UPDATED: 3/5/2013-Box office figures have been updated and a more thorough explanation of the historical context has been added.
Due to hit home video remarkably early (3/22), Les Miserables’ days in our houses of cinema in the United States are numbered, as it has fallen outside of the top 20 here while continuing to rake in the cash everywhere else (well, except for France). With its theatrical release in the United States coming to a close, let’s take a moment to reflect on the crazy amount of money this film has made because holy crap, y’all! After 10 weeks of release, Les Misérables has now grossed $147,631,645 domestically, $411,731,645 worldwide. This is for a film which was made with a production budget of $60 million (source: BoxOfficeMojo.com).
What does this all mean? Well, let’s play a tricky game of historical context:
Les Misérables’ Historical Achievements
- 2nd highest ever domestic gross for a film which was released on Christmas day
- 4th highest ever single Christmas day domestic gross (a category which includes both films released on Christmas day and those released prior)
- 18th highest domestic grossing film released in the past 365 days, meaning it made more than Taken 2 (suck it, Liam Neeson and your non-singing version of Jean Val-Jean!), 21 Jump Street, Argo, Prometheus, Magic Mike, and The Bourne Legacy
Les Misérables Vs. Other Feature Film Musicals
- 1st highest ever worldwide gross for a musical which was released at the end of a calender year (a category which includes Chicago, Phantom of the Opera, Dreamgirls, Sweeney Todd, and Nine)
- 2nd highest ever domestic gross for a musical which was released at the end of a calender year (only Chicago made more, domestically)
- All-time domestically since 1974, only Grease and Chicago made more money
- All-time worldwide since 1974, only Mamma Mia and Grease made more money
Before you throw the inflation-related, Gone With the Wind defense my way, allow me to acknowledge that the historical comparisons should be approached with caution. First, the source of these statistics, BoxOfficeMojo.com, openly admits that box office receipts from before 1982 are horribly unreliable due to the variations in the ways in which the numbers used to be recorded. Second, when you adjust to show the grosses in 2013 dollars or simply look at the total number of tickets sold Les Miserables falls just outside the top ten in comparison to other musicals, although one can argue whether BoxOfficeMojo should have categorized The Blues Brothers, Popeye, and Enchanted as musicals and if those which have received re-releases (e.g., Grease, Rocky Horror Picture Show) should at the very least include an asterisk next to their name. However, as interesting an argument one can have about the historical comparisons what’s more important is what Les Misérables’s performance means now, which is this: a movie musical just made A LOT of money. With recent high profile failures such as Nine, Burlesque, and Rock of Ages, many other in-limbo movie musical projects needed Les Mis to do well. Huzzah! It did just that.
So, what Broadway musical is going to be made into a film next? Look for an inventory of that elsewhere on this site. However, here’s one no one was expecting: Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical! Yay…wait, what?
I guess they’re just ignoring America’s recent rejections of Jekyll & Hyde stories, in the form of the embarrassing failures of Jekyll & Hyde-themed television shows My Own Worst Enemy and Do No Harm.
Wait, hold on. You’re going out on that? The movie made a lot of money. Blah, blah, blah. But, where’s the beef? Is it any good? Should I see it? Did you like it?
Well, there are those who will argue about the film’s loyalty to its source material, i.e., the much loved Broadway musical. There are also those who will argue over whether or not the film is even any good. Here at WeMinoredInFilm, I personally like the film but find some of the performances a bit overpraised and the much talked about extreme close-ups a genuine problem whereas fellow WeMinoredInFilm writer Julianne began having her mail forwarded to the local movie theater because she was there so often seeing Les Miserables. We both agree that, particularly for those familiar with the Broadway show, the film benefits from repeat viewing, both due to getting past your own pre-conceived notions as well adjusting to director Tom Hooper’s camerawork.
Source: All box office figures cited in the above article came from BoxOfficeMojo.com
- Upcoming Feature Film Adaptations of Broadway Musicals (weminoredinfilm.com)
- ‘Les Misérables’ Coming Back to Broadway Next Year (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Overthinking Les Miserables (transpersonaltheatre.wordpress.com)