The 25 Highest-Grossing Films of 2012

We talk about domestic box office a lot, but international markets are where the real money is made. In fact, of the 25-highest-grossing movies worldwide, the smallest percentage of total budget earned internationally was 59 percent. This could go a long way to explaining why movies aren’t better, since with few exceptions, broad strokes are what play in foreign markets (and/or are what studios think will play, and thus spend a buttload of marketing money on). You know how the French are, they can barely tell a skunk from a cat that got paint spilled on it.

Pajiba already did the heavy lifting here, so I’m just going to have a cigarette and let the block quote do the work.

First, some fun facts: Internationally, the top ten all-time movies added two new entries this year, The Avengers at number three, and The Dark Knight Rises at number seven. Although it didn’t perform as well as The Dark Knight domestically, Rises bested it internationally by $200 million.

Which could add some credence to the theory that the Aurora shooting hurt TDKR‘s box office. Not that that even rates in terms of important impacts of the Aurora shooting, but there you go.

Meanwhile, Skyfall became the highest gross Bond film to date (and the first to cross $1 billion worldwide). Among the year’s top 25 films internationally, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (61 percent) and The Hunger Games (59 percent) were the movies with the highest percentage of their box office from North America, while The Intouchables (97 percent) and Ice Age: Continental Drift (81 percent) were the two films with the most box-office proceeds from overseas.

The highest grossing original property was Brave, followed by Ted, which was also the highest grossing comedy of the year. Titanic 3D was the highest grossing film not originally released in 2012, and two films considered box-office failures in the United States (Battleship and John Carter) both broke the top 25.

1. The Avengers— $1.5 billion

2. The Dark Knight Rises — $1.081 billion

3. Skyfall — $1 billion

4. Ice Age: Continental Drift — $875 million

5. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II — $799 million

6. The Amazing Spider-Man — $752 million

7. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted — $742 million

8. The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey — $692 million [so far]

9. The Hunger Games — $686 million

10. MIB 3 — $624 million

11. Brave — $535 million

12. Ted — $501 million

13. The Intouchables — $420 million

14. Prometheus — $402 million

15. Snow White and the Huntsmen — $396 million

16. Taken 2 — $365 million

17. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax — $348 million

18. Titanic 3D — $343 million

19. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island — $325 million

20. Hotel Transylvania — $311 million

21. Life of Pi — $304 milllion

22. Battleship — $302 million

23. Wrath of Titans — $302 million

24. Expendables 2 — $300 million

25. John Carter — $282 million

John Carter famously cost $250 million to make, and Daily Beast claimed it needed to earn $400 million to break even, putting Disney’s estimate of a $200 million loss a bit high, but not out of the realm of possibility. Which is sad because… it wasn’t that bad. As far as silly fantasy movies go, it was much better than The Hobbit. I’m sure lots will be made of why John Carter wasn’t a hit – no loin cloths! no more movies set on Mars! the aliens should be blue! no more manipulating gravity, it doesn’t play! –  but to really get a fair comparison of box office appetites, we’d have to go back to the first Lord of the Rings, rename it “Frodo Baggins,” and have all the marketing consist entirely of reminding you that the main character’s name was Frodo Baggins.

“You are… Frodo? Frodo Baggins?”

“I am, Frodo, Frodo Baggins – of the Shire.”

(*cue action montage set to dub step*) (*cut to chanting crowd*)


If we learn anything from 2012, let it be that naming your film after your protagonist’s boring name is a horrible idea. “This summer, Humphrey Bogart in… RICK BLAINE…”