Summer 2009: The Top 10 Hits and More

Today we continue with my recaps of the movie summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. I’ve already covered 1989 and 1999 and if you missed them, you can find them right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/10/summer-1989-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2019/07/23/summer-1999-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Looking over the 2009 list, it’s a reminder of how one thing in particular has changed in just a decade. In the summer of 2008, Iron Man came out and kickstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Two seasons later, Iron Man 2 followed. In every summer since, there’s been a massive MCU title often ruling the charts. 2009 is the last year not to feature one.

Instead, one of the most indelible images from 10 years past is Mike Tyson belting out a Phil Collins classic.

As I’ve done with previous entries, I’ll recount the top ten hits along with some other notable pics and flops. Let’s get to it!

10. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Domestic Gross: $150 million

Hasbro was kind of the MCU of this summer by bookending the top 10. Based on their popular set of action figures, Cobra spawned a sequel and introduced many moviegoers to Channing Tatum.

9. The Proposal

Domestic Gross: $163 million

What a year for Sandra Bullock. First she has this huge rom com with Ryan Reynolds and months later gets her Oscar winning turn in The Blind Side. Not to mention Betty White is in this!

8. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

Domestic Gross: $177 million

While it couldn’t match the $250 million earned by its 2006 predecessor, the Ben Stiller led  family adventure sequel still did enough for a part 3 to eventually follow.

7. XMen Origins: Wolverine

Domestic Gross: $179 million

The first of three spinoffs for Hugh Jackman’s iconic clawed character, this is generally considered the worst of them. It still made a pretty penny and gave us a first glimpse at Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson, aka Deadpool.

6. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Domestic Gross: $196 million

The third of these five animated tales, Dinosaurs stands at the largest grosser by a mere $1 million over 2006 predecessor Ice Age: The Meltdown.

5. Star Trek

Domestic Gross: $257 million

J.J. Abrams was able to bring this long running film and TV milestone to the next generation in a critically acclaimed way. His reboot remains the highest grossing entry in the canon of Trek. Two sequels so far have followed.

4. The Hangover

Domestic Gross: $277 million

The breakout comedy of the summer made stars out of Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis in particular and had the aforementioned Mike Tyson musical moment of glory. Two lesser regarded sequels followed.

3. Up

Domestic Gross: $293 million

Pixar had another smash hit with this tale of aging and wonder that contains my personal favorite sequence of any of their titles. The opening montage of a couple’s journey through life is simultaneously beautiful and devastating.

2. Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince

Domestic Gross: $301 million

This sixth Potter pic set up the two part franchise finale and it stands at the third biggest grosser behind the eighth and final entry and the first film in 2001.

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Domestic Gross: $402 million

The follow-up to the 2007 original, Michael Bay’s metallic action extravaganza is the high point in terms of box office dollars overall and largest opening, even though critics mercilessly crucified it.

And now for some other notable flicks from the summer that was 10 years ago:

Angels & Demons

Domestic Gross: $133 million

The sequel to The Da Vinci Code, the return of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon performed decently, but nowhere near the $217 million achieved by its predecessor. The next sequel Inferno bombed.

Inglourious Basterds

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist World War II saga become his best earning pic at the time and earned a slew of Oscar nods, including a win for scene stealer Christoph Waltz.

District 9

Domestic Gross: $115 million

Made for a mere $30 million, Neill Blomkamp announced himself a serious force of sci-fi nature with heralded work that nabbed a Best Picture nod.

Public Enemies

Domestic Gross: $97 million

This gangster tale from Michael Mann was headlined by Johnny Depp and Christian Bale as they took a break between their respective pirate and bat franchises. It was a slight box office disappointment as it couldn’t quite match its $100 million budget back domestically.

Julie & Julia

Domestic Gross: $94 million

Meryl Streep got her umpteenth Oscar nod playing famed chef Julia Child in this Nora Ephron dramedy that proved to be a nice August hit.

Bruno

Domestic Gross: $60 million

There was enough goodwill left over from Sacha Baron Cohen’s smash Borat to propel this satire about a fashion journalist to a $30 million opening weekend. It fell off quickly after that impressive start.

