On Thursday, the first trailer for Sam Mendes’ World War I epic 1917 was released, which got us thinking about the filmmaker’s smash hit James Bond installment Skyfall. When that film hit theaters in 2012, it became just the 14th movie ever to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. That vaunted box office benchmark was still a rarity at the time, but the game has changed since then.
The last seven years have seen a whopping 29 movies reach that same mark. We are indeed living in the age of the worldwide blockbuster.
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So, with that in mind, here are five upcoming big films that are eyeing some sort of box office record.
Frozen II (Disney)—Nov. 22
The 2013 original still stands as Walt Disney Animation’s highest-grossing effort both domestically ($400 million) and globally ($1.2 billion). But, if there’s one thing we know about the franchise-driven Hollywood ecosystem of today, it’s that sequels are better positioned to surpass their predecessors. While the six-year layoff between entries might give pause, Frozen remains an incredibly popular brand and one of Disney’s highest-selling merchandise producers. Expect Frozen II to threaten the $1 billion mark before Disney up and remakes it in live-action for another billion dollars or so.
Jumanji: The Next Level (Sony)—Dec. 13
Who knew counter-programming against Star Wars would prove such a shockingly effective strategy? When 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle arrived, no one expected it to breakout to the degree that it did. But never underestimate Dwayne Johnson’s franchise-making star power, especially when paired with Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black. That film went on to become Sony’s highest-grossing domestic hit ever ($404 million) and its third-biggest grosser worldwide ($962 million).
Sony is returning to the same formula again this year against Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Speaking of…
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Disney)—Dec. 20
The movie-going public has pushed three films to at least $2 billion worldwide in the last four years alone. Just two films managed that feat in the entire history of filmmaking prior to that. Sure, we can chalk up some of these records to inflation prices, as domestic theatrical ticket sales have been steadily declining since 2002. But with the rise of the all-mighty overseas dollar, box office gross has never been as eclectic as it is today.
Disney’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens rode a wave of nostalgia and a 10-year absence of big screen Star Wars content to a staggering $2 billion worldwide. Can J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker, which is being marketed and sold as the conclusion to the nine-picture saga, match those lofty totals? We crunched the early numbers and have our doubts.
Sonic The Hedgehog (Paramount)—Feb. 14 2020
Whispers surrounding the Sonic movie have been disheartening from the get-go. There have been rumors of heated clashes between Sega and Paramount over the direction of the film and a despondent crew trying to make the best of a bad situation. At launch, the picture’s budget was thought to be in the $90 million range.
Then, the first trailer dropped and shit really started to hit the fan.
The online reaction to Sonic‘s visual effects was so overwhelmingly negative that Paramount delayed the film until 2020 to completely overhaul the design. We’ve seen what costly delays and reshoots can do to a film’s ballooning budget and box office prospects. Hopefully, Sonic won’t become a box office record for the wrong reasons.
Tenet (Warner Bros.)—July 17
We’ve never been shy with our opinions on director Christopher Nolan’s filmography. He’s the rare filmmaker capable of marrying complex concepts and layered thematics with blockbuster commercial fare. When looking at his entire resume, The Dark Knight ($535 million) stands as his highest-grossing hit domestic, while The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08 billion) edges it out for the worldwide title. But among his original films disconnected from any pre-existing IP, Inception holds both honors with $292 million stateside and $828 million globally.
Can Tenet, a mysterious action-feature reportedly set within the world of espionage, and possibly connected to the time continuum, enter the upper-echelon of his box office successes? For what it’s worth, the movie has put together a dynamite cast that includes John David Washington, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki.