The summer movie season is about halfway over (these temperatures, ugh) and already box office returns have shown us what America is willing to put up with (Robert Downey Jr.! Funny comedies!) and what they don’t give a shit about (westerns). So for those Hollywood execs out there looking to see bigger (or, in the case of Jerry Bruckheimer, better) returns next summer, have a look at these 10 facts that have shaped and defined this blockbuster-happy season thus far.
America Loves Robert Downey Jr. …
After netting the second-biggest opening weekend of all time ($174.1 million), Iron Man 3 has continued to climb the box office charts in record-setting fashion. As of today, it has accumulated over $404 million, domestically, making it the highest-grossing film of 2013 and the 14th highest-grossing movie ever. Sure, that’s not Avatar money, but star Robert Downey Jr. clearly knows what he is doing.
… But Hates The Western
Sadly – and I use that word loosely here – the same box office numbers cannot be linked to The Lone Ranger, which bombed the hell out of the box office last weekend, earning $29 million off of a $215 million (!) budget. A similar situation happened to ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ two years ago, so nobody can blame Johnny Depp for turning into a lazy, predictable and altogether uninspired actor. (Yet.)
The Female Demo Is (Still) Very Powerful
About every summer, Hollywood will release a female-driven movie and then act with shock and horror when it actually opens strong. Such was the case this year with the Sandra Bullock–Melissa McCarthy vehicle The Heat, which opened to $40 million in June and will likely make well over $100 million by the end of its run. Memo to studio execs: Keep searching for the next Bridesmaids and The Help, because we’re going to want to see it.
Animated Movies Are (Still) Reliable
Thanks mostly to Pixar, computer-animated movies have become one of the most reliable tricks in the book. Even non-Pixar movies (Despicable Me 2, for example, has earned $140-plus million) are able to get families into those AC-blasted theaters.
The Fast and Furious Franchise Will Probably Live On Forever
Or at least a couple more movies, anyway, after Fast and Furious 6 hit the $200 million mark in just three weeks.
When In Doubt, Release a Cheap Horror Movie
Horror movies typically do well year-round, but don’t be surprised to see more of them pop up during the summer after The Purge grossed over $63 million off of a measly $3 million budget. (Yep, it’s already getting a sequel.)
Superman Is Bankable Again
Hollywood was understandably scared to revisit Superman after Superman Returns collapsed in theaters in 2006. But now that Man of Steel is a bonafide hit ($271 million and counting), Henry Cavill and his hairy chest will likely be sexing up movie theaters for years.
Americans Aren’t That Lazy
Sure, summer movies aren’t always Oscar-worthy, but that doesn’t mean American audiences will see any run-of-the-mill crap. Just look at the lazy Vince Vaughn comedy The Internship or the unnecessary Hangover III, neither of which captivated audiences like they did in the past. (The Onion put it best.)
Moving The Great Gatsby to Summer Was Actually a Good Idea
Everyone was all like, “Oh, ew, that must mean it’s bad” when Warner Bros. moved The Great Gatsby out of Oscar season and into the equally competitive summer lineup. But, hey, the trick worked! The 3-D adaptation (which, to be fair, did suck) was a hit with audiences, earning about $143 million and counting. Cheers to you, Leo!
Matthew McConaughey Is Indie’s RDJ
We all knew that Mud, Jeff Nichols’ much-anticipated follow-up to Take Shelter, was going to be good – but nobody expected it to be a box-office hit. The dark indie drama, about a fugitive in hiding, somehow managed to earn a stunning $20 million, setting up star Matthew McConaughey for what could become a very good year