Drag Me to Hell

Domestic Gross: $42 million

Following on the heels of his SpiderMan trilogy, this horror comedy brought Sam Raimi back to his Evil Dead roots. Box office dollars were just ok, but critics appreciated it.

(500) Days of Summer

Domestic Gross: $32 million

Made for a tiny $7.5 million, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel charmed audiences with this rom com from Marc Webb. He would take over the Spidey franchise from Raimi shortly thereafter.

The Hurt Locker

Domestic Gross: $17 million

Kathryn Bigelow’s intense tale of bomb technicians in Iraq made a name for Jeremy Renner. While its box office earnings weren’t that potent, the real reward came later when it won the Oscar for Best Picture and Bigelow became the first female to be awarded Best Director.

We move to pictures that failed to meet expectations or were outright flops.

Terminator Salvation

Domestic Gross: $125 million

The Governor of California sat this one out and this McG directed franchise entry couldn’t match the opening of part 3 from six years prior. Today it’s perhaps best known for a secretly recorded onset argument between McG and star Christian Bale.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

Domestic Gross: $65 million

A remake of a 1974 Walter Matthau action flick about hijacked subway cars, Tony Scott’s collaboration starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta fell short of anticipated blockbuster status.

Funny People

Domestic Gross: $51 million

Judd Apatow had made two huge comedies with The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. This one centered on the world of stand-up with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. It was more personal and divided critics and crowds alike.

Land of the Lost

Domestic Gross: $49 million

Based on a loopy 1970s TV series, Will Ferrell had a rare bomb with this critically derided prehistoric pic. It didn’t earn half of its $100 million price tag back stateside.

Year One

Domestic Gross: $43 million

Yet another prehistoric comedic failure, the talents of director Harold Ramis and Jack Black and Michael Cena couldn’t get reviewers or audiences on its side.

Imagine That

Domestic Gross: $16 million

Families ignored this particular Eddie Murphy headliner that stands as one of his lowest grossing efforts.

And that does it for my seasonal summer recaps! A year from now… look for 1990, 2000, and 2010 coming your way.

The Big Sick Movie Review

The Big Sick is a pleasing combination of a romantic comedy that feels one part wholly original as it comes from the real life experiences of stand-up Kumail Nanjiani, essentially playing himself. The other part is not without imperfections and that could be called the Judd Apatow part, who produced it. Like Apatow’s best work, there’s plenty of heart, laughs, and observations about the comedy scene. Like even in his best work (and certainly his most middling pictures), it’s a bit too long and occasionally veers into semi-stale territory.

That said, Nanjiani’s creation takes you out of typical genre territory for most of its two-hour running time. Sick was written by its star and wife Emily V. Gordon and it takes a page out of their true life experiences. Pakistani comic Kumail Nanjiani portrays Pakistani comic Kumail Nanjiani, who’s struggling to make ends meet doing night gigs in Chicago while also driving an Uber. One night he’s pleasantly heckled on stage by Emily (Zoe Kazan) and the two hit it off post show. A one-night stand that transpires over several nights occurs – in the sense that they keep saying it’s the last one-night stand. She’s busy in grad school, he’s doing his career thing. Before they know it, they realize they’re in some sort of feeling resembling love yet they dare not say it.

Kumail can’t tell his family of his new whatever he and Emily call it. His background demands that he enter an arranged marriage with a girl of Pakistani ethnicity and his parents (especially Mom) bring a slew of such women to the dinner table every time Kumail comes to dinner. It’s this complication that soon ends the relationship.

The title comes into play when Emily is rushed to the hospital and put into a medically induced coma. Kumail is informed and he soon meets Emily’s folks (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter). Their knowledge of their daughter’s former relationship is the opposite of Kumail’s parents. They know everything and aren’t exactly warm to the idea of Kumail hanging around the ICU.

