Summer movie winners & losers
"It's not enough that I succeed. Others must fail." -- Gore Vidal.
Like most "viral" quotes, its common attribution to the recently departed Vidal is arguable. But it rings true - especially in the movie world, where an insane hit can share the marquee with a movie as popular as a sexually transmitted disease.
Herewith, a passing glance at the winners and losers of this past summer movie steeplechase.
REBOOTS: The Amazing Spider-Man did what reboots are supposed to do at the very least - match the box office of the thing they're rebooting. As for The Bourne Legacy, it opened well enough to suggest the franchise can survive without Matt Damon.
NOSTALGIA FOR GEN X THINGS: The Expendables 2 did massive box office with a musclebound cast whose careers had mostly peaked in the '80s and early '90s. Yo: Sly! Arnie! Bruce! This follows the success of 21 Jump Street, which was a surprise hit, and actually pretty funny.
QUIRKY MOVIES: And speaking of Bruce Willis "¦ Okay, they don't even register on the blockbuster radar, but Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was his sweetest film in years, and Safety Not Guaranteed gave Aubrey Plaza leading-girl cred. And they both made money. Lattes for everybody!
ANIMATED FILMS FOR ADULTS: Really, there was a single, partially-animated one, Ted, directed and voiced by The Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane as the title CGI teddy. But it set a record for the highest opening for an R-rated comedy in history. Time to reboot Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a little less Roger and a lot more Jessica.
MOVIES BASED ON TOYS/GAMES: Battleship bombed. And G.I. Joe: Retaliation (which was filmed and ready to go) got booted ahead to 2013 on the schedule for a whole bunch of rumoured reasons, none of them good.
NOSTALGIA FOR BOOMER THINGS: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows bombed, following in the debris of 2012's earlier flops John Carter and The Three Stooges.
ORIGINAL PIXAR FILMS: Brave garnered great reviews and good-enough box office. But it was dwarfed by the grosses for Toy Story 3, and didn't even match Cars 2. As a result, Pixar - which made but one sequel in 15 years - is banking on a prequel to Monsters, Inc. and a sequel to Finding Nemo. Don't like where this is going.
HIT MUSICALS MADE INTO MOVIES: Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise, ahem, underperformed big time. If I had stock in the upcoming Les Miserables movie, I'd sell now.
MOVIES WITH GIMMICKY TITLES: When people first heard the title Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, they invariably laughed and said, "Yeah, I want to see that." But then they said that about Snakes On A Plane.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Len Wiseman, of Underworld fame, whose dead-at-the-box-office remake of Total Recall proved (a) You don't mess with Arnie's legacy, and (b) People expect less from vampires and werewolves than they do from a mind-blowing Philip K. Dick story. You're safer there.