We count down the biggest blockbuster movies of 2008.
2008 will be remembered as the year that superheroes and chick flicks battled it out for box office supremacy. In a year that saw hotly anticipated movies such as Sex and The City and Indiana Jones 4 released there were a few surprise hits as well. Time Out counts down the Top 40 highest earning blockbusters of 2008.
40. Made Of Honor, $106,000,000:
This sweet romantic comedy only just scraped into the top 40 but the producers will be laughing all the way to the bank. Made for a budget of less than $50 million it managed to more than double the return on investment and provide a big screen platform for fans of Grey’s Anatomy’s Patrick Dempsey to swoon over the Hollywood hunk.
39. Fool’s Gold, $111,000,000:
Reuniting Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson should have been box office gold but we can’t help but think this quirky comedy should have performed better than it did. Still, a respectable figure could see the likeliest of unlikely on-screen couples team up again some day. Keep looking to find out the highest-grossing comedy of the year.
38. Rambo, $113,000,000:
Proof that there is no justice in the world, can be found in the fact that Sylvester Stallone’s fourth outing as John Rambo managed to double the return on its investment. Just think how much money it could have made if they decided to have a sensible script and a reasonable plot as well.
37. Beverly Hills Chihuahua, $114,000,000:
Never mind that the title alone is one of the most outrageous in Hollywood history. Never mind if it completely passed you by when it was in the cinema. All you need to know is that there are 114,000,000 reasons why you will probably see some sort of sequel or spin off one day. Beverly Hills Chihuahua in New York? Beverly Hills Chihuahua Las Vegas Vacation? Beverly Hills Chihuahua in Rehab? We can hardly wait.
36. Step Brothers $128,000,000:
A big budget comedy full of exactly the sort of gags, direction and performance you would expect from a Will Ferrell vehicle. Alongside the underrated John C. Reilly the two were realistic brothers but this is unlikely to go down in history as either’s greatest work. (Having said that alongside the waste of talent that was ‘table tennis comedy’ Semi Pro it was the most popular film of the year for the usually hit-friendly Ferrell).
35. The Forbidden Kingdom, $129,000,000:
Jet Li’s cool kung fu meets the comedy combat of Jackie Chan was always going to be a clash of cultures for fighting vultures. The plot was a contrived nonsense that seemed to be something to do with time travel and general fantasy nonsense. But the main attraction was the well choreographed fight scenes that were something akin to watching Bruce lee fighting Charlie Chaplin on the set of Lord of The Rings.
34. Burn After Reading, $132,000,000:
America still doesn’t really get two of its greatest cinematic exports. Despite showering them with awards and professing an interest in their stellar casts the cinema going public remain wary of the Coen Brothers. This meant that more than half of its worldwide box office came from outside of America. Still, as long as they’re having this much fun making great films for a loyal bunch of cultists they won’t change their style.
33. Step Up To The Streets, $148,000,000:
While the good wholesome kids were packing into the cinemas to stuff Disney coffers with unearned pocket money there was a party going on in the car park. That is where the best dance action was taking place as a gang of hip hop savvy teens were busting moves in this opportunistic sequel. Think the kids from Fame with extra urban flavour. Sorry, flava.
32. Vantage Point, $151,000,000:
Hardly surprising that in the year of an American election one of the most profitable thrillers was about an assassination attempt on a president. Forrest Whitaker turned in another show-stealing performance and there was even a chance for one of the actors from Lost (Matthew Fox) to get off his island for a while.
31. 21, $158,000,000:
Who knew that watching men playing cards could be so entertaining? In the spirit of many a good heist movie the action takes place in Vegas and the attention was as much focused on style as it was substance. Unfortunately for Kevin Spacey and his team it wasn’t the most viewer friendly film set in Las Vegas this year. Can you work out which film beat it?
30. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, $158,000,000:
The first of many superhero films to make it into the list this year is probably the darkest as well. Hellboy does away with a cape and all manner of other a clichés and concentrates on battling evil. Forgetting the fact that he himself descends from the darkest corners of hell he was back again to save mankind one cigar at a time.
29. 27 Dresses $160,000,000:
Chick flicks performed unusually well this year and were a welcome antidote to comic book capers for anybody not interested in the realms of fantasy. Having said that, for many women in the screenings we saw the idea of having 27 party dresses was as fantastic as the ability to fly or fight crime. What will be the top-rated chick flick of the year – Mamma Mia! or Sex And The City? Keep scrolling to find out.
28. The Spiderwick Chronicles, $162,000,000:
A reemergence in the number of children’s fantasy films in the past decade is probably down to what Time Out calls the ‘Potter effect’. This is one of the best of the rest (although it doesn’t quite reach Potter standards it does come close).
