CATEGORIES Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Thrillers, Paramount, Universal, Box Office, The Weinstein Co., UK Box Office, Cinematical, UK Box OfficeSummer's nearly over, school is about to begin and Hollywood is counting its money. Looking back, we could assume the studios made bundles this season; almost every weekend seemed to deliver a new record-breaking blockbuster. In order of enormity, there was Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Transformers 1 (it will have sequels), Harry Potter 5, 300, Ratatouille and finally another threequel, Bourne 3 (which should gain on at least that numberless Pixar movie). According to Box Office Mojo, the grosses for 2007 are up 7.2% over last year, and 13.7% over 2005 (aka the year of the slump).
Now, normally about this time of year, we can also look back and see a number of disappointments, bombs and otherwise failed releases. In fact, Entertainment Weekly should be giving us its annual rundown (my favorite) any week now. But Business Week has already announced the biggest losers of the season: Evan Almighty and Stardust. And as dishonorable mentions, it points to The Invasion, Grindhouse, The Reaping and The Number 23. Of course, the latter three were released much earlier in the year, and shouldn't be counted -- they seem to be thrown in as other mistakes of the year in general.
BW's reasons for why Evan Almighty failed can't be taken as correct, in my opinion. The magazine writes that Universal messed up by issuing a sequel without the original star, Bruce Almighty's Jim Carrey. As if Evan lead Steve Carell was the equivalent of substituting Cuba Gooding Jr. and Paul Rae for Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin. Carell is a decent enough draw, probably even bigger than Carrey right now (as was seen with the BW-cited Number 23), so his star-power couldn't have been an issue. For BW to say Carell didn't have the talent for the role is ludicrous. It was a bad script that killed Evan. And it still made close to $100 million. Universal just spent too much for a movie that wasn't good enough for repeat viewings or word-of-mouth interest. End of story.
As for Stardust, well there may be a point about it having an incomprehensible script, as BW claims, but a lot of critics did seem to like the fantasy flick, so moviegoers couldn't have been turned off by plot difficulties. For that explanation, it would require that people actually went to the movie in the first place, on opening weekend, and then responded to such. No, once again the failure is more about Paramount spending too much. If Stardust had cost the equivalent of what its most similar predecessor, The Princess Bride, cost, then it would have been more successful -- though still less than a hit.
Finally, BW gets one more thing in its prediction for summer 2008, which it points out lacks another Spider-Man, another Harry Potter, another Pirates and another "green hulking ogre." Well, sure, Shrek 4 isn't coming next year, but those words BW uses are interesting, because they almost certainly describe The Incredible Hulk. Perhaps Business Week should stick to facts about the biz and allow us movie bloggers to do the snarky commentary on the box office? Meanwhile you can vote on your favorite and least favorite movies of the summer of 2007 over at Moviefone.