With the end of the year approaching, it’s time to look back on how adaptations fared at the box office in 2022. Given that adaptations tend to dominate, maybe the question should be did any original works make an impact. As always, the list is from Box Office Mojo.

  1. Top Gun: Maverick – sequel to the 1986 film, Top Gun, which was inspired by a magazine article.
  2. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever – sequel to the 2018 film, Black Panther, which was an adaptation of the Marvel character and related comics.
  3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – sequel to the 2016 film, Doctor Strange, which was an adaptation of the Marvel character and related comics.
  4. Jurassic World: Dominion – sequel to the 2015 film, Jurassic World, which was a sequel and reboot of Jurassic Park
  5. Minions: The Rise of Gru – sequel to the 2015 film, Minions, which was a spin off from the 2010 film, Despicable Me, an original film that launched a very successful franchise.
  6. The Batman – adaptation of the DC character and related comics.
  7. Thor: Love and Thunder – sequel to the 2011 film, Thor, which was based on the Marvel character and comics.
  8. Spider-Man: No Way Home – sequel to the 2017 film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was based on the Marvel character and comics.
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – sequel to the 2020 film, Sonic the Hedgehog, which was based on the SEGA character and video games.
  10. Avatar: The Way of Water – sequel to the 2009 film, Avatar, an original work.
  11. Black Adam – spin-off of the 2019 film, Shazam!, which was based on the DC character and comics featuring Captain Marvel.
  12. Elvis – biopic based on the life of Elvis Presley.
  13. Uncharted – based on the Uncharted video game franchise.
  14. Nope – original work.
  15. Lightyear – spin-off based on the character Buzz Lightyear from the Toy Story series.
  16. Smile – adapted from the 2020 short film, “Laura Hasn’t Slept”, made by the same writer/director.
  17. The Lost City – original work.
  18. Bullet Train – adapted from the book Maria Beetle by Kotaro Isaka.
  19. The Bad Guys – adapted from the series of children’s books of the same name.by Aaron Blabey
  20. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – sequel to the 2016 film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was a spin-off from the Harry Potter films that were based on the books by JK Rowling.

Two movies, Spider-Man: No Way Home and Avatar: The Way of Water, are still in theatres so they could move up in ranking by the end of the year.

The top twenty films by box office gross is being used this year as it gives a better indication of how things shook out in 2022. With lockdowns effectively over, people started to go back out into the world slowly. Top Gun: Maverick reached towards the heights of 2019, but lower in the count, films are barely breaking $100 million. As mentioned last week, 2022 could have been a year where anything that got released could have a chance of reaching the top twenty.

Biopics are an odd case. They are an adaptation of the subject’s life, but the director could put any sort of spin to the narrative. Because two biopics about the same person could cover the same span of life but highlight different aspects, biopics will be treated as original works. Smile also creates a conundrum; the writer/director based the longer work on a previous shorter work. While it could be treated as an adaptation, it probably is more a refinement of ideas, so Smile will be treated as original.

With the above as a caveat, there were four original films, The Lost City, Elvis, Nope, and Smile. The Lost City starred Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, and Daniel Radcliffe, each a draw on their own. Elvis was about Elvis Presley, the most popular performer of his time. Nope and Smile were both horror films, each taking a different approach to the genre. The highest on the chart, Elvis, was only twelfth.

Oddly enough, there were only four adaptations in the top twenty – Uncharted, Bullet Train, The Bad Guys, and The Batman. One is based on a video game franchise, another on a comic book franchise, but the other two are literary. Bullet Train stars Brad Pitt, a draw just by himself. The trailer showed an action movie with the ability to laugh at itself. Bullet Train is also the very rare English adaptation of a foreign language work. With The Bad Guys, the draw is the younger audience who may be more aware of the series than the older folks.

Two films fell under spin-off, Black Adam and Lightyear. Black Adam is based on the DC character, but he is villain-turned-anti-hero associated with the Marvel family. The character was hinted at in 2019’s Shazam! but didn’t have a role in the movie. However, given the connection, it’s safe to file Black Adam as a spin-off. Lightyear, in the context of the Toy Story series, is to be the work that the Buzz Lightyear toy is from. The surprising part is that a Disney film based on Toy Story didn’t make the top ten.

Sequels are broken down into two categories. The first is sequel to an original, of which there are two. Top Gun: Maverick is the sequel to Top Gun, which has been around long enough to build up its already sizable audience through home video, broadcast television, and on demand streaming. Maverick was the number one film based on box office returns for 2022. The other sequel to an original is Avatar: The Way of Water, released mid-December. A late release means the returns will be counted over two different calendar years. The original Avatar was pivotal in getting 3-D films attention, with a world that became immersive while watching. The Way of Water is doing well after a week, so could match Maverick in 2023.

The second category is sequel of an adaptation, of which there were eight. Franchises are a prime source for being adapted; they don’t get to the franchise level without a level of popularity. Each of the eight movies listed as a sequel of an adaptation is part of a larger franchise, whether the original was a comic book, a video game, or, in the case of Minions: The Rise of Gru, an original movie. To no surprise, Marvel characters take four of the top ten spots.

People turned to the familiar for comfort in 2022 after a couple of long, hard years. Where in the past, it’d mean rereading a beloved book, today, the options now include a range of medias with a multitude of delivery methods that were unimaginable two generations ago. What is comfortable for the current generations is what they grew up with, so comics, films, and television are as reassuring as literature. Seeing more of a favourite character in a new work is as comforting as re-experiencing a prior work, so sequels, especially sequels of adaptations, are the easy choice for a risk-phobic industry. The presence of four original works shows that there is an audience that wants something fresh.


This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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