Every year there are some films that absolutely explode at the box office. It is clear to everyone that the biggest film of 2015 is going to be the newest Star Wars, which will be released mid-December and is already setting records for presale tickets. Star Wars is sure to join great company as one of the most successful films to come out and will lead the way for sequels and spin-offs to be released in the foreseeable future.
When looking at past films that have exploded at the box office, there is no true indication of what is going to be a box office success. Sometimes the top sellers are a romantic story that has captured people’s attention. Other times, it may be a gritty action film with visuals and sound effects that you just need to see on the big screen.
When Die Hard was released in 1988, its tag line was that it promised to blow you out of your seats. The film proceeded to not only feature incredible visuals, but cash in at the box office and led the way for one of the greatest franchises of all time.
Sometimes the films that do best at the box office are ones that are part of a series. You may not have wanted to see the latest Hunger Games movie all that much, but I bet a lot of you went because you felt you needed to complete the series that you had already dedicated so much time to.
For the films that we are about to examine, the common bond is that death was never too far from any of these characters on screen. There is something about seeing the experience of a battle on the big screen that you just cannot recapture at home on your 28-inch television. Consulting boxoffice mojo to get the worldwide totals, as well moviebodycounts.com, comes a compiled list of some of the most successful deadly films that earned over $100 million in theatres.
10. The Last Samurai
Whether you love or hate Tom Cruise, there is no doubting that he is an incredible box office draw. Mission Impossible is one of the most successful franchises of all time, and Cruise has built a stellar career as a strong leading man. One of Cruise’s biggest successes was not in a franchise, but in the standalone film The Last Samurai which was released in 2003. The film had a production budget of $140 million, and went on to make $456 million worldwide. That’s a lot of money for a film that also had a lot of blood. With 558 characters meeting their end, it’s one of the most violent and successful films of all time.
Brad Pitt has been in some of the most famous and profitable films of all time. While Troy didn’t lead to a continued stream of success like the Ocean’s series, it was still incredibly profitable with $497 million in total box office draw. It was playing in 3,411 theaters at one point. Troy depicted the story of Achilles and his plan to invade and conquer the city of Troy. You won’t be able to take over a city without taking some lives at the same time. The film puts down at least 572 different people throughout the film. Pitt’s character (Achilles) is responsible for ending the lives of 35 people.
8. The Matrix Series
The Matrix series is one of the most visually appealing series out there. When you combine the stunning visuals and camera tricks employed with some excellent action scenes you get a huge success. The original Matrix film went onto make $463 million worldwide. Perhaps that’s why there was no hesitation to release two more, which earned $742,128,461 and $427,343,298, respectively. The first two movies have respectable kill counts of 39 and 40. The third film is harder to estimate due to the many clones created of Agent Smith, but rest assured that it leaves you satisfied in your need for action.
7. The Terminator Series
Now I’m going to be honest, I was not the biggest fan of the fourth and fifth Terminator movies. That doesn’t discredit the sheer awesomeness of the first three though. When The Terminator opened in 1984 it ended with a worldwide total of $78,371,200. The second and third one both exploded at the box office, earning a respectable $519,843,345 and $433,371,112, respectively. The Terminator is one of the rare series where the kill count actually decreases over the course of the first three movies. While the first one dispatches of 34 characters, the second and third only knock off 23 and 14 individuals. That doesn’t stop it from being one of the most iconic and profitable film series of all time.
6. Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is one of the best war films of all time. The sheer rawness of the opening sequence featuring the Battle of Normandy makes the viewer aware of not only the reality of war, but that they were in store for some death. The film concludes with 255 people meeting their fate, with Tom Hanks himself dropping 9 individuals. The film earned Steven Speilberg an Academy Award for best director, and was nominated for another 11 awards (winning 5 total). The film was also a massive slam dunk at the box office, earning $481,840,909, and went on to earn another $44 million in home video sales.
I remember the sheer excitement I had watching the first 300 film. I had watched Leonidis kick the guy into the hole in the trailer more times than I could count. The film did not fail to live up to my expectations, and its $456,068,181 helped propel the career of Gerard Butler. It also made me super dedicated to getting a 6 pack…which lasted like a week (maybe 2). The film would not be awesome if it did not have some seriously brutal killing (I hear getting kicked into holes hurts). The film ended up disposing of 585 people, I suppose war is not without its share of death.
4. Die Hard Series
Die Hard may be my favorite Christmas movie. Sure, it might not be a “traditional” Christmas movie, but it’s set around Christmas! John McClane is a registered badass throughout all of the Die Hard series. While the series gets more unrealistic with every passing iteration, there is no doubting the financial success of the series. The Die Hard films earned $140,767,958, $240,031,094, $366,101,666, $383,531,464 and $304,654,182! The first film, being largely constrained to one environment, saw the death of only 20 individuals. The total ramps up with 37 for Die Hard 2 and 26 in Die Hard 3. While I could not track down official totals for the 4th and 5th film, I assure you the action in both films is both over the top as well as awesome.
3. Rambo Series
Sylvester Stallone is one of the biggest action stars of all time. Whether you love him when he is toting guns, or lacing up the boxing gloves, there is no doubting the box office draw of Stallone. While the Rocky series is violent, it does not hold a candle to Rambo. When First Blood released in 1982, it grew in $125 million worldwide. This was greatly surpassed with the sequel 3 years later, which earned an outrageous $300 million. With the success of the first two, of course a third was made in 1988 and it drew in $189 million. The latest instalment, which came out in 2008, drew an incredible box office tally of $113 million. Death is continuous throughout the series, but never more plentiful than in the 2008 version, which has 247 people perish.
2. The Lord Of The Rings
I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings. I am definitely not listening to the soundtrack as I write this list! The franchise is known for not only raking in all kinds of money, but also not being shy to dish out some death when necessary. The Two Towers earned 926 million, and at one point was playing in 3,622 theaters. The Return of the King made a remarkable $1,119,929,521 and was playing in 3,703 theaters. The Two Towers saw the end of 468 individuals, 391 of them Uruk-Hai and Orcs. Return of the King got even crazier, dropping 836 different bodies (524 Uruk-Hai and Orcs).
Titanic is one of the most successful movies of all time at the box office. With a total of $2.186 billion worldwide, the film went onto also be a critical success, winning 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. At its biggest point, Titanic was playing in 3,265 theaters which no doubt helped add to its absolutely ridiculous lifetime gross. That’s a lot of theaters, and a lot of money for people who watched 307 characters meet their demise. Now granted, when the film is centered around a ship that is going to hit an iceberg you couldn’t have expected everyone to have a happy ending.