Well, the summer blockbuster season of 2013 has come and gone and is quite a mixed bag of results. While the overall box office from the start of May until the end of Labour Day weekend set a new seasonal record with a total of over $4.6 billion, many movies flopped considerably at the North American box office.
When you take into account estimated attendance, summer of 2013 ranks as only the 14th best attended summer season at the box office, and that is where you start to see the impact that big budget flops had on the theatre going masses this year.
What this also has meant is that some movies that were expected to do big business managed to underperform in one way or another, be it from the packed summer schedule, poor timing for a plot of a film, to bloated budgets or just horrible stories. As a result, this summer is going to be remembered more in a negative light than in a positive light.
With that in mind, what follows are what I consider to be the best three big-budget box office films of the 2013 summer. What you won’t see here are smaller films that won over theatre goers, like ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler’ or horror fare like ‘The Conjuring’, but films that were made and designed to own the box office during the summer months, in order that they were released.
Star Trek Into Darkness – $228 Million
The next entry in ‘Star Trek’ lore, and quite possibly the final time director J.J. Abrams will be responsible for the Starship Enterprise as he heads over to helm the forthcoming ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ that is due out tentatively in 2015.
‘Into Darkness’ is a continuation of the 2009 reboot of the series and also a re-invention of the most memorable antagonist from the original series, Khan Noonien Singh, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. While you may be able to take issue with the perceived “white-washing” of the role originally portrayed by Ricardo Montalban, you can not doubt the ability that Cumberbatch showed in playing the best villain of the summer season.
As a self-admitted Trek fan for more than 20 years now, I am well-versed in Trek lore, and ‘Into Darkness’ definitely provided multiple little homages to previous stories and characters in a slightly different light that were quite enjoyable. What also benefited the film for myself was the fan screening in IMAX I saw the day before official release. This meant that the audience that was there was the correct audience to see this film with.
A pleasant mix of laughs, action and character development, ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ is one of my favourite movies of 2013 as well.
Fast & Furious 6 – $238 million
While it may be the sixth film in the franchise, and as a result of the credit stinger now firmly lodged as the fifth entry timeline wise, ‘Fast & Furious 6’ continues to allow the franchise to exceed all expectations as it continues to rebrand the genre that it fits into.
A movie franchise that was always expected to have a limited shelf life, especially considering the large cast turnovers that impacted the first three entries has become the top franchise currently running at Universal Pictures and is some of the most fun you can have at the theatre during the summer months.
Ever since the franchise was brought back to the theatres with the majority of the cast from the first film in 2009 with ‘Fast and Furious’, the films have continued to increase not only their box office revenue but also their estimated tickets sold, showing real growth in North America, and some fantastic gains worldwide as the last two films have featured Brazil and European locales.
The inclusion of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to the franchise has allowed it to continue with fresh story lines, and new antagonists in each film has meant that there has not been a chance of repetitiveness, and ‘Fast & Furious 6’ definitely amped up the action which is the eye candy of this franchise now, and continues to pull in the crowds.
Universal is fast-tracking ‘Fast & Furious 7’ for a summer release next year, and the inclusion of Jason Statham, an actor bred to be in these films, will portray the newest antagonist and the film is set to tie ‘Tokyo Drift’ into the timeline fully.
World War Z – $201 million
To be perfectly honest with you, I am as surprised as you are that ‘World War Z’ occupies the third spot on this list, but that is just how much I enjoyed this fresh take on what is typically a genre of film that I avoid.
Many of you have probably heard about the bloated budget that soared north of $200 million, or the fact that they reshot the entire third act of the film, or saw how the marketing for the film didn’t really highlight the fact that it was a zombie flick. The thing that ‘World War Z’ managed to do was make absolutely none of that matter in the end.
I have always personally thought that Brad Pitt is a tad overrated as an actor, but that definitely never crossed my mind during ‘World War Z’. I feel that Pitt managed to not overshadow the film, despite the various hats he was wearing during the making of it, and actually brought a very even level to the main character in this movie.
I really enjoyed ‘World War Z’ and its fresh take on zombieism as a virus and not just flesh eating monsters, which brought a more sci-fi action vibe to the film, and that is clearly what many others thought as well.
In the end, there was definitely some entertaining fare at the theatre this summer, but these three films truly stand out for me.
For all this and more, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @kymayer, and watch for my article about big budget flops later this week. Cheers.