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Annual Domestic Box Office Reaches Impressive Figure – But…

Shrek 2 Princess FionaShrek 2 with Shrek (Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz): The DreamWorks Animation release turned out to be the biggest domestic box office hit of 2004.
  • In 2004, the domestic box office topped $9 billion for the third year in a row. That’s a remarkable figure – but how remarkable? Something else: Should Hollywood spend more time making “family movies”?

Domestic box office topped $9 billion for third consecutive year – but…

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

At this year’s ShoWest in Las Vegas, Motion Picture Association of America honcho Dan Glickman announced that domestic (U.S. and Canada) ticket sales in 2004 topped – for the third year in a row – $9 billion.

Even though there was a slight drop in admissions (like in 2003) these still surpassed the 1.5 billion mark – once again for the third year in a row. That’s a feat not achieved since 1959, the year William Wyler’s Ben-Hur, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder, Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and the Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy Pillow Talk came out.

Keeping things a bit in perspective: Let’s not forget that there are about 130 million more people living north of the Rio Grande these days than in the late 1950s. That’s approximately a 60 percent increase.

Update: The number of movie tickets sold in 2004 has been revised downward to 1.48 billion. That means no early 21st-century three-year run above the 1.5 billion mark.

More ‘family films,’ please

Also worth noting, PG-rated movies, open to all ages, grossed $2.3 billion in 2004; R-rated films, aimed at adults, took in $2.1 billion. That’s the first time in two decades that PG releases outperformed R-rated ones; as in previous years, many more R-rated movies came out last year.

John Fithian, head of the National Association of Theater Owners, took the opportunity to remark that Hollywood studios should make more “family films.”

And why not?

Children, after all, can’t go to the movies by themselves; that means at least one extra ticket sold to the accompanying adult. As a plus, kids are great consumers of food and beverages at movie theater concession stands.

Something else we shouldn’t forget: The Jay Roach-Ben Stiller family movie Meet the Fockers, which has become “the highest grossing comedy” ever and ever.

Top Ten box office movies of 2004 in the domestic market

For the record, here are the Top Thirteen movies at the U.S. and Canada box office during the calendar year of 2004 (via

Note that four of the Top Thirteen box office titles – including two among the Top Five – are animated features.

  1. DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2 with $441.2 million.
    Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon.
    Voice cast: Mike Myers. Cameron Diaz. Eddie Murphy. Julie Andrews. Antonio Banderas.
  2. Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man 2 with $373.6 million.
    Director: Sam Raimi.
    Cast: Tobey Maguire. Kirsten Dunst. James Franco. Alfred Molina.
  3. Newmarket Films’ The Passion of the Christ with $370.3 million.
    Director: Mel Gibson.
    Cast: Jim Caviezel. Monica Bellucci.
  4. Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with $249.5 million.
    Director: Alfonso Cuarón.
    Cast: Daniel Radcliffe. Emma Watson. Rupert Grint.
  5. Walt Disney Pictures’ The Incredibles with $248.9 million.
    Director: Brad Bird.
    Voice cast: Craig T. Nelson. Holly Hunter. Jason Lee. Samuel L. Jackson.
  6. 20th Century Fox’s The Day After Tomorrow with $186.7 million.
    Director: Roland Emmerich.
    Cast: Dennis Quaid. Jake Gyllenhaal. Emmy Rossum.
  7. Universal Pictures’ The Bourne Supremacy with $176.2 million.
    Director: Paul Greengrass.
    Cast: Matt Damon. Franka Potente. Brian Cox.
  8. DreamWorks Animation’s Shark Tale with $160.5 million.
    Director: Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson & Rob Letterman.
    Voice cast: Will Smith. Robert De Niro. Renée Zellweger. Angelina Jolie.
  9. Warner Bros.’ The Polar Express with $151.6 million.
    Director: Robert Zemeckis.
    Voice cast: Tom Hanks. Josh Hutcherson.
  10. Walt Disney Pictures’ National Treasure with $150.1 million.
    Director: Jon Turteltaub.
    Cast: Nicolas Cage. Diane Kruger. Justin Bartha.
  11. 20th Century Fox’s I, Robot with $144.8 million.
    Director: Alex Proyas.
    Cast: Will Smith. Bridget Moynahan. Alan Tudyk.
  12. Warner Bros.’ Troy with $133.4 million.
    Director: Wolfgang Petersen.
    Cast: Brad Pitt. Eric Bana. Orlando Bloom. Diane Kruger.
  13. Universal Pictures’ Meet the Fockers with $132.9 million.
    Director: Jay Roach.
    Cast: Ben Stiller. Robert De Niro. Dustin Hoffman. Barbra Streisand.

“Annual Domestic Box Office” endnotes

Shrek and Princess Fiona Shrek 2 image: DreamWorks Animation.

“Annual Domestic Box Office Reaches Impressive Figure – But…” last updated in August 2022.

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