The U.S. box office hit a record high this summer, pulling in $4.76 billion thanks to blockbusters like Iron Man 3 and Despicable Me 2. But not every film was a success, and flops like R.I.P.D. and The Lone Ranger stole the headlines. Below, check out this summer’s box office winners and losers — plus a few toss-ups — and then sound off with picks of your own in the comments!
Iron Man 3
Budget: $200 million
Domestic Gross: $408.9 million
Worldwide Gross: $1.21 billion
Bottom Line: The Marvel film got a huge boost from The Avengers‘ massive success, earning $1.2 billion. Incredibly, Iron Man 3 just about doubled Iron Man 2‘s $623 million global cume from 2010, which no doubt has Disney anxiously awaiting to see whether sequels to Thor and Captain America will achieve huge gains as well.
Despicable Me 2
Budget: $76 million
Domestic Gross: $355.9 million
Worldwide Gross: $823.4 million
Bottom Line: Universal called Despicable Me 2 the most profitable film in the company’s history, and much credit should go to Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri, who has a reputation for making films on the cheap. The minion-filled movie trounced Monsters University at the domestic box office.
Man of Steel
Budget: $225 million
Domestic Gross: $290.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $657.8 million
Bottom Line: Critics didn’t like Zack Snyder’s Superman adaptation, and crowds had a mixed reaction, but Warner Bros. pulled off a difficult marketing feat nonetheless: they made Clark Kent cool again. (We’ll see whether audiences stick around when he goes against Batman in 2015.) Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns had to settle for a weak $391 million worldwide, which makes Man of Steel’s $657.8 million cume particularly impressive.
Budget: Unknown (estimated to be about $200 million)
Domestic Gross: $264.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $715.5 million
Bottom Line: Sure, Despicable Me 2 stole Monsters’ thunder, but the Pixar sequel held up just fine considering. The film succeeded, despite the fact that kids who watched Monsters Inc. in 2001 are all grown. The film’s $715 million global gross is great — as are the merchandising opportunities that Disney reinvigorated.
Fast & Furious 6
Budget: $160 million
Domestic Gross: $238.7 million
Worldwide Gross: $787.5 million
Bottom Line: How many franchises are still on the up-in-up in their sixth installments? Furious 6 raced away with the best haul of the franchise both domestically (beating Fast Five‘s $209.8 million) and globally (demolishing Five‘s $626.1 million). Now Universal is speeding to release Fast & Furious 7 in summer 2014.
World War Z
Budget: $190 million
Domestic Gross: $200.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $532.4 million
Bottom Line: As it turned out, most moviegoers didn’t care one lick about the behind-the-scenes production drama that landed World War Z on the cover of both Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair. Paramount’s expensive zombie film trounced expectations on opening weekend with $66 million, and because it was actually pretty good, the film made it all the way past the $200 million mark, becoming Brad Pitt’s highest grossing movie ever.
Budget: $43 million
Domestic Gross: $157.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $214.7 million
Bottom Line: Sandra Bullock has real drawing power in comedic roles — especially when paired with the most popular comedian of the moment, Melissa McCarthy, who already found major success this year with Identity Thief. Fox’s R-rated buddy cop laugher played well with women and became the top live-action comedy of 2013.
Budget: $20 million
Domestic Gross: $134.3 million
Worldwide Gross: $243.8 million
Bottom Line: Thanks to an uber-creepy trailer, James Wan’s $20 million fright-fest pummeled its pricey competition (Turbo, Red 2, R.I.P.D.) on opening weekend with $41.9 million. And thanks to great word-of-mouth, the film didn’t nosedive the way most horror films do. In fact, The Conjuring ended up tripling its debut.
We’re the Millers
Budget: $37 million
Domestic Gross: $114.3 million (so far)
Worldwide Gross: $153.8 million
Bottom Line: Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis formerly found success co-starring in Horrible Bosses, which earned $117 million in 2011. We’re the Millers opened smaller than that film, but its endurance at the box office has been truly remarkable. The raunchy pot comedy is set to smoke up at least $130 million.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Budget: $30 million
Domestic Gross: $80.8 million (so far)
Worldwide Gross: $80.8 million
Bottom Line: The late-summer release has performed much like another racial drama, The Help. Both films opened in August and topped the chart for three weekends, building Oscar buzz all the while. The Butler won’t match The Help‘s $169 million gross, but it’s headed for the $120 million range.
Honorable mentions: Magician thriller Now You See Me conjured $117 million and earned itself a sequel, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby pulled in $144 million and surpassed Moulin Rouge as the director’s biggest hit, horror film The Purge made back its $3 million budget 21 times over, Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included stunned Hollywood with a $10.4 million debut from 347 theaters, and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain scored $32.2 million, making it the most successful stand-up comedy film since 2000’s The Original Kings of Comedy.
The Hangover Part III
Budget: $103 million
Domestic Gross: $112.3 million
Worldwide Gross: $351 million
Bottom Line: The Wolfpack sequel earned less than half of The Hangover Part II‘s $254.5 million domestic gross. Woof.
