Robots and Aliens and Wizards, Oh My!
OK, so James Cameron might fuck this up yet, as his Avatar takes down records left and right in its climb towards Titanic's all-time gross, but as of right now, it's only the second-biggest movie of 2009. Granted, number one -- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($402 million domestic) -- had all summer to work its magic, while number two Avatar ($352 million as of this writing) cracked a billion bucks worldwide in just over two weeks (T:ROTF never even made it that high).
Third place went to the sixth Harry Potter film with $301 million, only failing to top the very first one in its success. Fourth place was Pixar's Up with $293 million, besting last year's WALL-E (hey, kids love 'em some Ed Asner). And fifth place went to New Moon with $287 million, although I can't help but wonder how this sequel might've done if the above-mentioned Potter sequel didn't move from last Thanksgiving and effectively give the original back its fan base.
Surprises are in store hereafter, as the sixth-ranking The Hangover took in a remarkable $277 million to become the biggest R-rated comedy of all time. I may not think the flick's all that, but hey, it was cheap to make, had a hell of a hook and was powered throughout the summer by good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. (I fully expect this spring's Hot Tub Time Machine to lift its marketing campaign in coming months out of hopes of emulating its success. I can just see the blurbs comparing the two now...)
In eighth place was the biggest sports drama of all time (Rocky inflation notwithstanding), The Blind Side, with $209 million. Star Sandra Bullock also boasted the sixth-biggest rom-com of all time with The Proposal ($163 million), as well as the 107th-biggest with All About Steve ($33 million, what-WHAT!).
On the low-budget sleeper-success end of things, District 9 and Paranormal Activity were each cleverly marketed to grosses above $100 million, while some would argue that the hastily-assembled This is It was the biggest concert film ever with its $72 million domestic/$252 million worldwide take. I never did see the film, but I think that a film cobbled together from outtakes and fundamentally intended to never be released beyond the man's own collection constitutes some sort of exception.
But maybe that's just me.