kept the hype high enough for people to rush to the movie theaters when the film was released, which is not bad if you want to get technical a little bit. Fans and critics might not be too happy though but hey! We’re talking about movie success based on box office records and not plot holes and poor screenplay. Still Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows decently wrapped up the franchise after 10 years and recently WB and JK Rowling announced a spin off movie or probably just a continuation.
Suffice it to say the last Harry Potter movie has most of the important elements for a great film, but it is hard to get over the fact that Harry could have used that luck potion to beat Voldemort instead of getting himself killed for being unprepared to face his nemesis.
7.) “Iron-Man 3” and “Frozen” (2013) – $1.2 Billion
For the fans of the Iron-Man comic book and film franchise, I must say that Director Shane Black clearly messed up the whole ending with his “creativeness,” and it should not deserve a billion dollars of box office success. However, the rest of the world have fallen in love with the Iron-Man that Robert Downey Jr. Brought to life, so they didn’t mind the sloppy screenplay of Iron-Man 3 and went to see it anyway. Disney’s “Frozen” though rightfully deserves the box office it garnered and both films snatched the seventh spot in a tie in our top 10 films with over a billion dollars to their names. Both films exhibit the cardinal elements in order to make a great film and even deserve more sequels than what their respective studios allowed.
8.) “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) – $1.1 Billion
This movie needs no fancy introduction as everyone knows how amazingly J. R. R. Tolkien created this fantasy world in his books that bore the same title. In fact, the author dedicated his entire life in creating this seemingly alternate reality that, if it were hidden in a catacomb somewhere in early 20th century England, people would undoubtedly mistook it for some kind of origin story or Bible of the ancient Druids or Celts. If you’ve read his books, you’ll know what I mean. Although Tolkien took most of the parts of the Lord of the Rings series from ancient Norse mythology, there is no other book that can be compared to it even to this day. What Peter Jackson did was simply enhanced the story visually but all the ground work has been laid out nearly century before he was even born. Needless to say the film has most, if not all, of the cardinal elements for a great movie.
9.) “Skyfall” (2012) – $1.1 Billion
The James Bond franchise has been in circulation since 1952 when author Ian Fleming first published “Casino Royale” the novel, which was also the same title of the 2006 movie produced by Barbara Broccoli (daughter of the late Albert Broccoli). Albert Broccoli then saw the movie potential for Fleming’s novels and started the first James Bond movie in 1962 with the title “Dr. No” where Sean Connery also became the first James Bond character. Half a century later and the franchise is still going strong, so strong in fact, that it brought in $1,108,561,013 billion in the fall of 2012! Already, producer Barbara Broccoli and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer & Columbia Pictures are working on the new James Bond movie that stars Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista and Ralph Fiennes and it’s called “Spectre.”
The movie is set to release on November 6, 2015 and is expected to earn more than the last movie. Aside from having a large fan base, the James Bond movies also incorporate the most important elements that make a film break box office records.
10.) “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012) – $1 Billion
It seems that the list is dominated by superhero and sci-fi movies; and it’s no surprise that America’s all-time favourite cape crusader, The Batman, captured the last place of our top 10 movies that earned $1 billion+ in box office sales. Personally, I never thought that the Batman franchise would make it past $600 million, I mean, come on?! It’s about a guy who trained as a ninja and wears a funny bat suit who fights crime at nights. Even if it has a large fan base, who would buy that? But Chris Nolan, Warner Bros. and DC Comics did the best Batman movie in decades since when they did “The Dark Knight Rises.”
Thanks to the executive producers and director, Chris Nolan, who stayed true to the source material for the most part of the film, the Dark Knight Trilogy became an iconic symbol of success in Hollywood as it has already done so in the comic books for more than 50 years.
Note: Jurassic World made a total of $1,465,838,000 to date! Movie experts also expects Batman v Superman and X – Men: Apocalypse to reel in impressive box office results in 2016
2016 Mega Spoilers: