Time for the now traditional year-end wrap up with a look at the top ten movies of 2020, thanks to the list compiled by Box Office Mojo. The top movies are
1) Bad Boys for Life – sequel to 1995’s Bad Boys.
2) 1917 – original, inspired by the stories the scriptwriter’s grandfather told about the Great War.
3) Sonic the Hedgehog – adaptation of the video game franchise.
4) Jumanji: The Next Level – sequel to the 1995 movie, Jumanji, itself a loose adaptation of the children’s book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg.
5) Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker – sequel to the 1977 film, Star Wars.
6) Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – adaptation of comic book characters.
7) Dolittle – adaptation of the character created by High Lofting in a series of books.
8) Little Women – adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s novel of the same name.
9) The Invisible Man – loose adaptation of HG Wells’ The Invisible Man.
10) The Call of the Wild – adaptation of Jack London’s novel of the same name.
First, to take care of the obvious, 2020 is going to have a huge asterisk on it. None of the films listed above will appear in a top twenty list for the decade. The pandemic and subsequent lock downs hurt the box office. None of the films listed were released after March of 2020. 1917, Jumanji: The Next Level, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Little Women were released late in December 2019. The Rise of Skywalker is the only movie to be on the list for both 2020 and 2019. Blockbusters just didn’t happen in 2020. Studios shelved them in the hopes of being able to wait out the pandemic.
There was one original work in the top ten of 2020, 1917, benefiting from the lock downs. There were two sequels to original works, Bad Boys for Life and The Rise of Skywalker, one sequel to an adaptations, Jumanji: The Next Level, and the rest are adaptations. Possibly another effect of the pandemic lock down, four of the adaptations are based on classic literature, something not seen in a while. Only one comic book adaptation and a moderately successful video game adaptation round out the top ten.
There might be hope that an original film can break into the top ten again this decade. The problem here is that 2020 is an atypical year compared to the previous decade. Audiences were encouraged to stay home to prevent spread of the coronavirus, which is infectious before it becomes symptomatic. Typically, the early months of the year are used for smaller films, with studios saving the blockbusters for holidays when audiences will have the extra time to go out to see them. Sonic, thanks to a delay to correct the effects of the main character, was delayed. The corrected trailer may have generated interest to get audiences to see how things turned out. For literary adaptations, release during the school year may get classes out to watch to compare the original to film, which sounds like an amazing idea. Someone should do that for all adaptations, maybe as a blog series.
This past year was not kind to film studios, nor was it kind to people in general. Everyone took a hit, so it’s no surprise the box office did, too. The top ten of 2020 reflect the restrictions needed to fight the coronavirus. As a result, films that normally wouldn’t make a showing did get noticed, so there’s a bit of a silver lining.