I know the year isn't quite over yet, but we're just about there, and I don't think the current numbers will be affected all that much by the end of this week, so here are your top grossing movies of 2011 according to Box Office Mojo.
As you can see, big-budget studio fare continues to dominate, which should be of absolutely no surprise to anyone.
The vast majority of these films had budgets over well over $100 million; some over $200 million, not even including marketing. And worth noting is that about half of these top grossers were poorly reviewed; some of them were almost universally panned, but that obviously didn't make any difference, indicating a well-enough documented disconnect between audiences and critics; or, to put it another way, reviews don't really mean shit for a lot of people.
One film of note which didn't make it into the top 10 grossers of the year, but was just outside of the group at the number 11 spot is the much-debated, polarizing Civil Rights era drama The Help. Yes, The Help raked in almost $170 million at the box office. To put that into some perspective, The Help, which had a significantly lower budget, when compared to the other films on this list (and within the top 50 grossers of the year really) at $25 million, made more money than movies that cost anywhere from 5 to almost 10 times as much, like X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, Super 8, Cowboys And Aliens, The Smurfs, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, Puss In Boots and so many others.
I'm sure execs at Disney are pleased. Don't be surprised if there's a sequel or prequel or something... and I'm not even kidding about that; though I don't know where the story would go.
The Help obviously then tops the list of films that tell stories with characters of African descent in central/starring roles (notice I didn't say *black films*). Behind it would be Tower Heist, which grossed just $76 million (I think expectations for it were higher, given the names involved both in front and behind the camera; plus it cost $75 million to make); then Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family at around $53 million; and then Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son which was the worst performer in the franchise, making just over $37 million, so let's hope we won't see anymore of them; and right behind it is Jumping The Broom also at just over $37 million (not bad for a film that reportedly cost about $7 million); next is Zoe Saldana's star turn as an action heroine in Colombiana which didn't do as well as I thought it would, both in the USA and overseas where Luc Besson's films tend to excel (it made about $36.5 million on a $40 million budget; it made even less in the international marketplace); after that there's a huge drop, all the way down to $7.7 million, where Kevin Hart's Laugh At My Pain concert film lands, a big success for CodeBlack; and after that there are several indie features and documentaries, all of which we covered on S&A, from the Tribe Called Quest doc, to the South African AIDS drama Life Above All, Qasim Basir's Mooz-Lum, Ava DuVernay's I Will Follow, Kinyarwanda, 35 And Ticking, Viva Riva, The First Grader, Being Elmo, and many more.
But I'll give those *smaller* indie films their own separate post later.
Pariah opesn today, so I'm counting it as a 2012 release, because I think it'll make much of its box office next year, not this year, with 3 days left before the ball drops.
Here's the top 10 box office grossers for 2011:
1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381,011,219
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon $352,390,543
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 $271,184,000
4 The Hangover Part II $254,464,305
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241,071,802
6 Fast Five $209,837,675 3,793
7 Cars 2 $191,452,396
8 Thor $181,030,624
9 Rise of the Planet of the Apes $176,711,822
10 Captain America: The First Avenger $176,654,505
11 The Help $169,425,912