Another summer – that time of year synonymous with big-budget aspiring blockbuster films – has come and gone. What better time to reflect on the hits and misses of the summer 2013 movie season?
Hit: “Iron Man 3”
Familiarity with the “Iron Man” series certainly hasn’t bred contempt. The third installment earned $174.1 million in its first weekend, the second-highest opening ever. “Iron Man 3” had earned $408.5 million as of Aug. 25, more than twice its budget and good enough for 13th place on the all-time domestic grosser list (or 101st if adjusted for inflation).
Miss: “The Internship”
In 2005, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson teamed up for “Wedding Crashers,” which grossed $209 million, more than five times its budget. Their second go-around was far less successful; “The Internship” had grossed $44.6 million as of Aug. 25, nearly $14 million less than its budget. Some critics complained about the blatant product placement. “Here’s why Google is so successful: It’s figured out a way for Twentieth Century Fox to make a two-hour Google commercial disguised as a summer comedy. “The Internship” is nominally a vehicle for Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, but make no mistake: Every frame of this film testifies to the grand hipster chic of the world’s largest Internet company,” the Boston Globe’s Ty Burr wrote. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Steven Rea called it a “Google-recruitment film” and said it was “downright creepy.”
Hit: “Fast & Furious 6”
The sixth installment was the most successful yet in the “Fast & Furious” franchise. The movie earned $146.6 million through eight days in May on its way to a total gross of $238.5 million (nearly $80 million more than its budget) through Aug. 25.
Miss: “After Earth”
2008’s “Hancock” made Will Smith the first actor to star in eight consecutive $100 million-grossing movies, and many of his most successful films have been in the science-fiction genre (“Independence Day,” “Men in Black”), but even his track record couldn’t rescue M. Night Shyamalan’s latest misfire. “After Earth” had only grossed $60.5 million as of Aug. 18, less than half its budget.
Hit: “This is the End”
It was the very definition of a high-concept movie. Celebrities – including Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and James Franco – playing fictionalized versions of themselves are confronted with the apocalypse. It was also a profitable concept: “This is the End” had grossed $96 million as of Aug. 25, three times its budget.
Miss: “The Lone Ranger”
To fail so miserably – grossing $87.9 million as of Aug. 25 against a $215 million budget – is bad enough. Adding insult to injury, this was described as a “perfect example of almost everything that’s wrong with the current Hollywood blockbuster system. In addition to being massively expensive, “The Lone Ranger” demonstrates the industry’s franchise obsession, origin-story laziness, over-reliance on bloodless violence, and inability to prevent running-time bloat. These are not small problems, and there is no sign that they will be riding off into the sunset anytime soon.”
Hit: “The Heat”
The comedy about two female law enforcement officers (Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock) proved that the success of last February’s “Identity Thief” – the first movie McCarthy starred in – was no fluke. “The Heat” grossed $39.1 million in its first weekend – Bullock’s best opening ever – and had grossed $156 million as of Aug. 25, making it the third most successful movie of Bullock’s career.
Miss: “White House Down”
Maybe it was because another White House invasion movie (“Olympus Has Fallen”) was released last March. Maybe it was because the movie faced such competition as “The Heat” and “World War Z.” Whatever the reason, “White House Down” grossed nearly $6 million less than “Olympus Has Fallen” did in its opening weekend. The movie fell another 46 percent in its second weekend, and as of Aug. 25 it had grossed only $72 million, less than half its budget. By comparison, “Olympus Has Fallen” grossed $98.9 million.
Hit: “Despicable Me 2”
July 2013 was the second-highest-grossing month of all time. This was largely attributable to “Despicable Me 2,” which earned as much as the next three titles combined. The movie had grossed $350.7 million as of Aug. 25, nearly $100 million more than the 2010 original. The planned Minions spin-off scheduled for next Christmas looks like a very good investment.
Opening within a month of “Despicable Me 2” and “Monsters University,” “Turbo” was left in the dust. It grossed $21.3 million in its first weekend, the worst opening for a DreamWorks movie since 2006’s “Flushed Away.” The movie had grossed $78.7 million as of Aug. 25, roughly $56 million less than its budget.