Which movies transformed your summer?
As summer is wont to do, it was a season stuffed with remakes, reboots and tentpoles, with everything from a Marvel-ous kickoff in April to Hobbs & Shaw bringing some popular "Fast and Furious" flavor to the dog days of August. But while we were busy taking in Will Smith's rapping turn as Aladdin's Genie and singing along with Elton John in "Rocketman," some movies – even great movies – failed to make enough noise to attract audiences, while other blockbuster-hopefuls went bust.
Here's a look at the stars who emerged triumphant – and others who saw their summer dreams dashed.
Queen Bey was just warming up in April when she dropped her "Homecoming" concert documentary on Netflix and a surprise accompanying live album. In July the pop superstar voiced Nala in “The Lion King,” and after walking the red carpet with Blue Ivy released an entire other new album from the film titled "The Lion King: The Gift," which features a ballad primed for an Oscar nomination. Buoyed by Timon (Billy Eichner), Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and Simba (Donald Glover), the revamped "Lion King" went on to score $1.5 billion at the box office.
Loser: The X-Men's 'Dark' send-off
"Dark Phoenix" came, bombed, and went. The worst-reviewed film in the X-Men franchise (it got a lowly 23% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) earned just $255 million worldwide on a $200 million budget. Not even "Game of Thrones" star Sophie Turner could save the film. USA TODAY's Brian Truitt wrote the latest installment "finishes off the X-Men movie saga in frustratingly middling fashion."
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Winner: Keanu Reeves
Reeves made magic happen everywhere this summer. From "John Wick 3" to Netflix's "Always Be My Maybe" to "Toy Story 4," the 54-year-old's viral success helped officially push “Matrix 4” to a green light. Much of this can be credited to how deep Reeves goes into his characters (even the animated ones).
Before the actor signed on to play overly serious toy Duke Caboom in "Toy Story 4," "he would ask these really deep character questions, and you couldn’t ignore them," director Josh Cooley told USA TODAY. "It really did force us to dig deeper into this character that we thought was more of a gag."
Loser: So many critical favorites
Despite a clamor for more original films, audiences failed to buy tickets to see them at the cineplex. "Booksmart," "Late Night," "The Farewell" and "Long Shot" were among critics’ favorites this summer, but none impressed at the box office. Stars have started getting more outspoken, particularly as ticket buyers choose to sit out diverse or women-directed fare. "You can’t say ‘I’m for it, too’ and then only go see male, caped movies,” Melissa McCarthy, whose original drama "The Kitchen" was among films that came and went quietly this summer, told USA TODAY. “It’s a weird epidemic. I’m not against (those movies), but everybody’s gotta put their money where their mouth is.”
Winner: Brad Pitt
Pitt is walking into fall with a spring in his step thanks to Quentin Tarantino’s "Once Upon a Time In Hollywood," which made $123 million at the box office and got pundits debating Pitt's Oscar odds for playing an aging (yet still very ripped) Hollywood stuntman opposite Leonardo DiCaprio. Last week, the star opened his space drama "Ad Astra" at the Venice Film Festival.
Loser: So many sequels, from 'Shaft' to 'Godzilla'
Not even Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role from almost 20 years ago could save his "Shaft" reboot, which pulled in just $21 million and had a dismal 32% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sequel-itis also hit "Angry Birds 2," "Secret Life of Pets 2," "Men In Black: International" and "Godzilla: King of Monsters."
Winner: All the Avengers
Nothing dominated this summer like "Avengers: Endgame" (not even an almost three-hour run time), which had fans lining up to see the superhero-stuffed finale multiple times. Banking $2.796 billion worldwide, "Avengers: Endgame" became the highest-grossing movie ever, surpassing the all-time record of "Avatar," not accounting for inflation.
And it's only the beginning. At Comic-Con, Marvel Studios revealed plans for Phase 4 of its Marvel Cinematic Universe, which will kick off 2020 with a standalone Black Widow film and "The Eternals," which includes Angelina Jolie in its cast. With a $1.1 billion haul worldwide, Spider-Man also did pretty great "Far from Home," even if his parents might be getting divorced now.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Summer movies: All the winners and losers, from Beyoncé to Brad Pitt