A look back at Summer 2013 at the movies

This year's chunk of film is lead none other than by Iron Man 3, with over $400 million
This year’s chunk of film is lead none other than by Iron Man 3, with over $400 million

Well, it was a long and windy summer at the box office, and I can’t bring myself to admit it that the blockbuster season has officially ended again. With the awards season coming up, those people looking for popcorn movies would have to give it a wait, before everything comes back around November, with Thor and the Hunger Games sequel. Meanwhile, why not let’s spend this time looking back at the summer that just came and gone, and look at the success stories, and failures (there are several).

Before starting, let’s admit that this summer is the RECORD summer at the box office ever. Yeap, you did not hear it right. Despite an average August, the other months May, June and July managed to propel the box office to a higher level, where many success stories are heard of. This will be a short-lived history though, with the impending 2015 set to scare the world by storm. Firstly, this will be the order we are looking at:
– Highest Grossing Films at the Box Office
– Surprise Stories at the Box Office
– This summer’s failures at the box office
– Best reviewed films of the summer
– Staggering Statistics + Lessons learnt
– The genres that won/lost
– Studios Ranking
– A quick look at 2014

The list above is exhausting, but I promise to not be over-draggy when not needed, so as to ensure content is of the highest standards. So, let’s begin!

We will look at the domestic numbers first before we touch on worldwide.

1) Iron Man 3
Domestic Gross: $408,643,923

Iron Man 3 was already moulded and is always thought to be one of the greatest films this summer, but none would have though that it would hit such a high bar for the rest of the Marvel films. It’s success can partially be attributed to The Avengers, and really is a good sign for the ongoing popularity of Marvel.

2) Despicable Me 2
Domestic Gross: $354,635,000

This film was also another film which was widely speculated to continue the success of the Minions, which definitely gets us excited on next year’s Minions, which will include a brand new human cast. This is easily the biggest animated movie this summer, ahead of Pixar’s very own Monsters University.

3) Man of Steel
Domestic Gross: $290,327,998

Who would have thought that Superman’s comeback to the big screen would be met with so much enthusiasm? Also one of the most anticipated of the year, this film divided audiences and critics alike, possibly due to the violent nature of the film, but nonetheless still performed much better than Superman Returns, already launching a franchise which will ultimately become DC and Warner Bros’ Avengers.

4) Monsters University
Domestic Gross: $263,478,000

The second animated hit of summer after the Despicable Me sequel, this film was Pixar’s next attempt at creating a sequel, and it turned out to be successful, but nowhere near the all time studio champ Toy Story 3.

5) Fast and Furious 6
Domestic Gross: $238,660,700

What do you expect from a franchise which is climbing up the ranking every time another part of it is released? Fast and Furious 6 proves to be the biggest visually and economically for the film, which never seems to reach it’s peak.

6) Star Trek Into Darkness
Domestic Gross: $228,261,000

Even though some saw it as a disappointment for not earning at least the sum the previous film earned, this film is still a runaway success, and continues proving how popular this franchise is domestically, and the continuing legacy of the franchise.

7) World War Z
Domestic Gross: $200,265,000

Needless to say, this once doomed film managed to be the bright spot in the end June period, as it proved everyone wrong to eventually become star Brad Pitt’s highest grossing film ever, thus sending signals that a sequel is coming soon.

8) The Heat
Domestic Gross: $157,256,000

The Heat is the biggest comedy this summer, taking Ted’s spot from last year. Even though this might not have grossed more than that, it is still worth noting that this year’s comedies were more spread out, and this film had to share it’s audience with This is the End, another success story in it’s own rights.

9) The Great Gatsby
Domestic Gross: $144,840,419

The director had a good track record, and the film had a star recognizable by almost everyone, but the film still surprised many when it opened that big, which translated to big grosses. It was a great counter-programming choice for many in the otherwise visual effects driven May.

10) The Conjuring
Domestic Gross: $133,827,000

This film is indeed a big big surprise. Nobody thought that James Wan’s The Conjuring would gross that much, and be the first film in a planned list of sequels based on The Warrens. Like Insidious, it has superb word of mouth, and great reviews, which makes this film all the more enjoyable, and the best horror outing not just for the summer, but in a long time.

