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Rediff.com  » Movies » Hollywood ends the year on a box office high

Hollywood ends the year on a box office high

December 31, 2012 14:50 IST

Daniel Craig in SkyfallAs Skyfall hit the $1 billion mark worldwide over the weekend (with some $100 million more to come), and become the first James Bond film to do so, Hollywood is experiencing a grand time in the domestic and international markets.

Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey reached $686 million worldwide this weekend and could easily reach $900 million. It may even reach $1 billion worldwide if post the New Year, it continues to be a strong performer and minimal weekly decline takes place.

Starring Daniel Craig as the intrepid British spy and also boasting of fine performances by Javier Bardem, Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes, Skyfall is the third movie of 2012 to cross $1 billion worldwide after The Avengers ($1.51 billion) and The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion).

Sony produced the film with MGM.

Sony vice chairman Jeff Blake told reporters: 'To see a film connect with audiences is always gratifying, but the success of this film is nothing short of extraordinary. After 50 years of entertaining audiences all over the world, Skyfall is the most successful James Bond film of all time.'

A scene from Life Of PiIt was also a milestone week for Life of Pi, which reached $300 million (astoundingly, nearly $85 million of it in China) and is easily on its way to beating Slumdog Millionaire's $360 million.

That would put Pi's lead actor Suraj Sharma on a much higher box office platform than Slumdog's Frieda Pinto and Dev Patel. But unlike Freida, Sharma is yet to get the nod from another major Hollywood or British production company.

There was also terrific news for India's Reliance, whose co-production of Lincoln with Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks has not only brought in solid revenues but is also likely to get over half a dozen major Oscar nominations.

The Spielberg-directed historical film, which is yet to open outside North America, was made for a comparatively low cost ($65 million compared to $250 million for Hobbit, $200 million for Skyfall and $120 million for Life of Pi).

With its $132 million gross, it has become the highest grossing dramatic film in North America. Even without a single Oscar nomination, the movie could coast to $150 million in North America alone.

And despite its singular American focus on one man's fight against slavery, the film could also do well abroad especially because of Daniel Day-Lewis's staggering performance as Lincoln.

Besides, it also offers an intriguing drama about a deeply conflicted man who happened to be an American president.

Last week also saw new films Django Unchained and Les Miserables do terrific business (the latter has opened to solid business abroad). This showed once again that in much of the world it is quite possible for two or three hit films to open the same week and continue their profitable run in subsequent weeks.

This is in sharp contrast to India where even the second week of a hit film can be greatly hurt, with a fall often exceeding 70 per cent, when a promising new film releases. A film like Jab Tak Hain Jan has lost most of its audience in its third week, a hit film remains highly competitive for at least six weeks in more than 2,500 theatres.

Quentin Tarantino's comedic, ultraviolent slave revenge drama, Django Unchained enjoyed the biggest run of his career with a solid $64m in the six days since its Christmas Day launch, and the movie could beat his biggest hit as yet, Inglourious Basterds, which grossed about $350 million worldwide.

The attractive cast consisting of Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio could give the film a solid reception abroad, too.

Though it is over 150 minutes long (and is R-rated in America for its raw language and violence), Django is a powerhouse of entertainment and is filled with riveting performances.

Hollywood made few musicals this year but the growing success of Les Miserables, based on a world hit stage musical of the same name, ought to encourage Hollywood to take more risks in the genre.

The Hugh Jackman-led film, which like Django also got solid reviews, cost $61 million, far less than Tarantino's film which was made for about $100 million.

Worldwide, Les Miserables has made over $116.2 million and it is yet to open in many major territories. Box-office insiders expect the film to roar past $400 million with some saying that with a handful of major Oscar nominations it could beat Mamma Mia's astounding $600 million worldwide.

Arthur J Pais in New York