Now that we've survived the Mayan apocalypse, 'tis the season to make a list of movies to buy, rent, or download if you’re a renegade who plays by your own rules.
Critically acclaimed or not, you can’t ignore the box office numbers, even if they don’t always reflect on a film’s quality.
Whether you’ve already seen them or not, these are the six highest-grossing films 2012 had to offer, according to statistics from Box Office Mojo.
Read the top critically acclaimed movies here.
6) “The Amazing Spider-Man”
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The newest big screen rendition of everyone’s favorite smart-talking webslinger didn’t get all the praise the last series did. Sam Raimi’s 2002 "Spider-Man" starring Tobey Maguire is considered better than Mark Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” starring Andrew Garfield, but it's all a matter of timing.
The 2012 version of Peter Parker’s adventures is a better film overall, with a superior cast and a more enthralling story, but it came out too close to the last trilogy. The memory of how Parker becomes the wall crawler we know and love is still engrained in our minds. And the story barely changed the second time it was fed to us.
Maybe if 2012's film was first, it would have been considered more of a critical success, but Sony Entertainment likely doesn’t care either way; this is the sixth highest-grossing film of the year, earning $262 million in theaters.
Bond is back, yet again in the latest 007 film “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig. The movie was both financially and critically popular, earning a whopping $273.5 million.
The second time Craig took on the role of the dashing super-spy for “Quantum of Solace” in 2008, audiences and critics weren’t nearly this impressed. Thankfully, the third installment of the newest James Bond series has redeemed the mediocre response received in the second film.
However, “Skyfall” hasn’t lived up to the success of “Casino Royal,” the first in the latest wave of 007 films. But it did earn over $100 million more, making it the second Bond film bringing home fat stacks for Sony.
4) “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2”
As much as there is to say to discredit the quality of the “Twilight Saga,” no one can take away its commercial success. The market of tweens who flock to the theaters to see a brooding Kristen Stewart run her fingers through her hair and decide which boy she likes best is a force to be reckoned with.
“Breaking Dawn: Part 2” has put an end to the vampire love story – hopefully – and it took with it the No. 4 on the year’s top grossing films at $277.9 million.
Stephanie Myers created a monster with her quadrilogy book series turned five-part movie franchise. It is a beast more frightening than all of the lovesick vampire and werewolves in the entire series.
3) "The Hunger Games"
Riding the “Twilight” zeitgeist, the first adaptation of Suzanne Collins young adult novel trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” burst onto the scene, breaking records for March box office numbers.
“The Hunger Games” snagged the third spot in box office revenue, grossing $408 million, and for an early spring release that is a hefty sum.
The film has most of the commercial elements that attracts the same demographic as “Twilight,” but boasts a Battle Royal-esque story and quality cast that make the film a worthy blockbuster. Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence leads the film, along with other young actors and a cast of A-listers, not unlike the student/teacher casting dynamic of the “Harry Potter” series.
There are two books left in the series, meaning there are at least two films left, so watch out for “Catching Fire” in November 2013.
2) “The Dark Knight Rises”
After the record breaking turnout for Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film, “The Dark Knight,” in 2008, “Rises” could be deemed a disappointment. Its weakness can be attributed to the lack of the late Heath Ledger, the mass shooting at the midnight premiere of the film in Aurora, Colo., or maybe just a less than stellar quality overall. But surely, the Caped Crusader deserves better than two spots ahead of Bella and Edward.
Christian Bale’s last run as Bruce Wayne earned $448.1 million and came in second for the entire year. This might seem like a lot, but Bane and French-born actress Marion Cotillard, who played Talia al Ghul, couldn’t hold up to the Joker and Two Face. “The Dark Knight” earned $533.3 million and is the fourth highest-grossing film of all time.
The last run for Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy also might have been hampered by another superhero movie coming out earlier that summer, which snagged the No. 1 spot and set a new standard for what comics heroes could do on the silver screen.
1) Marvel’s “The Avengers”
“The Avengers” combined four separate but intertwined franchises from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor and Captain American joining forces with S.H.E.I.L.D. to thwart Earth's greatest enemies. It filled the adolescent boy in everyone with glee and made $623.3 million.
To be clear, that makes Marvel’s superhero crossover the third highest grossing film of all time, behind only “Titanic,” which recently had a second run in theaters after being converted to 3D, and “Avatar.” Joss Whedon sits right behind James Cameron as a top grossing director.
DC Comics and Warner Bros. took notice and are already working on a “Justice League” film set for 2015, the same summer that “Avengers 2” is expected to hit theaters. The market for 3D IMAX films is making studios money, and because of the investment, the quality of the film has so far been on the higher end.
Let’s hope this trend keeps going, with the year’s top grossing films mostly being worthy of their place. There’s always going to be the debatable entries, but 2012 was an exceptional year for mainstream box office blockbusters.