Sure, you've been camping outside the theater for days so you could be first in line to see The Help, Final Destination 5, 30 Minutes or Less, and Glee: The 3D Concert Movie. We're right there with you, buddy, at least in spirit! But let's not forget the movies that we were breathlessly anticipating 365 days ago, some of which continue to live in our hearts and livers.
The weekend of Aug. 13-15, 2010
The Expendables Starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, and the 1980s.
What a fine idea this was, cramming a bunch of action heroes from yesterday and today into one testosterone-laden flick! Sylvester Stallone, who was 64 years old and had begun to melt like a wax candle, directed and starred, alongside Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, Jet Li, and Eric Roberts. Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger both had better things to do -- Cop Out and a maid, respectively -- but they managed to make cameos. What a terrific assemblage of muscle!
Predictably, the film opened well, earning $34.8 million its first weekend. But then people noticed that apart from the interesting cast, the movie was kind of generic and stupid, and not the good kind of generic and stupid, either. It went on to make a so-so $103 million in the U.S., plus another $171.4 million overseas, where mindless American action movies tend to play especially well. ("Yaaaaaarrrgh!" is the same in every language.)
And you know what that means: sequel! The Expendables II is set for a 2012 release, the film will be directed by Simon West, who made Con Air and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, two movies that aren't very good but at least they're loud. So he'll fit in. The surviving cast members will return -- I mean the ones whose characters survived the first movie, although I guess it applies to the actors too -- and rumors are swirling that the sequel will pick up some of the guys who got missed the first time, like Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and John Travolta. I feel like Nicolas Cage should also be involved, but I feel that way about most movies.
Eat Pray Love Starring Julia Roberts and estrogen.
The second weekend of August is apparently the time to release a 140-minute female-friendly movie based on a beloved book. This year it's The Help; last year it was Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts as a privileged narcissist who spends a year traveling the world on a boat powered by the force of her own smugness. (I may be fuzzy on some of the details.) In the end, she "finds herself," i.e., learns that she can't last long without a man, and everyone gets to go home.
In the men-versus-women contest at the box office, Eat Pray Love came in second. Maybe the cast should have also included Meg Ryan, Kate Hudson, Sandra Bullock, and Shirley Maclaine. It made $23.1 million that first weekend, on its way to $80.6 million domestically, and another $124 million overseas. (I have a sneaking suspicion that moviegoers in Italy, India, and Indonesia didn't care much for the adventures of Pretty Woman in their lands.) We could think of comical names for potential Eat Pray Love sequels, but we're better than that. Okay, fine: Digest Stand Up Get Tired Of. Julia Roberts appeared in her buddy Tom Hanks' movie Larry Crowne a couple months ago, and will play the evil queen in one of the many Snow White movies scheduled for 2012. In her spare time, she continues to eat, pray, and love on an amateur level.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Starring Michael Cera and A.D.D.
The guys had their movie; the ladies had their movie; and now, here was one for the nerds! A secret screening at Comic-Con a few weeks earlier had been such a hot ticket that people were extorting one another to get into it. Based on a beloved series of graphic novels, directed by the guy who made Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz -- this was gonna be big. And people who saw it loved it!
But, um, not many people saw it. Scott Pilgrim opened to a disappointing $10.6 million, made just $31.5 million total in the U.S., and only another $16 million overseas. An overall haul of $47.6 million wasn't enough for a movie that a) was supposed to be huge and b) had cost $60 million to make. There was much discussion about hype vs. reality. Had it only seemed like the movie was going to be a hit because the people most looking forward to it were also the people who spend all their time on the Internet, talking about the movies they're looking forward to? Do those of us who spend all our time on the Internet tend to forget that the average moviegoer isn't like us? More importantly, have we learned our lesson? The answers to those questions are yes, yes, and no.
Anyway, Michael Cera is still in movies, still playing that Michael Cera character. He will continue to do so until Anton Yelchin murders him and steal his juju.
Hey, look what else opened a year ago!
Animal Kingdom, a nerve-racking Australian crime drama, opened on six screens to great reviews, decent box office, and eventually an Oscar nomination for Jackie Weaver, the creepy matriarch of the creepy family of low-level thugs. And how many Oscar nominations did YOU get last year, Julia Roberts?? That's what I thought!
And what about FIVE years ago??
Aug. 11, 2006, was packed! We got Step Up -- the original classic, not those sell-out sequels; World Trade Center -- Oliver Stone's first disaster movie since Alexander; Pulse -- one of 75,000 PG-13 Asian horror remakes released since the turn of the century; and Zoom -- a terrible comedy about junior superheroes-in-training. Chevy Chase was in this. Remember how sad Chevy Chase made us before Community started? Those were dark times.
(All box office figures are from Box Office Mojo.)