As 2012 comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the biggest headlines to rock the movie world this year. From epic franchises to decisions that disgruntled fans, these were some of the biggest stories of the past twelve months.
1. It was the year of the woman.
Everywhere you turned, girls ran the movie world, and they were catsuit-wearing, weapons-bearing, ass-kicking girls. Just a few that made waves at the box office: Kate Beckinsale in ‘Underworld: Awakening’, Jennifer Lawrence in ‘The Hunger Games’, Anne Hathaway in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, and Scarlett Johansson in ‘The Avengers’. The trend even extended to kiddy films: Princess Merida (voice of Kelly MacDonald) became the first-ever female heroine of a Pixar film in ‘Brave’, wielding a bow and arrow and sassing her way through medieval Scotland.
2. ‘The Avengers’ blew apart the box office.
Everyone knew that Marvel’s superhero megamovie was going to be big, but no one had any clue it would be this big. The final numbers: over $623 million at the domestic box office and $888 million overseas, for a total lifetime haul of $1.5 billion; the best-ever opening weekend on the domestic chart, with $207.4 million; the best-ever per-theatre average on opening weekend, at $47,698; not to mention the fastest-ever run to the $500 million mark (a mere 23 days).
3. ‘The Hobbit’ was split into three movies.
Speaking of epic films: when Peter Jackson announced that he planned to turn ‘The Hobbit’ into a film, fans of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films jumped for joy. That joy quickly turned to head-scratching and muttering as development problems delayed the release of the film. Then Jackson announced that the movie would be broken into three parts. Huh? Whether we really need three movies to tell the story of one book—when LOTR itself, a massively long-winded trilogy, only netted three films—is hard to say. Harder yet to tell: whether fans will stick around through the final installment.
4. Disney bought Lucasfilm.
Continuing with the superfans and epic franchises: Disney announced this year that they are buying out Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion, as well as creating a new crop of ‘Star Wars’ films, the first of which should hit theatres sometime around 2015. Of course, this news excited some fans, but it mostly rattled older franchise fans who didn’t appreciate any further tampering with their beloved story.
5. ‘Twilight’ came to an end.
It seems impossible, but after several long years of vampire fever, the franchise wrapped up with Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) transformation into an immortal and an epic showdown with the Volturi. Now that one of the most feverishly adored franchises in recent memory has come to an end, can anything replace it? That question will be answered as a few other hot young adult book-to-screen adaptations take over theatres: the second film in the ‘Hunger Games’ trilogy, ‘Catching Fire’, will hit theatres next fall; and adaptations of both ‘Divergent’ and ‘The Mortal Instruments’ will land in theatres sometime in the next few years, to the delight of their literary fans around the world. Only time will tell, however, if those series will become as popular as ‘Twilight’.
6. Channing Tatum was everywhere.
Every year it seems there’s a new actor or actress that pops up everywhere we turn, and this year, it was Channing Tatum. He had a slew of roles across multiple genres, with turns in ‘The Vow’, ’21 Jump Street’, and ‘Magic Mike’; he was named People magazine’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive’; and the release of ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ was pushed back until 2013 so the filmmakers could add in more scenes with Tatum.
7. ‘Skyfall’ breathed new life into the Bond franchise.
How’s this for a 50th anniversary gift: not only did ‘Skyfall’ score the best opening weekend ever for a Bond film (over $87 million), it’s already the highest-grossing film in the franchise’s history, and just became the first Bond film ever to score a Golden Globe nod with a nomination for Adele’s theme song ‘Skyfall’ (which has also been getting intense radio airplay).
8. Directors came and went.
Matthew Vaughn announced he would not return to direct the sequel to ‘X-Men: First Class’, which sent Fox on a frenzied search for a replacement in order to get the film off the ground and ready for the estimated 2014 release date. Gary Ross wowed audiences with ‘The Hunger Games’ but then bowed out of the sequel amidst fevered rumors of infighting, prompting a harried search for a replacement. Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrews were slated to co-direct ‘Brave’ after years of working together on the project, until Chapman was abruptly dropped by Pixar (she still received a film credit, but the storm of rumors surrounding her release put a damper on the film). Finally, the entire Marvel world has struggled to fill the directors’ chairs for some of its biggest upcoming releases, with spots filling and just as quickly vacating on ‘Thor 2’, ‘Iron Man 3’, and the planned ‘Captain America’ sequel.
9. Technology jumped ahead—again.
In the middle of all of the moving and shaking, cast and crew changes, production delays, and other disappointments, some big technological advancements were all but overlooked. In order to shoot the complex visuals of ‘Brave’, Pixar rewrote their animation system for the first time in 25 years; the film was also the first to use the new Dolby Atmos sound format, a new type of surround sound technology. Meanwhile, ‘The Hobbit’ was shot in a new 48fps format—double the normal frame rate—though Warner Bros. is only showing the film in that new format in some 450+ theatres across the U.S. and Canada, and only in 3D (now marketed as ‘HFR 3D’). So depending on where you live, it’s totally optional whether you want to journey to Middle Earth in a new format or not.
10. Standbys were no longer certain.
Some of the biggest box office stars flopped terribly (Johnny Depp in ‘Dark Shadows’, Tom Cruise in ‘Rock of Ages’, Adam Sandler in ‘That’s My Boy’). Meanwhile, low-budget films with unknown stars did great at the box office: look at ‘Chronicle’ or ‘Act of Valor’ as examples. Remakes of popular films like ‘Total Recall’ flopped despite big budgets and big names attached, while original films predicted to perform modestly at the box office (like ‘Ted’ and ‘The Hunger Games’) exceeded expectations. It all goes to show that in fickle Hollywood, the old surefire formulas and stars are no longer such a sure bet.