The Billion Dollar Club

Back in 1997, Titanic broke the ice and became the first film to gross over a billion dollars at the international box office. It was a mighty feat that wasn’t achieved again until 2003 with the release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. After another three years past, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest joined this prestigious group.

Then in 2008 came The Dark Knight and Avatar in 2009 (which made over two billion). 2010 brought in Alice in Wonderland and Toy Story 3. 2011 was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger TidesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. 2012 had the biggest film billionaire year yet with Marvel’s The AvengersThe Dark Knight RisesSkyfall, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Now we are in 2013, and in May, Iron Man 3 crossed the mark. Oh, and this list doesn’t include the rereleases of Star Wars Episode I and Jurassic Park, which brought their worldwide totals over the billion mark.

This brings in a total of 17 films that have grossed over a billion dollars in 16 years. At face value, one might just say this is the result of inflation and the rise of ticket prices. Money does have a big impact on the box office, but there are a few other factors that have caused this group to grow so quickly in recent history.

3D has been a growing trend in films over the past decade, with the technology becoming more refined and appealing to a wider audience over the traditional red and blue “pops out in your face” 3D films of our youth. When used correctly, it can add great visual depth and scope to a film while enhancing the cinematography (take Avatar, for example). But, what film studios like about it is its ability to bring in more money at the box office. Theaters tend to charge anywhere from two to ten dollars extra for a 3D film. 3D can easily give a film the boost it needs to gross over a billion dollars.

Another massive factor in the box office game are franchises. The only film that does not belong to a current or planned (Avatar and Alice in Wonderland) is Titanic, which I guarantee 20th Century Fox has definitely toyed with the idea of doing some sort of related film in Jack and Rose’s world. What this shows is that there is power in a brand. People will go see a film because of a name. It’s an easy buck for studios. They don’t have to worry about advertising as much as they do for other films because people will go see the film regardless.

Now, what does this mean for the future of cinema? In the coming years, a film grossing a billion dollars will be something that’s expected. Four films grossed a billion dollars in 2012, and there is potential for several more to join Iron Man 3 the ranks in the final months of 2013. Success of a film may soon come to be measured on if it can gross a billion dollars or not. More and more franchises will continue to grow and expand, and cinematic universes like Marvel that can link brands will become common practice.

Looking at the coming months, Thor: The Dark WorldThe Hunger Games: Catching FireThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugCaptain America: The Winter SoldierX-Men: Days of Future Past, and Transformers: Age of Extinction all are prime contenders for crossing the mark, which if all of them did, would bring the total from 17 to 23 less than a year.

Franchises are the kings of the world, and they’ll never let go.

 

  • QED42

    Franchise is king now but it is just the latest phase of the long term trend of studios backing “a sure thing” based on where audience loyalty lies.

    Initially it was all about the studios themselves being the big name brands. Next we had “New Hollywood” where everyone followed the big name directors/auteurs like Coppola. Following the power of the director the throne was usurped by the era of the star, everyone wanted to see the next Tom Cruise. Now is the time of the franchise or IP where no one wants to take a risk on anything that doesn’t want to risk a big budget on anything that does not come with a guaranteed audience. Of course there are always outliers but these are the general trends of Hollywood for the last 50 years or so.

    What has brought about the end of every major “phase” of Hollywood cinema has always been a big budget box office disaster. Cleopatra (1963) did a great job at taking down the studio system and films like Heaven’s Gate (1980) did for the time of the director. I am sure we will have the this phase of production for some time to come but a big failure at the box office will be the first sign that change is coming. If you look at the cluttered launch calender of 2015 which is filled with big name, big budget sequels there are probably going to be some casualties there it is a question of who can weather the storm best.

    My own thought is that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy might be a tent pole release too far for them as they are investing a lot in an IP that does not have the biggest following in comics or an established place in larger pop. It will be interesting to see if just having the Marvel name attached to the project will be enough to carry the film if the script turns out not to be one of their strongest efforts.

