March 2022 saw The Batman hit theaters and quickly earn the best opening weekend of the year, grossing $134 million domestically. It also made it the second film this year to smash $100 million at the box office, although it looks like the film industry is heading for an upswing as more and more people start returning to theaters for see their favorite movies. However, that was a long time coming.
In 2021, only 14 films surpassed the $100 million mark and in 2020, only two films crossed that mark. Compare that to 2019, where 30 movies grossed over $100 million, and it was clear the theatrical model was in trouble. However, looking closely at the hits, of the last 10 movies that broke $100 million, they all had something in common. Each film was part of a larger franchise.
The Batman (2022) – $164 million (still in theaters)
The Batman broke $100 million, which must have relieved Warner Bros. and DC. The movie was DC’s first comic book adaptation to break that mark since Shazam in 2019. Between these two films, Birds of prey ($84 million), Wonder Woman 1984 ($46.8 million) and The Suicide Squad ($55.8 million) all failed.
However, it is also important to note that Birds of prey was discontinued at the start of the pandemic and the next two films were both daily releases on HBO Max.
Uncharted (2022) – $103 million (still in theaters)
The video game based Unexplored was the first film in 2022 to smash $100 million at the box office and is a sign that things may be getting back to normal in theaters. The film, despite being the first in a series, was still based on an existing franchise.
For those who don’t know, Unexplored is based on a popular video game franchise. It also gained fans thanks to Spider-Man actor Tom Holland playing one of the lead roles, alongside Mark Wahlberg. It was also a slow climb, as it only opened with a $44 million weekend.
Sing 2 (2021) – $153.9 million
The following Sing 2 hit theaters Christmas 2021. While Christmas 2020 was terrible for theaters, things have bounced back thanks to several big releases this year. Sing 2 and its great characters brought families back to the movies together for the holiday season.
It only had a $22 million opening weekend, but it soared to $154 million domestically. Although this was a drop from the total box office of his first film, he largely beat that of Disney. Encanto nearly $60 million.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) – 787 million
The highest-grossing movie of 2021, by far, was Spider-Man: No Coming Home. The film has destroyed domestic numbers for all films since 2019, except for Avengers; End of Game. It had the highest domestic box office of any MCU movie, which was amazing considering the 2022 theater numbers.
It also ended with a worldwide take of $1.8 billion, and nothing has come close to that figure since 2019. It was the third-highest domestic box office in history and ranked sixth in the world.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) – $128.8 million
Last years Ghostbusters: Afterlifea direct sequel to the original two ghost hunters movies from the 1980s, was supposed to be released in 2020. However, the pandemic and theatrical closures forced Sony to push it back to 2021. It ended up being the best decision.
The film opened with a $44 million weekend, then continued with strong word-of-mouth to eventually reach $128.8 million at the domestic box office. The film also grossed nearly $70 million internationally, for a worldwide take of $197.3 million.
Eternals (2021) – $164.8 million
It should surprise no one that superhero movies still dominate the box office. While there are screams of superhero exhaustion, these are still the movies fans are going to see in droves, even when they’re heroes they’ve never heard of like the underrated Eternals.
Eternals hit theaters in November 2021 and ended up as the sixth highest-grossing film in the country. Although the film received less critical acclaim than those that accompanied it, Eternals was still earning $164.8 domestically and $398 million worldwide.
Dune (2021) – $108.1 million
In 2021, one of the biggest movies waiting to be released hit theaters. It was that of Denis Villeneuve dune. This film was based on a beloved sci-fi novel series by Frank Herbert and has legions of fans worldwide. However, it ended up in a day-and-date version with HBO Max.
This reduced its box office, and it still managed to barely crack $100 million domestically with its October release date. It reached $399 million worldwide and will receive a sequel.
No Time to Die (2021) – $160.8 million
It’s no secret that no time to die has been postponed more than almost any movie during the pandemic. Daniel Craig’s latest James Bond movie was supposed to be released in November 2019, but was pushed back to 2020, moved again, and then finally opened in September 2021.
In theatrical exclusivity, no time to die opened with a $55 million weekend and closed with $160.8 million domestically. While it’s a nice catch compared to other US releases, it had an excellent run overseas, with a take of $762 million.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) – $213.5 million
Another Marvel movie that experienced several delays was Sony’s release of the sequel. Venom: let there be carnage. Like its predecessor, this film was almost critic-proof, with fans knowing what they were getting in theaters.
After a $90 million opening weekend, the new Venom movie ended up grossing $213.5 million domestically, the third-highest take of 2021, beating Black Widow and Eternals. It also ended up at $501 million worldwide.
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) – $224.5 million
The top four movies of 2021 were all Marvel movies, one from Sony, and three set in the MCU. Released in September Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings brought another new character to the MCU and made more money than any film in the country since 2020 outside of Spider-Man: No Coming Home.
The film earned $224.5 million domestically and $417.9 million worldwide. It was one of only three films to break $200 million domestically since the pandemic began, and all three were based on Marvel Comics superheroes.
NEXT: All 9 MCU 2021 Releases, Ranked Worst To Best
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