by Gabriel Storment (@SeaStorm24)
It’s time again to check in on the Summer Movie Scoreboard. As a refresher, the SMS tracks who’s having a good or bad summer based on the movies that have been released in theaters. Check out last month’s inaugural edition to get caught up.
Just a few weeks ago, I thought June would be the uneventful month of the summer. Wedged between the May blockbusters (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Max: Fury Road, Pitch Perfect 2) and the still highly anticipated July releases (Magic Mike XXL, Terminator: Genisys, Ant Man, Pixels, and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), I didn’t think there was anything on the schedule that would make a big splash. At least, not the splash a couple of them ended up making. But enough preamble. On with the Scoreboard…
In the week leading up to its release, I read that all reviews for Jurassic World were being embargoed until 48 hours before the premier. Typically this is a red flag, meaning the filmmakers aren’t confident in what the critics might say:
Always a good sign. https://t.co/XveqN1iGYN
— Gabe Storment (@SeaStorm24) June 5, 2015
Then I read that Jurassic World represented 90% of all presale tickets on Fandango for its opening weekend and that its presale numbers outpaced every summer movie from 2014 including Guardians of the Galaxy, Godzilla, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Transformers: Age of Extinction. (By 2020, every movie will have a colon.)
People were obviously not waiting around to hear what the critics had to say.
It’s not as though anyone was predicting a weak debut, let alone a flop. Somewhere between $110 – $120 million seemed to be the consensus prediction for its opening weekend. But nobody saw this coming. People underestimated the power of dinosaurs (just like in the movie!)
Indominus Rex and Chris Pratt’s manly stubble clawed their way to a billion dollars worldwide in less than a month, ensuring at least a handful of subsequent sequels.
Now, does the film deserve that kind of money? My response would have to be, “Ehh…”
Jurassic World is not a great movie in any category. Bryce Dallas Howard was terrible, the dialogue was clearly an afterthought, and the plot has huge, gaping, dinosaur-sized holes. But damn Chris Pratt was good, and in the end I was highly entertained.
Is that worth a billion dollars? The market seems to think so.
Original stories aren’t scarce in Hollywood. It just seems that way because the only movies that make money these days come from established properties. So it should be celebrated that Pixar’s latest feature had the all-time biggest opening weekend for an original film, collecting $91 million. (Amazingly, it still came in under Jurassic World’s second weekend total of $102 million.)
With critics and audiences, Inside Out seems to compare favorably with Pixar’s best movies. The filmmakers put to good use Pixar’s formula of combining slapstick, bright colors, and vibrant action to entertain the kiddos with an emotional storyline and rich characters to draw in mom and dad.
One of those random, inexplicable memories that has stuck with me since I was a kid is seeing Leonard Maltin on TV, walking from car to car in a crowded intersection asking people to give donations to put John Candy in a better movie. This was 30 years ago and he had just given Armed and Dangerous a bad review. He said he was frustrated that Candy couldn’t be in more movies worthy of his considerable talent. I was only nine years old at the time, but it struck me as a jackass thing to do because nine year old me thought that movie was HI-larious.
Anywho, I feel like Melissa McCarthy has been in a similar place in her career recently despite remaining a bankable star. Counting Bridesmaids in 2011 when she exploded onto the scene (and into the sink, zing!), four of her movies have surpassed the $100 million mark at the box office, even though two of them, The Hangover Part III and Identity Thief, were pretty much universally panned by critics.
Spy will be the fifth to reach that number and this time, critics actually have nice things to say about the movie. Paul Feig deserves a pat on the back for seemingly being the one writer/director who gives McCarthy more to do than shout and fall down.
Where my bros at?? The film revival of the HBO comedy underwhelmed, only taking in $10 million during its opening weekend. The show was always polarizing during its eight year run; you either liked it or you hated it. Fans enjoyed the fantasy angle, living vicariously through Vince and his crew. Critics saw the painfully unfunny writing and low-stakes storylines rife with misogyny and rightfully dismissed it. Not that I’m biased.
The series ended in 2011 and too much time had passed for the movie version to attract more than the hard core fans. Maybe they should’ve screened an episode of The Sopranos beforehand.
The potty-mouthed Satan spawn of Teddy Ruxpin and Peter Griffin (Ted, not Wahlberg) was no match for dinosaurs and the animated manifestations of a little girl’s emotions. Jurassic World and Inside Out dominated theaters in their third and second weekends, respectively. You can blame Jurassic World for stealing some of Ted 2’s audience. Inside Out, probably not so much.
It brought in a respectable $33 million, but that was much lower than the predicted $50 million, which is what the original brought in when it premiered. (Jurassic World made $54 million in its third weekend!)
Technically, Aloha premiered in May (5/29), but the reaction, most of which was either negative or head-scratching, came in June. This doesn’t include the leaked emails as a result of the Sony hack that revealed that early screenings of the movie didn’t go well. The consensus among critics was, “WTF is this?”
Lack of cohesive story, poor editing, and weak dialogue were all consistently sited in reviews. The backlash from casting Emma Stone as a Chinese/Hawaiian/Pixie fighter pilot might actually have created a buzz and increased ticket sales for another movie, but Aloha just had too many flaws and was doomed from the start. It’s amazing how a movie, shot in one of the most beautiful places on Earth and with a cast that included Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, Danny McBride, John Krasinski, and BILL F***ING MURRAY! can turn out to be such a disaster.
We’ve reached the midway point of the Summer movie season and there were a few unexpected hits and misses in June. There’s little to no chance any movie remaining on the summer release schedule has a chance of matching Jurassic World for ticket sales, but there are still a lot of highly anticipated premiers coming soon.
As for the Summer Movie Scoreboard, the critics have weighed in:
“I don’t see a scoreboard anywhere.” – Rex Reed
“Good luck with that.” – Richard Roeper
“The what? How’d you get this number?” – David Edelstein
Until the next Summer Movie Scoreboard…