Bill Simmons of ESPN and Grantland.com often talks about how looking at the end of the year awards for a NBA season can often tell you all you really need to know about that seas
on, even more than just looking at the standings or seeing who won the championship. And you know what, he’s right. So what is the real story of this summer? Let’s let the awards tell us.
Movies Of The Month
2013 has the distinction of having the biggest May in box office history, the biggest June in box office history, the second biggest July in box office history (also the second biggest month in box office history) and an August that is running 15.5% ahead of last year’s pace. But as The Avengers showed last year, a single blockbuster, no matter how huge, can not carry a month alone, so what movies made the real difference each month?
Nominees: The Great Gatsby, Star Trek Into Darkness, Now You See Me, Epic, Fast & Furious 6
Winner: The Great Gatsby
Most of the other movies were late in the month and with the exception of Now You See Me performed about as expected, but who saw $144 million coming from The Great Gatsby? No one saw that coming. Sure, I haven’t met one person who saw it and actually liked it (I’m sure those people exist, I just haven’t met them) but it’s box office impact remains unquestioned and unquestionably impressive.
Nominees: Man of Steel, Monsters University, Th Heat, This Is The End, World War Z
Winner: World War Z
World War Z had been postponed, plagued by rumors of a troubled shoot and generally considered DOA by many when it finally hit theaters this June, and then it went on to gross $197 million domestically and $500 million worldwide.
Nominees: Despicable Me 2, Grown Ups 2, The Conjuring
Winner: The Conjuring
This was in truth the closest race. Not with Despicable Me 2, which was huge, but was expected to be huge, but with Grown Ups 2 which has to be the least talked about blockbuster ever. Still, the dumbfounding success of The Conjuring was the story of July, a month filled to the point of overflowing with movies that disappointed both at the box office and with those that saw them. The Conjuring was THE exception, a movie that people expected little from and outperformed all expectations.
Nominees: We’re The Millers, Elysium, 2 Guns
Winner: We’re The Millers
Yes, it is early and there are still three August weekends to change things, but they wont change things, but things wont change (and I say that knowing the two movies I have been most looking forward to this entire summer, Kick Ass 2 and The World’s End, are coming out over these last few August weekends). 2 Guns was a pleasant surprise to some, but in truth is performing as nearly all Denzel Washington movies perform (which is very impressive). Elysium may not be considered a disappointment yet, but it isn’t going to be a District 9 hit either. Planes is in it for the long haul and for DVD sales for the next 100 years. The rest of the “big” August movies (Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Smurfs 2 and The Mortal Instruments movie that is coming out soon) aren’t counting on big domestic numbers to prove their worth, they are all about the worldwide box office and whatever they get here is almost gravy. We’re The Millers, however, was barely on any prognosticator’s radar at the start of the summer, and now looks like it could catch This Is The End when it’s all said and done (a movie that was a box office surprise itself in June).
Comeback Movie of the Summer
Nominees: World War Z, The Great Gatsby, The Wolverine, Now You See Me, Pacific Rim
Winner: Pacific Rim
Did you know that Pacific Rim is about to cross the $100 million mark at the domestic box office? Did you know Pacific Rim is about to pass $350 million worldwide? Of course you don’t because Pacific Rim was written off after it’s underperforming opening weekend. Now, a month after it’s debut, Pacific Rim is looking more and more like a movie that can launch a franchise and less like a movie that will be written off by accountants.
International Box Office Movie Of The Summer
Nominees: Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, Pacific Rim, The Hangover Part III
Winner: Fast & Furious 6
Yes, is did the most business at the international box office, but the popularity of the F&F franchise outside the U.S. is the bigger story. Fast & Furious 6 has made just under $550 million from the international box office, and it is still going strong in many of those markets. The movie has already pushed past $800 million worldwide and $900 million may be a bit of a stretch but isn’t impossible…FOR A FAST & FURIOUS MOVIE! That’s insane. And I say that as an unabashed, huge fan.
Now, For Some Quick Awards
The “The World Saved What We Killed” Award
$60 million domestic but $184 million from other markets.
