Monday, September 07, 2009

Black Sheep @ The Box Office: Summer 2009!

It is Labour Day today - a day in which no one actually labours too hard, likely because they already went too hard doing something else last night. And as we sit here and recover from our evenings, we are really recovering from the summer as a whole. It all starts back tomorrow, school and sweater weather, that is. The summer blockbusters will make way for pensive Academy fare and before we all put on out glasses and thinking caps, let us raise a glass one last time to the summer of 2009.

(Click on any of the highlighted titles to read the Black Sheep review.)

I wouldn't go so far as to say there is a clear winner at the box office for the summer of 2009 but it can be definitely narrowed down to three. To look at the Top 10 worldwide grosses above, the Top 3 easily outrank the rest of the Top 10 and for different reasons. TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, was the clear North American winner, pulling in just under $400 million during its summer run, from both regular and more expensive IMAX screens. The surprising international winner was the third installment of the ICE AGE series, pulling in over $640 million outside of North America. Despite these individual successes, one film did better combined and that was the sixth film in the HARRY POTTER series, proving that the franchise is nowhere near losing its magical touch and will likely ride it out through the remaining two installments. Fans were desperate for some Potter love as it had been over two years since the last film and the final book were released. Harry was due and he got his dues in return.

ANGELS AND DEMONS, the sequel to the infinitely more successful DA VINCI CODE, managed a surprise fourth place finish overall. This is the perfect example of how one film's disappointing domestic bow can be easily salvaged by international interest. International interest also saved TERMINATOR SALVATION and the second NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM even pulled in about $50 million overseas more than its domestic total. Contrarily, there are some films that perform significantly better domestically than elsewhere. The most notable example is STAR TREK. J.J. Abrams managed to successfully reboot the ancient franchise for North American audiences but did not drum nearly as much interest around the globe. It was still one of my favorite flicks this summer.

Men behaving badly left its usual mark on the summer box office, most notably with, the runaway success, THE HANGOVER, which performed well both domestically and internationally and the sequel is already in development. I'm not sure how many times we can watch these dopes get plastered and recreate their evenings but I wasn't sure anyone would care this time either so what do I know? Testosterone also fueled hits like Michael Mann's PUBLIC ENEMIES ($97 million in N.A.) and the summer kick starter, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE. Meanwhile, the women continued to prove that summer time is just as much their time as it is the boys'. The Sandra Bullock/Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy, THE PROPOSAL did exceptionally well, with a grand domestic total of $161 million, making the it the 9th biggest domestic summer title out there. And the ladies also enjoyed THE UGLY TRUTH ($87.6 million) JULIE & JULIA ($80.6 Million) and THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE ($55.8 million). Granted those three films combined still come nowhere near what THE HANGOVER made, it is a strong showing nonetheless.

3D added a new dimension to the box office this summer. With a higher ticket price, late summer entry THE FINAL DESTINATION was able to open bigger than any of the previous films in the franchise and G-FORCE was able to cross the $100 million mark for Disney. There was no bigger 3D success this summer though than Pixar's first 3D effort, UP!. UP! pulled in over $290 million domestically, making it the third biggest film of the year so far and the second biggest Pixar film in their history, behind FINDING NEMO, the highest grossing animated film of all time. Pixar will be re-releasing their first hits TOY STORY and TOY STORY 2 in 3D as a double bill for a limited run in October to whet our appetite for their next 3D entry, 2010's TOY STORY 3.

There were no major bombs this summer but there were a number of disappointments. The biggest was certainly BRUNO, which grossed more than $60 million less than Sasha Baron Cohen's breakout, BORAT did and it fell fast, proving that Twitter and texting can kill you dead and it can kill you quick. Other disappointments include Judd Apatow's return to directing, FUNNY PEOPLE ($51 million), the Apatow produced, YEAR ONE ($43 million) and the Sam Raimi directed, DRAG ME TO HELL ($42 million). Incidentally, that last one was actually really good so don't let it slip past you when it is released to rent and own this October.

The summer is also a time for little art movies to rise past the big explosions and make miniature waves of their own. Sam Mendes's AWAY WE GO charmed adult audiences at the beginning of the summer, finishing with a total gross of $9.5 million. Oscar contender, THE HURT LOCKER beat the war movie curse by taking in $11.7 million in limited release. No film crossed over better though that the modern romantic comedy, (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, which allowed the whole world to fall in love with Zooey Deschanel right alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to the tune of $28.4 million.

The final days of summer wound down with the reasonable launch of a new franchise based on a toy, G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA. The film pulled in about $141 million domestically and just about the same internationally. They aren't TRANSFORMERS size numbers but they will do for at least one sequel. Quentin Tarantino released what will go on to be the most successful film of his career with INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. The domestic total currently stands at $95 million and it will surely surpass the $107 million domestic gross of the Oscar winning, PULP FICTION. And then there was that phenomenal film about alien occupation on earth that many critics and moviegoers considered to be the best release of the summer, DISTRICT 9. The Neill Bloomkamp directed film has already taken in $103 million and Sony has greenlit not one but two sequels.

Overall, the 2009 worldwide summer box office took in over $10 billion, allowing it to surpass the records established two years ago. Apparently, the summer box office dollar is alive, well and in three dimensions.

Black Sheep's regular box office report will return next week.

Sources: Variety
Box Office Mojo

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