Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 2009

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

The Year 2009
Year
Event and Significance
2009
Visionary director James Cameron's monumental work Avatar (2009), his first feature film since Titanic (1997), was a futuristic, epic 3-D live-action film, with ground-breaking special effects, and an estimated budget of $300 million (much of it spent on CGI). It became only the fifth film in movie history to exceed $1 billion in worldwide grosses, and did so in less than 3 weeks, and soon surpassed The Dark Knight (2008) to become the top grossing (domestic) film of the entire decade. Shortly later, it became the highest-grossing film of all-time (worldwide and domestic). It was the highest-grossing (domestic) film of 2009, taking in $749.8 million, soundly beating the second-placed film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) at $402 million, and third-placed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009) at $302 million. The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) was fourth at $297 million.
2009
The DreamWorks sci-fi spoof of 50s monster movies, Monsters vs. Aliens (2009) was the first computer-animated feature film to be shot directly in stereoscopic 3-D -- dubbed the Ultimate 3-D. Previously, 3-D CGI films were made in a non 3-D version and then dimensionalized. Other 3-D computer animated films would also debut in the new format: 20th Century Fox's and James Cameron's Avatar (2009), Fox's Ice Age 3 (2009), Disney's expensive motion-capture A Christmas Carol (2009), and Pixar's Toy Story 3 (2010).
2009
Director Patrick Lussier's 100% live-action film My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009) was the first R-rated film to be projected in Real D technology. It was a remake of the 1981 slasher film of the same name.
2009
The reimagined or rebooted Friday the 13th (2009), a remake of the original 1980 film of the same name, became the slasher/horror film with the largest weekend debut on record, at about $41 million, besting the previous record holder The Grudge (2004) with $39 million and Freddy vs. Jason (2003) at $36.4 million.
2009
The surprise hit comedy The Hangover (2009), was the fastest R-rated youth comedy to reach the $200 million mark (it took 30 days). Bucking the trend of big-name stars ensuring success, it featured a trio of unknowns (Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper) known as the Wolfpack. It became the top-grossing (domestic) R-rated youth comedy, earning $277.3 million (its own sequel in 2011 was the second-highest at $254.5 million).
2009
The Friday the 13th series of horror films regained its prominence as the highest-grossing horror film series, with the release of Friday the 13th (2009), surpassing the Saw franchise of 6 films, the previous record holder. The latest Saw film (Saw VI (2009)) took in $27.7 million, giving the Saw franchise a grand total of $370.2 million by the year 2009. The total domestic gross for the 12 Friday the 13th films was $380.6 million, boosted by the $65 million box-office gross for Friday the 13th (2009).
2009
The latest movie gimmick was the D-Box, a vibrating movie theater chair, invented by a Montreal-based company. The first major theatrical release to use the system was Universal's Fast & Furious, with the Motion-Code technology written into it. Chairs were installed in LA's Grauman's Chinese Theatre, and in a theater in Surprise, Arizona, and the enhanced seating was available for a $5 surcharge. The chair would vibrate, move, lean, and shake based upon action on the screen.
2009
Disney's and Robert Zemeckis' 3-D feature A Christmas Carol (2009) was an adaptation of Dickens' 1843 classic story that was told using "performance capture," in which Jim Carrey played multiple roles, including old miser Scrooge (at different stages of his life) and the three Christmas ghosts. It was released in both Disney Digital 3-D and in IMAX 3-D (it was the first Disney animated film released in this format). Performance capture-advocate Robert Zemeckis had previously experimented with the technology in his own The Polar Express (2004) and Beowulf (2007), and extensively used the technique in this film. It was Zemeckis' first film with Disney since Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). To date, it was the most expensive 3D animation film ever made, budgeted at a production cost of $200 million.
2009
Hollywood studios realized that they could leverage the popularity of social networking sites (such as Facebook and Twitter) to market films, encourage positive word-of-mouth, raise awareness and stimulate ticket sales. Warner Bros. and director Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are (2009), adapted from Maurice Sendak's classic children's tale, had more than 1.5 million devotees on its Facebook page as it was first debuting in theatres. The movie's website also offered an iPhone app. Millions of Facebook fans also signed on to be followers of the Twilight sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), and an official Twitter page was also established for the film. The first screening of director Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (2009) from Universal Pictures at the annual Comicon convention in San Diego was packed by people who won admission via Twitter.
