Sequels, threequels and prequels dominated the biggest film releases of 2011 with the end of the Harry Potter franchise topping the list with more than $1 billion in receipts, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com.
Other films reaching the billion-dollar sales mark included Transformers: Dark of
the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. In 2010, only two films, Toy Story 3 and Alice in Wonderland, reached $1 billion.
Another popular trend includes animated family-friendly films in 3D, while the slew of new comic book superhero films did not soar to the top.
Since last month, tallies have shifted slightly, with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, released on November 18, climbing to fifth place.
The top-grossing films released worldwide in 2011 include (as of December 18):
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Total worldwide box office: $1.3 billion
The finale to the most successful franchise in film history concludes JK Rowling's final book in the series about the boy wizard played by Daniel Radcliffe. Deathly Hallows grossed $91 million on its debut day, clocking in as the biggest single-day gross of all time, the biggest of the series, and the third highest grossing film of all time. The international market accounted for 71.3% of the film's total earnings.
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Total worldwide box office: $1.1 billion
The third in director Michael Bay's Transformers series was the highest-earning film in the franchise, with 68% of the revenues coming from international markets. This sci-fi action adventure starred Shia LaBeouf for the last time in the story of Autobots saving the world from the Decepticons.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Total worldwide box office: $1.04 billion
The fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise stars Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz. On Stranger Tides is the eighth highest-grossing film of all time. Almost 77% of the audiences were outside the US. This fantasy adventure found Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest to discover the fountain of youth before Blackbeard and his daughter.
4. Kung-Fu Panda 2
Total worldwide box office: $663 million
This animated kid-friendly franchise in 3D features the voices of Jack Black with Angelina Jolie and Jackie Chan as they join forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy. International fans accounted for 75.1% of the audience.
5. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1
Total worldwide box office: $647.3 million
The penultimate release of the blockbuster vampire romance franchise starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner closes in on next year's finale, with a wedding and child creating a major battle. The film could earn up to $700 million, similar to the first two films in this successful franchise, before the end of the run.
6. Fast Five
Total worldwide box office: $626.1 million
In this action thriller, Vin Diesel and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson charge ahead to land on the wrong side of the law again as they battle a ruthless drug lord. The sixth installment is already in the works.
7. The Hangover II
Total worldwide box office: $581.4 million
In this comedy sequel, Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis attend another bachelor party, this time in Thailand for Stu's wedding, but things go seriously wrong again.
8. The Smurfs
Total worldwide box office: $559.8 million
Based on Belgian cartoonist Peyo's little blue cartoon characters, this kids' film starring Neil Patrick Harris is a mix of animation and live-action in 3D, with international markets comprising 75% of the audience.
9. Cars 2
Total worldwide box office: $551.7 million
This computer-generated animated Pixar sequel, featuring Owen Wilson and Michael Caine's voices, brings race car Lightning McQueen to the World Grand Prix races around the world as he gets caught up with international espionage.
Total worldwide box office: $484.6 million
Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway, this new animated film in 3D follows Blu, a macaw from Minnesota on an adventure to Rio de Janeiro with the bird of his dreams. International crowds made up 70.4% of the audience.
It is too soon for December releases, such as Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, to collect enough to alter the top 10 list.
In the US, Thor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Captain America, 11th-13th spots worldwide, took the 8th-10th positions, replacing Rio, Kung-Fu Panda and The Smurfs in the top 10.
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