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2013 BOX-OFFICE SURPRISES

                 

For Hicksflicks.com, Aug. 9, 2013

OK, we've passed the halfway mark for 2013 movie releases. the summer's winding down and the usual suspects are dominating the box office — superheroes, cartoons, action pictures, fantasies, rude comedies.

But there are a few surprises among them.

"Iron Man 3" is No. 1 for the year's box-office tally, which is not a surprise, although the amount it has racked up is a bit surprising. The Marvel/Disney production has earned (so far) more than $400 million domestically and over a billion worldwide. Yikes! What's more, it sits at No. 14 on the all-time domestic chart — and No. 5 on the all-time worldwide chart, behind "Avatar," "Titanic," "The Avengers" and the final "Harry Potter" movie. Double yikes!

Those are huge numbers, hard to wrap one's head around, actually. So, to keep it simple, the rest of these figures are strictly domestic, dollars earned at theaters in North America, meaning both the United States and Canada.

It doesn't appear that anything is going to quite catch up with "Iron Man 3" … although a surprising No. 2 is inching closer. And what's most surprising about No. 2 is that it reached that spot in just three weeks and now has a strong hold with $326 million. It was anticipated that "Despicable Me 2" would be successful, but no one saw this level of success coming.

A Universal animated sequel, it started out really strong and just kept going. On its opening weekend "Despicable Me 2" took down "The Lone Ranger" handily; it wasn't even close. In its second week, "Despicable Me 2" held onto the No. 1 spot and beat debut competitors "Grown Ups 2" and "Pacific Rim," despite both films' higher-than-expected earnings. In its third week, "Despicable Me 2" was beat out by the debut of "The Conjuring," yet continued to post strong numbers at No. 2, holding off three other big-studio debuts: "Turbo," "Red 2" and "R.I.P.D.," all of which lagged well behind. "Despicable Me 2" remains impressive at the box office, a lot stronger than most films five weeks after opening.

No. 3 for the year so far is the Superman film "Man of Steel" ($288 million), followed by Pixar's "Monsters University" ($259 million), "Fast & Furious 6" ($238 million), "Oz the Great and Powerful" ($235 million), "Star Trek Into Darkness" ($226 million), "World War Z" ($195 million), "The Croods" ($186 million) and "The Heat" ($149 million).

The biggest surprise among these is another animated feature, this one from Fox, "The Croods." Who saw that coming?

Other animated films have done pretty well, "Epic" (at No. 18, $107 million), "Turbo" (No. 29, $69 million and counting) and "Escape From Planet Earth" (No. 35, $57 million). Still to come are Disney's "Planes" (Aug. 9) "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs  2," Disney's "Frozen," "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return," "Free Birds" and a reissue of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" (in 3D).

"Smurfs 2" isn't here because it's a combination of live-action and animation, and we could argue about whether it's any more or less an animated film than, say, "Jack the Giant Slayer" and "Oz the Great and Powerful" … or for that matter "Iron Man 3" and "Man of Steel."