The Big Sick, more often than not, avoids many typical rom com cliches. Some of this is due to one of the leads not being available for a solid portion of the proceedings. This allows Kumail and Emily’s parents to develop a fascinating dynamic. Veteran performers Hunter and Romano make the best of their parts and their marriage is an interesting one in itself. The screenplay is refreshingly honest in a way that few in the genre manage to be. Kumail is far from perfect in how he handles situations, but not in an overly broad silly way. He’s trying and it’s not easy to balance his cultural leanings and his feelings for Emily. Kazan is charming and vulnerable as Emily, as she slowly realizes the difficulties involved with dating Kumail.

We get a little bit of exploring the stand-up comedy scene as Kumail is trying to land a sought after spot at the Montreal Comedy Festival. There’s nothing terribly new about that aspect of the script (Apatow covered it well in Funny People), but Nanjiani is certainly familiar with it. And that’s what really puts The Big Sick in satisfying territory. Nanjiani and his spouse write what they know – each other. And you root for them to work it all out.

*** (out of four)

Summer 2007: The Top 10 Hits and More

Well it’s Throwback Thursday and I’m giving you the culmination of my three-part series recounting the movie summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago. We’ve already gone back to memory lane in 1987 and 1997. If you missed either of those posts, you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/01/summer-1987-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/08/04/summer-1997-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

That means I’m traveling back a decade ago to 2007 and it’s a summer where threequels were majorly in vogue, accounting for four of the top six grossing pictures. Sequels were pervasive in general in this particular season and it was a breakout summer for one Seth Rogen.

As I have with these previous entries, I’ll count down the top ten hits as well as other notable pics and some flops.

Let’s get to it!

10. Rush Hour 3

Domestic Gross: $140 million

The third and final pairing of Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in this action comedy franchise is our first threequel on the list. It fell a steep $86 million short of what Rush Hour 2 accomplished six seasons earlier.

9. Knocked Up

Domestic Gross: $148 million

The comedic summer breakout continued Judd Apatow’s hit streak after The 40 Yr. Old Virgin from two previous summers and gave Seth Rogen his first big leading role. Katherine Heigl may have inexplicably trash talked it later, but audiences disagreed.

8. The Simpsons Movie

Domestic Gross: $183 million

Arriving nearly two decades after the still going FOX animated series debut, The Simpsons Movie surpassed all expectations with its gargantuan gross. Just last month, producers announced there’s been traction on a planned sequel.

7. Ratatouille

Domestic Gross: $206 million

Our second animated entry comes from the Pixar conglomerate. The critically hailed rat tale actually experienced one of the lowest openings for Pixar, but it still managed to top $200 million and its reputation has only grown.

6. The Bourne Ultimatum

Domestic Gross: $227 million

Matt Damon’s third go-round as the title character is still the highest grossing entry of the franchise and the only to pass $200 million. The star returned to the series just last summer.

5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Domestic Gross: $292 million

The fifth installment of the $2 billion plus franchise marks the first one directed by David Yates, who would make the following three pics as well. It stands #5 of the 8 Potter pics in domestic gross.

4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Domestic Gross: $309 million

The third Pirates flick is when critics really started to turn on the series. Getting past $300 million is nothing to sneeze at, but it is nearly $115 million lower than its predecessor Dead Man’s Chest just one summer before.

3. Transformers

Domestic Gross: $319 million

Michael Bay’s bot series started a decade ago and it’s still going. The original ranks third of the five in grosses as its two sequels topped it, but the last two have fallen under it.

2. Shrek the Third

Domestic Gross: $322 million

Much like Pirates, this is when reviewers started to sour on this series. It was still chugging along, but it did fall $120 million below Shrek 2.

1. Spider-Man 3

Domestic Gross: $336 million

Anyone noticing a pattern here? Once again – a third franchise entry where critics started sharpening their knives. This end to the Sam Raimi Spidey trilogy was considered a big letdown in quality, yet it still topped the summer while earning less than its two predecessors.

And now for some other notable pictures of summer 2007:

Live Free or Die Hard

Domestic Gross: $134 million

From a pure numbers standpoint, it’s the highest grossing pic to feature Bruce Willis in his signature role of John McClane (though that changes when adjusting for inflation). From a pure entertainment standpoint, the decision to make this the only PG-13 Die Hard film was a bit puzzling.

