Sunday, January 3, 2010

Box Office Champions

In honor of the box office sensation - which looks poised to become the box office champion of 2009 - I have decided to create a list of every box office champion in recent cinematic history, starting in 1972, the year when distribution methods allowed films to "open wide" for the first time in American history (for more information, see the book Open Wide).

1972: The Godfather
1973: The Exorcist
1974: Blazing Saddles
1975: Jaws
1976: Rocky
1977: Star Wars
1978: Grease
1979: Kramer vs. Kramer
1980: The Empire Strikes Back
1981: Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
1983: Return of the Jedi
1984: Beverly Hills Cop
1985: Back to the Future
1986: Top Gun
1987: Three Men and a Baby
1988: Rain Man
1989: Batman
1990: Home Alone
1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
1992: Aladdin
1993: Jurassic Park
1994: Forrest Gump
1995: Toy Story
1996: Independence Day
1997: Titanic
1998: Saving Private Ryan
1999: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace
2000: How The Grinch Stole Christmas
2001: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2002: Spider-Man
2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004: Shrek 2
2005: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
2007: Spider-Man 3
2008: The Dark Knight
2009: Avatar
2010: Toy Story 3

I wonder what a future anthropologist would deduce about America's evolving cultural sensibilities based on this list! For clues, here is some trivia about this list:

- There are four franchises which have more than one installment on this list: Star Wars, which includes Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), and Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005); Spider-Man, which includes Spider-Man (2002) and Spider-Man 3 (2007); Batman, which includes Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight (2008); and Toy Story, which includes Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 3 (2010).

- Directors who have more than one film on this list include Steven Spielberg (5), George Lucas (5), James Cameron (3), Robert Zemeckis (2), Chris Columbus (2), and Sam Raimi (2). Indeed, exactly half of the movies to be the box office champion from 1972 to 2009 was directed by one of those six men (although Lucas and Raimi only appear directing various installments within the same franchise).

If you can think of any other interesting trivia, feel free to share it!

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