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How do certain movies make so much money?

Avatar sequel

So one of the most sure-fire ways to make money nowadays is to make a movie. No one can dispute that. But sometimes certain movies make A LOT of money. Like, we’re talking ‘over a billion dollars’ amount of money. Most of these you can understand why. “Oh these movies appeal to certain kinds of people. Oh this one came out during a dry spell at the box office. Oh this one was the last in the series so of course everyone saw it.” But then you can get certain movies that kind of just defy logic. You can see why a lot of people went to see it, but you can’t understand why EVERYONE went to see it. So I’m going to use three specific examples to see if there is some kind of method to this madness. These three examples are:

Avatar | Alice in Wonderland | Frozen

So lets first look at how much money these movies made in the first place. Well for one, they have all have made over a billion dollars. Alice in Wonderland made $1,025,467,110 overall. Frozen made $1,274,219,009 over all. And last but not least, Avatar made $2,787,965,087, making it the highest grossing film of all time. (Keep in mind, I’m using international numbers here) Now you’ve probably seen these movies, well looking at those numbers it’s kinda hard to see how you didn’t, so the question is, why am I even discussing this?

Well because when you get down to it, these were pretty good movies but they weren’t that good were they? Alice in Wonderland is widely considered one of Director Tim Burton’s worst movies, because it repeats to death all the tropes from his other movies that you’ve come to expect (I will have to see more Burton films before I make my final judgment). Avatar is an ok movie, but come on, you’ve seen that plot before and you’ve probably seen it done better. Frozen is a legitimately good Disney movie, but Disney did just as good the year before that with Wreck-it Ralph. In fact in my opinion it’s better because it was doing something I’d never seen Disney do before.

Why is it that these movies were so well received? Well you have to consider a few things. Firstly, fan loyalty. I’m sure people were really excited to see another movie from James Cameron after doing movies like Aliens and Terminator. People will always cue up to see another Disney Princess movie and I bet a lot of people who read the classic book were excited to see another take on Alice in Wonderland. Also, most of these movies, while pretty familiar when you watch them, all were bringing something new to the table. Avatar was using a whole bunch of new CGI we hadn’t seen done to much before, Frozen was doing Two princesses instead of one and of course Tim Burton was bringing a dark tone to Alice in Wonderland, which is something he had been doing fairly well up to this point.

But I think the thing that made these movies such big hit’s were the visuals. This is the reason we really watched movies like Snow White, or Toy Story, when we were a kid. We didn’t do it for some timeless story or anything, we just liked watch Buzz and Woody fly. And honestly, who can blame us for liking a movie’s visual tone. Frozen does, for the most part, look like something out of a book of fairy tales. While Alice in Wonderland looks like something from the book of fairy tales your mother didn’t let you read because they would give you nightmares. I never got the whole Avatar package I guess because I never saw it in theaters, but geez, this movie looks so awesome. I think visuals have always been and always will be, one of the most important parts of filmmaking as a whole.

Did these movies deserve all the money they got, probably not. Do other movies deserve to be seen even if they don’t look like a fairy tale? Of course! And is this the definitive answer to why these movies made so much money? No, I don’t think so. But I think that if you make you’re movies as interesting as possible, you probably stand a good chance of making a lot of money.

Oh and in case anyone was wondering, yes, that is my dog in my profile picture. What do you think was the reason these movies made so much money? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see you next time.

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Sam Wilson
Non-professional critic.