With the end of August, the summer movie season for 2013 has come to an end. Like most Augusts, it ends a summer of big names and big blockbusters with a whisper of fun compared to the heights of May, June, and July. Sure enough, this year was no different, with the losers and maybes far outnumbering the winners. As always, the best place for the raw data of any movie, day, and weekend, is Box Office Mojo. To review the month in movies, here are the box office winners and losers from August 2013. Enjoy!
AUGUST BOX OFFICE WINNERS
Lee Daniels’ The Butler— The clearest winner of the month is the best performer and that’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Holding the #1 spot for half the month makes you a winner in the public eye and doubling the return on your budget (which is will by this weekend) makes you a winner in the ledger as well. While it isn’t huge hit that matched The Help from two year ago (as I attempted to predict a month ago), this film did what is was supposed to do. (my full review)
We’re the Millers— There’s always one end-of-summer R-rated comedy that seems to earn a little extra cash after waiting until the end. Spaced very well after This is the End and The Heat, the only other R-rated summer comedy that did well, We’re the Millers found an open playing field and earned steady numbers without ever finishing #1 on any weekend. Like Lee Daniels’ The Butler not being The Help, this one didn’t do Ted numbers crossing $200 million, but topping $100 million is a trophy few comedies every get to. Just ask The Internship.
The Conjuring— The surprise horror hit from last month kept showing remarkable legs for distance in August. It’s total has crossed $130 million domestically (which is better than the mega-blockbuster The Wolverine) and over $200 million worldwide.
Despicable Me 2— The animated smash used its second month to pile on repeat business. The film passed Man of Steel as the second highest grossing movie of the year by a landslide. At $350 million and counting, it’s not going to catch the $409 million of Iron Man 3, but it doesn’t have too. Smoking Pixar’s Monsters University by around $100 million before it’s all said and done is a big feather in the cap for all those non-Disney-affiliated flicks out there.
Fruitvale Station— Timed perfectly on the heels of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin ruling, the film festival hit Fruitvale Station got peoples’ attention. Over $15 million at the box office for a movie that only cost a few thousand to make is astounding. Watch this film resurface during awards season.
The Way Way Back— As predicted last month, this little indie movie got the decent expansion and found a welcome audience. Besides being an outstanding film, the film did great business and will finish just shy of $20 million, a great level for a small film. (my full review)
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
2 Guns— The solid-but-not-spectacular box office performance of the Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team-up is the exact definition of “somewhere in the middle.” It opened on a soft weekend well and got a #1 showing. It cost $60 million and made just a little over that back. See what I mean?
Planes— The same goes for Planes. Piggy-backing off of the Pixar glow wasn’t enough for a second Disney hit this summer. It cost $50 million and made back just over $60 million so far. It’s not a winner, but not a loser. I’m sure when you add up all of the Disney toys and merchandising, the Mouse House will still be laughing all the way to the bank.
Blue Jasmine— On the smaller side, the Woody Allen name still sells. With its widest weekend of release still on the way, Blue Jasmine has already made a tidy $15 million and cracked the Top 10 on a weekend. Like the winners above, it won’t match its closest comparison, that being Allen’s 2011 smash Midnight in Paris, but crossing $20 million is not out of the question. (my full review)
TOO SOON TO TELL
One Direction: This is Us— I say too soon to tell because it comes out today, but I’m not oblivious to the teeny-bobber crowd. Girls will drag their parents in droves for these lame Brits and the movie will be on the winners list next month. Just wait. The annoyingness will only get worse.
The Spectacular Now— This fellow coming-of-age tale is in the same poised position that The Way Way Back was last month. Both films started out for a few weeks in limited releases and locations, gained steam through solid reviews, and finally opened to wider places for new audiences. The Spectacular Now deserves that push and it started here at the end of August. Give it time and this too will make the list of winners. (my full review)
AUGUST BOX OFFICE LOSERS
Elysium— This is the surprise of the month. While I didn’t predict big numbers (I had it behind Lee Daniels’ The Butler) for it last month, I didn’t think it would only return a little better than half of its budget and end up on the loser pile. The parts were all there. Great special effects, great marketing, a big popular star (Matt Damon), an indie favorite director (Neill Blomkamp), and solid review. Simply put, no one cared to try it. This film deserved better. (my full review)
Jobs— More on the independent side, Jobs was another low performer. It wasn’t marketed widely and was aimed to be low-key. Well, low-key doesn’t equal dollars. Its meager $12 million earnings barely make back a $12 million budget. The studio wanted the second coming of The Social Network making a box office blackjack “push” not good enough.
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Kick-Ass 2, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters— All three of these losers fit the category of failed nerd films or failed young adult traps. Either based on trendy graphic novels or young adult fiction series, all three of these movies had large budgets, bad reviews, and hugely under-performing results across the board. This is a trio of ugly.
The Smurfs 2— I don’t think anyone had high hopes of a transcendent childhood classic coming from this sequel, but this childhood-destroyer still stunk it up more than usual. Costing over $105 million to make with expensive CGI, a return in the $60 millions is not enough.
Paranoia and Getaway— Both of these wannabe thrillers have the arm-wrestling match of being single digit scoring bombs on Rotten Tomatoes. Now, they just need the box office to match. Paranoia is sitting at 3% on Rotten Tomatoes and a paltry $6 million take that never cracked a weekend Top 12. Getaway opens today, but call me confident that it won’t do much better, especially with that 2% Rotten Tomatoes start and a Labor Day weekend of returning college football and fantasy football drafts.