The History of Film
The 2010s
Major Changes in the Film-Making Industry

Part 5

Film History of the 2010s

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Film History by Decade

Index | Pre-1920s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s
1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s
| 2010s

The 2010s Decade

Highest Paid Actors and Actresses, And A Decline in the Cult of Major Film Celebrities and Stars:

Controversy still surrounded the existence of an ongoing wage disparity in Hollywood, in which men made much more money than women in the industry. For the most part, men tended to star in big-budget action or superhero movies that earned tremendous sums at the box office, while women were not allowed to compete at the same level (without the opportunity for the same roles), except for a few exceptions such as Angelina Jolie, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lawrence. And it had always been true that aging women's salaries would precipitously decline.

Male Actor
Female Actor
Johnny Depp
$75 million
Sandra Bullock
$56 million
Oprah Winfrey
Leonardo Di Caprio
$77 million
Angelina Jolie and
Sarah Jessica Parker
$30 million
Lady Gaga
Tom Cruise
$75 million
Kristen Stewart
$34.5 million
Jennifer Lopez
Robert Downey, Jr.
$75 million
Angelina Jolie
$33 million
Oprah Winfrey
Robert Downey, Jr.
$75 million
Sandra Bullock
$51 million
Robert Downey, Jr.
$80 million
Jennifer Lawrence
$52 million
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Dwayne Johnson
$64.5 million
Jennifer Lawrence
$46 million
Taylor Swift
Mark Wahlberg
$68 million
Emma Stone
$26 million
Sean 'Diddy' Combs

Many of the best film openings were not for a big-name major Hollywood star, but for a well-directed solid story. The fast-action comedy Knight and Day (2010) counted on Tom Cruise's bankability (with another aging headliner Cameron Diaz), but it ended up having Cruise's lowest-attended opening weekend since Far and Away (1992). The poorly-received pretentious summer film The A-Team (2010), capitalizing only on its brand name, was a real low for a repeat of a major action TV series.

The star power of the romantic thriller The Tourist (2010), touting the pairing of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, fell flat, as did Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett in Ridley Scott's Gladiator-like Robin Hood (2010), Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler mismatched in The Bounty Hunter (2010), or George Clooney in the slow-moving The American (2010). Over-privileged Julia Roberts in the heavily-merchandized Eat Pray Love (2010) exhibited the narcissistic star's shallow soul-searching. Joaquin Phoenix's appearance in the experimental mockumentary I'm Still Here (2010) made fun of 'celebrity' itself.

Examples of flops with big names in 2015 included: George Clooney in Tomorrowland (2015) (at $93 million, with a budget of $190 million), Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending (2015) (at $47 million, with a budget of $176 million), Adam Sandler in Pixels (2015) (at $79 million, with a budget of $88 million), Sandra Bullock in Our Brand is Crisis (2015) (at only $7 million), Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash (2015) (at $27 million) and Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in By the Sea (2015) (at only $538,000).

It was a sign of the times that three of the biggest films of 2015 bypassed established movie stars and fronted their casts with TV stars. Jurassic World (2015): Park And Recreation’s Chris Pratt, Terminator Genysis (2015): Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, and Fantastic Four (2015): House Of Cards’ Kate Mara.

The Horror Film Boom:

Low-budget horror films were on the rise in the decade of the 2010s. They were found to be more lucrative (with larger profit margins and lower production costs) than most other kinds of genre productions. After the growing trend of torture-porn in the earlier decade (with films such as Saw (2004) and Hostel (2005)), horror films began to branch off and emphasize suspense and thriller aspects instead of the gore.

However, the Saw series of eight horror films (from 2004-2017) took prominence as the highest-grossing horror film series in the decade (and of all-time), with the release of the 7th and 8th films in the gory-torture series, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) and Jigsaw (2017). The Saw films exceeded the total domestic gross of two other up-and-coming horror series, the four Conjuring and Annabelle films (2013-2017), and the Paranormal Activity series (2007-2015) of six films at $401.4 million (domestic). One of the most remarkable horror films of the decade was director-writer Jordan Peele's small-budgeted independent horror film Get Out (2017). With a budget of $4.5 million and box-office gross of $176 million (domestic), it was easily one of the most profitable movies of all-time.

[Note: 2017 was one of the biggest years ever for the horror genre, at approximately $865 million total. One horror film, It (2017) did exceedingly well all by itself at $327.5 million (domestic) - and threatened to bypass every other horror franchise with the release of a possible sequel.]

