The July 4th weekend is almost upon us which means it's time to take a moment and review the results of the 2010 summer box office so far. And, unlike last year, it hasn't been pretty.
May sent a shockwave through Hollywood's collective system as expected blockbusters "Iron Man 2," "Sex and the City 2" and "Shrek Forever After" underperformed, moderate hits such as "Prince of Persia" are scrambling to break even and hopeful breakouts such as "MacGruber" bombed. After a shaky first weekend, June turned the gloom around with the kick-ass debut of "The Karate Kid" (cough, this pundit did predict it would cross the $130 million mark back in April) and "Toy Story 3" has seemingly saved the summer with its gigantic $226 million in 10 days with only "Eclipse" in the way of a holiday weekend domination. So, before the next two months provide us potential major moneymakers "Despicable Me," "Inception" and "The Other Guys," let's review who has hit and missed the mark so far
[Note: "Grown Ups" and "Knight and Day" will be considered at the end of the summer as their fates haven't been determined yet.]
"Toy Story 3" $226 million
Lowdown: Even taking into account inflated 3-D ticket prices, America really loves Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Is the $400 million mark out of reach?
Major Surprise Hits
"The Karate Kid" $135 million
"Babies" $7.2 million
"Get Him to the Greek" $54 million
Lowdown: "Kid" is a major profit center for Sony Pictures with a sequel already in the works. "Babies" is a remarkable achievement for Focus Features (These days, any time you can release a doc and gross over $1 million you should break out the champagne). "Greek" is riding positive word of mouth and should easily surpass "Forgetting Sarah Marshall's" $63 million gross from two years ago.
Moderate Surprise Performers
"Letters to Juliet" $49.5 million
"Robin Hood" $103 million
Lowdown: If it didn't cost so much "Robin Hood" would be described as a comeback hit for Crowe and Ridley Scott. Even with $301 million worldwide, recouping that $200 million budget is gonna be tough. "Letters" opened a tad under pre-release polling, but it's already made more than either of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" films its campaign was modeled on. Yep, that's Summit's second success after "Knowing" outside the "Twilight" universe.
"Iron Man 2" $306 million
"Shrek Forever After" $229 million
"Sex and he City 2" $93 million
"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" $86 million
Lowdown: Where to start. "Iron Man 2" wasn't good enough to compel audiences to see it again, "Shrek" suffered from franchise fatigue, "Persia" just didn't seem interesting enough to break out for young males, "Sex and the City 2" lost touch with its audience and suffered from overly harsh reviews.
"The A-Team" $62 million
"Just Wright" $21 million
Lowdown: Fox couldn't sell the humor in "The A-Team" and found no reason to convince women they should see it. "Just Wright" didn't have enough pull to get African Americans to flock to the theaters like a Tyler Perry movie. There is a reason Lionsgate keeps Perry movies out of the summer. No disrespect to their success, but they do better in the marketplace with less blockbuster competition.
"Killers" $44 million
"Marmaduke" $30 million
"Splice" $15 million
"Jonah Hex" $9.1 million
"MacGruber" $8.5 million
Lowdown: Beyond Heigl and Kutcher's major stumble with "Killers," none of these were really unexpected. The sad part is that "MacGruber" is actually a really funny movie but was already a cult film before the west coast evening shows even started on opening day.
"Cyrus" $585,000 (just 17 theaters, two weeks)
"Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" $716,000
"The Secret in their Eyes" $5.2 million
"Exit Through the Gift Shop" $2.6 million
"Winter's Bone" $1 million
"Please Give" $3.1 million
Lowdown: Besides the arguably underperforming "Please Give," these are all stellar examples -- so far for a few of them -- of strong indie performance in the summer months. "Rivers" will absolutely pass $1 million. "Exit" succeeded completely with a remarkable publicity and word of mouth campaign. Sundance favorite "Bone" could hit $3 million by the end of the summer (matching 2008's "Frozen River"). "Cyrus" could be a strong breakout depending on expansion. "Secret"? The Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film is just the biggest limited release shocker of the year and a big profit center for Sony Pictures Classics.
Besides "Eclipse," breakouts for the rest of the summer include "Despicable Me" "Grown Ups" (seeing how it holds up after this weekend), "Inception," "The Kids are All Right," "The Last Airbender," "The Expendables," "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World" and "Eat, Pray, Love."
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