Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History
The Year 2013
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
|Event and Significance|
|The shoot-em-up action film Bullet to the Head (2013) was Sylvester Stallone's worst debut ever for a film playing in more than 1,000 theatres. There were many other action film flops at the same time that did poor domestic box-office: Broken City (2013), Taylor Hackford's Parker (2013) with Jennifer Lopez, Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand (2013), and the sequel A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) with Bruce Willis.|
|The most successful film of the year in the first quarter was Buena Vista's Oz: the Great and Powerful (2013) with $204.6 million (domestic). The first big test of box-office revenue was in May, when four major sequels hit theaters: Iron Man 3 (2013), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Fast and Furious 6 (2013), and The Hangover: Part 3 (2013).|
|The visual-effects industry reached a crisis stage as many of the VFX houses struggled to survive or closed. In late 2012, Digital Domain (co-founded by James Cameron) declared bankruptcy and its assets were sold to new Indian and Chinese owners. And in early 2013, Rhythm & Hues also filed for Chapter 11 and laid off 250 workers, and was soon acquired by an affiliate of Prana Studios. (Shortly afterwards, Rhythm & Hues won an Oscar for its work on director Ang Lee's acclaimed Life of Pi (2012)). A glut of VFX houses, lack of work (and fewer films), expensive overhead costs with tiny profit margins, non-unionized VFX workers, and competition from cheaper labor overseas were some of the factors for the growing problem.|
|Django Unchained (2013) became the highest-grossing film in director Quentin Tarantino's career. It paid homage to the 91 minute Sergio Corbucci violent spaghetti-western classic Django (1966) with Italian actor Franco Nero in the lead role. Django was a gun-slinging drifter known for dragging behind him a coffin with a large machine gun, and confronting bad guys in a muddy ghost town. [Note: Django also referred to the renowned jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt with a crippled hand.]|
|With his debut feature film, director Fede Alvarez remade Sam Raimi's cabin-in-the-woods horror cult classic Evil Dead (1981), affectionately recreating the over-the-top gore, blood, and slapstick.|
|Films with various milestone anniversaries:
50th: Alfred Hitchcock's eco-horror thriller The Birds (1963), the expensive lengthy epic Cleopatra (1963), the classic POW drama The Great Escape (1963), and the cameo-filled comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) about a frantic scavenger hunt for treasure.
30th: the high-school comedy satire Risky Business (1983) with a young Tom Cruise, the last film in the original trilogy Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983), the glorified music video Flashdance (1983), and the holiday movie classic A Christmas Story (1983).
25th: the original Die Hard (1988) with action-hero Bruce Willis, Best Picture-winning Rain Man (1988), and the contemporary remake of Dickens' A Christmas Carol titled Scrooged (1988) with Bill Murray.
20th: writer/director Nora Ephron's romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle (1993) with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks reworking An Affair to Remember (1957), Spielberg's Best Picture-winning historical Holocaust drama Schindler's List (1993), and the Capra-esque Groundhog Day (1993).
|Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer. He had come to major prominence as a co-host with Chicago Tribune writer Gene Siskel on Siskel and Ebert and the Movies, beginning in 1986. Although he drew some scorn from other critics for his thumbs-up and thumbs-down ratings that they claimed trivialized film criticism, it became a trademark, well-known standard of judgment. Ebert became the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 for his Chicago Sun-Times reviews. His columns were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and abroad, and he wrote more than 15 books, many by reissuing his columns. In 2005, he became the first film critic to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.|
|On its 20th anniversary, director Steven Spielberg's blockbuster mega-hit sci-fi adventure film Jurassic Park (1993), a ground-breaking technological adaptation of Michael Crichton's book, was re-released in 3-D and IMAX.|
|Writer/director Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor (2013) was a significant milestone for the director. He became one of only three directors (with Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis) who had, in their careers, at least 9 movies that opened to more than $20 million. In its first week of release, Temptation took in $21.6 million at the box-office (on opening weekend).|
|Johnny Depp (from the Pirates of the Caribbean series) was reunited with director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer in Disney's big-budget The Lone Ranger (2013), promising to be the most expensive Hollywood western ever made. It told the age-old story of a lawman-turned-masked-vigilante (Armie Hammer) and his partner, a Native American warrior named Tonto (Johnny Depp). The revisionist western that remade the 1950's TV show was cooly received and was a major box-office flop, partly due to the backlash over its portrayal of Tonto.|
|The summer super-hero blockbuster Iron Man 3 (2013) from Walt Disney Studios became only the 16th film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide, and the first in Marvel Studios' Tony Stark trilogy to pass that milestone. The other two films in the franchise did lesser box-office: Iron Man 2 (2010) at $623.9 million (worldwide), and Iron Man (2008) at $585.2 million (worldwide).|
|The prequel Monsters University (2013) marked the 14th straight No. 1 film in Pixar's 18-year history. Since its first animated release in 1995, Pixar has seen every one of its 14 films debut at # 1. Monsters University had the second-highest opening ever for the Northern California-based company at $82 million, behind the $110.3 million launch of Toy Story 3 (2010).|
|The year marked the 25th anniversary of the murderous, wise-cracking doll character Chucky, a toy possessed by the spirit of a serial killer, who first appeared in the surprise hit horror movie Child's Play (1988). The original film spawned four sequels (1990, 1991, 1998, and 2004), and a fifth sequel in the franchise, title Curse of Chucky (2013) was to appear in the fall in digital video format (rather than theatrically).|
|This was the 50th anniversary of funnyman Jerry Lewis' best comedy - The Nutty Professor (1963), a parody of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The bucktoothed, absent-minded university chemistry professor Dr. Julius Kelp (Lewis) drank serum and was turned into the confident, extroverted, night-club singing hipster Buddy Love - reportedly a parody of Lewis’s former partner Dean Martin. The film was remade by Eddie Murphy in 1996, with the same title (and a sequel in the year 2000).|
|Zombie films continue to intrigue and spark interest
among film-makers (and film-goers). AMC's episodic series The
the romantic zombie comedy Warm Bodies (2013), Marc Forster's
big-budget zombie apocalypse film World War Z (2013) with Brad
Pitt, and the recent 2012 zombie films (both released in mid-2013):
the high-school horror-comedy Detention
of the Dead (2012) and
the bizarrely-themed low-budget comedy Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012) are
The rights to remake George Romero's 1985 zombie classic, Day of the Dead (1985), were bought by two of the executive producers of the rebooted Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). The producers expected to release their remake, budgeted at between $10-20 million, in theaters in 2014. They also stated that they would honor Romero's original film, about military personnel and scientists hiding from the undead in a bunker.
