I recently came across a list of the films that are in the "Billion Dollar Movie Club."
These are movies that have earned over $1 billion at the box office. So far there are only 50 movies that have ever been made that have crossed this line. This became fascinating to me, so I did a little bit of an analysis of the movies listed and this is what I discovered.
(Keep in mind that these are not adjusted for inflation. If they were, this list would be much longer and include movies like Gone with the Wind and the original Star Wars. One day I may look at the inflation-adjusted list, but for now, I will look at the actual numbers).
Here is the list:
The oldest movie that has crossed $1 billion is Jurassic Park from 1993.
Almost all the movies on this list are sequels, prequels, remakes, or parts of existing franchises. Of the 50 movies on this list, only six are original films or the first in a franchise (Avatar, Frozen, Jurassic Park, The Lion King (1994), Titanic, and Zootopia).
In terms of franchising, Marvel has everyone by a mile, with 10 movies, making up 20% of the list. So you can understand why every movie studio is trying to create their own cinematic universe. Once Avengers became their mega-hit, they've been able to crank out consistent box office champions. Star Wars is the next most represented franchise, with four films. which includes ALL of the Sequels, Rogue One and The Phantom Menace. After that, you have 4 DC properties, 3 of them are Batman related (The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Joker) and one in the DCEU (Aquaman).
If you look at it by studio, Disney has over half of the movies on this list, which is incredible when you think about it. This includes 8 Marvel movies and 4 Star Wars movies. But the rest are mostly their children's movies including 4 PIXAR films (Finding Dory, Incredibles 2, Toy Story 3, Toy Story 4). But this also includes 2 Pirates of the Caribbean films: Dead Man's Chest and On Stranger Tides.
Warner Bros has the next highest number with 8, which includes the above-mentioned DC movies as well as the first and the final Harry Potter movies as well as 2 Middle-Earth movies (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey).
Universal comes in 3rd with 7, that includes movies in three franchises: Jurassic Park, Fast and Furious, and Despicable Me.
In terms of which directors have the most movies on this list, its Joe and Anthony Russo with Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. Other than them, 12 other directors have 2 movies on this list:
-Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee: Frozen 1 and 2
-Christopher Nolan: The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises
-James Cameron: Titanic, Avatar
-James Wan: Furious 7, Aquaman
-JJ Abrams: The Force Awakens, The Rise of Skywalker
-Jon Watts: Spider-Man: Far from Home, No Way Home
-Joss Whedon: Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron
-Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin: Minions, Despicable Me 3
-Michael Bay: Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Age of Extinction
-Peter Jackson: LOTR: The Return of the King and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
In terms of sequels:
-6 are Part 1
-6 are Part 2
-5 are Part 3,
-5 are Part 4
-1 is Part 5
-1 is Part 6
-2 are Part 7
-2 are Part 8
-1 is Part 9
Some were not counted as sequels, but as part of existing franchises. Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was a kind of sequel to the original animated, so I wasn't sure how to count it. 3 movies are remakes.
Discovering the genre of each is tricky, since many movies cross over into multiple genres. But in the simplest terms, the genre with the highest number of films is Super Hero with 15. The next highest is SciFi with 13.
Of the 50 movies, 12 are ones where the lead character is female.
Of the 50 movies, 11 are animated, only one of which is hand-drawn. The rest are computer animated.
As I stated above, every Hollywood Studio wants to be Marvel. Disney has learned how to capitalize on branding to great success. The reason why Hollywood is less likely to spend a huge amount of money on original ideas is because most of the films in this list are from already proven properties with built-in audiences.
The real outlier here is Titanic. It is a completely original movie with no possibilities for franchising that is not a Disney property and it is neither a superhero or SciFi film. It is a romantic historical tragedy. Keep in mind as well that this 3rd oldest movie on this list, so it does not enjoy the inflationary advantage that most of these other movies have. Looking back, it makes me appreciate even more what an utter phenomenon Titanic was.
I've seen all of the movies on this list except for one (Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland). There are few truly great movies on this list. Many are good to decent. There is only one that I would say is bad (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom). What this tells me is that generally audiences like good movies. The truly bad or the truly excellent may not always be pleasing to the widest audience. Of the movies on this list 8 fall were awarded by Best Movie of the Year (Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Avengers: Infinity War, Joker, and Spider-Man: No Way Home).
What are your thoughts?