Just like every other year, 2013 managed to have quite a few films which managed to surprisingly over perform. We shall now rank them in order of how successful they were.

1) The Conjuring

Undeniably and easily one of my favourite movies this summer, this summer proved that horror movies that a place in everyone’s heart in the middle of summer, and with great word of mouth, propelled the film to over $130 million domestically. Unlike recent movies, this is genuinely scary, and proved almost all people wrong when it opened to north of $40 million.

2) We’re the Millers

Another success in it’s own rights, I feel that this film is the most successful summer comedy movie this year. Releasing in a otherwise quiet month of August, this film helped to brighten up the box office, even though it was slammed with terrible reviews. However, it seems like moviegoers think otherwise, and are really supporting the weird chemistry of it’s cast members in the film. It has already zoomed past 100 million at the domestic box office, and if this continues at this pace, it might even have a chance to come close to The Heat, which had much better star power.

3) Now You See Me

Who would have imagined a magic heist film, with practically very little support and audience awareness when the trailers were released, suddenly became a $100 million hit? Who would have imagined a film more suited for a Spring quieter release actually managed to spring up the charts, and become one of the highest grossing films of the summer? Nobody really thought this film could make out, but it seems like everyone was wrong, as holding power brought it down the long road, and paved the way for yet another sequel.

4) Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain

Don’t get me wrong, but this show did not earn much at the domestic box office. However, releasing in 876 theatres, and yet grossing more than $32 million is remarkable, and in just 5 days outgrossed Kevin Hart’s previous stand-up comedy. This is already one of the biggest successes of the summer!

5) World War Z

Who would have thought that a film, which suffered from a full script rewrite for an act, and even lot’s of delays, managed to pull it off, and earned a decent rotten tomatoes score, and even become the highest grossing original film this year? That further proves Brad Pitt’s status, but also brings him yet another milestone to approach to overtake this film’s gross.

6) The Purge

Overshadowed by several blockbusters in May, this film, along with Now You See Me, had almost no hope of surviving, but unfortunately still managed to pull it off, after audiences were wowed by the great concept. Unfortunately, that failed to translate to word of mouth, and did not manage to hold on well after that.

7) Great Gatsby

Everybody was interested when they saw that this tragic love story was coming into theatres, as almost all Americans know the source material well. Add in Leonardo DiCaprio’s name, one of the hottest man in Hollywood, and you know that this film was already a success. However, it opened much bigger than even the most modest expectations.

8) This is the End

This summer has been a great time for original comedies, as This is the End, despite facing tough competition with both The Heat and Man of Steel, managed to earn $96 million in it’s original run. Now, it’s back in theatres, and will surpass $100 million, which is already more than enough.

9) Grown Ups 2

I didn’t even think of putting this film on our list way before summer officially began, as we thought that this film was doomed, as nobody would be interested in such a film. I was wrong, as the film opened even bigger than the original (how is that even possible?). Unfortunately, this film had even worse reviews, and from opening weekend, the film dropped really quickly, and ultimately died (it still earned over $100 million, which is already an achievement)

10) Man of Steel

The superman reboot was showered with a mixed response, as some thought that it was way too violent, but I really did not understand why everyone was not happy with any superman film made. Despite having a too lengthy climax, I found this film enjoyable, and so did most people, and ultimately pushed this film into successful territories, but nowhere as near as I predicted.


Okay, we do not want to criticise any film too much as to even give a ranking, so we have decided to state the biggest failures at the box office this summer, in no particular order. Here we go:

MAY: After Earth
June: White House Down
July: The Lone Ranger, Turbo, R.I.P.D
August: Paranoia, Getaway

This summer began considerably well, but one minor bomb arrived in the form of After Earth. The show was never meant to do well, due to people’s bad impression on director M. Night Shyamalan. Despite having a cast consisting of both father and son of the Smith, which has historically been known to bring in large truck loads of money, this film did not even manage to open to first place on opening weekend, nor did it even reach second place, which was a far cry from what Will Smith usually manages.

