Okay, everybody puts you pants back on.


Hey, summer’s over, so let’s look at what worked.

Film Total Opening Weekend Foreign Grand Total
1 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen  $399,526,521   $108,966,307 (3.7x) $428,607,329 $828,133,850
2 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince $294,707,345 $77,835,727 (3.8x) $601,700,000 $896,407,345
3 Up $289,639,811 $68,108,790 (4.3x) $124,219,481 $413,859,292
4 The Hangover $270,467,025 $44,979,319 (6x) $149,200,000 $419,667,025
5 Star Trek $256,717,048 $75,204,289 (3.4x) $126,385,382 $383,102,430
6 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs $193,348,280   $41,690,382 (4.6x) $613,790,529 $807,138,809
7 X-Men Origins: Wolverine $179,866,136 $85,058,003  (2.1x) $183,513,212 $363,379,348
8 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian $176,501,541     $54,173,286 (3.3x) $227,618,586 $404,120,127
9 The Proposal $160,154,402 $33,627,598 (4.7x) $109,810,155 $269,964,557
10 G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra $133,330,390 (Est. $150 Mil) $54,713,046 (2.8x) $131,726,913 $265,057,303
11 Angels & Demons $133,375,846 $46,204,168 (2.9x) $351,002,614 $484,378,460
12 District 9 $92,490,621 (Est $130) $37,354,308 (3.5x) N/A N/A
13 Terminator Salvation $125,293,382 $42,558,390 (2.9x) $245,999,426 $371,292,808
14 Inglourious Basterds $76,964,793 (Est $120) $38,054,676 (3.2x) N/A N/A
15 G-Force $112,254,185 (Est $120) $31,706,934 (3.8x) N/A N/A

(Let me note that Transformers 2 is still playing, so it will ceremoniously cross $400 Million this weekend or next. Harry Potter is also still playing, so it could still limp to $300.)
If the summer of 2009 says anything about this business, it’s that a longer play is coming back into fashion. That’s not to make great hay of that notion, but we’re seeing longer windows between releases of films in theaters and DVD dates, and we’re not seeing as many super-front loaded films as we did last year, or the year before. Of the top fifteen only Wolverine kept close to a 2x opening average. Then again, the numbers on Transformers 2 and Harry Potter (five day weekends) are a little misleading. TF 2 ended the five day with $200 Million, and it has doubled that, but just. While Potter got to the five day with $158. The math on these isn’t as great as some of the other big summer films. I thought TF 2 would be the number One film of the summer and make around $330 give or take $60, and I was off by ten Million, while Potter was my #2 choice of the summer, which has ended right in my wheelhouse (said around $280). After that the film I was closest to was G.I. Joe, which I said would do $140 and be the number #10, which is not that bad a guess. Otherwise, I had a lot of the right films but higher numbers. You can compare and contrast my failures here.

Up managed to be stronger than the last couple Pixars, while The Hangover and Star Trek proved that word of mouth ain’t just a river in Kentucky. Here is where the positive side of this summer is apparent. These films were audience favorites, and they played long – with The Hangover being what amounts to a phenomenon.  And one of these films might be a masterpiece. Also a film that should be grouped with these is The Proposal, which played long and strong. This weekend brings another Bullock film that will have none of the magic. But it does suggest that Sandra still has an audience.

Ice Age 3, Angels and Demons and Terminator 4 show that international grosses can be leaned on, but only so much. A film like Ice Age plays because of dubbing (Up hasn’t opened in a lot of foreign territory yet), and its slapstick sensibilities. But only Terminator 4 looks to be the only barely break even of the lot. Sony played smart with Angels and Demons, they knew that the American reception would be there, but didn’t push it like the former film, and probably made more money in doing so.

T4  also belongs with G.I Joe, Star Trek and Wolverine in that these films were supposedly too expensive for their final grosses, all said or rumored to have $200 Million Budgets. I say supposedly because Hollywood accounting made public is like a Shopping Mall Santa Claus. Paramount can suggest that with Star Trek at least they are franchise building, and though the film is profitable (and DVD sales will be stronger than most), the next film will be bigger. Alas, so will the budget. But no one will think that film a loser, and the audience should be there for more.

August ended stronger than ever, so you’ve got two great films that played to audiences strongly without banking on super known properties. Tarantino and Brad Pitt aren’t great B.O. draws, and District 9 had Peter Jackson’s name and aliens. And yet it’s fair to say that audience made these pictures after they were sold by smart advertising. Again, in the positive side of things. The negative is that the biggest summer “indie” picture is (500) Days of Summer, which has done $25 Million. The Hurt Locker and other have done much much less. And (500) stars mainstream Hollywood actors and is a romantic dramedy – not exactly challenging art-house material.

For this summer you had six out of the top fifteen non-sequels or based on previous material, and two more of those were relaunches/franchise starters (G.I. Joe and Star Trek). This is one of the strongest non-sequel summers in a while. But this also has a lot to do with Hollywood drying up a lot of material, or getting it to the point of too expensive. Wolverine had a lot of spin-off talk at the start of summer, but it ain’t going to happen. Still, Fox will toil in the X-Men franchise to keep hope and their contracts alive. This was also the least super-heroic summer in quite a long time.

This was also a strike summer, and the pains of that could be felt in good films and bad. But more than anything, the bad films felt perfunctory. Terminator Salvation shat the bed a bit, but it was a picture that came from the fever of needing summer product. If past strikes have taught us anything, we will be feeling the effects of this next summer as well, but in a much more diluted form.

But as good as it was to see some quality films do well, Transformers 2 may well be the worst film of the summer and is a contender for one of the worst films of the decade (paired easily with Michael Bay’s garish and tasteless Pearl Harbor). You can never use grosses as a testament to anything, either that the American public has good or bad taste. It’s summer.

Next week: LOSERS.


This weekend is when the belt comes off and the hand comes in for comfort. Though it’s a three day weekend, it’s a saggy one. Though Neveldine ad Taylor were able to hit it out of the park a couple years back around this time with Crank. Gerald Butler, crazy action, it should be able to do some business, even though it was shot before Crank 2. I’m guessing Gamer opens and dies, but opens.

All About Steve got eviscerated on Twitter by critic friends, and it’s a crap weekend. Say goodnight. Extract might find an audience, but -like most Mike Judge films – it will likely blossom on home video. Horror films drop like stones, so it’s possible that Basterds will hold onto second place.

Let’s get on it:
1. Gamer - $16 Million
2. Inglourious Basterds - $13.5 Million 
3. The Final Destination - $12 Million
4. All About Steve - $8 Million
5. District 9 - $7.5 Million 

And then Sunday… We’ll read some Proust.