It's already March but with the real contenders still to come, I think I'm ready to pick my top 5 money-making films for 2012. No particular order:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Dark Knight Rises
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Hunger Games is my wild card and I think it has the possibility of making the top 5 and knocking out The Amazing Spider-Man. The books are huge and if the movie captures that it could do good things. However, it's not what you would call a feel good story. That could turn some people off and word of mouth could stop people from going if they didn't already know what the movie was about.
The Amazing Spider-Man is also an unknown. Since it's a reboot, some fans of the previous three (okay, of the first 2) could dismiss this film and others could look at it as "just another Spider-Man movie" and skip it. Still, SM is a big brand and that should bring in fans. Plus, Emma Stone is kind of hot right now.
I think Hobbit, Dark Knight and Twilight will be in a race for the overall number 1.
I looked through most of the year's releases that are known, and I don't see any dark horses in there. Brave is this year's Pixar film, but I don't see it being top 5. There's a lot of sci-fi that looks good but nothing beating the films I listed. GI Joe could go big, but not Avengers big, and won't hit top 5...but I'm thinking it may beat the first one just because The Rock and Bruce Willis are in it. The new Bourne film could do okay and Snow White and the Huntsman could get some Twilight money...but probably won't be as big. There's a James Bond film in November and a good, pure action film in Expendables 2 in August. Not really contenders, though.
There are always surprises, but this year the top 5 seem kind of obvious.