10 Top-Searched Movies on Yahoo! in 2012
This was a year of high anticipation: franchises staked at both ends of 2012, a crossover with "Harry Potter" implications, and a summer stuffed with superheroes in spandex to shake up box-office doldrums.
Could hype measure up to expectation -- and did it deliver in 2012? One good way to measure is to stack up movies' buzz -- in this case, the number of Searches on Yahoo!, visited by a half a billion people each month, during each film's debut month -- against its critical reviews and box-office receipts. One thing to note: Hollywood-hyped titles like "John Carter" and "Battleship" weren't fooling audiences; they knew to save their online energy for bigger things.
[Photos: 2012 Breakout Stars]
1. "The Hunger Games." The Suzanne Collins series had the makings of a crossover juggernaut like "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" before it. Its premise, however, involved a 16-year-old archer in post-apocalyptic America, sacrificing herself to fight in a killing field. Oh, and Katniss Everdeen was a girl, one of a growing cadre of underaged onscreen killing femmes. That kind of bloodlust shouldn't have been been surprising, given the female penchant for mysteries, true crime, and Lifetime women-in-peril-who-fight-back lineups. Hollywood also calculated, from "Twilight" figures, that ladies actually went to the movies, and judging from Yahoo! Searches (which ran 63% female), they would show up for this adaptation. The film had a massive opening weekend (in March), the third-biggest grosser in 2012, outperformed "Harry Potter" (in domestic grosses), and the best debut for a film that wasn't a sequel. Its influence didn't stop in the movie theaters: The impulse to shoot some arrows helped fill archery classes across the nation. All this will surely up the ante for sequel "Catching Fire," due out November 2013.
2. "The Dark Knight Rises." Director Christopher Nolan had a very short track record before taking on this reboot, but his phenomenal "Memento" hinted at grander things to come. Sure enough, the director completely reimagined and revitalized the superhero franchise over seven years, backing away from camp once and for all and bestowing a cinematic experience that tied together epic, action, and drama. Online, the demographics were the gender flip-side to "The Hunger Games," with males conducting 7 out of 10 of the Searches. After a four-year wait, the final in the trilogy didn't quite measure up with the critic -- nor the box office -- as much as the second installment. Still, the summer blockbuster came in second to "The Avengers" in domestic grosses. If you calculate dollars per superhero, Batman comes out ahead.