The life, drama, controversy and mystery of filmography is as critical as life itself. As the saying goes, “there’s no business like show business” which by itself was the title of a film released by 20th Century Fox in 1954 based on an Irving Berlin song written for a broadway musical “Annie Get Your Gun” (which was about the life of the lady sharpshooter from Ohio, Anne Oakley (featured in an article by Johnny Dod days ago)). If you could consider the budget allocated in millions to produce a highly persuasive film that could capture the imagination of moviegoers (without making them think they had paid too much for some crappy moving scenes), you should take into consideration the sensitive techniques and intricate preparation of each set fit altogether with the right choice of cast who were taking their scripts too seriously to play it with ease and natural flair to the end of the reel. Having satisfied that requirement comes the final test, the overall participation of moviegoers worldwide to seal their proof of satisfaction in the form of movie tickets. It all starts with the successful premiere showing that will echo the feedback to the regular theatre showings. There is no direct networking involved in movies (but it would be a promising networking medium if tried). Believe me, in 7 out of 10 people, when they get satisfied watching one good film, they can’t help but recommend it to be watched by their friends even that it doesn’t give them commission in any transaction entered with each paid movie ticket. Now let’s count those millions spent in film production and the billions that were earned.
1. Avatar (2009)
Some people were just born winners and you can’t blame them for that. James Cameron worked hard and had the right mind to be eligible to the fruits of his ingenuity in the movie industry. The idea for Avatar came as early as 1994 and filming for the movie should follow after Titanic in 1997 but the technology needed to achieve the effects according to Cameron wasn’t yet available so it waited for the right time. The wait wasn’t wasted for still, two of Cameron’s brainchild movies (Avatar and Titanic) still reigns 1st and 2nd slot in the highest grossing film list (the Titanic which I omitted since it was released in 1997).
Budget: US $ 237,000,000 Gross Revenue: $2,730,850,547
2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Sir Peter Jackson is another lucky man who has lived his losses to earn his winnings in the movie industry. Jackson before Lord of the Rings is definitely different after it. Take for instance Universal Studios’ shelving of the King Kong remake by Jackson and how it came to back to offer him the project after the success of Lord of the Rings in 2005.
Budget: US $ 94,000,000 Gross Revenue: $ 1,119,110,941
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
The perfect chemistry of Gore Verbinski (The Ring ,2002) as director and Jerry Bruckheimer (The Rock, 1996) as producer could be the key behind the success of this film series. The perfect assemblage of the cast like Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom just completed the rest of the puzzle and the ultimate combination is made.
Budget: US $225,000,000 Gross Revenue: $ 1,066,179,725
4. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s reunion in this film maybe a factor to this film’s success. In 1990, Burton directed and partly produced Edward Scissorhands as a romantic fantasy film which stars as you guessed it, Johnny Depp. It profited US $ 86.02 million out of an 80 million budget. Now think about it if that experience wasn’t enough for the Burton-Depp team up to fail in this film remake.
Budget: US $200,000,000 Gross Revenue: $ 1,021,791,110
5. The Dark Knight (2008)
Basically, this movie was from an English director with a majority of English/British cast in it (excluding American Katie Holmes and Morgan Freeman of course); from Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Cillian Murphy, could the mix be of mere coincidence? Anyway, Christopher Nolan did a marvellous job resurrecting this film which was a great Batman movie in the series.
Budget: US $185,000,000 Gross Revenue: $ 1,001,921,825
6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
J.K. Rowling is the writer to watch out for. She doesn’t do magic but the magic that comes from her novels spells everything out. The success of all Harry Potter films couldn’t be possible without the story plot that combined all the imaginable magic in the world to turn a magical story into a film that will earn millions in gross revenues. Now any legitimate magician at home with his craft may even find it hard to replicate that.
Budget: US$125,000,000 Gross Revenue: $974,733,550
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
The third in the series and probably the last if the Verbinski-Bruckheimer team up had gone out of script for any sequel alternative. Despite being the second successful in the series, this film was often referred to as the leading most expensive film of the decade at US $300 million cost of production.
Budget: US$300,000,000 Gross Revenue: $960,996,492
8. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
The first in the series of Harry Potter films, the directorial role of Chris Columbus (Home Alone) and production expertise of David Heyman who concentrated on the film adaptation of books having just founded his production company Heyday films was instrumental in the success of this first Harry Potter film.
Budget: US$150,000,000 Gross Revenue: $938,212,738
9. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (2009)
There has been a change of director in the preceding series that started with Mike Newell replacing Chris Columbus in the latter part and in this series, David Yates replaced Mike Newell
with the ever existent production wisdom of David Heyman all along.
Budget: US $250,000,000 Gross Revenue: $ 933,959,197
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
The second instalment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy still has Peter Jackson on the directorial and production role with 2 more individuals. With the initial success of the first part (Fellowship of the Ring) movie fans were expecting the same brand of action-adventure scenes to be put to play in this one. Now when you have established some sort of a “cult following” in an interesting film of this genre, the production need only to follow as fans are bound to wait for the premiere date to the actual film showing.
Budget: US$94,000,000 Gross Revenue: $925,282,504
As this article was written at the second half of 2010, there’s the possibility that new films will be added up to affect the order of this list. But I doubt it unless the likes of Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Jerry Bruckheimer or Steven Spielberg gets busy with another serious top grosser, this should be the final list (or so it seem) of the decade.