Since the coming of Jaws every year has been graced with a box office hit amid the many flops. It doesn’t matter what people though of it, if it was considered a flop, a mess, or anything else, these movies were considered the top hits of the year and the best that Hollywood had to offer.
Jaws of course rounds out the list to start with and is followed swiftly after by Rocky, which was a vaguely underappreciated film in its own time. Rocky didn’t gross anywhere near as much as Jaws and was outdone yet again the year after its release when Star Wars came out and simply astounded fans all over the world. The bar was set ridiculously high after that and not even the ever-popular Grease could touch Star Wars’ numbers when it came out. Moonraker didn’t even come close, and even the sequel to Star Wars that came out in 1980, The Empire Strikes Back, couldn’t compete with the original, but it did better than Moonraker and Grease.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was a little underwhelming when it came to the box office but ET hit one out of the park when it was released. For a long time it seemed like fantasy and scifi were the preferred genres of the masses, but even with a solid showing by Return of the Jedi was followed by an eventual downward slide that wouldn’t stop until around 1990 when Ghost came out and started the box office hits back on their upward trend. In 1993 Jurassic Park came out and crossed the billion dollar mark, but things started leveling out again until they hit another definite low in 1995 when Die Hard with a Vengeance came out. Ever notice how Bruce Willis movies seem to drop the box office value?
I would agree that it’s a lot of hooey except for the fact that in 1997 Titanic hit the 2 billion dollar mark and kept going, and was followed the year after by Armageddon, which didn’t even pull in half as much as a love story about a sinking ship. That’s okay however because in 1999 Star Wars: The Phantom Menace came out and cleared over a billion worldwide, setting the trend again as the box office numbers started to level out at anywhere from $800 thousand to one billion if not more. This was the age of Transformers, Harry Potter, Shrek, Batman, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course 2009’s movie wonder, Avatar, which came very close to hitting the 3 billion dollar mark.
Since Avatar things have been holding pretty steady, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens pulling in well over 2 billion in 2015 and Captain America: Civil War holding steadily over 1 billion in 2016. The box office numbers have fluctuated a lot over the past forty years, but they’ve been on a serious upswing in the last twenty.
I’d say that despite streaming, despite the decline in movie stores, and definitely despite the rise in ticket prices, people are still more than willing to plunk their butts down in a seat for two hours and be entertained just as they’ve been doing for generations now.
Long live the cinema.
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