Revisiting the Summer Movie Slate and Looking to the Fall

Rain or no rain, we can still hit the links:

It’s the Tuesday after Labor Day. Kids are back in school. It’s cold. The only thing that says it’s still summer is the date. That makes this as good a time as any to go back and assess my summer movie box office predictions from May. My predictions:

at least #1 wasn't tranny 3. not that it will stall any tranny 4 production

at least #1 wasn't tranny 3. not that it will stop tranny 4

1. Tranny 3, $350 million

2. Harry Potter, $320 million

3. Cars 2, $260 million

4. Pirates of the Caribbean 4, $240 million

5. Kung Fu Panda 2, $220 million

6. Hangover Part 2, $175 million

7. Captain America, $150 million

8. Thor, $140 million

9. Super 8, $125 million

10. X-Men, $120 million

Actual box office for summer 2011 movies (anything released between May and August as of Labor Day). Green is a good prediction, red are my mistakes:

no one seemed to care that it was the same movie as the first one.

no one seemed to care that it was the same movie as the first one.

1. Harry Potter, $375 million

2. Tranny 3, $350 million

3. Hangover 2, $254 million

4. Pirates, $250 million

5. Cars 2, $189 million

6. Thor, $181 million

7. Captain America, $172 million

8. Bridesmaids, $168 million

9. Kung Fu Panda 2, $164 million

10. Planet of the Apes, $162 million

let's just go ahead and call it a bomb, shall we? great, glad we're all agreed.

let's just go ahead and call it a bomb, shall we? great, glad we're all agreed.

Not bad. I’ll call it 6 out of 10 for sure. Bridesmaids is the only thing that completely came out of nowhere, although The Help has an outside shot of cracking the top 10 at $123 million right now. Planet of the Apes would have been my #11, but I would have predicted about $115 million. I’m kinda surprised Thor made as much as it did, but I’m starting to think Marvel can turn its dumbest title into a movie, release it the first weekend in May and turn it into a $150 million hit. I picked Green Lantern, Friends with Benefits and Smurfs for three possible bombs, and completely whiffed on The Smurfs (a ridiculous $430 million worldwide). Friends with Benefits made double its money back around the world, so that’s no bomb. Green Lantern was the biggest debate of the summer — was it a bomb or not? It made $116 domestically ($214 million worldwide), which normally would sound like a good number. But its announced budget was $200 million and that doesn’t take into account the huge marketing push it had. And it was supposed to be DC’s start onto the path of Marvel riches, its chance to establish its secondary characters (behind Batman and Superman) so it could make a Justice League movie like Marvel has its Avengers. Now? Forget it. Flash is stalled, Wonder Woman hasn’t been able to get traction for a decade and Christian Bale probably won’t do another Batman movie. So by pure numbers, maybe it wasn’t a bomb. But the fact that it halted not just its own franchise possibilities but is making Warner Brothers rethink the entire Justice League franchise, thereby costing it hundreds of millions of dollars … that’s gotta be a bomb, right?

Not a lot of relief coming this fall in the movie world if you were hoping for a good lineup of Oscar-contending prestige films and finally getting away from that 17-year-old next to you that didn’t stop texting through one second of Hangover 2. Still waiting to hear about a breakout indie hit that could be coming, but for the most part, the fall doesn’t look that much different from the summer. Just smaller stars. The only thing I’m stupid excited for is Moneyball, despite the fact that I can only be disappointed by it. Then again, I tried to explain the computer-based high-on-base-percentage, low-defense Moneyball philosophy to my wife over the weekend and did a terrible job. Maybe Brad Pitt can do better, but the trailer certainly makes it look like the Moneyball Cliff Notes.

At least there is DVD, so if you got stuck going for the big-name stuff this summer, you might have missed some of the smaller stuff that you can catch up on when it comes out this fall at your nearest streaming location. You know, like your house.

going, going ...

going, going ...

