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Best of 2015

2015's 10 Most Crucial Blockbuster Movies

Let's break down the year in box office bucks, from 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and everything in between

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Records were smashed over and over at the movies in 2015, with four films cracking the all-time global top 10 and Star Wars, just a few days ago, carving out a new best opening weekend landmark. As part of Fuse.tv's Best of 2015 collection, we've parsed out, in chronological order, the 10 key blockbusters of the year. (Notice we said "key," not just "biggest.")

All statistics courtesy of the infallible and incomparable Box Office Mojo.

1 / 10

'Fifty Shades of Grey' (opened February 13)

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson, written by Kelly Marcel

2015 domestic box office rank: 16
Opening weekend, domestic: $85.2 million
Domestic gross: $166.2 million
Global gross: $570.5 million
Records: No. 1 R-rated movie of 2015, domestically; No. 1 February opener of all time; No. 4 domestic opening weekend for an R-rated movie
Metacritic rating: 46/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 25 percent fresh
Lessons learned: E.L. James' mega-successful S&M romance books are going to do just fine on the big screen, particularly overseas.

2 / 10

'Furious 7' (opened April 3)

Directed by James Wan, written by Chris Morgan

2015 domestic box office rank: 4
Opening weekend, domestic: $147.2 million
Domestic gross: $353 million
Global gross: $1.515 billion
Records: No. 1 Easter opening weekend of all time, domestically; No. 5 movie of all time, globally
Metacritic rating: 67/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 81 percent fresh
Lessons learned: The Fast and the Furious series has continued to do better on a film-by-film basis since its fourth installment in 2009. The death of series star Paul Walker didn't deter moviegoers.

3 / 10

'Avengers: Age of Ultron' (opened May 1)

Directed and written by Joss Whedon

2015 domestic box office rank: 2
Opening weekend, domestic: $191.3 million
Domestic gross: $459 million
Global gross: $1.4 billion
Records: No. 4 domestic opening week of all time, No. 6 global movie of all time
Metacritic rating: 66/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 75 percent fresh
Lessons learned: While earning $100 million less than its 2012 predecessor, Marvel's crown jewel is still a serious powerhouse.

4 / 10

'Jurassic World' (opened June 12)

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, written by Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

2015 domestic box office rank: 1
Opening weekend: $208.8 million
Domestic gross: $652.3 million
Global gross: $1.67 billion
Records: No. 1 domestic opening week of all time; No. 2 domestic opening weekend of all time; No. 3 movie of all time, domestically and globally
Metacritic rating: 59/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71 percent fresh
Lessons learned: Dinosaurs never go out of style; 14 years is a good amount of time to wait after a bad franchise entry; Chris Pratt is, more officially than ever, a force to be reckoned with.

5 / 10

'Inside Out' (opened June 19)

Directed by Pete Docter, written by Pete Docter, Meg LaFauve and Josh Cooley

2015 domestic box office rank: 3
Opening weekend, domestic: $90.4 million
Domestic gross: $356.5 million
Global gross: $851.6 million
Records: No. 2 Pixar movie of all time, behind Toy Story 3's $1.06 billion; No. 43 movie of all time, globally
Metacritic rating: 94/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 98 percent fresh
Lessons learned: Being Pixar's first movie to not open at No. 1 was no problem in the end. That said, this was the studio's first year releasing two films, and we have to wonder if there was some "there can be only one" thinking responsible for The Good Dinosaur's underwhelming performance following its Thanksgiving premiere.

6 / 10

'Ant-Man' (opened June 29)

Directed by Peyton Reed, written by Joe Cornish, Adam McKay, Paul Rudd and Edgar Wright

2015 domestic box office rank: 13
Opening weekend, domestic: $57.2 million
Domestic gross: $180.2 million
Global gross: $518.6 million
Records: Paul Rudd's No. 1 movie of all time; the film that pushed the Marvel Cinematic Universe past a total gross of $9 billion
Metacritic rating: 64/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 80 percent fresh
Lessons learned: For the third year in a row, Disney and Marvel Studios released two movies inside a year. With the risk of superhero fatigue always looming, they've actually narrowed the gaps between films—six months between Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013, four months between Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 and less than three months between Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man this year. While Ultron wound up being the No. 6 movie of all time, Ant-Man itself was by no means ignored. It's a good omen for Marvel Studios, which will drop two films in 2016 followed by three apiece in 2017, '18 and '19.

7 / 10

'Minions' (opened July 10)

Directed by Pierre Coffin, written by Brian Lynch

2015 domestic box office rank: 5
Opening weekend, domestic: $115.7 million
Domestic gross: $336 million
Global gross: $1.16 billion
Records: No. 5 July opening weekend, domestically; No. 10 movie of all time, globally
Metacritic rating: 56/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 55 percent fresh
Lessons learned: This franchise doesn't need Gru or the Despicable Me kids to succeed; it's on an upward trajectory regardless.

8 / 10

'Straight Outta Compton' (opened August 14)

Directed by F. Gary Gray, written by Aldis Hodge and Keith Stanfield

2015 domestic box office rank: 18
Opening weekend, domestic: $60.2 million
Domestic gross: $161.2 million
Global gross: $200.4 million
Records: No. 1 movie by an African-American director; No. 1 music biopic of all time, globally; No. 5 August domestic opener of all time; No. 7 R-rated domestic opener of all time 
Metacritic rating: 72/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 89 percent fresh
Lessons learned: There's more appeal to a movie by a black director starring a black cast than Hollywood is generally ready to admit. Grantland's John Lopez broke it down well (miss you, Grantland):

"Universal [Studios] understood Straight Outta Compton’s cultural cachet and acted accordingly: It didn’t pigeonhole it as just an 'urban movie,' but instead tapped into the zeitgeist and let it cross over. [Footnote: Hell, Universal was running ads for it during the Republican debate.] The studio took a movie that spoke to the moment and treated it like an event film."

9 / 10

'The Martian' (opened October 2)

Directed by Ridley Scott, written by Drew Goddard

2015 domestic box office rank: 8
Opening weekend, domestic: $54.3 million
Domestic gross: $223.9 million
Global gross: $593.8 million
Records: No. 1 movie for Ridley Scott, globally, in his 28 years as a filmmaker, beating Gladiator's 15-year-old record; No. 1 movie for Matt Damon, globally; No. 2 domestic autumn opener of all time
Metacritic rating: 80/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 93 percent fresh
Lessons learned: Ridley Scott was wise to go back to the sci-fi well, despite having just done Prometheus in 2012. Ditto for Matt Damon, who starred in 2013's Elysium. Also: The people never tire of a good MacGyver situation.

10 / 10

'Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens' (opened December 18)

Directed by J.J. Abrams, written by J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt

The only Star Wars: The Force Awakens numbers available at this time are the opening weekend totals

2015 domestic box office rank: 7
Opening weekend, domestic: $248 million
Global gross so far: $529 million
Records: No. 1 domestic opening weekend of all time; No. 1 domestic opening day of all time; fastest movie to reach $200 million domestically
Metacritic rating: 81/100
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 95 percent fresh
Lessons learned: There's room for more than one 10-plus-years-later franchise entry to crush it at the box office in a given year. When all's said and done, The Force Awakens could easily surpass Jurassic World as the No. 1 movie of 2015 and the No. 3 movie of all time. It'll need more than $2.19 billion to bump Titanic from the No. 2 spot, and more than $2.8 billion to take the crown from Avatar.

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