Time for the now traditional year-end wrap up with a look at the top ten movies of 2019, thanks to the list compiled by Box Office Mojo. The top movies are
1) Avengers: Endgame – sequel to an adaptation.
2) The Lion King – remake.
3) Toy Story 4 – sequel to an original work.
4) Captain Marvel – adaptation.
5) Spider-Man: Far from Home – sequel to an adaptation.
6) Frozen II – sequel.
7) Aladdin – remake of an adaptation.
8) Joker – adaptation.
9) Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker – sequel to an original work.
10) It Chapter Two – sequel and adaptation.
Like last year, there is no original movie in the top ten. Us, written and directed by Jordan Peele, was pushed out of the top ten in the final week of 2019 by Star Wars: Episode IX. The top ten consists of sequels, adaptations, or remakes. Aladdin is a remake of the animated film adapted from a folk tale. Superheroes took up 40% of the list, down from 60% last year. One movie, It Chapter Two, is adapted from a novel. Disney is the big winner of 2019, releasing seven of the ten movies. Warner Bros has two, Joker and It Chapter Two, leaving Sony to get one slot with Spider-Man.
Movie studios are still counting on known properties to draw an audience. Budgets have exploded, especially for summer blockbusters. If the movie fails to perform, studios lose money and execs lose bonuses. The effort to redo Sonic might not have been done if less money was involved. This won’t be changing anytime soon. Studios are risk adverse. Unless there’s a number of sleeper hits over the course of a year or several star-driven original works that gain attention, expect more adaptations. Disney and Marvel are at a point where the movies are their own universe, and missing one may mean missing a key part leading up to the big ensemble film. Warner and DC are trying the same, but have had more success with their television series.
However, there is hope for more original works. Us tapped a market that is usually ignored. The film also had a much lower budget. This combination could set a path for more original works in theatres. The problem may not be adaptations but excessive budgets. There is room for smaller budget films in theatres.
Last year’s wrap-up, I predicted that Captain Marvel and Valiant’s Faith may do well at the box office. Faith is due to come out February 2020, but Captain Marvel finished fourth overall in the top ten, following Black Panther dominating in 2018. Studios will have to pay attention to audiences outside the 18-45 white male demographic. However, 2020 won’t be that year. It takes time to create a movie, from story outline to finished product. Audience demand is starting to be seen. All that’s needed now is a hit that features an atypical protagonist for the dam to crack.