To date, there are currently ten films that have crossed that almost unimaginable threshold of taking more than a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, a record first broken in 1998 by James Cameron’s epic, Titanic, which stayed at the top of the US box office for fifteen straight weeks, a record it still holds today.
Titanic stood alone in the $1bn. club for six years before being joined by Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and over the following years, it has since been joined by eight others, and has only ever been beaten in its worldwide gross by one, Cameron’s Avatar, which took almost $2.8bn. against Titanic’s $1.85bn.
Currently, the billion-dollar club looks like this, courtesy of Wikipedia, in order of highest to lowest:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
- Toy Story 3
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Dark Knight
Of course, there is certainly an argument to say that a list like this is meaningless, since it doesn’t account for inflation or ticket price variations, and thus makes it difficult to compare the films’ grosses. Nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that these ten films are the only ones to pass that boundary Titanic first leaped over just before the turn of the century.
In 2011, we saw three additions to the club, in the form of Harry Potter, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean, making it a record year for the number of films to reach that milestone. And so with that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate before the year’s coming blockbusters are released to make a few predictions of who might be joining the club this year.
Technically speaking, with its 3D re-release coming this week, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is looking like a very likely candidate. Its gross currently stands at just shy of $925m., and if the re-release of The Lion King in 3D last year is anything to go by, earning more than $100m. across the globe, then The Phantom Menace could well be the first one to be added to the list this year. (Though it could be argued either way as to whether or not a re-release’s earnings should be taken into account; I leave that up to you to decide.)
Looking forward, things start to get exciting. The candidates looking strongest this year are of course the superhero blockbusters, and we’ve got plenty to look forward to in 2012.