Summer Box Office Hits and Misses Part II: ‘Inception,’ ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Expendables’

09.07.10 8 years ago 15 Comments

It wasn’t a monster summer, but overall, every studio had their share of hits and misses.  Hollywood knew since June, however, it would be unlikely any picture would overtake Disney’s blockbuster “Toy Story 3” to win the individual summer box office crown.  And to be frank, no other contenders came close to the animated adventure’s $408 million domestic cume by the time the Labor Day weekend numbers were revealed.  Instead, three films passed the $240 million mark (“Eclipse,” “Inception” and “Despicable Me”), while there were a number of surprise $100 million grossers.  

But, if there are winners, there have to be some losers.  More distressing, however, were the larger number of pictures that just plain disappointed for Hollywood’s studios.  It’s not that the films won’t eventually make it into the black, but they weren’t the profit centers their parent companies were expecting.

It’s also worth noting, that after a horrible first half of the season with “Killers,” Lionsgate had a great comeback with two moneymaking hits: “The Expendables” and “The Last Exorcism.”  

With that in mind, here’s a rundown of who hit and missed the mark over the past two months at your local multiplex.

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” $298.6 million
“Inception” $277 million
“Despicable Me” $240 million

Lowdown: The surprise was “Despicable” which is a massive success in a mostly disappointing summer for Universal.  “Eclipse” barely passed its predecessor, “New Moon” and will eventually hit the $300 million mark, but considering IMAX ticket prices, the vampire tale was expected to make significantly more.  “Inception”?  Let’s just say the naysayers who insisted Warner Bros.’ could never make their money back on this one are probably having nightmares over doubting the combo of Chris Nolan and Leonardo Dicaprio.

Surprise Hits
“The Last Airbender” $131 million
“Takers” $37.3 million
“The Last Exorcism” $32.1 million

Lowdown: “Airbender” and “Takers” found some of the worst reviews of the summer, but still blew away their studios internal projections.  And it’s amazing that “Takers” was basically a late summer dump by Screen Gems and now is a potential new franchise.  Lionsgate may be the happiest of the bunch as “Exorcism’s” immediate returns (the studio paid about only $1 million to acquire it) has finally shut up potential takeover artist Carl Icahn.

Expected Hits
“Grown Ups” $159.3 million
“The Expendables” $92.2 million
“Salt” $115.2 million
“The Other Guys,” $106.7 million

Lowdown: A caveat with a few of these.  “Grown Ups,” “The Other Guys” and “Expendables” were all known as solid hits back in the spring.  “Salt,” on the other hand, was pretty much seen as a mess until a month or so before its debut.  Through publicity a deluge of media and a lucky date, the re-shot thriller become one of Jolie’s biggest hits.

“Knight and Day” $76 million
“Dinner for Schmucks” $70.9 million
“Eat Pray Love” $68.9 million
“Predators” $51.6 million
“Step Up 3-D” $41 million
“Piranha 3D” $22.4 million
“The Switch” $21 million

Lowdown: Pick your poison as all of these films were expected to better than they actually did.  The low  domestic gross of “Knight and Day” may have caused the biggest aftershock as its reportedly knocked down Cruise’s upfront fee for “Mission Impossible 4.” “Schmucks” was a better title away from $100 million and Fox mis-marketed a “Predators” reboot that should have at least grossed $75 million.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” $61.6 million
“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” $41.5 million
“Charlie St. Cloud” $30.8 million
“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” $28.8 million
“Going the Distance” $6.9 million

Lowdown: “Apprentice” was a costly misfire, but Disney distribution and marketing deserve just as much blame for it’s poor opening as Nic Cage does.  Of course, the saddest of the lot is “Pilgrim.”  It became a cult classic before its opening day was even over.

Indie standouts
“The Kids Are All Right” $19.7 million
“The Girl Who Played with Fire” $6.3 million
“Get Low” $5.4 million

Lowdown:  Music Box kept it’s amazing year going with the sequel to “Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”  Classics has had great word of mouth on “Get Low” and Focus played “Kids” to a more than respectable gross.

Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts below.

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