As expected, with all the grosses tallied for 2011, Paramount came out on top, outpacing all its studio rivals with a worldwide box office total of $5.17 billion. That was thanks in part to the studio bringing once-oustered star Tom Cruise back into the fold to star in producer J.J. Abrams and director Brad Bird’s “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” which has tracked $142.8 million and counting at the holiday box office. The studio released 16 new films domestically this year, winning the top North American market share with $1.96 billion, while breaking its global b.o. record with $3.21 billion.
Premium 3-D grosses also factored in these tallies: the studio’s first billion dollar worldwide release was in 3-D, Michael Bay’s sequel “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” The studio also scored with the latest installment in the “Paranormal Activity” franchise, which grossed another $100 million, as well as “Super 8” ($127 million domestic), directed by JJ Abrams, who is now prepping the latest “Star Trek” for 2013.
Paramount also benefitted from partner Marvel Entertainment (both “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” were released in 3-D and grossed $181 million and $176.7 million domestic, respectively). Disney now releases Marvel titles. Partner DreamWorks Animation delivered two 3-D titles as well, “Kung Fu Panda 2” ($165.2 million) and “Puss In Boots” ($145.8 million); DreamWorks Animation czar Jeffrey Katzenberg is also threatening to take his wares elsewhere.
Thus Paramount wisely hedged its animation bets by launching its own animation division with Gore Verbinski’s CG “Rango,” in 2-D. But the film, which grossed $127.5 million domestically and is a front-runner for the animation Oscar, was also one of several too-pricey movies that may not recoup their costs. Year-end bragging rights on top grosses are not the same as the final bottom line of costs vs. returns. Martin Scorsese and GK Films’ $150-million “Hugo” ($50.2 million) is another well-regarded Oscar contender that may never recoup.
Other 2011 domestic box office releases included: the Coens’ “True Grit” ($85 million in 2011, $171.2 million total), Ivan Reitman’s “No Strings Attached” ($70.7 million), Jon Chu’s “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” ($73 million), Craig Brewer’s “Footloose” ($51.7 million), Sundance prize-winner “Like Crazy” ($3.4 million), Jason Reitman’s “Young Adult” ($12.8 million) and Steven Spielberg’s “Tintin” ($51.4 million).
Paramount Pictures Chairman & CEO Brad Grey thanked his global team, including Vice Chairman Rob Moore, who runs marketing and distribution, and DreamWorks-trained Film President Adam Goodman. “We produce pictures that aspire to entertain audiences around the world, while at the same time we have sought to find innovative ways to reach movie-goers in this changing entertainment environment,” said Grey.
In 2012, Paramount is looking to deliver Marc Forster’s zombie thriller “World War Z,” starring Brad Pitt; the latest iteration of the “Paranormal Activity” franchise; sequel “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Channing Tatum, and Larry Charles comedy “The Dictator,” starring Sacha Baron Cohen.