'Deathly Hallows, Part 2' among several sequels to make it in the top 10.
By Kevin P. Sullivan
Harry Potter said goodbye to Hogwarts and movie theaters in 2011, but not without earning boatloads of cash along the way.
The boy who lived dominated the box office this past year with more than $1.3 billion worldwide, making him the undoubted winner in a less-than-stellar year financially for movies, but "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" wasn't the only sequel to succeed. Eight of the top 10 earners at the theaters belonged to sequels, prequels or remakes.
This trend is what Jeff Bock, box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations, sees as the big box office story of 2011, for good and bad. "You can't deny sequels' potency at the box office, with seven of the top 10 grossing films of 2011 being continuing sagas — eight if you count 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes,'" Bock said.
But not every movie with a number slapped onto the back of it fared as well as "Harry Potter." Bock pointed out that holiday sequels like "Happy Feet Two," "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" and "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," all underperformed compared to their predecessors.
"You could also argue that sequels are part of the problem, too," Bock said. "The domestic box office looks like it's going to come up short in terms of overall grosses and drop 3 percent versus last year, with attendance down nearly 5 percent — which will hit its lowest point in 15 years. That's a no-win for the entire industry."
"Bridesmaids" made $288 million worldwide on a budget of just $32 million, Bock said. "It was finally a coming out party for women of comedy," Bock said of what he called the "female 'Hangover.' " "Universal has already made plans for a sequel, and the brides-to-be are now flirting with A-list status."
Ryan Reynolds' most recent foray into the superhero realm did just the opposite. "This was supposed to be the next Batman for the studio, and it nearly turned into 'Howard the Duck,' " Bock said. "Well, it wasn't that bad, but when you spend $200 million on a film, you obviously expect to make more than $219 million worldwide. And that's not including all the marketing and print advertising that went into the big-budget blockbuster."
For 2012, Bock expects even more sequel domination, especially with the lineup of franchise films coming out next year. He predicts "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" will top with box office in the #1 and #2 slots, respectively, with "The Hobbit," "The Avengers" and "Men in Black 3" rounding out the top five.
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