I have said it before, and I will say it again: The best film of 2007 was a little movie called “Once”!!

’07 Box Office Bears Brand of Spidey
Los Angeles (E! Online) – If 2007 was any indication, Indiana Jones and Speed Racer are going to enjoy 2008.
Brand was king at last year’s box office, as 7 out of 10 of the top-grossing movies were extensions of long-standing franchises.
“It does seem like movie stars can help, but it’s more like the brand name really helps,” says Chad Hartigan, a box-office analyst for the tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co.
Spider-Man 3, the latest big-screen adventure for the 45-year-old Marvel Comics star, led the way with $336.5 million, per final studio figures compiled this week by Exhibitor Relations.
It was joined in the top 10 by the familiar likes of Shrek the Third (second place, $321 million), Transformers (third place, $319.1 million), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (fourth place, $309.4 million), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (fifth place, $292 million), The Bourne Ultimatum (sixth place, $227.5 million) and The Simpsons Movie (10th place, $183.1 million).
If Pixar is considered its own brand, then the list grows to eight with the animation giant’s Ratatouille (eighth place, $206.4 million).
300 (seventh place, $210.6 million) and I Am Legend (ninth place, $206.1 million) were the only top 10 entries that didn’t come complete with a legacy of book, comic or toy lines, although even 300 was based on a historical battle, and I Am Legend was a remake of an iconic sci-fi novel.
Observes Box Office Mojo’s Brandon Gray of Hollywood’s 2007 game plan: “Very few risks were taken.”
Not that playing it safe isn’t its own reward. The movies combined to gross a record $9.6 billion, up 4 percent from 2006, thank you Spider-Man and ticket prices that were, coincidentally, up about 4 percent from 2006.
The majority of the money rolled in from March, when 300 began its onslaught, through the sequel-laden summer and then again in December, when I Am Legend, National Treasure: Book of Secrets ($142.9 million) and the surprisingly chipper Alvin and the Chipmunks ($153.6 million), all opened big. Elsewhere, Hartigan says, “everything else didn’t cut the mustard.”
In the end, actual attendance was flat, up less than 1 percent from 2006. The 1.4 billion tickets sold put moviegoing at 1997 levels, per Box Office Mojo.
“The audience did not grow,” Gray says. “It doesn’t mean the box office wasn’t healthy. It means it was status quo at best.
“There need to be new movies and new franchises created.”
So, is that what we’ll be getting in 2008? Um, no, says Gray: “There isn’t much new going on.”
But there are more brand names on the way. The coming months will see: The latest James Bond, Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia movies; the return of Indiana Jones, via Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; and the big-screen debuts for a cartoon king (Speed Racer), a comics favorite (Iron Man) and a beloved sitcom (Sex and the City).
Per usual, few introductions will be needed.
Here, meanwhile, are more tidbits from the ’07 box office, per data from Exhibitor Relations and Box Office Mojo:
ï Scads of movie stars, from George Clooney (Michael Clayton ) to Nicole Kidman (The Golden Compass, The Invasion), from Tom Cruise (Lions for Lambs) to Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James), from Ben Stiller (The Heartbreak Kid) to Tom Hanks (Charlie Wilson’s War), had trouble selling tickets; Will Smith (I Am Legend) didn’t. He alone led a star-driven vehicle to the top 10. Says Gray: “Will Smith has cemented his status as the star of the moment.” ï Judd Apatow spawned two hit comedies (Knocked Up and Superbad), but nobody helmed a bigger live-action comedy hit than Walt Becker. He would be the director of the one, the only Wild Hogs ($168.3 million)óthe biggest hit of John Travolta’s career, the biggest non-CGI hit of Tim Allen’s career, the biggest hit of Martin Lawrence’s career and the biggest hit of William H. Macy’s career. Muses Hartigan: “Four leads who probably couldn’t buy a hit on their own, but put them together…” ï Travolta actually starred in two ’07 hits, albeit one, Hairspray ($118.9 million), in the guise of a plus-size woman. ï All told, 27 films made at least $100 million; 12 movies made at least $150 million; nine films made at least $200 million; and four films surpassed $300 million. ï Spider-Man 3 climbed to 15th place on the list of all-time top grossers, knocking 1994’s Forrest Gump down a notch. But when the superhero movie’s take is adjusted for inflation, it ranks 92ndó70 spots below the estimable Mr. Gump. ï When is a hit not a hit? When Evan Almighty hangs in there to top $100 millionóit crossed the finish line at $100.3 millionóbut doesn’t make anybody forget that it cost $175 million to produce. Similarly, Bee Movie ($124.5 million) couldn’t match its pricey budget. ï More fun with movie math: Live Free or Die Hard ($134.5 million) made more money, but sold fewer tickets, than any of the previous three Bruce Willis action titles. ï Among the sequels in the top 10, The Bourne Ultimatum was alone in doing more business than its previous installment. ï Couple comedies were big, provided the couples were comprised of two men, ‡ la Superbad ($121.5 million), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry ($119.7 million) and Blades of Glory ($118.6 million). ï Among the movies in the $100 million club, only one, Enchanted ($113.9 million), was led by a female character. ï What became of the other movies with female leads? Not much, as evidenced by the receipts of The Nanny Diaries ($25.9 million), Nancy Drew ($25.6 million) and Sydney White ($11.7 million). ï What became of movies about our post-9/11 world? Even less, as evidenced by the takes of Reign Over Me ($19.7 million), Lions for Lambs ($14.9 million), Rendition ($9.7 million), In the Valley of Elah ($6.8 million), and Grace Is Gone ($36,613), ï Jessica Simpson’s probably gone on shopping sprees bigger than the year-end take of her comedy Blonde Ambition, which opened Dec. 21, and, through two sparsely attended weekends, “grossed” $5,561. ï Compared to Simpson, fellow pop star Justin Timberlake was a box-office force with Alpha Dog ($15.3 million) and Black Snake Moan ($9.4 million). ï Paula Abdul needn’t have shed so many tears over Bratz ($10 million). ï The Grindhouse ($25 million) rule: Two movies are not necessarily bigger than one. ï The problem of enjoying a superbig hit, ‡ la Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 ($119.2 millionóthe top-grossing documentary of all time), is that your pretty-big hits, ‡ la Moore’s Sicko ($24.5 millionóthe third-biggest documentary of all time), look small by comparison.
Here’s a recap of the top-grossing 2007 films, through Dec. 31, as based on tallies compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
1. Spider-Man 3, $336.5 million
2. Shrek the Third, $321 million
3. Transformers, $319.1 million
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, $309.4 million
5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, $292 million
6. The Bourne Ultimatum, $227.5 million
7. 300, $210.6 million
8. Ratatouille, $206.4 million
9. I Am Legend, $206.1 million
10. The Simpsons Movie, $183.1 million