  • Dr. Stephen Farley

    Research Document A:

    UCSI University Department of Theological Studies

    A Brief Summary of the Monotheistic Structure of
    Rezendria

    As a historian and theologian I
    have spent much of my time traveling around the world translating documents
    pertaining to the histories of all of the major religions of the world. One of
    the more interesting sects of monotheism that I have happened upon would have
    to be the Rezendrians. As most people know Christianity has gone through many
    tumultuous times and the Christian churches have been spit up into small groups
    with varying interpretations of holy text. The Rezendrians had a fairly unique
    view of the holy text. The Rezendrians viewed the text as a means for humans to
    make sense of phenomena that they found unexplainable. The centerpiece of the
    Rezendrian monotheistic sect is the unexplainable singular deity. Unlike the
    other major religions of the world god or the deity or the creator is not
    anthropomorphically interpreted. For lack of a better explanation god is not a man,
    woman, animal or human in any sense that we can understand. God does not
    require these qualities as the creator is beyond human understanding. The
    entity is conscious and consciously makes decisions but instead of being a
    puppet master and meddler in the daily lives of humans the entity is more
    playful, childlike and creative. The universe is simply a large canvas that is
    being constantly filled in and erased. Though these are qualities that seem
    very humanlike it is the best terminology that can be used to translate
    something that is generally untranslatable.

    Rezendrian Views on Divinity

    Some of the views of the
    Rezendrians include Moses meditating and carving the Ten Commandments himself
    after what one could only describe as telepathically connecting with the energy
    of god and as translated “feeling the moods of the universe”. Another unique
    view is that of Christ as a man. Though Jesus Christ is revered by the
    Rezendrians for his message of peace he is revered in the way that people pay
    homage to Gandhi or Martin Luther King for their messages of peace and love.
    The story of Adam and Eve or the origin of humans is actually documented in
    their historical texts to be an allegory for shame which the Rezendrians feel
    separates man from beast and it was at the moment that Adam and Eve felt shame
    that the human race stepped out of the animal kingdom and became the masters of
    the earth so to say.

    Rezendrian Customs

    Rezendrian customs are also fairly
    unique but not completely foreign. The Rezendrians have a few translations of
    holy text that from the records I have found indicate that they are originally
    of Greek origin while others are from documents originally in Aramaic. Some of
    the texts that I have found written in the 12th Century AD make
    references to original documents and state that they are translations of
    documents that were originally housed in the Library of Alexandria. In one of
    the translations I found that the Rezendrians lived their lives without ever
    showing their face. One of the translated works that I have found makes
    reference to ancient Hebrew scripture translated from Greek that discusses
    hiding the face (in a way similar to the women of Islam) but this is not only
    practiced by Rezendrian women the act was practiced by Rezendrian men as well.
    Translated the practice is termed as “showing only the soul”. The hiding of the
    face is not meant as a way to hide the person but rather to hide the external
    person so the internal person; the spirit, the soul or the good will of the
    individual would show through. This practice is not one that would be
    considered cloistered or conservative. The practice was actually very liberal
    by today’s means in that though the people wore hoods to hide their faces most
    of the time the rest of their bodies were left uncovered. In order to show
    reverence to god the Rezendrians would “put on their best face” and simply put
    the wealthy would wear hoods made of silks and rarer fabrics that had great
    shine to them while people of more modest means wore simple leather hoods that
    were polished as best they could. These hoods from images that I have found
    look very similar to the hijabs worn by contemporary conservative Islamic women
    that reveal only the eyes. At first it seemed the practice of the head garb off
    as a mere ceremonial practice such as a person of the Jewish faith wearing a
    yamaka for Shabat or religious holidays. After further research I have found
    that all members of the Rezendrians wore their hoods from birth until death.
    Husbands never saw the faces of their wives and mothers never saw the faces of
    their children. To people living in a contemporary society these social
    phenomena might seem outrageous, absurd and slightly depressing. But when
    viewed in context the Rezendrians believed they had a greater connection with
    each other, as they were not concerned with the external details only the
    internal. One can imagine that this hiding of the face resulted in communities
    that were of a stronger bond due to the nature of relationships. What I mean by
    the nature of the relationship would be the primary focus on the individual as
    a person rather than as a face. In modern society we place such extreme
    importance on beauty and appearance that men will marry women for their looks
    rather than who they are and some people will use their natural attractiveness
    as an excuse for poor or rude behavior. The Rezendrians did not have these
    problems.

