2011 Summer Movie Review Part III

HollywoodNews.com: This will not be a blow-by-blow of Summer 2011 but more like free association regarding the just-ended summer. First and foremost, summer 2011 was a terrific success for two reasons. A) Most of the movies were pretty good. B) The most obscenely crowded summer season in recent history, one that I wondered aloud would doom the industry, did not in fact crash and burn. Most of the movies, thanks to record overseas grosses, made at least as much as they needed to in order to break even or make a tidy profit.

Up until the very end of August, there were actually very few out-and-out flops. The biggest whiffs of the summer are arguably Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, and Conan the Barbarian. And all three films would have been mere disappointments had they not cost so much. Green Lantern was a $200 million picture that looked like it cost maybe $100 million. Cowboys and Aliens was a $165 million film that looked like it cost only a bit more than True Grit ($40 million). And Conan the Barbarian… well, I haven’t seen that one yet. But I cannot imagine why Lionsgate (or whomever funded the picture) thought there was enough of a yearning for the return of Conan to justify $90 million. The lesson this summer is the same one it is every summer: it’s the movies, stupid, and those movies shouldn’t cost more than they are worth.

Among the more promising trends of the summer was the flooding of R-rated comedies into the marketplace. Bridesmaids got most of the press, for reasons I’ll get to later, but we had a nearly non-stop deluge of such fare. I’ve speculated that R-rated comedies are more logical in today’s marketplace, both because comedies are cheaper than comic book action films and because the verbal vulgarity can theoretically be altered depending on national standards in a given overseas market.

Bridesmaids was the first, best, and second-highest grossing of this list, opening with $26 million and ending up with a whopping $168 million domestic and $281 million (thus far) worldwide. Domestically, that made it the biggest-grossing Judd Apatow-related film ever, the tenth-biggest grosser to never be number 01 at the weekend box office, the seventeenth-biggest R-rated grosser of all-time, and the seventh-biggest R-rated comedy of all-time.

Photo by Universal Pictures

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