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2013 Box Office Scorecard: Hits, Flops and Studio Summaries (CHARTS)

Photo of Tom Brueggemann By Tom Brueggemann | Thompson on Hollywood January 15, 2014 at 4:27PM

It's nice for studios to boast about market share, but what really matters in these challenging times is profits and losses and returns on investment. Now that most of the year-end films have sorted themselves out, we dig into which 2013 films were hits or misses (or something in between), based on worldwide results.
'Catching Fire'
'Catching Fire'

5. Lionsgate

Repeating at #5 (a placement that first came about in 2012 because of their merger with Summit), and doing so with only one of their two big franchises in play ("Twilight" finished, but the second "Hunger Games" film managing to top all 2013 releases in domestic gross while doing far better overseas than the first one), this should be a positive result for the non-studio that is increasingly among the big guys.

Eisenberg interview
Eisenberg interview

But a closer look at their figures shows a lot of movies that fell short of expectations, some of them expensive, and worse yet, from usual profit centers. These include two from Tyler Perry (the drama "Temptation, neither starring nor directed by him and "A Madea Christmas"), in a year which saw several African-American films soar. Summit's sequel "Red 2" managed to lose whatever the first entry made. Lionsgate's horror entries lacked the oomph of earlier years, with "Texas Chainsaw 2" and "You're Next" ordinary at best. 

Summit's would-be series starter "Ender's Game" looks unlikely to spawn more than red ink. Older stars soared elsewhere, but Sylvester Stallone's "Last Stand" and the all-star Medicare comedy "The Big Wedding" didn't join in. (Not all of these films were in-house productions, Lionsgate tends to make deals with outside partners  more than other studios.)

Two films stand out as examples of Lionsgate/Summit at its best, and an example of their core creativity still at play. The biggest was "Now You See Me," which with limited advance attention managed to take in almost $350 million worldwide on an initial $75 million budget. And perhaps the one with the longest-term consequences was "Instructions Not Included," the Mexican Spanish-language comedy that with their partners Pantelion they managed to yield $45 million with targeted, limited marketing costs. Lionsgate for years was in the foreground of mining the African-American market. If anyone can find a way to turn the larger Latino market into a niche, it's Lionsgate.

Blockbusters: 1, Smashes: 1, Hits: 1, Low-budget hits: 2, Recoupers: 5, Flops: 6

The Croods

6. 20th Century Fox

Their market share stayed the same, but it felt like an off year for Fox. Their top domestic grosser, DreamWorks Animation's "The Croods," ranked only #14 ("Turbo" was less successful). But Fox managed to turn three other films into solid successes --"X-Men" spin-off  "The Wolverine," (which did particularly well foreign), their in-studio animated hit "Epic," and most profitably their female buddy cop "The Heat."

They were lucky that most of their underperformers and flops were lower-budgeted - Fox has none of the year's top losers. Their final film of the year was Ben Stiller's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," which got its reported $90 million cost economically on screen to great effect, was much anticipated, and now looks like a small money-loser (depending on how international performs). 

Blockbusters: 1, Smashes: 2, Hits: 2, Underperformers: 5, Flops: 6

7. Paramount

'World War Z'
'World War Z'

When has a studio with a #7 place in marketshare looked so good? With only eight wide-release films in 2013, they may not have lost money (only $25-million Michael Bay film "Pain and Gain," had to struggle). The odds at the start of the year that their three most expensive productions - "Star Trek Into Darkness," "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and particularly "World War Z" would all make money looked slim, but they did, with particularly good foreign numbers ("Star Trek" foreign for the first time in the series outperformed domestic).

Add to that two revitalized franchises, with "Anchorman 2" breaking out a Christmas and the Jack-Ass series coming back strong with "Bad Grandpa," a horror hit with "Hansel and Gretel," and year-end distribution deal "Wolf of Wall Street" looking to be a global hit, and another potentially high profile Oscar contender in "Nebraska" (though it is not at this point a moneymaker), and it looks like Paramount will be a model for other studios to try to emulate. According to Viacom chief Philippe Dauman, during a period when there's little margin for error, it's easier to effectively make and market ten to fifteen films than a larger slate.

Smashes: 1, Hits: 5; Underperformers: 1, Recoupers: 1


Forest Whitaker in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
Forest Whitaker in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."

At #8, the Weinstein Company nearly doubled its 2012 share, helped by its deft handling two early year major performers, "Django Unchained" and "Silver Linings Playbook," both of which made most of their money in 2013. But perhaps their most impressive achievement was "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which with all marketing cylinders ablaze didn't gross that much less.

Relativity stayed at 9th with a much increased release schedule, with only "Insidious Chapter 2" a clear hit. Most of the rest either will recoup a little or fall short, but at least their budgets are under control.

#10 Film District has now been folded into Universal, and supplanted most of the current staff at Focus Features. Their excellent work in with "Olympus Has Fallen" (after "Now You See Me," the sleeper of the year, although it was expensive) was enough reason to capture a studio's attention.

2013 Hits and Flops charts are below.

This article is related to: Box Office, Box Office, Box Office

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.