The Lone Ranger
Budget: $215 million
Domestic Gross: $88.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $239.3 million
Bottom Line: Disney announced that it may have to take a write-down of as much as $190 million on the western starring Johnny Depp, who quickly signed up for an Alice in Wonderland sequel after the film’s demise.
Budget: $135 million
Domestic Gross: $80.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $154 million
Bottom Line: The snail racing comedy got choked out by a glut of family films at the box office. In the wake of Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University, Turbo, Planes, and The Smurfs 2 couldn’t draw crowds. But hey — at least Ryan Reynolds can say this one outgrossed R.I.P.D. by a factor of two!
Budget: $115 million
Domestic Gross: $81.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $178.8 million
Bottom Line: The ambitious sci-fi effort starring Matt Damon earned substantially less than director Neil Blomkamp’s previous effort District 9, which took in $115.6 million. Unfortunately, Elysium cost substantially more — a whopping $85 million more than District — and it fell hard at the box office due to tepid audience reception.
White House Down
Budget: $150 million
Domestic Gross: $72.8 million
Worldwide Gross: $138.6 million
Bottom Line: Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx don’t always click at the box office. Their action comedy about an attack on the White House got knocked out by another White House film, Olympus Has Fallen, which became a $98 million hit in the Spring (and cost less than half of what White House Down did). Plus, it didn’t travel overseas well.
The Smurfs 2
Budget: $105 million
Domestic Gross: $67.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $255.7 million
Bottom Line: Talk about box office blues. The kiddie flick way undercut The Smurfs‘ $142.6 million domestic run — and it’s earned about $300 million less than its predecessor’s $563.8 million global haul. But since there’s always a way to squeeze more money out of franchises in Hollywood — in this case, corporate sponsorships — Smurfs 3 is being planned.
Budget: $130 million
Domestic Gross: $60.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $243.6 million
Bottom Line: The M. Night Shyamalan adventure has the dubious honor of being Will Smith’s worst summer opening in 20 years. The father-son gimmick of Will and Jaden didn’t move tickets.
Budget: $130 million
Domestic Gross: $33.1 million
Worldwide Gross: $64.7 million
Bottom Line: The Men In Black rip-off marked a rare misstep for Universal, which otherwise has been golden in 2013, but dang — it was a big one. Worldwide, the film didn’t even earn half of its budget back — and keep in mind, movies typically have to earn about twice as much as their budget to actually earn back those costs.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
Budget: $60 million
Domestic Gross: $25 million (so far)
Worldwide Gross: $34 million
Bottom Line: The YA adaptation joined the same YA-graveyard as The Host and Beautiful Creatures, and it marked the end of a difficult summer for Sony, which also released Elysium, Smurfs 2, White House Down, and After Earth.
Tyler Perry Presents Peeples
Budget: $15 million
Domestic Gross: $9.2 million
Worldwide Gross: $9.2 million
Bottom Line: Tyler Perry produced this comedy, but he didn’t direct or star in it — and audiences weren’t fooled by his name in the title. Of all the films he’s been involved in, Peeple is by far the least successful.
Dishonorable Mentions: Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson couldn’t recapture their Wedding Crashers magic in The Internship, Harrison Ford suffered the worst wide opening weekend of his career with Paranoia, not many people were dying to see Red 2, and, as anyone could have predicted after watching the first film, audiences rejected Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Star Trek Into Darkness
Budget: $190 million
Domestic Gross: $228.6 million
Worldwide Gross: $462.6 million
Bottom Line: Audiences and critics loved the first Star Trek, which earned $257 million in 2009, but in the four years between that transpired leading up to this sequel, buzz cooled on the franchise. Despite great reviews, Darkness earned $30 million less than Star Trek — though it did beat that film’s $385 million worldwide total. Still, after such sterling reception for the original, it’s befuddling that crowds weren’t more jazzed for Paramount’s blockbuster, even if its grosses were adequate.
Budget: $120 million
Domestic Gross: $128.5 million
Worldwide Gross: $358.9 million
Bottom Line: Unlike the Star Trek situation, audiences hated X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which earned $179.9 million. So it makes sense that returns for The Wolverine were lackluster domestically, even though the film earned positive reviews. Fortunately, the film nearly matched Origins‘ worldwide gross ($373 million), and Fox wisely slashed the budget down to $120 million — a modest number for a superhero film.
Budget: $190 million
Domestic Gross: $100.4 million
Worldwide Gross: $404.8 million
Bottom Line: The most debated subject among box office hawks this summer has been whether Pacific Rim is a flop. The film cost Warner Bros. nearly $200 million, and although it opened disappointingly, it managed to pass $100 million domestically and over $400 million worldwide. Given the huge promotional costs and the fact that studios keep less than half of their films’ overseas grosses (especially in China, Pacific Rim‘s top market), the jury’s still out about whether Pacific Rim is an outright bomb or just a generally weak performer. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel.