Despite lower attendance figures, 2012 was still a good year financially for Hollywood. One of the most important characteristics of this year's crop of films was a transition away from numerous mid-sized releases and toward enormous blockbuster films. As such, the top summer blockbusters of 2012 overshadowed many minor films by design. Here's a list of the highest grossing pictures of the past year.
1. The Dark Knight Rises - $650 million
While the marketing push for this film was certainly strong, expectations were already incredibly high for the conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy well before a single frame was filmed. However, positive reviews and an exceptional supporting cast (despite a nearly three-hour running time) kept audiences pleased -- and coming back multiple times.
2. The Avengers - $370 million
The culmination of Marvel's efforts to tie together a series of movies, The Avengers wasn't nearly so much of a sure thing as The Dark Knight Rises. First, it had to prove that the competing story lines of Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk and Thor could be entertainingly weaved together. Second, it had to convince audiences that Joss Whedon was capable of directing the apex of an entire movie franchise. Finally, it had to start the season with a bang. It accomplished all three, and it went on to become one of the top summer blockbusters of 2012.
3. The Amazing Spider-Man - $300 million
The preceding films on this list featured characters who had previously starred in separate movie franchises. However, none of those series were rebooted so quickly after their previous incarnations had concluded. Debuting a scant five years after Sam Raimi's Spider-Man Trilogy wrapped up, director Marc Webb faced high expectations for his version of the beloved character. Fortunately, he was able to inject a healthy dose of heart into the story, and film-goers more than appreciated it.
4. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 - $265 million
The Twilight movies are some of the best investments for film studios in all of Hollywood. They don't cost as much to make as a CGI-heavy film like The Avengers, and they certainly don't boast the cast of talented thespians The Dark Knight Rises does. They also generate a lot of money simply because they have an audience built in when they're released. The core demographic of teenagers certainly came out in droves to support the fourth installment of the franchise, and there's no reason to believe the next installment will do any worse.
5. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted - $240 million
Children's movies often go under the radar when it comes to evaluating summer blockbusters. This may partly be due to the fact that they aren't as dependent on critical reviews as more mature fare, but it's worth pointing out that the third installment of the Madagascar series outgrossed Men In Black 3, The Hunger Games and Prometheus. All of those titles were expected to perform much better than their box office records indicate. Still, Madagascar 3 earned every penny it made, and there's no reason to imagine another film in the series won't be appearing in theaters in the next few years.