Our Mid-Summer Movie Winners and Losers Report
Summer’s just starting to bring the heat, but there’s already been some delightful surprises at the movie theater: The Fault in Our Stars was a runaway hit, 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 reminded us that sequels can be smart, and Kevin Hart emerged as a major star. It’s actually shaping up to be a pretty good season…unless you’re Adam Sandler, Seth MacFarlane, or Gary Oldman. Here are the summer cinema’s biggest winners and losers, from Scarlett Johansson to Jersey Boys.
WINNER: Kevin Hart
The newly-minted A-lister is a classic Hollywood success story, working his way up from comedy clubs to bit parts to starring roles. His ascent was so slow and steady that you’d be forgiven for not noticing that he’s one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. But after his three successive 2014 hits (Ride Along, About Last Night, and summer’s Think Like a Man Too), you have no longer have an excuse.
WINNER: John Green
Low-budget weepie The Fault In Our Stars trounced Edge of Tomorrow on the films' opening weekend, meaning YA author John Green is, by the numbers, a bigger box-office draw than Tom Cruise (Stars recently passed the $100 million mark, making it the most profitable film of the year so far). With film adaptations of his novels Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns in the works, Green may be the youngest author who can sell films on his name alone. Move over, Nicholas Sparks.
Jersey Boys is one of the longest-running shows in Broadway history, but the Clint Eastwood-directed movie struck a sour note. We’ll have to wait until Christmas to see if Annie and Into the Woods salvage Broadway’s 2014 box office.
WINNER: Jon Favreau
The Iron Man director returned to his indie roots with Chef, widely seen as a metaphor for his career: Favreau plays a chef who rediscovers his passion for work when he ditches the fancy restaurant and opens a food truck. The low-budget, feel-good movie has been holding steady in theaters for almost two months now, a nice palate cleanser before Favreau starts work on Disney’s live-action Jungle Book.
WINNER: The X-Men
Summer’s No. 1 movie so far, X-Men: Days of Future Past, starred Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen, the same actors who played the core mutants 14 years ago in X-Men. Thanks to time-hopping storylines, Marvel’s longest continuous film franchise is having its cake and eating it too, keeping around the original stars and replenishing itself with young bloods like Jennifer Lawrence; as a result, Past is the most successful entry in the series so far, earning more than $500 million worldwide in just two weekends. The new film may have retconned the X-Men’s past, but their future is wide open.
How do you make a franchise last forever? Just keep starting over. And over and over. Godzilla made a killing this summer by rebooting a 60-year-old franchise from scratch. The second round of Spider-Man films also continued with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which took in a respectable $200 million – though it failed to outperform its 2004 predecessor Spider-Man 2.
WINNER: Revamped Fairy Tales
The genre has had hits (Alice in Wonderland) and misses (Jack the Giant Slayer), but Maleficent’s $500 million worldwide box office proved that audiences are still hungry for high-budget happily-ever-afters.