2009
The breakout independent horror film hit of the year, writer/director Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity (2009) was budgeted at only $15,000 and filmed in 2007 in only ten days. It was first shown in limited release, in college towns at midnight shows. The studio launched a campaign using the Eventful feature developed by a San Diego company known for promoting concerts. With the Internet feature called "Demand It," Paramount asked fans and would-be watchers to help determine the film's fate and see if it warranted a potential wide-release. When one million frenzied fans demanded to see it, the film was expanded to 160 screens, and grossed $7.9 million in box-office revenue, breaking the record for highest grossing weekend ever for a film playing in less than 200 theaters. It eventually made estimated earnings of $107.9 million (domestic to date) and $193 million (worldwide), a huge return on investment. [In comparison, ten years earlier, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was budgeted at $65,000, and made earnings of $140 million, only 215K% return on investment.] Part of the reason for the film's financial success was a grassroots Internet campaign that included a "Tweet Your Scream" promotion using social-networking site Twitter.
2009
100+ year-old Portuguese auteur director Manoel de Oliveira released his 15th feature of the 21st century - a doomed romance entitled Eccentricities of a Blonde-haired Girl (2009). Reportedly, since the decade's start in 2001, Oliveira was the oldest movie director still making films. This was undoubtedly the first film made by a hundred year-old director.
2009
In director Zack Snyder's Watchmen (2009), a filmed adaptation of Alan Moore's graphic novel (a 12-issue publication by DC Comics between 1986 and 1987), the photo-realistic, all-CGI character of the all-powerful, blue-glowing "atomized" scientist Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) was created with the process of motion capture. Dr. Manhattan's character appeared in approximately 38 minutes of the entire film. Crudup wore a specially-designed motion capture suit covered with pattern markers and face markers - he was filmed with two to four HD "witness" cameras (in addition to the film's master camera) to capture his overall full-body movements and facial expressions. All the cameras were synced so animators could then triangulate Crudup's performance in-frame. The number of black facial markers on the suit was a record 165 spot points, allowing the animators to track his expressions through video and then use that data as a jumping-off point to hand-animate Manhattan's face. Crudup's suit was also equipped with 2500 LEDs to create Manhattan's diffuse blue glow.
2009
The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), the werewolves/vampire romance sequel following Twilight (2008) and based upon Stephenie Meyer's teenage vampire books, claimed the North American box-office record for the biggest single-day and opening-day grosses at almost $72.7 million, besting the previous title holder, the Batman sequel The Dark Knight (2008) with about $67 million. It also became the third-biggest opening weekend on record in Hollywood history at $142.8 million, behind the The Dark Knight (2008) at $158.4 million, and Spider-Man 3 (2007) at $151.1 million, ousting Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) from the third spot with $135.6 million. It also scored the biggest opening two-day gross ever (at $115.9 million for Friday-Saturday), edging The Dark Knight's $114.8 million start, and the biggest midnight showing ever (at $26.3 million). Most accounts attributed the record-breaking hit to its 80 percent female audience.
Decade
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the highest grossing actress of the 2000s decade was Emma Watson, for her six live-action Harry Potter films (2001-2009), which earned $1.7 billion (domestic), or $5.4 billion (worldwide) - or roughly $900 million per film (worldwide). Likewise, her lead co-star Daniel Radcliffe was the highest average-grossing box-office star in a leading role in the decade, averaging about $285 million (domestic) per film.
Decade
The decade of the 2000s saw advancements in 3D and an explosion of releases of both 3-D films and IMAX films. And with many more theatres converted to the 3D format, that meant increased demand and bookings (and ticket prices) for 3D films. Older films like The Nightmare Before Christmas 3D (2006, original 1993), Toy Story in 3D (2009, original 1995), Toy Story 2 in 3D (2009, original 1999), and Night of the Living Dead 3D (2009, original 1968) were re-released in 3-D, and there were indications that the next phase of the 3-D Renaissance would be more 3D re-releases of classic blockbusters, such as Star Wars (1977), The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003), The Matrix (1999), Top Gun (1986), and Titanic (1997).