27. The Happening, $163,000,000:
Remember being surprised by a twist in an M. Night Shyamalan film? Us too. The problem is that we now spend the entire movie trying to work out what the final twist will be that we’re not that bothered when it actually happens. An overall disappointment and we will be hoping to see better from M. Night and the film’s star Mark Wahlberg next year.
26. Cloverfield, $171,000,000:
One of the surprise smashes of the year. Made for just $25,000,000 without any major stars it was a success story for the Internet. Viral marketing and an intense online publicity campaign combined to push it among the Hollywood elite.
25. Eagle Eye, $174,000,000:
Young Shia LaBeouf has proven to be quite the box office draw in recent years. However, as the human foil to the Transformers last year and understudy to Indiana Jones later on this list he was not the main attraction. In this very modern thriller he was the lead force and showed he doesn’t require a chaperone to make it in the box office.
24. Twilight, $177,000,000:
Humans and vampires fall in love and the public go wild. A massive teen following and a niche in the market since the passing of regular Buffy The Vampire Slayer on television meant this literary adaptation made stars of the young cast. Expect to see more from the lead actor – Robert Pattison – who was recently selected as one of Hollywood’s hottest hunks by www.ahlanlive.com.
23. Tropic Thunder, $187,000,000:
Kings of comedy Ben Stiller and Jack Black obviously had a lot of fun making this movie. So much so, in fact, that they got celebrity buddies Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey to join them on set and appear in cameo roles. Self referential and packed with insider Hollywood gags it might have underperformed slightly considering the $100,000,000 it cost to make.
22. You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, $202,000,000:
Adam Sandler must be a happy man. Unlike box office rival Ben Stiller he didn’t cram his film with famous buddies to help promote his film. He stuck, instead, to his usual formula of funny voices, extreme characters and lowest denominator humour and it paid off with one of the top three live action comedies of the year. But what beat it?
21. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, $218,000,000:
As long as people carry on buying tickets to Brendan Fraser movies, studios will keep making them. There are far worse actors than he, but not many people working in Hollywood today have such a back-catalogue of dross and yet this is his first of two appearances in the top 25 most successful movies of the year. Are we missing something here?
20. What Happens In Vegas, $219,000,000:
Romantic comedy by numbers puts pretty girl (Cameron Diaz) opposite pretty, but goofy guy (Ashton Kutcher) together for an unlikely stint in an extreme environment (Las Vegas again). Surely Cameron Diaz could knock out about five of these a year and push her personal box office ratings over the billion dollar mark?
19. Jumper, $222,000,000:
Hmmmm, interesting. Time travel and a cast including ex-OC babe Rachel Bilson? Not the best of starts but apparently a winning combination. And it’s all caused by a Hulk-style genetic abnormaility, they really seem to be doing the rounds. Nevertheless, it proved to be quite a popular choice with Hayden Christianson slipping into the lead role as the hunk of the piece and made a fair few millions in the process.
18. High School Musical 3: Senior Year, $230,000,000:
Is it his hair, his six-pack, or his Californian tan? Who knows, but there’s something about teen idol Zac Efron that has teenage girls racing to the cinema in their droves. This, combined with the musical Grease-esque attributes of this super-successful series allows it to scrape into the top 20 releases of the year without the inclusion of one big movie star in the cast.
17. Get Smart, $230,000,000:
A good idea, and a pretty impressive cast, but something doesn’t quite work in this spy spoof. Luckily, a fair few million movie-goers, or Steve Carell fans, don’t agree and took this lackluster release into the top 20 movies of the year. It just goes to show what one big star and a whole lot of publicity can do to transform a turkey.
16. The Incredible Hulk, $262,000,000:
It’s a bit tricky to go about your business unnoticed when a genetic mishap turns you bright green and packs on the pounds. Luckily, Dr Bruce Banner puts this minor accident to good use pitching himself against the movie’s evil villain. Bad is quashed, and good prevails, you know the score, as this 2008 release romped home as one of the year’s best. But with at least three more superheroes ahead of it we can’t help but think Hulk will be very angry to be this far down the list.
15. 10,000BC, $270,000,000:
More of a specialist watch than a classic, owing to the prehistoric setting, but phenomenally popular all the same. It would appear that more people than first expected are intrigued by the prospect of rampaging mammoths and screaming cavemen tearing across their screens. Something to keep in mind for the would-be scriptwriters among us.
14. Madagascar 2, $295,000,000:
Dancing penguins, a singing giraffe, and a clutch of other equally-talented animals. What’s not to like? The second installment in this series steamed into 2008 with as much of a song and dance (if you’ll pardon the pun) as its predecessor and made even more cash. Cartoons were big business in 2008 but which was the highest-grossing animated tale of the year?
13. Horton Hears A Who, $300,000,000:
Take one best-selling Dr Seuss story, throw in a Jim Carrey, and sprinkle a little movie dust and you get one of the year’s top animated tales. More of a cult than a kiddie classic this offering falls into the Wall-E category which propels it to the lofty heights of the year’s most viewed, and highest-grossing, movies.
