From Bridesmaids to Beyoncé — the movies, music, TV, and books that sizzled (and fizzled!)



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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part 2

The eighth and final (sniff!) chapter of J.K. Rowling‘s beloved Harry Potter series wowed Muggles worldwide, taking in $1 billion in only 19 days.

R-Rated Comedies

The Hangover Part II, Bridesmaids, and Horrible Bosses embraced their hard Rs, and audiences did too. Plus, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Jennifer Aniston proved ladies can be as delightfully dirty as men.

The Help

The adaptation of Kathryn Stockett‘s best-seller (which just hit one million Kindle downloads) has ruled the August box office and is on its way to the $100 million mark with an A+ CinemaScore, love from critics, and Oscar chatter for its strong female leads.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Premiering with almost zero buzz, this prequel (featuring motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis) came out of nowhere to earn $256 million worldwide.

Woody Allen

The fantastical romantic comedy Midnight in Paris is the 75-year-old director’s biggest box office hit of his 46-year career.


The solid superhero success of Thor and Captain America nicely sets the stage for the studio’s Avengers movie (due next year).


Family Comedies

Remember Zookeeper? Mr. Popper’s Penguins? Spy Kids 4D? We don’t either. Those all underperformed at the box office, while Cars 2 was the lowest-grossing Pixar film in more than a decade.

Ryan Reynolds

We know! We love him too. But both Green Lantern and The Change-Up proved to be…let’s say underwhelming.

Glee: The 3D Concert Movie

Looks like Sue Sylvester’s plans have paid off — how do you sing ”b-o-m-b”?

Cowboys & Aliens

Neither Indy nor Bond could save this $163 million picture — starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig — from opening with a disappointing $36.4 million.

Conan The Barbarian

The big-budget action flick starring Jason Momoa opened in fourth place, earning a dismal $10 million.


Yes, you, America. Your summers would have been so much richer (and funnier) if more of you had seen Crazy, Stupid, Love, which — as EW pointed out many times — is fantastic. But we won’t whine about this any further. Unless you don’t buy the DVD.



Cable’s Freshman Dramedies

In the usual summer-TV doldrums, a few standout shows managed to find an audience. Kinda-funny-kinda-serious newbies Necessary Roughness and Suits on USA and Franklin & Bash on TNT will get a second round. Plus, MTV’s Teen Wolf will howl again next year.


The mixed-martial-arts competition finally gets respect from a big-time network, inking a deal with Fox to air live fights in prime time. Bonus: Its reality show The Ultimate Fighter is headed to FX.


A Few (Former?) Fan Favorites

Syfy announced it’s cutting loose Eureka after next season. AMC’s Breaking Bad is getting canned too, and will go out in style with a 16-episode closer. And TLC dumped ex-ratings queen Kate Gosselin — and all eight of her tykes — after four years on the network.




No. 1 debuts came and went, but this British siren kept returning to that spot all summer long. Since its February release, her celebrated album 21 has spent 12 non-consecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200.

Tours for All Ages

What’s the one thing boomers and preteens agree on? The joys of concerts. Paul McCartney‘s On the Run tour snagged the top-earner spot in June, but Taylor Swift bumped him to No. 2 the next month with her Speak Now sequin-fest.

Katy Perry

With ”Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” Perry became the first woman in history to score five No. 1 hits from a single album — tying the mark Michael Jackson set with 1987’s Bad.

Kanye West and Jay-Z

Yeezy does it! ‘Ye and Hova’s Watch the Throne sold a staggering 436,000 copies in its first week out and broke the U.S. iTunes store’s one-week sales record with almost 290,000 downloads. Of course, that wasn’t enough to keep West from griping that people look at him ”like I’m Hitler.”


Beyoncé and Lady Gaga

Their albums debuted big, but both ladies failed to meet the high expectations for their shoulda-coulda-been-blockbuster albums, suffering from disappointing singles, lackluster videos, and (maybe) generalized diva fatigue.



A Dance with Dragons

Fifteen years after reigning fantasy king George R.R. Martin first published A Game of Thrones, an HBO series and the latest book in his epic saga rocketed him to Tolkien-level reverence.

Go the F–k To Sleep

Exhausted parents clearly have a lot of pent-up resentment, and writer Adam Mansbach smartly tapped that vein with a parodic children’s book that uses some not very age-appropriate language. Once news of its existence hit the Internet, sales jumped higher than a sugar-amped tyke on a bed.


Those Guys Have All the Fun

Little, Brown paid big money for James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales‘ behind-the-scenes history of ESPN, and while the sports tome debuted at No. 1, it sank like a Dirk Nowitzki free throw.

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  • Frank Coraci