We have arrived at part 3 of summer nostalgia looking over the cinematic seasons from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. If you missed my posts on 1988 and 1998, you can find them here:
This brings us to 2008. It was a vaunted superhero summer to be sure and there’s some humdingers for our flops. Here are the top ten moneymakers in addition to other notables and bombs.
10. The Incredible Hulk
Domestic Gross: $134 million
The second feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe found Edward Norton taking on the angry green giant from Eric Bana. While better received than Ang Lee’s Hulk, it was mostly met with a shrug and Mark Ruffalo would take over the part four years later in The Avengers. It stands at lowest earner of the MCU.
9. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Domestic Gross: $141 million
The follow-up to 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe made less than half of what that picture achieved. Like Hulk, it may have placed in the top ten, but it was considered a bit of a disappointment.
8. Mamma Mia!
Domestic Gross: $144 million
The ABBA infused comedic musical was a major sleeper hit and its sequel hits theaters this Friday.
7. Sex and the City
Domestic Gross: $152 million
Fans of the HBO series turned out in droves for the big screen treatment. A sequel two years later yielded less impressive returns.
6. Kung Fu Panda
Domestic Gross: $215 million
Dreamworks Animation found itself a franchise with this animal fest led by Jack Black. Two sequels have followed.
Domestic Gross: $223 million
Yet another critically lauded effort from the money minting machine that is Disney/Pixar, this would take home Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.
Domestic Gross: $227 million
Despite mostly negative reviews, this superhero effort proved Will Smith’s potency at the box office. Director Peter Berg has mostly moved to true life dramas with Mark Wahlberg.
3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Domestic Gross: $317 million
Nearly 20 years after The Last Crusade, Harrison Ford’s iconic hero returned and teamed up with Shia LaBeouf. Critics and audiences had their issues with it, but Indy is slated to come back again in 2021 (when Mr. Ford will almost be 80).
2. Iron Man
Domestic Gross: $318 million
It’s crazy to think now, but the idea of casting Robert Downey Jr. as a superhero less known than Batman or Superman was considered risky business at the time. We know what followed… the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This started it all.
1. The Dark Knight
Domestic Gross: $533 million
The sequel to Batman Begins turned into a genuine phenomenon with Heath Ledger’s incredible work as The Joker and an experience that has influenced numerous franchises since.
And now for some other notables of summer 2008:
Domestic Gross: $130 million
Steve Carell experienced a box office bomb the summer prior with Evan Almighty. He got back into the good graces of audiences with this big screen rendering of the 1960s TV series alongside Anne Hathaway.
Domestic Gross: $110 million
Ben Stiller’s comedy was a hit with crowds and critics. Robert Downey Jr. earned an Oscar nod for his work here and we see Tom Cruise as never before.
Domestic Gross: $100 million
It didn’t make as much as Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s previous collaboration two summers earlier, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. However, this has achieved serious cult status in following years.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Domestic Gross: $75 million
Guillermo del Toro’s sequel managed to out gross its predecessor and it was another critically hailed comic book adaptation in a summer filled with them. A reboot of the franchise with David Harbour comes next year.
Domestic Gross: $52 million
This low-budget horror flick turned into a sleeper. A sequel was released this March.
This brings us to the flops…
Domestic Gross: $64 million
M. Night Shyamalan had his first flop two summers earlier with Lady in the Water. This one focused on killer trees with a lackluster performance from Mark Wahlberg. Audiences were laughing at it more than frightened by it. The director has since rebounded with Split.
Domestic Gross: $43 million
This was the Wachowskis first picture since the Matrix trilogy and it fell far under expectations at the box office and with critics.
The Love Guru
Domestic Gross: $32 million
Mike Myers couldn’t make this creation anywhere near as iconic as Wayne Campbell or Austin Powers. Moviegoers simply ignored Pitka.
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Domestic Gross: $20 million
Ten summers after the first adaptation of the FOX show did well at theaters, audiences didn’t want to believe in its long gestating sequel.
Domestic Gross: $11 million
This sci-fi comedy was a massive bomb for Eddie Murphy, making a small percentage of its reported $60 million budget.
And that does it for my recaps of the summer! You can be sure I’ll be back next season covering 1989, 1999, and 2009.