McGinnis: 2010’s summer movie season failed to impressWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Another summer movie season is about to come to a close. Instead of ending with a bang, the 2010 edition is collapsing over the finish line like a dehydrated marathon runner. Film fans were left with two great movies to add to their memories — “Toy Story 3” and “Inception” — and a lot of mediocre-to-bad ones to forget as swiftly as possible.
Financially, there was even less for Hollywood to brag about, as only eleven movies made over $100 million at the box office, fewer than the previous summer. This despite the fact that, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, the average ticket price was almost 50 cents up from 2009.
The biggest hits made impressive money. “Toy Story 3” earned more than $400 million, with second place “Iron Man 2” pulling in $312 million. Four other movies easily broke the $200 million dollar barrier. But beyond that, pickings are depressingly slim. The story of summer 2010 breaks down like this:
May: “Iron Man 2” kicks off the summer with a bang, grossing more than $128 million in a virtually unchallenged opening weekend. But there’s no denying it isn’t as good as its predecessor, and it falls significantly in the weeks that follow. Russell Crowe’s “Robin Hood” offers no challenge the following week, despite “IM2”’s tumble to $52 million.
“Shrek Forever After” then wins its opening weekend with $70 million, and the following week as well, but will finish as the lowest-grossing “Shrek” ever. Memorial Day openers “Sex and the City 2” and “Prince of Persia” both make surprisingly few waves.
June: “Shrek” wins its third week in a row, more because of weak competition (“Get Him to the Greek,” “Killers”) than its own box office clout. Things get shaken up a bit when “The Karate Kid” bows to a surprisingly robust $55 million, easily trouncing Fox’s “A-Team” remake.
The next week sees the arrival of “Toy Story 3,” and the game changes. Heralded by critics and audiences alike, the third installment in Pixar’s landmark animated film series opens to $110 million, doubling the opening take of “Toy Story 2.” It wins its second weekend with a gross of $60 million, as well, against the relatively weak competition of “Grown Ups” and “Knight and Day.”
July: The summer’s big July 4 battle didn’t turn out to be much of a fight. The third installment of the wildly successful “Twilight” series, “Eclipse,” opened on Wednesday and would gross more than $157 million by Sunday. Its competition, M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender,” made nearly $100 million less in the same span. But all was not all wine and roses for the sparkly vampires: The final box office take for “Eclipse” was $295 million, meaning it made more than half its total gross in that opening salvo, then faded quickly.
It faded quickly enough, in fact, that it easily lost the next weekend to animated comedy “Despicable Me,” which bowed to more than $57 million. Then, the next weekend saw the arrival of “Inception,” which earned $62 million, an impressive haul for a live-action film without an existing franchise. (Disney’s live-action contender, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” was dead out of the starting gate in the same week.) “Inception” would win the next two weekends, too, outpacing Angelina Jolie’s “Salt” the first week, and Steve Carell’s “Dinner for Schmucks” in the second, to close out the month.
August: “Inception” would finally be dethroned from the box office crown in its fourth weekend, losing to Will Ferrell’s “The Other Guys,” which opened with $35 million, though the former champ would hang on in second place. This past weekend saw “The Expendables” take the crown, earning $35 million, with Julia Roberts’s “Eat Pray Love” a solid second.
It may seem early to call the movie season a wrap, but looking ahead to future weeks makes it clear the summer is really over. Is anyone expecting “Nanny McPhee Returns” or “Piranha 3D” to pack ‘em in the theaters? So, we’re left to look at a disappointing and disheartening season of a few hits and a whole lot of misses, movies that were phenoms one week and gone the next.
All is not lost for the year, of course. 2009’s biggest hit, “Avatar,” didn’t arrive until December. But the events of the past few months do lead one to wonder what in the coming months can shake the movies out of their current doldrums. Will “Harry Potter,” “Narnia” or “Tron” be able to spike interest and salvage 2010? And if not, what can?
E-mail Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com.