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2012 Box Office Recap: 'The Avengers,' 'The Hunger Games' Soar In Busy Year

2012 Box Office Recap: 'The Avengers,' 'The Hunger Games' Soar In Busy Year
12/28/2012 1:33 PM ET

With more ticket sales than in 2011, 2012 was another year dominated by event films, with "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Twilight" wrapping up lucrative franchises in a big way and franchise-starters "The Avengers" and "The Hunger Games" making enormous splashes with mainstream audiences. Here's a look at the eclectic set of movies that had the biggest impact at the box office as we close out 2012.

10) "The Vow," Sony/Screen Gems:

A small romantic comedy like "The Vow" can occasionally prove that the box office isn't only about big action blockbusters. The reviews weren't good (29% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but it didn't matter, as "The Vow" hauled in $125 million in the U.S. and just a shade under $200 million worldwide - very big totals for a $30 million production released in the middle of winter. Along with "21 Jump Street" and "Magic Mike," co-star Channing Tatum had three low-budget releases in 2012 that easily broke $100 million in the U.S.

9) "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2," Summit:

Following the precedent set by the "Harry Potter" franchise and splitting up its finale turned out to be a great move for "Twilight" as well. Both "Breaking Dawn - Part 1" and "Part 2" pulled in more than $700 million across the globe, with "Part 2" about to climb over the $800 million mark. Artistic limitations may have prevented the "Twilight" franchise from joining the $1 billion box office club, but "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" was yet another smash hit that marked the conclusion of one of the most profitable franchises in history.

8) "The Amazing Spider-Man," Sony/Columbia:

In many ways, "The Amazing Spider-Man" was a lukewarm reboot for one of the big screen's most popular superheroes. Andrew Garfield seems to be the right choice to head a new franchise, but limited domestic numbers have to be troubling for distributor Sony/Columbia. "Spider-Man 3" earned $336 million in the U.S. despite a whirlwind of negative criticism, yet reboot "The Amazing Spider-Man" managed only $262 million in the U.S. Though its $752 million worldwide total is far from horrible, "Spider-Man" needs a great follow-up film to get back to the level of the previous franchise. "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" is slated to kick-off the summer release schedule in May of 2014.

7) "Magic Mike," Warner Brothers:

Considering its minuscule budget of only $7 million, what "Magic Mike" did at the box office is nothing short of a phenomenon. "Mike" racked up a spectacular $113 million in the U.S., which was more than $200 million productions like "Battleship" and "John Carter" as well as other big-budget films like "Dark Shadows," "The Expendables 2," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Wrath of the Titans." With the enormous box office totals of "Magic Mike," it was also director Steven Soderbergh's most commercially successful film outside of the "Ocean's 11" trilogy.

6) "Ice Age: Continental Drift," Fox:

The "Ice Age" franchise hasn't completely caught on in the U.S. the way Pixar's animated films have, but the foreign numbers speak for themselves. Despite costing only $95 million to make, which is roughly half of what Pixar's "Brave" cost to produce, "Continental Drift" earned a whopping $875 million around the globe this year.

5) "The Dark Knight Rises," Warner Brothers:

Even if "The Dark Knight Rises" didn't exactly compete with "The Avengers," making $1 billion at the box office is nothing to sneeze at. Including "The Dark Knight" and "Inception," director Christopher Nolan's last three films have each grossed at least $800 million worldwide, which should let him write his own ticket from here on out after ending his Batman trilogy on a high note.

4) "Ted," Universal:

With a price tag of just $50 million, "Ted" was easily the least expensive movie to earn at least $500 million worldwide this year. Creator Seth MacFarlane made his feature debut an extraordinary commercial success despite nowhere near the amount of built-in fanfare of the superhero movies it competed with this summer.

3) "Skyfall," Sony:

As "Skyfall" creeps closer and closer to $1 billion in total revenue, the James Bond franchise is back in a big way, helping it rebound from the lackluster "Quantum of Solace." Though the Daniel Craig-era got off to a great start with "Casino Royale" in 2006, "Solace" threatened to derail the franchise with horrible reviews and disappointing box office numbers. With "Skyfall" clearing $280 million in the U.S. so far, up from the $168 million that "Solace" made, Bond has his most profitable run in theaters since Sean Connery was strapping on jetpacks back in the mid-60s.

2) "The Hunger Games," Lionsgate:

Though "The Dark Knight Rises" may have earned more overall money than this franchise-starter, the future looks very bright for "The Hunger Games," with new entries in the series hitting theaters each of the next three years. While the original "Twilight" finished well short of $200 million domestically, "The Hunger Games" cracked $400 million in the U.S. and was a big hit around the globe as well, setting the stage for "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" to put up some huge numbers next fall.

1) "The Avengers," Disney:

When you get enormous hype, a large built-in audience and a very well-made genre movie, you get a release like "The Avengers," which went on to earn more than $600 million in the U.S. and clear $1.5 billion around the globe. Writer-director Joss Whedon rises to the A-list of commercial action filmmakers and it's all but a certainty that we'll see more entries in what should be a very lucrative franchise.

Other big hits:

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," (Warner Brothers):

The numbers are still fairly impressive for Peter Jackson's new Middle-Earth franchise, but ticket sales appear to be well behind the pace of "The Lord of the Rings" series.

"Brave," Disney:

Though a far cry from animation studio Pixar's most successful films, "Brave" effortlessly put up more than $500 million around the globe and marks yet another lucrative film from the studio behind "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo." Next up for Pixar is "Monsters University," which is just about a lock to be a mega-blockbuster next summer.

"21 Jump Street," Sony/Columbia:

Though it was eventually overshadowed by the huge numbers of "Ted," "21 Jump Street" was another R-rated comedy that proved the right formula can still bring in some big box office numbers without a $100 million budget.

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," Paramount/Dreamworks:

"Madagascar" shows no signs of slowing down, as the critically respected third entry became the most successful in the franchise, grossing $216 million in the U.S. and $742 around the world.

by RTT Staff Writer

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