June was also another big month, but was highlighted by White House Down. Despite not really being a bomb, it is still considered a financial disappointment, due to it’s immense budget. Despite it being smaller scale than what Roland Emmerich usually does, this was one of his lowest openings yet. Maybe it’s due to the high standard that people have on him, or perhaps also due to Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx’s involvement in the film, but people somehow viewed it as a disappointment, as it grossed less than Olympus has Fallen.

July was the month when moviegoers started to feel fatigue. Despite being known to be the biggest month of the year, this month saw three bombs of varying degrees (to me). The Lone Ranger was the biggest bomb of summer, due to it’s budget exceeding $200 million. Despite having the same team that worked on Pirates of the Caribbean, it looks like they cannot prove the world wrong yet again, as the historically unwell-received Western genre did not manage to earn much. It will earn more than it’s budget, but will still bring losses of more than $200 million for Disney, and with Johnny Depp’s name attached, it really is a huge disappointment. Another film releasing that month, Pacific Rim, cost around the same, but had a much bigger gross overseas, due to it’s China gross propelling more than one quarter of it’s total gross, which saves it. Another disappointment, but not that much, would be Turbo. It brought yet another new low for the studio, and brought more shame than what Rise of the Guardians did last year. Never thought to be an easy task to market a film which bears resemblance to so many other films like Cars, the studio should have at least put more space between Despicable Me 2 and this. Perhaps a December opening would have allowed this film to hit $100 million, but who knows. The biggest disappointment would most likely be R.I.P.D. It might not be losing the studio more money than The Lone Ranger, but is still viewed as a creative disappointment, despite it trying to mock the MIB franchise. It ended up struggling to hit it’s budget, and further shows that Ryan Reynolds is not a bankable star.

August, the quietest month of summer, had two flops, but both did not manage to lose as much money as any of the films mentioned earlier. First would be Paranoia. Despite having a star studded cast to depend on, along with source material, the film did not manage to even surpass the least of expectations. At least the budget wasn’t that high, as the film was a mess, even to critics. The other disappointment would be Getaway. Despite having up and coming stars Selena Gomez and Ethan Hawke, the film did not manage to differentiate itself from films like Taken, and also had a boring set-up, and terrible reviews. Just a bad recipe, which results in it being a failure.


Every year has it’s fair share of films which critics love, and this year was no different. Below are the list of the top 5 films (only wide releases are stated) with the best reviews:

1)The World’s End- 90%
2)The Conjuring- 87%
3)Star Trek into Darkness- 87%
4)This is the End- 84%
5)Monsters University- 78% (Draw)
5)Iron Man 3- 78% (Draw)

This summer wasn’t really a month where blockbusters rule the list of best reviewed movies, as more lower budget films of other genres managed to creep in to occupy three of the six positions. Leading was The World’s End, the satisfying conclusion to the Cornetto Trilogy, The Conjuring, one of the best horror movies in years, and This is the End, a horror movies which came out of nowhere for the star-studded cast. Apart from that, the highest a blockbuster reached this summer was 87%, which was taken by Star Trek into Darkness.


This summer was record breaking certainly. May and June were both record breaking ($1.143 and 1.245 billion respectively), and even July managed to hit second highest grossing of all time ($1.37 billion). That has certainly helped to close the lead between this year and 2012. Before summer even began, this year’s crop was losing to last year’s by more than 10% in year-to-year comparisons, and that number has certainly dropped rapidly. This year’s share was shared by more films, with non hitting more than $500 million. May attendance was the highest since 2004, while June attendance was the third highest grossing of all time. It also has the highest summer attendance since 2007, which was 6 years ago (Kudos the the box office). Though these figures will most likely be overtaken in 2015, these are still massive and worth taking note of. Memorial Day weekend’s gross was the biggest ever for that particular holiday period ($314.3 million), and was also the second highest 4 day weekend gross of all time. So, what are the lessons taken away from this year’s summer?


Well, firstly and most importantly of them all, overcrowding of any genre is not good at all. Look at the animated onslaught from late June to early August. It saw an animated film releasing every two weeks (a week between Smurfs 2 and Planes), which resulted in everything after Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University underperforming, due to them earning over $600 million domestically combined. This resulted in audience fatigue, and it’s good to have some relief from the genre, before Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 hits theatres in a few weeks. Nextly, movies can be released in any time of the year, regardless of genre- as proof from horror films this summer, with The Conjuring manage to lead this year’s crop of horror movies by close to two-fold. Even counter-programming, like Great Gatsby and Now You See Me, managed to shine despite them being thown in between bigger films. Too many blockbusters, generally, will also lead to a tough time at the box office, as several films in July flopped or underperformed due to that very reason.


