Top 10 Box Office Movies of 2010

By at December 28, 2010 | 1:30 pm | Print

2010 is the year that we, the moviegoers, were flooded with more 3D, more IMAX, a higher ticket price ($7.95 on average) — and more reason to question all three. Consider the widely reviled “tacked on” 3D elements in Clash of the Titans (I still despise the approach in Superman Returns), and the blanket use of 3D in everything from Yogi Bear to The Last Airbender. Perhaps the best use of 3D in 2010 comes from Jeff Tremaine, Johnny Knoxville and the rest of the knuckleheads in Jackass 3-D, reducing the technology to its “coming at ya!” roots in the name of a good, gross laugh (and, ahem, a $170 million global payday). Jackass 3-D may have made a splash (with a variety of fluids), but alas, it didn’t make the U.S. Top Ten Box Office list for 2010. That enviable position goes to the following films.

Animated Cast of Pixar's Toy Story 3

(figures accurate as of 12.26.10)
1. Toy Story 3 ($415 million)
Once again, Pixar combines critical adoration and commercial invincibility, delivering the only 2010 film to eclipse $400 million at the box office (over $1B globally). And the only major release of the year to score a 99 / 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. This coda to the beloved Toy Story trilogy has been called everything from a lovely, tearful take on parenting to a tale of existentialism. And the last movie to inspire that discussion was… I guess Toy Story 2?

2. Alice In Wonderland ($334 M)
Despite reports to the contrary, Tim Burton remains culturally relevant, at least in the movie-as-visual-feast category. Burton relied on his male muse, Johnny Depp, to sell the movie, and the talented Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right) to inhabit the title role. A big success for Buena Vista — who land a 1-2 punch with this and Toy Story 3 — but I personally don’t have that much interest in Burton films anymore. Planet of the Apes bored me enough for a decade to come.

Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., and Don Cheadle on the set of Iron Man 23. Iron Man 2 ($312 M)
Remember a little fantasy movie called Zathura? Directed by Jon Favreau, it earned — internationally — just about as much money as it took to make. Ouch. If not for Elf, Favreau may not have ever garnered a second thought in Hollywood. Boy, are those days behind him. This promising sequel, which sputters out after the first act, has earned over $600 million around the world, and set Favreau up for Cowboys & Aliens love, a great opportunity with Magic Kingdom, and probably whatever the hell else blockbuster he wants to tackle.

4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse ($301 M)
Welcome to the cinematic equivalent of boy bands. And it’s working for Summit Entertainment, as each Twilight film has outgrossed the one before it, no small feat. Eclipse played on more screens than any other 2010 film (4,468) and has brought the total U.S. Twilight box office take to $789 million… with two more films to come. I look forward to seeing Kristen Stewart and/or Robert Pattinson enjoying an actual wholesome meal onscreen in either of those upcoming chapters. Please guys, enough of the pale and skinny routine.

5. Inception ($293 M)
And now, an impressive anomaly in the current world of popular film: A massive hit not based on any book or movie, not animated, not a sequel. In fact, it’s the only such movie in the Top Ten, a brilliant mind-bending fantasy exercise that sprung up in the fertile (and conscious) mind of Christopher Nolan. This one initiated more conversation than The Dark Knight and, good lord, did people talk about that one. Inception opened over five months ago, and is still unspooling on a few dozen screens in the U.S.

Cast of Christopher Nolan's Inception

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I ($273 M)
Still making about $1 million a day in its current run, there’s plenty of magic left in this seventh(!) Potter chapter. You wanna see really big Harry Potter numbers? Deathly Hallows Part II will be a) the final film; b) in 3D; c) released in mid-July. Jackpot!

7. Despicable Me ($251 M)
Despite an unfriendly title, and a story that’s a little tough to describe in a 15-second TV commercial, the evil scientist, cute little Minions, and ceaseless Universal promotion on NBC added up to a winner. It’s made more money overseas than in the U.S., adding up to over half-a-billion bucks in total. Probably the best voice cast of the year, for whatever that’s worth.

Shrek Looks Worried in Shrek Forever After8. Shrek Forever After ($238 M)
Whoops. Looks like the ogre and his clan officially overstayed their welcome. This final Shrek chapter earned over $200 million less than Shrek 2. You know, in Yiddish, shrek means “worry”.

9. How To Train Your Dragon ($218 M)
A wonderful success story for Paramount and Dreamworks, Dragon opened modestly for an eventual Top Ten film ($43 million), and just kept plugging away via solid critical response, promotion and word-of-mouth. Comparatively, the sad little Valentine’s Day opened much bigger ($56 million) and ended up making half of Dragon’s money. Dreamworks could never have dreamed that only $20 million would be between this and Shrek 4.

10. The Karate Kid ($177 M)
Because the Smith family needs more success. Talented little bastard.

Top Smaller-Release Films
Under 3000 screens: The Town ($92 million)
Under 2000 screens: Black Swan ($29 M) (Note: If awards season is good to Darren Aronofsky’s latest, the film will probably go wider than 2000 screens. And even if it doesn’t, this number’s got plenty ways to go.)
Under 1000 screens: The Kids Are All Right ($21 M)
Under 500 screens: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ($10 M, a big hit on only 202 screens)
Under 200 screens: The Secret in Their Eyes (6.3 M)

(stats thanks Box Office Mojo)

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One Comment


  1. Kino-Man, 6 years ago Reply

    Iron Man 2 – The most favourite from all these films =)


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