2009
At the end of 2009, the domestic yearly box-office gross hit almost $10.6 billion, based upon US and Canadian ticket sales - it was a milestone year, besting the 2008 total of $9.63 billion and 2007 total of $9.66 billion. During the hard economic times of the recession, it once again illustrated that film-going could be a tonic for economic worries and concerns, especially with such crowd-pleasing films as Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Warners' Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), 20th Century Fox's Avatar (2009) and Disney's/Pixar's Up (2009).
2009
For the first time since 2002, domestic movie ticket sales surpassed revenue from the purchase of DVDs. The recessionary economy and the current transitionary stage from DVDs to Blue-Ray and to video-on-demand digital downloads through Internet-enabled televisions, were partially accountable for the reversal.
2009
According to www.the-numbers.com, the most popular (top-grossing) film genres from 1995 to 2009 were Comedy (24%), Adventure (20%), Drama (19%), Action (17%), Thriller/Suspense (7%), Romantic Comedy (6%), Horror (5%), Documentary (1%), Musical (1%).
2009
The merge of the decade, between AOL and Time Warner, instituted in 2000, ended -- at the end of 2009, Time Warner announced that it would spin off AOL as a separate independent company.
2009
After celebrity Michael Jackson's unexpected and untimely death at age 50 on June 25, 2009, a documentary called This Is It (2009) was hastily constructed from 120 hours of upcoming London concert rehearsal footage (including interviews and backstage) filmed over a recent period of a few months - a fitting tribute and eulogy for the "King of Pop."
2009
In late August of 2009, Walt Disney Co. announced that it had agreed to purchase comic book and action hero company Marvel Entertainment for $3.9 billion. Marvel was the comic-book company behind X-Men and Spider-Man. Disney's Pixar animation unit was expectant over the opportunities that the Marvel acquisition would generate. Marvel had launched a large number of action-hero films over the past decade, including Spider-Man (2002, 2004, 2007), X-Men (2000, 2003, 2006), and Fantastic Four (2005, 2007). Iron Man (2008) was Marvel Studios' first self-financed and self-produced movie, followed by The Incredible Hulk (2008).
2009
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) decided to return to featuring an expanded field of nominees for Best Picture. From now on, there would be ten films nominated in the Best Picture category - the last time this happened was 1943 (66 years ago). The Academy was hoping for a possible increase in TV ratings for the awards ceremony (held two weeks later than the previous year), and a broader range of films. As hoped, the fact that Avatar was a nominee and the biggest blockbuster of all time did boost the ratings. Preliminary indications were that the TV ratings were up to 41.3 million viewers, much better than the previous year's 36.3 million (a 14% jump). It was the most watched show in five years -- a definite improvement over 2007's all-time low of 32 million viewers, the year the Best Picture win went, predictably, to No Country for Old Men (2007).
2009
The Best Picture-nominated sports-film The Blind Side (2009), a heart-warming drama starring Sandra Bullock, became the highest-grossing football (sports-related) film of all time. It was Bullock's highest-grossing film ever, and the all-time top-earning film driven by a female star. Due to her successes in both The Blind Side (2009) and The Proposal (2009), Bullock became the highest paid actress of the year ($56 million). Bullock won her first Oscar, Best Actress, for her role as a Southern belle foster mom. She also became the first (and only) performer to win both a 'Best Actress' Oscar and a 'Worst Actress' Razzie Award (for All About Steve (2009)) in the same year.
2009
Disney's animated The Princess and the Frog (2009), a modern day retelling of the classic story The Frog Prince, was the studio's first traditional 2-D animated film in 5 years, since Home on the Range (2004). It also featured the studio's first-ever black female protagonist, an African-American princess named Tiana (voice of Anika Noni Rose).