Something I care much less about than the fall movie season — summer TV. It was stacked with reality, cable procedurals and disappointing returns of our favorite shows (Rescue Me and Breaking Bad). Wilfred is still great even if it’s a bit repetitive already, I’ve pretty much skipped the entire middle portion of Burn Notice and not missed a thing and Rescue Me was a shell until these last two episodes. I told a few people this summer that me and Rescue Me were staying together for the kids, just going through the motions together before they went to college and we can finally just go our separate ways. But the last two episodes have gone back to the old days of Rescue Me — funny, exciting, intense and heartfelt. I won’t be shedding any tears when it’s gone — like I did when Friday Night Lights ended this summer — but I will be watching and I am pumped up for the series finale. After last week’s episode, I immediately did a hashtag search of “#rescueme” to see what people’s initial thoughts were, so yeah, I’m into it. Other than that? This summer has been pretty boring on TV. Bring on Sons of Anarchy tonight!

Then again, I was down on Sons of Anarchy at the end of last year. The whole trip to Ireland thing reeked of a Jump the Shark moment, it didn’t provide any closure to the Abel situation and screamed “lazy.” So it’s gotta prove something to me this year. SAMCRO in jail has some interesting possibilities, but it’s just another way of getting them out of their boring town. You fall short of interesting ideas to do in their regular surroundings, so you send them somewhere else to get in wacky adventures. And this may be the first time an FX marketing campaign hasn’t fully grabbed me — that’s not a good thing. Open mind though.

later, reege. is that how you'd spell "reege"? yeah, that's it. i'm calling it.

later, reege. is that how you'd spell "reege"? yeah, that's it. i'm calling it.

Daytime TV, for men, seems to be a never-ending pool of chit-chat BS about the latest diet craze, the healthiest recipes and how to keep your boobs from hurting while you’re exercising. No wonder SportsCenter can just run reruns all morning. There is nothing else for men to watch from like 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The one guy who made it at least moderately tolerable for men over the last 20 years was Regis Philbin, and now he’s officially saying good-bye on Nov. 18. And hold on for a shocker here — that’s during the first sweeps month. Anyway, Philbin was the lone male voice in a sea of estrogen. That’s not a slight against women. Women have always been the ones that watch daytime TV. But for someone like me that has been working nights off and on since I was about 15, I’m pretty well-versed in the female-skew of daytime TV. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of Regis Philbin. His place in daytime TV was kind of like mine — surrounded by women. While I gripe about it, he embraced it and made his niche as the lone male voice in the genre. That’s why he’s a legend and I’m still griping.

stop expecting human behavior from this man and you won't be disappointed when he acts like a turd. and he will act like a turd.

stop expecting human behavior from this man and you won't be disappointed when he acts like a turd. and he will act like a turd.

After watching Star Wars all weekend on Spike, it’s even more amazing to read these stories of Star Wars fans surprised that George Lucas would change any part of the original trilogy for his own personal financial gains. The second trilogy is the biggest money-making farce ever put on screen, a three-part video game that will keep Lucas’s great-great-great grandkids from ever having to work. So why would it surprise anyone that he would change little pieces of the original trilogy just so that he could re-release it onto Blu-ray? He did the same thing to re-release it into theaters in 1997, and the same thing so he could release it to DVD a couple years ago. Whatever the next platform is, he’ll do the same thing over again. And no, I’m not surprised at all that Save Star Wars was able to dig up a Lucas rant to Congress about how movies should be left alone, unaltered. That was basically to say the studios shouldn’t be allowed to make money off his work. But as long as it’s Lucas making the money, he could give two craps about the “art” of a crybaby Jedi, a spoiled brat princess, a space pirate, a guy in a bear suit and a couple robots traipsing across the galaxy. At least that’s the message he’s sending to me. Congrats, George. You’ve started me on the path to hating anything and everything Star Wars. He’s ruining my childhood one movie at a time.

And watching things like the second trilogy unfold before my very eyes is the reason it doesn’t surprise me when Hollywood looks to cash in on any kind of money-making opportunity despite whatever piece of integrity it earned. Such is the case with Die Hard, my favorite action movie of all time. It somehow has managed not to embarrass itself totally in three sequels so far, but the potential is definitely there with the fifth installment. It’s gone so far from its original premise — wrong place, wrong time, right guy — that the franchise bears no resemblance to the original. Maybe that’s actually a good thing. Maybe even though there are now going to be four sequels, we can just hold on to the first and forget the other four ever happened. Good luck with that.

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