2013 Worldwide Box Office Analysis: The Top 20 Films

Find out what were the Top 20 films of 2013 at the global box office. Including Worldwide Grosses and the Domestic (USA) / International (Rest of World) split.

Box Office

Studio tally:

  • Warner Bros 6 
  • Disney 5 
  • Paramount 3 
  • Lionsgate 2 
  • Universal 2 
  • Fox 2 
  • Sony 0

Disney won big with two $1bn+ films (Frozen will pass the mark within weeks) and 3 other hits including 2 from Pixar and Marvel which goes to show how important those acquisitions are. Lucasfilm will a lot to prove if they are to stand alongside Marvel & Pixar.

Unfortunately we can’t ignore The Lone Ranger which was a costly bomb as many predicted. Proof that studio need to rein in online negativity better – the bad buzz killed that film months before it came out.

Also rule number 1 when it comes to setting up new franchises – budget smartly! You don’t spend $200m+ on an unproven film even with a big name star, director and producer. When your film is a hit then, and only then, can you justify ramping up the budget to mega-buster levels!

Disney’s Marvel ruled 2012 with the third biggest film of all time The Avengers and amazingly pulled off the same trick again in 2013 as Iron Man 3 powered its way to a huge $1.2bn+ gross. That’s roughly twice what Iron Man 2 made. The post-Avengers bump was also experienced by Thor: The Dark World, the tenth biggest film of the year, which has made roughly $30m less than Warner’s Man Of Steel Superman reboot. In other words that’s $30m less than a film that cost a lot more, had a prime summer release date, had a bigger marketing budget and features the world’s most recognisable superhero. Not bad at all, Asgardian!

Iron Man 3

That’s not to diminish the success of Man Of Steel however, which reset the DC switch successfully and finally set into motion DC’s long awaited, connected universe and the Justice League. Let’s hope they have the nerve to see the plan through to its completion.

Marvel was also represented with The Wolverine which hit an X-Men franchise high with its overseas take and is now the 2nd most successful X-Men film to date. Fox will be hoping 2014’s Days Of Future Past can elevate the series into the upper tier of $750m+ comic book movies currently occupied by Spider-Man, Batman, Iron Man & The Avengers.

Warners did very well with 6 films on the list. And as I’ve said before they are the industries most capable studio when it comes to delivering in all genres. Of the 6 films one was a comic book movie, one an R-rated comedy, one an epic fantasy, one a grand 3D romantic drama, one a serious sci-fi original and one a ridiculous sci-fi original. That is a very varied slate. And let’s not forget the performance of horror The Conjuring. Although it didn’t make the Top 20 it was a breakout hit and reiterates why Blumhouse productions are force to be reckoned with.

Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim made good money overseas but was weak at the domestic box office. I wouldn’t bet on a sequel. Hobbit did well, but didn’t match its predecessor (or its Lord Of The Rings predecessors) even though it was generally regarded to be much better than the first Hobbit instalment. It will be interesting to see how well the third instalment plays out – historically it should do the best but despite part two’s near $900m+ gross it still feels like a series which isn’t anywhere near as beloved as the Lord of the Rings.

Sony had a truly dismal year with all of their summer tentpoles failing and not a signal film cracking the Top 20. Their Smurfs 2 was the 21st biggest film of the year but that was down notably compared to its predecessor.

Lionsgate did very well from 2 hits. One a summer sleeper with an eclectic cast and the other a true box office beast. The Hunger Games sequel is the biggest film of the year at the US box office and 4th internationally. This series will continue to perform for Lionsgate and proves why this “mini major” is surely ready to take the step up to “major” status.


Fox only had the Wolverine and distribution for DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods. Fox needs to focus on its own animation studio Blue Sky and reconsider its approach to creating franchises which over the years has seen more failed franchises than any other studio. Now is also the time to realise the value of the X-Men licence which always performs for them and give it the support it deserves. 2014 is looking good though with X-Men DOFP and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes both looking impressive.

Universal only had 2 films in the Top 20 but they were strong at position 3 and 6. The Fast & Furious franchise is only getting bigger with each instalment. Paul Walker’s tragic death will mean a renewed focus on 2015’s Fast 7 and I fully expect the series to remain strong. Universal has also scored with a number of “urban” films lately. Do studios need more proof? Make appealing films for underserved audiences and they will come out to support it! The global and US audience for movies is getting more varied and audiences want to see more diversity onscreen. Make it happen!

Paramount’s World War Z had terrible buzz and was looking like it could have been the most expensive flop of the year. Amazingly they turned it around with a strong marketing campaign and a solid if not remarkable film which hit over $500m worldwide. Their other 2 franchises Star Trek & GI Joe both did well enough but were still considered to have under-performed. The future of Star Trek is intriguing. With JJ Abrams jumping ship to Disney’s Star Wars, Paramount will need a clear plan if they want to restore Star Trek to bigger box office.

See More: Summer 2013 Box Office Full Analysis: Who Won And Who Lost

There were 4 CG animated films on the list this year and topping the list was the behemoth Frozen which came out of nowhere and has dominated the box office since its winter release. The film has the kind of legs that studios dream of and will hit the $1bn milestone very soon. It beat out very stiff competition from Universal & Illumination’s Despicable Me 2 which brought in a huge $970m. That is an amazing result and a great vindication for Universal’s readiness to enter the animated market. Illumination has hardly put a foot wrong and will keep going from strength to strength as long as they can keep the quality up. Now is the time for them to build up their own brand equity, that’s the difference between a leader like Pixar and a follower like Blue Sky.

13 of the Top 20 were sequels or reboots. Most were based on existing properties but there were a few breakout originals most noticeably headed by Warner Bros’ space epic Gravity made over $700m and invites similar comparisons to that other WB original sci-fi hit Inception.

Only one of the Top 20 was R-rated (Hangover 3 which hit a franchise low but still cracked the Top 20), with the rest PG-13 or PG. No change there.

Finally much has been said about the supposed growing lack of interest in 3D – Paramount is releasing Noah in 3D only in specific markets but crucially not in the US or UK. But look at the numbers – 16 of the Top 20 were 3D movies. 3D is still popular in a lot of markets especially overseas and the success of Gravity (and Avatar & Life of Pi before it) proves that the public appreciates 3D if it’s done right.

The full Top 20 is below:


Title Studio


Domestic $ / %

Intl $ / %


Iron Man 3 Dis







Frozen Dis







Despicable Me 2 Uni







The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug WB







The Hunger Games: Catching Fire LG







Fast & Furious 6 Uni







Monsters University Dis







Gravity WB







Man of Steel WB







Thor: The Dark World Dis







The Croods Fox







World War Z Par







Oz The Great and Powerful Dis







Star Trek Into Darkness Par







The Wolverine Fox







Pacific Rim WB







G.I. Joe: Retaliation Par







The Hangover Part III WB







Now You See Me LG







The Great Gatsby (2013) WB






Source: Box Office Mojo

See past worldwide Box Office analysis:

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