2009
The British political satire In the Loop (2009) - marked the first instance that a film that premiered on VOD (video-on-demand) concurrent with its theatrical release was nominated for a major Oscar (Best Adapted Screenplay).
2009
Precious Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009) was the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, Lee Daniels, who received his first Best Director nomination for the film. Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar-winner Geoffrey Fletcher was the first African-American to win the award. Black actress and talk show host Mo'Nique also won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as an abusive mother.
2009
Director Kathryn Bigelow's tense, nail-biting war film The Hurt Locker (2009) took top Oscar honors. Its six wins included Best Picture, defeating ex-husband director James Cameron's Avatar (2009), and Best Director. The latter win marked a milestone win for a female director (and American director). Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for directing.
2009
The Hurt Locker (2009) was the fifth consecutive R-rated Best Picture winner, and also notable as the lowest-grossing winner of all time, with a domestic box office of only $14.7 million (8th place among the ten Best Picture nominees of the year). Since the R-rated film was released in June of 2009, it was long since removed from theatres, and available on DVD since January 12, 2010 (with currently over 700,000 sold). Because of its Oscar nomination, it was re-released to almost 300 theatres, and increased its take by about $2 million, about 14% of its total revenue. However, compared to the top three nominated domestic moneymakers of 2009, Avatar ($760 million), Up ($293 million), and The Blind Side ($256 million), its earnings were insignificant.
2009
Disney's/Pixar's animated film Up (2009), the second animated film ever nominated for Best Picture (following Beauty and the Beast (1991)), won two Oscar awards: Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Score, and was one of the top moneymakers of the year (at $293 million (domestic) and $731 million (worldwide) to date). It was the first CG-animated Best Picture nominee, and the first to receive a Best Picture nomination since animated films received their own category in 2001. It was the third consecutive Oscar in this category for Disney/Pixar, following Ratatouille (2007) and Wall-E (2008), with the studios now winning 5/9 awards since the new category was established in 2001.
2009
Betty Thomas became the most successful female director, measured by the domestic box-office take for her Christmas hit Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009). It was the first female-directed picture to gross (domestically) more than $200 million (at approx $220 million), and $443 million (worldwide).
2009
Although women remained in the minority in terms of film-making (as directors, writers, and producers), 2009 was a watershed year. In addition to Kathryn Bigelow's Best Director win for The Hurt Locker (2009), and Betty Thomas' milestone as the most successful woman director ever at the box office (domestic) for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), there were these other developments: (1) director Anne Fletcher's The Proposal (2009) (starring Sandra Bullock) was a tremendous hit, scoring $164 million (domestic) at the box-office, (2) It's Complicated (2009), directed and written by Nancy Meyers and starring Meryl Streep, made $112 million (domestic) at the box-office, (3) Best Actress Oscar-winning Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side (2009) and veteran actress Meryl Streep outperformed their male counterparts fairly consistently. Streep competed against Bullock and was Oscar-nominated for her lead role in writer/director Nora Ephron's Julie & Julia (2009), which made $94 million (domestic) at the box-office.
2009
Entertainer and "King of Pop" Michael Jackson died at the age of 50 on June 25, 2009, at his home in Los Angeles after suffering from cardiac arrest caused by a fatal combination of prescription drugs. Columbia Pictures acquired the rights and footage of Jackson's This Is It concert show rehearsals just before his death and created the concert film, Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009), directed by Kenny Ortega. Jackson's last film soon became the highest grossing concert movie and documentary in the history of cinema.
2009
Filmmaker (director, writer, and producer) John Hughes, famous for teenage dramas and comedies including Sixteen Candles (1984), The Breakfast Club (1985), Weird Science (1985), Pretty in Pink (1986), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), and Home Alone (1990), died on August 6, 2009 at the age of 59 in New York City.
2009
The national average ticket price for theatre admission was $7.50, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).
2009
The highest-grossing (domestic) film of all-time on Christmas Day was Sherlock Holmes (2009), at $24.6 million. December 25th was also its opening day, when it just surpassed the 2nd highest film, Avatar (2009). It retained that milestone for many years.


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