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.
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.
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.