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The 10 Biggest Box Office Hits of 2010

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | January 3, 2011 |

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | January 3, 2011 |

What do the ten highest grossing films of 2010 tell us about movie-going audiences? That teenagers and kids still control the box office (especially kids), that adult-geared movies are still rare blockbusters, and sequels still continue to dominate (taking five of the top ten spots, plus one remake). As huge blockbusters go, it was a tepid year, the one wrinkle being the proliferation of 3D movies. There were no game-changing films or trend-setting flicks. Somebody needs to go Kurt Cobain on Hollywood.

10. The Karate Kid $176 million — The biggest action remake of all time, and the second biggest martial arts film of all time (behind Rush Hour 2, which also starred Jackie Chan), The Karate Kid was actually much better than I expected it would be. I absolutely did not hate it. I’m not proud of thinking it, but the Will Smith spawn are really fucking adorable.

9. How to Train Your Dragon $212 million — The kid’s feel-good hit of the year, a sleeper hit that slowly worked its way over $200 million based on impeccably good word of mouth. Hell, even TK was won over by this one. It’s also officially the first good dragon movie of all time (shut up, Reign of Fire defenders).

8. Shrek Forever After $238 million — This goddamn film actually made another $501 million internationally, and though it was the least highest grossing over the four Shrek movies, a $740 million worldwide gross certainly suggests a fifth is not out of the question. Damnit.

7. Despicable Me $251 million — Of all the animated movies that featured a villain protagonist, Despicable Me was the biggest! It also has the 186th best 11th weekend of all time.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I $283 million — Interestingly, despite the increase in ticket prices over the last decade, this seventh installment was only the fifth highest grossing of the seven. But with $283 million (and another whopping $587 million worldwide), I understand they’re actually breaking Part II into seven different 20 minute movies, and there’ll be an Easter Egg in the final one that will only be revealed after you’ve seen it six times.

5. Inception $292 million — Of the top ten films, this is the only one I legitimately loved enough to see twice this year. Spoiler: The Inception narrative was just as straightforwardly clear the second time. Great movie, but I’ll never understand all the print devoted to unraveling the “mystery” of Inception. The top either stopped spinning and he was in reality, or it didn’t stop spinning and he was in a dream.

4. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse $300 million — After nearly a century of vampire and werewolf films, this one is the biggest grossing one of all time. Thanks. Thanks a lot, teenage girls. Did anyone else read The Hunger Games and feel uncomfortable with the fact that Stephenie Meyer blurbs all three? I don’t know much about The Hunger Games trilogy besides what’s on the page and that Gary Ross will be directing the movie, but is it possible to write a series that so perfectly combines Harry Potter and Twilight, and will those Hunger Games fans be disparaged the same way Twilight fans are?

3. Iron Man 2 $312 million — More than any other huge film in 2010, this one aged the worst. I really liked it when I saw it, but I’ve soured on it considerably since then. It’s not backlash as much as it’s been simply apathy.

2. Alice in Wonderland $334 million — This is what happens when there’s absolutely nothing else to see in March and April. I think it benefited hugely from the 3D phenomenon — which was at its peak, post Avatar — and will probably be the last 3D movie to benefit as much from 3D, thanks to movies like Clash of the Titans and The Last Airbender tarnishing the luster.

1. Toy Story 3 $415 million — Biggest movie of the year. Second biggest 3D movie of all time. Biggest Pixar movie to date. Biggest June opening of all time. Biggest G-rated movie of all time. And the second biggest animated movie of all time, behind … ugh … Shrek 2.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.