Superbad

Domestic Gross: $121 million

Mr. Rogen’s big summer kept rolling along with this acclaimed comedy in which he costarred and co-wrote. Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and McLovin became household names due to this.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Before his movies moved to Netflix, Adam Sandler could still crank out $100M+ earners just a decade ago, even if it was this stale comedy co-starring Kevin James.

Hairspray

Domestic Gross: $118 million

Based on both the John Waters 1988 pic and the Broadway musical that followed it, Hairspray featuring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher Walken performed above expectations.

Ocean’s Thirteen

Domestic Gross: $117 million

Worth mentioning because it’s yet another threequel that couldn’t quite match the grosses of the first two. An all female version of the Ocean’s franchise is soon coming to a theater near you.

Once

Domestic Gross: $9 million

That may be appear to a small gross, but this little Irish romantic musical came out of nowhere stateside and has achieved a devoted following. It’s even been adapted into a Broadway play.

And now for some of the flops of summer 2007:

Evan Almighty

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Yes, it may have crossed the century mark, but this spin-off of 2003’s Bruce Almighty was considered the flop of the season. Starring Steve Carell fresh off the acclaimed 40 Yr. Old Virgin, this family feature came with a reported $175 million budget. Audiences and critics weren’t impressed.

Stardust

Domestic Gross: $38 million

This fantasy flick with Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, and Michelle Pfeiffer only earned a bit more than half its $70 million budget domestically. However, director Matthew Vaughn has bounced back in a significant way with Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. 

The Invasion

Domestic Gross: $15 million

Another remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, bad reviews sunk this pic that featured Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, fresh off his heralded debut as James Bond.

I Know Who Killed Me

Domestic Gross: $7 million

Lindsay Lohan was a long way from Freaky Friday and Mean Girls with this panned psychological thriller that featured the starlet as a stripper. Audiences turned away.

And that does it, folks! You can rest assure you’ll see summer posts recounting 1988, 1998, and 2008 in a year’s time…

Oscar Watch: The Big Sick

Another day, another Sundance Film Festival write up of a film that could have 2017 awards hopes. The Big Sick has emerged as a huge audience favorite in Utah. This romantic comedy was written by Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon and borrows from their real life experiences as a mixed faith couple. Nanjiani (who you may recognize from HBO’s “Silicon Valley”) also headlines and costars include Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Ray Romano. Judd Apatow serves as a producer.

Sick is said to be a crowd pleaser and Amazon showed a lot of their faith with it when they plunked down $12 million for the distribution rights. When it does receive its stateside release, it could have a sleeper status potential.

Will that translate into awards chatter? It’s doubtful as comedies always have an uphill battle for recognition. Yet one category where it could pop up is Original Screenplay, depending on level of competition.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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2015: The Year of Amy Schumer

Director Judd Apatow has had a fine history of bringing comedic performers known more for their small screen work to silver screen glory. Steve Carell in The 40 Yr. Old Virgin. Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (which he produced).

It happened yet again in 2015 with Amy Schumer for this summer’s Trainwreck, a critically acclaimed box office hit which gave the celebrated comedienne her inaugural starring vehicle. Schumer made the most of it, writing the script and giving Apatow a bit of a comeback vehicle after a couple of commercial disappointments. The pic earned $110 million stateside (and an 85% Rotten Tomatoes rating) while giving humorous supporting roles to Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, and even LeBron James.

2015 has been a watershed year for Ms. Schumer. In addition to her considerable film success, her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer” was nominated for five Emmys (after winning a Peabody last year) and she capped the year off with an HBO stand-up special.

Expect to see lots more of Schumer on the big screen as she is currently working on a buddy comedy with her buddy, Jennifer Lawrence. We will certainly remember this year as the one which turned her into a movie star.

Trainwreck Movie Review

In the past decade, we’ve witnessed Judd Apatow bring the best out of his comedic performers and vault them into big screen stardom. This has occurred in films he’s directed and produced. Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids. It happens again in a major way with Trainwreck, which announces stand up comedian and star of her acclaimed Comedy Central program Amy Schumer as a force onscreen.

