The Summer 2011 movie season is just about wrapping up. August is coming to an end, and then comes the push for Oscar movies (with some boring months like September and October in the middle). There were some films that did great at the box office and others that should have done better. The quality of Summer films was on the low end of the spectrum as well, with only a few glimpses of hope. Some films that did great at the box office were utter garbage in my opinion, so it is only fair to separate those two types of films. There were a handful of decent films that were both good movies, and did well at the box office.
Hits (in quality and money)
Movies that Go Boom!: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was a great way to end the series at the box office and in regards to quality film making. Right now the film is the highest grossing film of the year, and will most likely max out at around 380 million domestically. The film had great reviews and there is talk of a best picture nomination, but I do not think this film will catch the Academies eye in any of the major categories. While I did not LOVE Super 8, it was a pretty great film, and it did better at the box office than I expected it to do.
Comedy Hits: Bridesmaids a movie a movie I saw three times, I just had to keep going back was a huge sleeper hit that gained great traction and scored a whopping 167 million, a great feet for an R rated comedy driven by women. This was a hilarious and well crafted film also.
Comic Book Movies (that did well and were good too!) Who would have thought the God of thunder, Thor would hold the title for the highest grossing comic book related film of the year (I sure did not). Thor was not only my favorite comic book movie of the summer, but it also had the highest box office number, 181 million dollars (domestically). Captain America: The First Avenger like Thor did very well and helped build the excitement to the The Avengers film, which will be released in 2012. I would qualify X-Men: First class as a modest hit. The film was certainly the best in the series (fighting it out with X-2), but the numbers were weaker, mostly because X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine were so awful.
The Small Films that Chug Along: Midnight in Paris was Woody Allen's highest grossing movie to date, and it was a great film in my book. This film earned 50 million dollars (domestically) and proves that a well written film can still draw people in during the explosive summer season. The Help was at the the top of the box office, and strong word of mouth will make it into a moderate hit.
Hits (at the Box Office)
Bad Movies that Just Make Money: Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon looked like it was almost going to be the highest grossing film of the year, but that was prevented by HP 7p2 (Thank Potterheads!). This film was another loud noisy obnoxious film in this series that made my skin crawl with revulsion. The Hangover Part II made a lot of money but it also made people rethink their dedication to the franchise, because of the fact that the movie had almost the exact same jokes as the first film. Disney has made it clear that they care more about quantity (aka dollars) over quality and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides is proof that they are reaching the bottom line without quality films.
Animated Films (one stale summer):
The summer of animated sequels brought about big box office numbers with both Kung Fu Panda and Cars 2, but I will be sad if either of these films contends for the Best Animated Film at the Oscars. That category has become boring and pointless. There are many films that missed out on Oscars because that category did not exist, but it has also helped to reward worse films.
Movies that go Boom!: Conan The Barbarian, this re-make never had the publicity or the legs to get big box office numbers, and who thought Arnold would have made a superior film. I hate to say "I told you so" but I knew Cowboys and Aliens would be a huge miss and that it would not find a stable audience. Even Harrison Ford could not save this sinking ship.
Comedies that Did not Muster Up the Laughs: Friends with Benefits was hurt by a film with the same premise released in January, and Timberlake could not scare up enough ladies and gay men to come see him in this film. 30 Minutes or Less had a great cast filled with funny men like Aziz Ansari, Jesse Eisenberg, and Danny McBride, but good comedians and a bad film could not scare up a good box office. Big stars just don't mean big numbers anymore; Jim Carrey couldn't save Mr. Popper's Penguins and Kevin James did not have his magic Paul Blart touch with Zookeeper either.
No Scary Movies till October!: Fright Night was another re-make that should never have happened, and it looks plain awful. Wasn't the last film called The Final Destination? Why did they make a fifth? Scary movies never fair well during the Summer, the best time for them is during the month of October.
Independent Movies that Make You Think too Much:The Tree of Life was not meant to released during this summer season. This film was far too ethereal for the summer months. Malick's film would have done much better if it were released in November or December.
Overall there were some fun moments in the summer months, but also some pretty forgettable films that will not have any lasting impact. This summer was plagued with bad sequels, re-makes, and stupid comedies that prove why box office numbers are down, and more people are waiting to see the movies at home rather than waste ten dollars to see them in the theater.