Year in Review: The Biggest Box Office Year of All-Time

Welcome to the 2009 Reject Report Box Office Year in Review, and what a year it was. Despite a raging recession that began the year and wreaked havoc on most other aspects of the entertainment industry, movie theaters continued to make more money than ever: over $10.5 billion, a new domestic record.

It was also a very weird year when it came to the box office. Usually the summer is known for the big box office numbers, but we had a much stronger early-winter period than usual, and November and December were through the roof with The Twilight Saga: New Moon setting midnight and opening day records in November. Now, we have Avatar in release and continuing to roll week after week. In fact, it just made it to $309 million on Friday to become the second-highest grossing movie of 2009 releases.

Avatar’s performance at the domestic box office so far makes it kind of difficult for me to do a rundown of the 2009 releases, because that movie is still in theaters and still making money, so much so that it make be the Number One movie of 2009 at the box office in just a matter of time, ahead of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. With that said, here’s a look at the Top Ten releases of 2009 as they stood after Friday’s numbers came in:

10. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – $196,573,705
This spot on the ladder could still be in jeopardy as Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquelcontinues to make a lot of money. But for now, the consistently money-making prehistoric funny animals remain part of the Top Ten at the box office for 2009.

9. Monsters vs. Aliens – $198,351,526
This was one of the movies that made 2009 the Year of 3D, as the CGI-animated creatures opened at $59 million in March and kept on rolling during the spring.

8. The Blind Side – $200,938,000 (and still counting)
One of the surprise hits of the fall, The Blind Side was another one of Sandra Bullock’s big hits from the year (the other was The Proposal which made $163 million) and also helped lead a big November and December at the movie theaters.

7. Star Trek – $257,730,019
The big breakout hit of the early portion of the summer, the latest in the sage of Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise opened in first place at $75,204,289.

6. The Hangover $277,322,503
I had to do a double-take when I saw this number. Are you kidding, The Hangover actually beat Star Trek?! Yes it did, and it beat a lot of other movies as well as the ultimate boys’ night out because the biggest surprise hit of 2009, starting with its surprise opening weekend on top of the box office in June at $44,979,319.

5. The Twilight Saga: New Moon $285,858,000 (and counting)
The saga is not yet completed on the box office story of New Moon, which had the biggest opening weekend at $142,839,137, the biggest Friday opening day of all time at $72.7 million, and the biggest midnight movie box office opening of all time at $26.3 million. It is still in theaters, still making money, and has a shot at getting past the movie currently occupying the number 4 spot for – the year:

4. Up – $293,004,164
Its opening weekend was $68,108,790. One word, folks: PIXAR. (Oh, and did we mention it was in 3D?)

3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – $301,959,197
It set the midnight record when it came out, but the top of the box office charts for 2009 just wasn’t to be for this latest long-awaited installment in the successful Harry Potter series.

And now here is where it gets interesting:

2. Avatar – $309,011,000 (and counting)
Interestingly, while its opening weekend of $77,025,481 was no record-setter, the movie has just kept on doing good business in week two and week three, so much so that it clearly has Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in its sights.

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – $402,111,870
Its opening week came close — but no cigar — to topping the opening day and five-day hauls of The Dark Knight. Now, with Avatar doing so well, it may not even hold on to the top spot for the entire year. Still, $402 million is a ridiculous amount of money for any movie, let alone one for Michael Bay.

Revenge of the Fallen represented the best box office of the year for Megan Fox, but it sure seems like the Transformers franchise is the only one which she stars in that makes any money. Her Jennifer’s Body sure didn’t get many customers, raking in only $16,204,793 for its entire run.

Still, I’m not going to give that movie the title of Box Office Disappointment of the Year: No, that title belongs to a movie called Bandslam. What? You never heard of it? Well, no one went to it, that’s for sure. In its opening weekend in wide release in 2121 theaters, it managed to achieve the impossible and didn’t even make the Top Ten! Its total domestic haul was a terrible $5,210,988! This was in spite of the fact that Vanessa Hudgens was in it and a lot of people had good things to say about it. Well, it flopped bigtime and was my logical choice for Box Office Disappointment of the Year by a big margin.

It was a little difficult figuring out which movie deserved the annual “Disappointment of the Year” honor, to be honest. So many movies made big money this year, including a ton of horror movies in the spring (Friday the 13th), not to mention one particularly scary movie that became a phenomenon in the fall.

No list of this kind could be complete without mentioning the impact made by the biggest breakout movie of the fall: Paranormal Activity. Made on a shoestring budget of about $15,000, this movie became The Blair Witch Project of 2009 and racked up the biggest profit margin of any movie of all time, with a haul of $107,783,000.

So that was an amazing and unpredictable year in review. Who would have thought that Paranormal Activity and The Hangover would have been such hits going into 2009? Who knew that so many tweenage girls were interested in going to the movies and making a hit of New Moon? It’s safe to say that conventional wisdom was turned on its head this year, but why should we be surprised? Every year there is something new to surprise the box office watchers, and 2010 will be no exception?

Who will be the box office champion of 2010? Wall Street 2? Iron Man 2? Sex and the City 2? Toy Story 3? How about this one: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Who knows? We’re still waiting to find out who the 2009 champ will be. Stay tuned.

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