|The highest grossing movies of the summer of 2013 were Iron Man 3 (2013), Despicable Me 2 (2013), and Man of Steel (2013), and Disney's/Pixar's Monsters University (2013), but many of the most high-profile, special effects-laden, expensive films were tremendous flops, including Will Smith's and Sony Pictures' sci-fi After Earth (2013), Guillermo del Toro's creature feature Pacific Rim (2013), Johnny Depp's and Walt Disney's western remake The Lone Ranger (2013), the DC action picture White House Down (2013) with Channing Tatum, DreamWorks' Turbo (2013), and The Smurfs 2 (2013). Much more modest, low-budget B-films (comedies, cheaply-made animations and horror pictures) fared much better, such as the paranormal horror film The Conjuring (2013), The Purge (2013), Adam Sandler's crude comedy Grown Ups 2 (2013), and the female cop comedy The Heat (2013) with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. This could establish a new trend for the summer - fewer $100 million + big-budget blockbusters scheduled for the summer.|
|The average cost of a US movie theatre ticket, at $8.38 per ticket, was recorded as the highest on record (although adjusted for inflation, was less than 40 years ago when the average was $1.76). The surge, up from $7.96 a year ago, was mostly due to the $3-$5 surcharge on 3-D and IMAX tickets (for films such as The Great Gatsby (2013) and Iron Man 3 (2013)). Revenues were down only minimally (less than 1% this year), but audience attendance was definitely shrinking at a faster pace - down 3%.|
|Although consumers were continuing to spend less on DVD purchases, total spending for home movies actually grew 2% in the first half of 2013 (to $8.63 billion). Purchases included accessing and/or owning electronic-digital copies of movies, DVDs and Blu-rays (slightly more expensive), and subscriptions to streaming services (such as Netflix). The main businesses to benefit included Amazon.com, Apple's iTunes, Best Buy's CinemaNow, Google Play, and Wal-Mart's Vudu. Ultraviolet, an online storage service for consumers' purchased digital content, also increased its business. Businesses that were declining included the rental spending sector (but not VOD) and video rental kiosks (such as Redbox).|
|By 2013, the golden age or craze for 3-D films had hit some lows - fewer and fewer 3-D ticket sales (usually averaging $3.50 more per ticket) were seriously declining. Consistently, shares of 3-D grosses were below 40% of total grosses. Many reasons were given to assess the problem, including fatigue with inferior 3-D products, and unnecessary post-conversions of films to 3-D. Despite these troubling numbers, Hollywood remained committed to at least five dozen 3-D movies through 2016.|
Two of the biggest low-budget horror films of the summer, both originals, were the haunted-house chiller The Conjuring (2013) and The Purge (2013), about a deadly home invasion by masked intruders.
|The Wizard of Oz (1939) was released for an exclusive, one-week run on IMAX screens in a 3-D version from Warner Brothers. This mini-release was designed to promote a 5-disc home video set, which included a version playable on 3-D televisions. It was part of an IMAX strategy intended to create unusual large-screen events during the late summer and early fall weeks after the blockbuster business had subsided.|
|Studios began to expand their definition of "opening weekend," by premiering blockbusters (such as Iron Man 3 (2013), World War Z (2013), and White House Down (2013)) on Thursday evenings rather than at Thursday midnight screenings (Friday at 12:01 am). This caused a major shift in figuring out box-office totals, since Thursday grosses were now being added to traditional weekend totals.|
|The six highest-grossing films of the summer of 2013 were sequels, prequels, or reboots. The only two original titles in the top 10 were the female buddy-cop comedy The Heat (2013) and the low-budget horror film The Conjuring (2013). Four of this year's top 10 summer hits opened in May (rather than in July), compared to only two films last summer.|
|89% of the over 40,000 US theatre screens were digital, up from 75% just one year earlier. This allowed exhibitors more flexibility in showtimes and number of showings per film, depending on demand and space.|
|A study published in the journal titled Pediatrics noted that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13 films (age 13+) has more than tripled since the PG-13 rating was first introduced in 1985. Since 2009, the amount of violence in PG-13 films has equaled or exceeded that found in R-rated (age 17+) films. Even if youth don't use guns, these findings suggested that they were exposed to increasing gun violence in top-selling films. The presence of weapons in films could amplify the effects of violent films on aggression.|
|Four Swedish cinemas and the Scandinavian cable TV channel Viasat Film incorporated a gender bias test into some of their ratings. They used the Bechdel test devised by graphic novelist Alison Bechdel, to evaluate the presence and substantiality of female characters in fictional media. In order for a film to pass the test, it had to meet the following three criteria: (1) it included at least two women, (2) the two women had at least one conversation, (3) the conversation had to be about something other than a man or men.|