    Modern Rezendrian Practice:

    Modern Rezendrians can be divided into two groups based upon
    classification. Many Rezendrians in Northern Europe living in Russia,
    Scandinavia, Norway and Finland have taken the practice of Rezendria to two
    extremes. The Rezendrians tend to identify as non-denominationally Christian.
    They attend a Rezendrian service that is held within their own private Rezendrian
    community. The ceremonies are closed to the public but one of the more odd
    portions of modern Rezendria is the incorporation of modern rubber fetishes.
    For Rezendrian ceremonies Rezendrians wear an outfit that consists of one piece
    from head to toe and made of latex with nothing showing but their eyes,
    nostrils and mouth. As you can imagine the outfits are shiny and rather
    revealing and not what most people would consider appropriate in polite
    company, which would most likely be the primary reason behind their secrecy.
    The second group of modern Rezendrians is not as devout as the traditional
    Rezendrians. Traditional Rezendrians dress in these latex catsuits as a means
    of showing their bodies while having their bodies politely covered and while hiding
    their faces. The less traditional group focuses on the fetishistic appeal of
    Rezendria, these are modern fetishists that have taken up Rezendria because
    they find the religious views to be unobtrusive and it gives these individuals
    the opportunity to publicly dress in a way that gives them some sort of sexual
    pleasure. The more devout Rezendrians are very accepting and do not seem to
    mind the presence of this second group.

    From
    what I have learned from modern Rezendrians the ceremonies are conducted in
    candle lit outdoor temple gardens that are gated in by large white silk sheets
    that hang from stone pillars. The Rezendrians sit in silence for ten minutes
    and listen to the wind, smell the smells of the earth and simply appreciate the
    beauty around them. The people will then hum meeting the tones of the wind as a
    way to unify with the earth.

    Rezendrian Revival

    The Rezendrian practice has always been a private one. In
    almost every historical Epoch a singular religious sect governed a monarch or
    governing body and thus the Rezendrians have had to keep their activities
    private. The United States has been predominantly Christian with many of the
    more conservative religious groups demonstrating an intolerance for outside
    religious groups, which explains why they have gone relatively unnoticed in the
    United States. Rezendrians in the United States tend to be rather closeted in
    their beliefs and practices, which is why many wealthy Rezendrian have gotten
    together to attempt to bring the revival of Rezendria to the United States. The
    Rezendrians have provided a mission statement for the American groups in which
    they will help to start a traditional revival by the year 2015. By a
    traditional revival the Rezendrians are going to attempt to bring the American
    Rezendrians out of hiding and attempt to curb America’s path towards external
    physical values back to the more traditional values of loving the individual.
    Their attempt at creating a public awareness for the Rezendrian religion is
    tentatively slated to take place on New Years Eve 2016. At this time the
    Rezendrians will meet at a specific location (most likely in California to
    avoid decency laws) in their latex suits and most likely don their hoods
    permanently starting at midnight of the New Year. From the individuals and
    church leaders that I have spoken to about this America is going to be the
    first step back to traditional Rezendria. On midnight of the New Year all
    Rezendrians around the world will don their latex suits and their faces will be
    hidden from each other so their souls can shine forever.

    Potential Problems Resulting from Rezendrian Revival

    One of the potential problems resulting from the Rezendrian
    Revival will be the treatment of these individuals when seen in public.
    Rezendrian groups which are surprisingly large in number have generated support
    from groups that feel the movement could potentially be beneficial in
    eliminating racism in the United States. By seeing individuals as (for lack of
    a better explanation) colorful rubber people they are no longer allocated to
    being identified by a race. Many of these groups are working on legislation to
    allow Rezendrians access to schools, parks, restaurants and other
    establishments without discrimination based upon religion.

    Subjectively I feel the Rezendrian movement in the United
    States will only present a temporary problem. The Rezendrians will simply
    announce their presence, make themselves known and eventually due to the
    impracticality of their outfits they will return to wearing them only in religious
    ceremonies instead of as a permanent part of their daily lives.