The Energized Bunny Award
Now You See Me
Final box office numbers $115 million U.S. $255 million worldwide
The Critical Darling Award
Tie: Before Sunrise and Mud
Each had 98% fresh ratings from Rotten Tomatoes
The “Critical Darling That People Actually Saw” Award
Star Trek Into Darkness
Barely beat out The Conjuring with a 87% score from Rotten Tomatoes
The A Students (films that received an A from Cinema Score)
Despicable Me 2
Fast & Furious 6
Now For The Big Ones…
Studio Of The Summer
Nominees: Universal, Warner Brothers, Disney
Winner: Warner Brothers
Many are giving this award to Universal, and they have reason to do so. Universal had the second and third biggest worldwide hits of the summer with Fast & Furious 6 and Despicable Me 2. Add to those two The Purge (a solid horror flick from June that ended up around $65 million) and 2 Guns and you have a pretty terrific summer…but they also have R.I.P.D.. We could do a similar thing with Disney, where they can tout Iron Man 3 and Monsters University, but they brought The Lone Ranger along for the ride too. So what did WB do? Man of Steel (don’t listen to the morons who are claiming it didn’t do as well as they had hoped, $650 million worldwide is never a disappointment), The Great Gatsby, The Conjuring, The Hangover Part III, Pacific Rim and We’re The Millers. Not a dud in the bunch. In fact the only film that didn’t meet or exceed expectations was The Hangover Part III and it did $350 million worldwide on a $100 million budget. Warner Brothers is the only studio that isn’t having to explain “why did you green light that $150 million fiasco?” This year that is a pretty impressive feat.
Note: The studio that will ever look back on Summer 2013 as a unmitigated disaster is Sony. Grown Ups 2 and This Is The End aren’t enough to salvage After Earth, White House Down & The Smurfs 2
Bomb of the Summer
Nominees: White House Down, The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D., The Internship
The Lone Ranger’s reportedly absurd marketing budget makes this a little closer than maybe it should be but it still isn’t that close. R.I.P.D.‘s production budget was $130 million, so far, worldwide, it hasn’t come close to making half of that budget ($56 million worldwide). Kevin Hart’s self produced stand-up movie has outgrossed R.I.P.D.. The Lone Ranger has more than tripled R.I.P.D.‘s business. Before this summer the “how does Ryan Reynolds keep getting movies?” argument really wasn’t entirely fair, he didn’t have any real bombs (go look at the numbers, WB made money on The Green Lantern), but now, woof! This is going to be a tough one to recover from and it sure seems like all of the blame for it is falling on him.
Movie of the Summer
Nominees: Iron Man 3, Fast & Furious 6, Man of Steel, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, The Conjuring
Winner: Iron Man 3
It is funny how this seems to happen every year. By August we forget about the movies that launched the summer. They are like distant memories and somehow feel disconnected from what is happening now. Well, Iron Man 3 LAUNCHED the summer. And since this summer, more than most, is entirely about popcorn entertainment and box office success here and abroad than there really is no other movie that can win than Iron Man 3. $400+ million domestic, $1.2 billion worldwide. It may not have been The Avengers but it sure got closer than anyone could have reasonably expected it would.
You’ll notice I didn’t really speak much about the movies themselves through out the entire post. Why? Because that is what this summer was. It wasn’t about all time classics. It wasn’t about movies that transcend their genre. It was about business. There were some terrific movies that would qualify as high quality artistic achievements this summer (Before Sunrise, Mud, The Way Way Back, Fruitville Station, etc.) but nobody cared. Maybe it is because those movies don’t gain as much from being on a big screen as an alien who can fly does. Maybe On Demand and iTunes and Netflix have made seeing those movies so easy to do at home that no one feels like they are missing anything when they miss them at the multiplex. Whatever the reason, this year more than any other was ruled by escapism and escapist films don’t need to be discussed or analyzed, they are built to be watched, enjoyed and forgotten. This summer we watched, we enjoyed and we will likely forget a lot of it.
But hey, what do I know? I’m fat.