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:
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. X–Men 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.
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 Half–Blood 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Spider–Man 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.