12. Wanted, $342,000,000:
This much-hyped Angelina vehicle had the added bonus of the man of the moment, James Mcavoy, on its payroll but even he couldn’t save it from the action scrapheap. For a premise with so much Matrix-inspired potential it was a bit of a wet squib yet it still made a fair whack at the box office taking with it a healthy clutch of die-hard fans.
11. The Mummy III, $392,000,000:
Anything with a III in the title is always a little dubious but despite its dodgy scripts and questionable cast, yes Brendan Fraser, we’re talking about you, the Mummy brand still seems to be a big hit at the box office. Special effects and oversized baddies storm through the sands and up mountains, leaving a trail of mayhem in their midst, while our would-be heroes do their best to grimace and scream in time. What can we say? It just works.
10. Sex and The City, $410,000,000:
The movie spin-off of this unbelievably popular series was always going to be a risk. How, would our four heroines translate to the big-screen? And weren’t they too old to be gallivanting around like teenagers? Thankfully, the risk worked and the vast budget, said to be ploughed into extensive airbrushing as well as fat pay cheques, seems to have paid off. Whether we’re set for a Sex in The City II is a different story but for now it will go down as one of 2008’s highest grossing efforts.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, $420,000,000:
Anything that involves walking through a wardrobe and a selection of half men/half beasts is bound to be good, and The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe was no exception. The kids have grown up quickly for this sequel and producers are going to have to act quickly if they want to use the same actors again before they’re covered in spots and sulking. The magical, if a little spooky, land of Narnia and its many weird and wonderful inhabitants wowed viewers in their millions and took Narnia into the top 10 highest earning films of the year.
8. Wall-E, $495,000,000:
Following in the footsteps of the Toy Story series, Wall-E, the animated tale of a robot intent on saving the planet, was a predictable hit with adults and children alike. Described as “spectacular” and ‘touching” in equal measures, even this cartoon-phobic Time Outer can appreciate its merits. A worthy number eight on the list but which film will scoop the first prize?
7. Quantum of Solace, $510,000,000:
Ah, Daniel Craig, who could have ever doubted his Bond suitability? The rugged good looks, the impressive six-pack, and the suspiciously impressive parkour skills, make him the perfect 007. All of which makes the fact that the scripts have been getting gradually worse in his last few outings easier to bear. But whether it’s the Bond girls or the brand, there’s still money to be made. Look out for the last two installments.
6. Mamma Mia! $570,000,000:
Many a man ran screaming this year when his significant other uttered the word “musical” en-route to the flicks. It’s fair to say that Mamma Mia! was mostly a popular choice with the ladies, but the figures don’t lie. Meryl Streep et all stormed the box office with this summer hit earning them 6th place in our cinematic hall of fame and the title of the year’s highest-grossing musical.
5. Iron Man, $580,000,000: Iron Man is the kind of superhero we all dream of being - as strong as an ox, as rich as Croesus, and pretty darn good looking, despite being a bit of a geek. This isn’t the best of action movies, the script is cringe-worthy in parts, and it’s certainly not one of Robert Downey-Junior’s most impressive outings, but it made a small fortune at the box office all the same, earning it its rightful place on our list.
4. Hancock, $625,000,000:
Will Smith is not like other Hollywood megastars and that is why he was so perfect as Hancock, the grouch superman. Other than return roles in Men In Black 2 and the second Bad Boys movie he has been rather sequel-shy in a career of many economic highlights. As Hollywood looks to find a list of bankable stars we can think of 625,000,000 reasons why he might be asked to don the supertight jumpsuit again one day.
3. Kung Fu Panda, $632,000,000:
The highest return for a movie containing new characters (have you worked out who is at number one yet?) Kung Fu Panda had enough star power to brighten any galaxy. A cast containing Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman and Lucy Liu were enough to deliver the goods to Dreamworks Animation. The tale of a kung-fu-loving panda bear showed that Hollywood can still do startlingly original work and shatter commercial expectations in the process.
2. Indiana Jones 4, $786,000,000:
The fact that we went to the trouble of reviewing the trailer for this film when it was first released on the Internet should give you a clear indication of how much we were looking forward to this. Hearing the first crack of a whip, watching the hat in silhouette humming through the opening bars of the theme tune was enough to provide nostalgia for fans of Indy cinema. But it wasn’t quite enough to take the top spot. That honour went to…
1. The Dark Knight, $997,000,000:
Time Out doesn’t just give up a cover to any old film and when we decided to make Heath Ledger’s Joker the star of our *** issue it was because we knew we’d seen a Hollywood masterpiece. One of those rare gems that delights critics and popcorn chomping multiplex mavens alike The Dark Knight deserves every cent of the billion dollars it has earned for Warner Brothers.