Simply out, Amy’s got the It Factor. The film (which she wrote, marking the first time Apatow isn’t directing his own material) allows her to showcase her already known comedy skills but also a surprising amount of depth with dramatic material. Trainwreck is both an anti romantic comedy and a very real one. Amy plays Amy, a writer for a trashy men’s magazine who grew with up a philandering and alcoholic dad (Colin Quinn) who preached his dislike for monogamy to Amy at an early age. Her younger sister (Brie Larson) didn’t get the memo and she’s living a suburban life with her sweater clad husband and stepson with a baby on the way. It’s an alien existence to Amy, who relishes her sexual freedom. She’s Daddy’s girl for certain.

An unwanted writing assignment gives her the task of profiling sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader), medic to superstar athletes including his best bud Lebron James. Amy knows little about his field but soon does what she normally does and her one night stand with Aaron turns into something more. The two enter into a couple territory which petrifies her. He’s ready for it.

What follows is a pic that reverses the typical roles we’re used to seeing in the genre. Amy is more like the dude in this situation. Before her interaction with Aaron turns steady, this allows for some raunchy humor that we expect from the star and the director. A scene of dirty talk gone wrong with a Hulk like beau played by John Cena is a prime example.

Trainwreck, however, is often more serious than the trailers suggest. The subplots involving Amy’s family are treated with some somber undertones. A scene involving our central character at a funeral is wonderfully written and provides that aforementioned evidence of Schumer’s acting skills beyond  her ability to make us laugh.

The pic also provides more proof that Hader is a truly gifted performer and his chemistry with his costar is on point. Their union seems wholly believable and that’s a factor that’s sunk plenty of rom coms that fail. Not here at all.

Tilda Swinton is nearly unrecognizable as Amy’s shallow boss and she is given some amusing material to work with. The casting of Lebron could’ve felt purely like a gimmick, but his exaggerated version of playing himself (as a caring and sensitive cheapskate) is a trip.

This is ultimately Amy’s show though. Her screenplay’s mix of bawdiness with emotional substance usually plays well. There are times when the flaws of Apatow’s filmography creep in. Mainly, it could have certainly been about 20 minutes shorter (a staple with Judd). There’s also a bizarre film within a film displayed a couple times with Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei that adds nothing.

Where Trainwreck so often works is showcasing the real talent (in front of the camera and on the page) of its star. Schumer is satirizing the genre and also celebrating it, especially as it nears its conclusion. Like her relationship with Aaron, Trainwreck is a little bit messy. Like the character she plays, Trainwreck lacks a little bit of focus. It’s worth it in the end I must say. That applies to the union of our two lead cast members and the movie itself.

*** (out of four)

Trainwreck Box Office Prediction

Comedies from Spy to Entourage to Ted 2 have yet to become the breakout entry in the genre this summer and next Friday, Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck will throw its hat in the ring. The prospects for it are rather promising as the director has had a sterling track record in helping kick start the film careers of Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Kristin Wiig.

Trainwreck is the first major starring role for Amy Schumer, the popular standup who’s enjoyed critical acclaim with her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer”. The pic has an eclectic supporting cast that includes Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, John Cena, and, in his first movie role, NBA superstar Lebron James.

The early word is extremely positive and Trainwreck currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Looking over Apatow’s directorial resume, it would seem to stand a shot at earning his all-time record opening. In order to accomplish that, it’d need to surpass the $30.6 million made by Knocked Up eight summers ago. This is one comedy that could succeed in bringing in a male and female audience (on the male side, it probably doesn’t hurt that the pic was advertised heavily during the NBA Finals, when Mr. James was playing).

Ultimately, I think it will fall a bit short of Apatow’s best debut and open more in line with the Judd produced Bridesmaids, which took in $26.2M in the summer of 2011. Like that, this should do for Schumer what Bridesmaids did for Wiig – herald the announcement of a new comedic force on the silver screen.

Trainwreck opening weekend prediction: $27.8 million

For my Ant-Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/07/09/ant-man-box-office-prediction/