Looking at the list of the top 5, I had them all picked but my order was a little whacked. I picked Potter, AiW, TS3, IM2 and Twilight in that order.
I think I overestimated Potter for two reasons; one, I thought it was supposed to release in 3D at the time I made my list and two, I think people held out for the final part of the 2-parter. The 3D bump in box office probably would have at least pushed it higher than Twilight. I also think that some people just decided to skip it, wait for the DVD and then watch it right before seeing part 2 this July.
I was also shocked by Toy Story 3, that I couldn't have predicted. Inception was a dark horse also, I really didn't have that much interest in seeing it, but did on DVD and really liked it. That one kind of came out of nowhere.
I haven't dug much past September other than what I see Brian listed so maybe I'm missing something but I generally think the top five films for 2011, in no particular order, will be:
Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
Pirates of the Caribbean
Twilight could suffer a fate similar to Potter last year but each film has done better than the previous one so it may be fine. Potter should blow up the box office since it's the final film. TF3 is the 800lb gorilla on the list but a backlash from TF2 may hurt it, as will the lack of Megan Fox because, let's face it, her twin assets were a big draw for the last two films. Cars was big five years ago and it's now a billion dollar toy property, this should easily clear $300 million if not $400 like Toy Story 3. Pirates is another film that will have to come way back from the suckfest of the its previous two releases, but without the stale and crumbling storyline of Will and Elizabeth dragging it down, I'm expecting good things (Ian McShane!!!).
The comic book movies could go either way very quickly. Thor and Captain America have the biggest load to carry, if they drop with really good stories and word of mouth is good they should be okay, but I don't know if they can do Iron Man numbers. Nobody knows Hemsworth and Portman, even with a freshly minted Oscar, won't necessarily be a huge draw, and while Chris Evans is excellent I still think it'll be a harder sell than RDJ. X-Men: FC looks like it might be okay, but after the hard core comic geeks drop out after the first two weekends, I see it fading quickly. Green Lantern? Not building to anything like the Thor and CA movies, and even with the better exposure due to Blackest Night, I don't know how popular it'll be. I don't see it doing Batman/Dark Knight money.
The Hangover 2 is a huge wild card. I'm sure it's going to make huge bank on opening weekend, but if it's just a rerun of the first film, word of mouth will probably tank it quickly. If it's at least equally as good as the first film then it could do interesting things. We just have to see.
Films that I think have a chance to do interesting things; The Adjustment Bureau, Sucker Punch, Fast Five and Super 8. I don't think any of them are realistic contenders for top five, but should do well.
Super 8 may end up being more of a Cloverfield type film; mediocre box office but cult hit on BD/DVD release. Adjustment Bureau may be too much like Inception but Matt Damon is a huge star so we'll see. Sucker Punch; five hot broads kicking the **** out of robots, dragons, Samurai and Nazi-looking bad guys? **** yeah.
Vin Diesel + The Rock = Money. Laugh if you will, but Fast Five should do well, but probably not top 5...still, I wouldn't put $200M out of reach if there's a little story to go along with the muscle.
I think Cowboys & Aliens is a non-starter. Good opening weekend then it'll probably fall out. A couple other films I think look really good, but aren't headed for the top 5 money makers this year; Red Riding Hood, Battle: Los Angeles, and Conan the Barbarian...but I fall squarely into the target audience, at least for B:LA & Conan.