2013 Domestic Box Office to Reach Record (and Other Interesting Factoids)

China again drives overseas totals up 4%-5% over last year, according to early estimates

Write it down in the history books: 2013 was another record-setting year at the domestic box office.

Thanks to a robust Christmastime play period, which is estimated to be more than 10% up over last year, total B.O. is just $1.6 million behind the $10.837 billion record tally set in 2012, with two (three counting New Year’s day) days left to lift 2013 grosses even higher.

PHOTOS: Box Office: Top Grossing Films of the Year

Meanwhile, early estimates show that international totals are between 4% and 5% higher than 2012, driven again by the booming Chinese box office.

So far, domestic B.O. has amassed $10.836 billion, with totals potentially reaching the $11 billion mark for the first time ever through Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Was a Schizophrenic Year at the Box Office

Even as Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” bulldozed through the fourth quarter, grossing more than $391 million domestically through Sunday, the Stateside B.O. crown still goes to Disney-Marvel’s “Iron Man 3,” which raked in almost $410 million. In fact, “Iron Man 3” so far stands as the only $1 billion global grosser this year when last year there were four. (“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” could reach those heights in 2014, however.)

Here are some other interesting highlights from the 2013 box office:

  • Spreading the wealth — The 2013 nine-figure club currently stands at 31, the same count as last year. But there could be at least three more films to cross $100 million over the next few months, including Par’s “Anchorman 2,” which is at $83 million domestically, and Sony’s “American Hustle,” at $60 million with plenty of gas left in the tank.
  • Franchise frenzy –This year, there were more sequels/prequels figuring in the top 10 with seven (counting “The Hobbit”) vs. last year’s six.
  • Toon uptick — With “Frozen” becoming Walt Disney Animation Studio’s second-highest grossing film, behind “The Lion King,” animated features figured more prominently among the 2013 top 10. Along with “Frozen” are Disney-Pixar’s “Monsters University” and Universal’s “Despicable Me 2.” (Last year had two toons in the top 10.)
  • Market share mix-up — Warner and Disney led the pack in 2013, while last year’s champ, Sony, dropped to fourth place after a troubling year. And for the second year in a row, Paramount ranks in seventh place as Lionsgate takes fifth.
  • Summertime madness — It’s still a summer/winter holiday game at the B.O. Only two of the top 10 films — “Gravity” and “Oz the Great and Powerful” — were released outside that period.

Looking ahead, the box office doesn’t appear to get any lighter during the summer, especially in 2015, when at least a dozen franchise and superhero pics already are slated to bow between May and August.

In 2014, the summer load is slightly less, with pics like “Spider-Man 2” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction” expected to dominate.

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  1. BillB says:

    With regards to Truth’s comments on 12/30 – exactly! Most of my serious movie fan friends have major problems with movie prices, and only attend for something special. One just mentioned that he & his wife spent nearly $50 for two tix and popcorn (granted they attended an ‘IMAX’ show). When even as a senior it costs me almost $10 for a ‘traditional’ ticket, and a small popcorn is at least $5, ditto the smallest beverage, moviegoing is prohibitively expensive. Add the extremely short time between theatrical and DVD release (and of course downloads, illegal and otherwise) and most people I know only attend a theater for something spectacular (which is why most good action and/or dramatic movies, even with major A-list actors, hardly register at the box office) – and with 75″ HD TVs and now 4K HD TVs appearing, attendance will continue to decline, which will force still higher prices, etc… The ‘gravy train’ is leaving the station!

    • CMarks says:

      Locally we have 2 second run multiplexes each with their own $1.75 senior day (one Tuesday and the other Thursday). For $3.50 two of us can enjoy a movie usually just a few weeks after it was released. By avoiding the concession stand we save upward of $12 which we can put toward a sit-down meal after an enjoyable matinee. Less than $30 for a movie and dinner for 2.

  2. Truth says:

    It’s interesting how the “great” Variety forgets to mention that while the Box Office is at record levels (aided by astronomically high ticket prices), actual movie theater attendance is flat from last year and has been on a steady decline for a decade. The only reason Hollywood generates profit is because of the high (and ever increasing) ticket prices. Enjoy the gravy train now … but sooner or later the balloon always pops.

  3. James Walton says:

    I’m a little confused about the report and information provided. I find it hard to believe that 2013 surpassed 2012 at the box office. 2012 certainly broke several B.O records, including B.O totals. Here’s something to ponder on…2012 had 3 movies to surpass $400 million, including one that was 600 million, 4 movies that broke 300miilion and plent of movies that grossed 200 million or more. 2013 only had one movie to break 400 million domestic total and several more closer to 300 million. The math just doesn’t add up. I’m looking at 2013 top box office films and they are no where near what 2012 films grossed. Please explain.

  4. CMarks says:

    Record setting year. Assisted greatly by record setting ticket prices.

  5. Roger-Pierre says:

    As someone who has been an abide reader and subscriber to Variety for over 40 years, it bothers me that you would mis-use the word factoid, which Ted Turner and his channel have already maligned for years!

    A factoid is “something fictitious or unsubstantiated that is presented as fact, devised especially to gain publicity and accepted because of constant repetition.”

    Roger Pierre

  6. Contessa46 says:

    Just goes to show the film industry that if you make good films, the people will attend! Make awful films and we stay away. With this I formation, you have every obligation to bring back the production of films to the U.S. A. And show your patriotism and put Americans to work in America!

    • LOL says:

      All of the American films were crap. The Chinese love American crap, too. The problem is that the entire world is watching American crap. There are no good American films anymore.

    • Bill says:

      The biggest earner of the Christmas frame was shot in and its effects done in New Zealand.

    • Smooth says:

      Patriotism doesn’t guarantee a good film. I guess it’s american films you’re speaking of, not just good films.

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