31 December 2011

War of the Months: December

Well people, it's been a long and arduous year but we've finally come to the finale of the War of the Months, our year-long look at the biggest and best films that have been released each month of the year. Today on the last day of December, which means it's time for one more round of useless analysis.


December: Snowy Summer

December is a great month. It's usually filled with some really big blockbusters that for whatever reason don't really fit in the Summer Season. It's a more confined month that really allows a flick to seize the zeitgeist, whether it be Lord of the Rings, I Am Legend (2007), AVABAR (2009), or whatever. It's also this spot for a lot of movies aiming for Oscar glory because the releases can be as fresh in the minds of potential voters as possible. This often involves a lot of the bigger Academy-leaning films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2009) or True Grit (2010). It's a time when kids are home from college or their lives or whatever and go check out some films with their families or old friends. In this sense, December Blockbusters tend to be a lot more mainstream and digestible than some of the wilider summer movies. Transformers do not belong in December, but something like Meet the Fockers (2004) or Tron Legacy (2010) certainly does.

December Box Office: Christmas Money

There has been one December that nabbed over a Billion bucks, that being in 2009 on the backs of not only AVABAR but also Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Alvin and the Chipmunks (2009). It also involved some holdover sleeper hits of the year such as The Blind Side (2009) and The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009). As for the biggest December grossers of all time, these flicks read like a who's who of epic franchises. I Am Legend leads the pack followed by AVABAR and a bunch of Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong. It's the Fantasy, Peter Jackson month, baby. It's films do tend to have more of a slow burn because while the month has a lot of Box Office Attention, it's not necessarily focused on a single weekend. It's more of a thing to do for a bunch of friends that are hanging out after not seeing each other for a while.

December Quality: There and Back Again

There are a tremendous amount of great December flicks. It's a time when studios are trying to prime their movies for Oscar bait and the bigger films that are released here are generally of a much higher quality than typical summer crap. This has been far more often a recent trend, so this Month tends to skew with more recent movies, but nevertheless, Here is our Top 10:

#10: Gangs of New York - 12/20/2002
#9: O Brother, Where Art Thou? - 12/22/2000
#8: Children of Men - 12/25/2006
#7: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 12/19/2001
#6: The Royal Tenenbaums - 12/14/2001
#5: Black Swan - 12/03/2010
#4: Gran Torino- 12/12/2008
#3: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - 12/20/2011
#2: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 12/17/2003
#1: There Will Be Blood - 12/26/2007

There are so many other great films that deserve mentioning for this month. This includes some great old comedies such as Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Christmas Vacation (1989), Dumb and Dumber (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), and the Wes Anderson duo, Rushmore (1998) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004). We've also seen a lot of sci-fi epics such as the Terry Gilliam films 12 Monkeys (1995) and Brazil (1985) as well as the underseen The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009).

More often than not though, December is a time for big serious drama. From JFK (1991) and Schindler's List (1993) to Jerry Maguire (1996), As Good as it Gets (1997), Titanic (1997), and Good Will Hunting (1997) to the more recent Catch Me if You Can (2002), The Last Samurai (2003), Brokeback Mountain (2005), The Wrestler (2008), and Frost / Nixon (2008). There are plenty of high-profile biographies as well, such as Chaplin (1992), Ali (2001), and The Aviator (2004).

Rounding out December is a collection of random films that all have some great significance. From the westerns  Tombstone (1993) and True Grit (2010) to Fantasy epics like  Pan's Labyrinth (2006) and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002). There's also 80s classics Platoon (1986) and Scarface (1983). Finally, a collection of my personal favourites, Shadow of the Vampire (2000), Cast Away (2000), Ocean's 11 (2001) and Adaptation. (2002). Phew. It's tough to leave any of these flicks out of a post concerning December.


So now that this is the final entry of the War of the Months, it's time to declare a victor. Let's look at the biggest movies released in each month of the year:

January: Cloverfield (2008) - $40,058,229
February: The Passion of the Christ (2004) - $83,848,082
March: Alice in Wonderland (2010) - $116,101,023
April: Fast Five (2011) - $86,198,765
May: Spider-Man 3 (2007) - $151,116,516
June: Toy Story 3 (2010) - $110,307,189
July: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011) - $169,189,427
August: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) - $69,283,690
September: Sweet Home Alabama (2002) - $35,648,740
October: Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) - $52,568,183
November: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) - $142,839,137
December: I Am Legend (2007) - $77,211,321

Now for a ranking of the Top Grossing Months in order of Best to Worst:

#1: July
#2: June
#3: December
#4: January
#5: May
#6: November
#7: August
#8: March
#9: April
#10: February
#11: October
#12: September

Now for the Best Films Released in each month of the year:

January: Smokin' Aces (2007)
February: Taxi Driver (1976)
March: The Big Lebowski (1998)
April: Mean Girls (2004)
May: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
June: Jaws (1975)
July: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
August: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
September: Goodfellas (1990)
October: Pulp Fiction (1994)
November: Network (1976)
December: There Will Be Blood (2007)

Well that's it folks. There is more Monthly Movie Data here now than you could have ever, every possibly wanted or asked for. Hopefully you now understand much more about when and why movies are released where they are and will be able to go with the seasonal flow a bit smoother. Or something. Happy New Year!

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