Top Three Major Horror Film Franchises by the Decade of the 2010s

The Conjuring and Annabelle (2013-2017)

Paranormal Activity

Saw (2004)
Saw II (2005)
Saw III (2006)
Saw IV (2007)
Saw V (2008)
Saw VI (2009)
Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010)
Jigsaw (2017)
The Conjuring (2013)
Annabelle (2014)
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Annabelle: Creation (2017)
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)
Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)
Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015)
$454 million (8 films)
$598 million (adjusted for inflation)
$426.2 million (4 films)
$466 million (adjusted for inflation)
$401.4 million (6 films)
$466.5 million (adjusted for inflation)

Other classic horror film series (from the last three decades) with lesser revenues (although if adjusted for inflation, their box-office numbers increase considerably) included:

Other Major Horror Film Franchises
Domestic Revenue
Revenue (Adjusted for Inflation)
Friday the 13th franchise
12 films (from 1980-2009)
$380.6 million
$846.4 million
Nightmare on Elm Street series
9 films (from 1984-2010)
$370.5 million
$722 million
Scream series
4 films (from 1996-2011)
$331.7 million
$602 million
Halloween franchise
10 films (from 1978-2009)
$308.5 million
$685.2 million

The Strength of Feature-Length Documentaries:

Movie audiences had a more positive attitude toward screen entertainment of all kinds, thanks to growing familiarity with reality TV and YouTube. There were a number of film distributors who took chances on self-produced, low-budget projects independent of the studios (and financed through a phenomenon known as "crowdfunding"), during a time when the number of studio films was declining. Documentaries could be made cheaply, with widely-available and affordable, low-cost digital film equipment. Many docs of feature-length made a strong showing as unexpected hits during the summer months of 2010.

Some felt there was a glut of documentaries critical of various social issues, such as the two environmentally-themed documentaries which were Oscar nominees in the year of the Gulf oil spill: Waste Land (2010) and GasLand (2010). They were joined by National Geographic's Afghanistan war-themed Restrepo (2010), Inside Job's (2010) accounting of the 2008 global financial meltdown, and the mysterious UK graffiti artist Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010).

Others that showed promise included the highest-grossing documentary of the year - Disney's ecological nature drama Oceans (2010); also Babies (2010), Guggenheim's un-nominated polemic on US education woes in Waiting For Superman (2010), the intriguing and plot-twisting Catfish (2010) revealing a surprising Facebook family relationship, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2010), Countdown to Zero (2010) (the follow-up film about the nuclear arms race from the makers of An Inconvenient Truth), and The Tillman Story (2010) about a NFL star turned soldier.

After a fairly long lull in documentary films, they made a modest comeback in 2016. Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America (2016) won the Best Documentary Oscar Academy Award, becoming the longest Oscar winner ever (at 467 minutes) - it was released as an episodic 5-part serial on ESPN. Other praised documentaries included Weiner (2016) - the examination of a scandalous NY political figure, and director Ava DuVernay's 13th (2016) - about racial inequality in the US criminal justice and prison systems.

The Passing of Older Stars in the Decade:

Some Notable Films
Jean Simmons
The Robe (1953), Guys and Dolls (1955), and Spartacus (1960)
Dennis Hopper
Actor, Filmmaker
Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Giant (1956), and Easy Rider (1969)
Leslie Nielsen
Airplane! (1980), and Naked Gun films (1988-1994)
Tony Curtis
Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Defiant Ones (1958), and Some Like It Hot (1959)
Blake Edwards

(married to Julie Andrews)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), and The Pink Panther films (1963-1993)
Jane Russell
(Discovered by Howard Hughes)
The Outlaw (1943) and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Elizabeth Taylor
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Cleopatra (1963) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Sidney Lumet
12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), and Network (1976)
Ernest Borgnine
Marty (1955)
Esther Williams
Peter O’Toole
Multiple Oscar-Nominee
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Joan Fontaine
(Olivia de Havilland's sister)
Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1941)
Shirley Temple Black
Child Star/Actress
Mickey Rooney

Boys Town (1938)
(one of longest acting careers from 1927 until death)
Robin Williams
Dead Poets Society (1989) and Good Will Hunting (1997)
Lauren Bacall
(married to Humphrey Bogart)
To Have and Have Not (1944), The Big Sleep (1946), and Key Largo (1948)
Mike Nichols
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and The Graduate (1967)
Leonard Nimoy
Spock in the original Star Trek series and through out the Star Trek feature film franchise (1966-2013)
Christopher Lee
Multiple Hammer Studios' horror film roles as Dracula (i.e., Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)) and for his performances in two parts (II and III) of the Star Wars franchise, and as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001–2003) and in two Hobbit films (2012, 2014)
Maureen O’Hara
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and The Quiet Man (1952)
Michael Cimino
The Deer Hunter (1978) and Heaven's Gate (1980)
Gene Wilder
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971), Blazing Saddles (1974), and Young Frankenstein (1974)
Carrie Fisher
Princess Leia in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977) and four sequels (1980, 1983, 2015, and 2017)
Debbie Reynolds
(mother of Carrie Fisher)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Roger Moore
British Actor
James Bond in seven films over twelve years (from Live and Let Die (1973) to A View to a Kill (1985))
George A. Romero
Director/Zombie film-maker
Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Jerry Lewis
The Bellboy (1960), The Nutty Professor (1963) and Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1982)

Film History of the 2010s
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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