Horror and comedy both had a good time at the box office this summer, with The Conjuring and The Purge overtaking the previous film’s opening weekend for highest grossing R-rated horror movie opening weekend for a non-sequel (that means the record was broken twice). That is a really good sign going onwards to 2014, and shows that studios can now be confident that they can serve as successful counter-programming, considering they are appealing enough. Comedy is also having a great year- last year seen only Ted being successful, while this year’s fortunes were shared among several films- namely This is the End, The Heat, Grown Ups 2 and We’re the Millers. All four films have (or will) surpass $100 million by next weekend, which is another great sign for the genre. Once again, R-rated comedies were the biggest, while some were indeed unexpected hits. For sci-fi, we can’t say that it was a bad year, but it wasn’t a big year for the originals- look at After Earth and Elysium, and even Oblivion. None of them managed to hit $40 million. Everything else resumed for the rest, except for animated movies, which was mixed (it was a record, but with so many films underperforming, it is safer not to mention any of them).


Well, this data leads all the way up to 5th September 2013, which means that the results can be slightly skewed. Leading is the consistent Warner Bros, with hits such as Man of Steel ($290.8 million), The Great Gatsby ($144.8 million), late summer hit We’re the Millers ($115.9 million), and even The Conjuring ($134.5 million). Next was Universal, which is having a record year as we speak, thanks to the success of Despicable Me 2 ($356 million) and Fast and Furious 6 ($238.7 million). Everything else was quieter below that. Buena Vista is third, thanks to films like Iron Man 3 ($408.9 million) and Monster University ($264.5 million). Everything else was really quiet down there. Fox was next in the list, with The Heat ($157.5 million), The Wolverine ($128.7 million) and Epic ($107.5 million) leading the studio’s offerings. Sony had a bad summer, with Grown Ups 2 ($130.3 million) and This is the End ($96.9 million) being the only two films worth talking about. Paramount was last among the major studios, with Star Trek into Darkness ($228.7 million) and World War Z ($200.9 million). However, those were the studio’s only films, which is much lesser than any of the other major studios. Lionsgate was in 7th place, with Now You See Me ($117.2 million), while Weinstein Company in 8th, with Lee Daniel’s The Butler ($83 million). Below those studios, nothing is worth mentioning.


If you are still with me on this post, I thank you for spending your time reading this, and we are nearing the ending. 2014’s landscape definitely sounds much quieter than this year, with a few highlights, but next year’s slate seems like it will not beat this year’s. Leading will most likely be Amazing Spider-Man 2, who is taking over Marvel’s slot, Godzilla, which is still a wild card, X-Men: Days of Future Past, though we doubt it will pass $200 million domestically, The Good Dinosaur, Pixar’s answer to 2014, How to Train Your Dragon 2, a sequel for the wildly liked original, Transformers: Age of Extinction, the sequel to the well-beloved franchise, Fast and Furious 7, which ups the ante even further, and Dawn of the Planets of the Ape, which replaces almost the whole cast and leaves the monkeys. Major wild cards certainly include Maleficient, Fifty Shades of Grey, Guardians of the Galaxy, the Hercules movie, Age of Tomorrow and Jupiter Ascending. 2014 will be covered in more depth as we near the end of the year, so check back then for a better picture of what to expect.And that brings us to the end of this lengthy recap of 2013’s summer at the box office. It has been a meaningful one for me, and I will always remember it for the time this site was born, and it just feels like I have came a long way to today. With fall befalling us, expect an onslaught of awards contenders coming up, and me covering them (at least most of them). Also expect the long-delayed 2015 analysis to be up here soon, as I am just taking a short break on my gaming youtube channel, titled Pokemon Dude (visit it please!). With that, see ya soon, and check back here daily for the latest analysis at the movies. Don’t forget to follow this site or like it’s facebook page so as the follow up with the latest news and forecasts. Me, signing off.


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