Well, we covered the flops of 2019, but recapping the hits is a little easier because there is only one number to look for– how much a movie made. Of course, once you factor in production and advertising budgets, things can change, but for now, let’s look at the movies that made the most this year based purely on ticket sales. Of course, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last year, you already know what the #1 movie is. But did these others do as well, better, or worse than you thought?
Once again, this list is limited to genre films– science fiction, fantasy, and horror. That means that one major hit, Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ has been omitted. It is actually the second-highest-grossing movie of 2019, having earned $1.656 billion. That movie’s omission allowed the #10 movie on this list to slip in. What was it?
10. It: Chapter Two
Global Gross: $472.1 million
‘It: Chapter One’ became the highest-grossing horror movie of all time, earning over $700M, but the general consensus is that ‘Chapter Two’ fell short, despite director Andy Muschietti returning, along with the original kid cast and Pennywise actor Bill Skarsgård, and a star-studded grown-up cast of Losers, headed by Bryce Dallas Howard, Bill Hader, and James McAvoy.
What did you think? Did ‘It: Chapter Two’ live up to the first or not?
9. Hobbs & Shaw
Global Gross: $758.9M
Even though the majority of the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise would not qualify for coverage from this site, the addition of Idris Elba in the role of genetically enhanced supervillain Brixton Lore, a.k.a. “Black Superman” elevated this to comic book territory. Ironically, this performance was weaker than the regular ‘Fast & Furious’ movies, but generally speaking, it did pretty well.
It’s the only Dwayne Johnson movie on this list, but ‘Jumanji: The Next Level’ is hovering just outside of the Top Ten, and by the time it ends its theatrical run, may surpass ‘Hobbs & Shaw’.
8. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Global Gross: $761.7M (still in wide release)
My how the mighty have fallen. Yes, ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ just came out, but ‘The Force Awakens’ also opened in December of 2015 and wound up becoming the highest-grossing movie of that year in a matter of weeks. ‘Rogue One’ also opened in December of 2016 and came in at #2, behind ‘Captain America: Civil War’.
‘The Rise of Skywalker’ will continue to make more money in the coming month or so, but negative reactions to ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, as well as the ‘Star Wars’ thunder being somewhat stolen by Disney+’s ‘The Mandalorian’ have taken their toll on the film franchise. Luckily, Disney has announced plans to ease up on movies for a while, which will hopefully allow fans to recharge their desire to see more adventures on the big screen.
Global Gross: $1.05 Billion
‘Aladdin’ was a workhorse this summer. It debuted at #1, but dropped after one weekend. However, it remained in the Top Five for several weeks after the fact as other new blockbusters came and went. It wasn’t the splashiest hit but slow and steady won this race.
Global Gross: $1.062 Billion
The only R-rated movie on this list is also the only R-rated movie to ever make more than a billion dollars. On top of that, Warner Brothers saw this picture as a huge risk and would only greenlight it if director Todd Phillips could make it for less than $50 million, although it is believed that it actually ballooned to between $55-$70 million. Even so, by making more than $1 billion, this is likely the most profitable movie on the list.
Awards season buzz should drive DVD and Blu-Ray sales to sweeten this success.
5. Toy Story 4
Global Gross: $1.073 Billion
Sorry but this was probably the worst movie on this list– a needless sequel to a wonderful series that had already been beautifully wrapped up in 2010. ‘Toy Story 4’ slightly outperformed ‘Toy Story 3’ which earned $1.067M, but keep in mind, that’s not adjusted for inflation.
4. Captain Marvel
Global Gross: $1.128 Billion
There was some doubt that a female-fronted Marvel movie could perform as well as those starring better-known male heroes, but those doubts were smashed by ‘Captain Marvel’. It should be noted that unlike some characters, Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers didn’t appear in another movie before her solo installment. This film benefited from being the last Marvel pic before ‘Endgame’, so fans wanted to make sure not to miss anything that might pay off in that event film.
3. Spider-Man: Far From Home
Global Gross: $1.131 Billion
The introduction of Tom Holland’s geeky and youthful Peter Parker as part of the MCU was a crowdpleaser, following the lackluster reaction to Andrew Garfield’s take. Fans loved ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’, and the responded similarly to ‘Far From Home’, which continued to balance superhero fisticuffs with the awkwardness of adolescence.
This now stands as Sony’s highest-grossing movie of all time.
Following its release, fans were livid when Sony announced plans to carry on the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise without Marvel, but following the very vocal outcry, that decision was reversed.
2. Frozen II
Global Gross: $1.224 Billion (still in wide release)
Fans haven’t let their love for Anna and Elsa go in the six years since the first ‘Frozen’ shattered records, and they were there for the continuing adventures of the Royals of Arendelle, which included even more catchy songs, and adorable new characters just begging to be turned into plastic souvenirs.
Before we get to #1, there were numerous other accolades for the year. As you can tell from this list, Disney had an unprecedented year. It became the first studio to gross more than $10 billion in a year. Subsidiary Pixar became the first studio to produce four animated movies which made over $1 billion each, and ‘Toy Story 4’s debut weekend set a new record for the opening of an animated movie. And the Marvel Cinematic Universe secured its position as the highest-grossing franchise of all time.
Though it didn’t make this list, ‘Pokémon: Detective Pikachu’ had the best opening ever for a movie based on a video game.
Now, ready for the #1 movie of the year? No surprise there…
1. Avengers: Endgame
Global Gross: $2.797 Billion
The highest-grossing movie of 2019 is also the highest-grossing movie of all time, having dethroned ‘Avatar’, although James Cameron thinks the upcoming ‘Avatar’ sequels will take back that crown. (Both franchises are now from Disney.) ‘Avengers: Endgame’ was the culmination of eleven years worth of storytelling and followed up what may be the most gut-wrenching cliffhanger in film history, in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.
‘Endgame’ didn’t run away with the title of the highest-grossing movie of all time. Disney had to tack on some extra footage late in the run to entice viewers to return for additional viewings in theaters. But hey, it worked.
What were your favorite movies of 2019? Did any of these movies do better than you realized? Any movies that you thought would have been on this list that weren’t?