Summer movie season 2013: winners and losers

For every Iron Man 3, there's been a Lone Ranger...

Star vehicles… The Lone Ranger and Iron Man 3 (Credit: Disney)

Summer 2013 at the cinema has been a battlefield. There’s been triumph and troubles for the tent pole blockbuster and surprise glory from unexpected offerings. For every proud ‘Iron Man 3’, there’s been a sad ‘Lone Ranger’.

[The biggest flops of 2012]

Even the church of movie stardom took a shaking, with studio safe-bet Johnny Depp suffering an embarrassing career low, and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson becoming the most bankable star in Hollywood.

The results are in: here’s Summer 2013’s winners and losers at the movies...

The winners

Put simply, eight of the year’s top-ten highest grossing films were sequels, prequels or reboots. By far the year’s biggest film was ‘Iron Man 3’, which currently sits at number 5 on the all time list. When people moan that Hollywood never makes anything original anymore, this is why.

Melissa McCarthy
When McCarthy was branded a “female hippo” by trolling critic Rex Reed, an army of fans rallied to the defence of her plus size and proud persona. By the time the poster for Sandra Bullock co-starrer ‘The Heat’ turned up in June, fronting a Photoshop-slimmed McCarthy, the star had became a rare and relatable hero of body confidence in Hollywood. Oh, and she starred in two huge movies - ‘The Heat’ and ‘Identity Thief’ - which made this “hippo” the most bankable comedienne in Hollywood.

Watch McCarthy take on her critics below.

Brad Pitt
Production problems reigned on Brad Pitt produced Zombie epic ‘World War Z’ – resulting in extensive rewrites and months of expensive reshoots. Critics were ready to pan $190 million movie… but then it was rather good. One of the most solid performers of the summer, and Brad’s biggest movie ever.

Minion spilling sequel ‘Despicable Me 2’ caused the biggest box office shock of the year when it became  Universal’s “most profitable movie ever – beating blockbuster giants ‘Jaws’, ‘E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ with a gross of over $800 million! Meanwhile Pixar went back to college with Mike and Sulley in ‘Monsters University’ and Dreamworks found an unexpected new franchise in ‘The Croods’ – and both were huge hits. 

Watch the trailer for megahit 'Despicable Me 2' below.

The Rock
Self-proclaimed “Franchise Viagra” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson proved his point with ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’, then hammered it home with the Summer’s third biggest movie ‘Fast & Furious 6’. Aside from making arguably the best-so-far of each series, The Rock made a strong case for himself as the biggest action star currently working in Hollywood. Honestly, can you think of anyone else?

Counter Programming
A few left field movies dared to brave blockbuster territory this Summer, with surprising rewards. Halloween friendly horrors such as ‘The Purge’ and ‘The Conjuring’ made huge profits, whilst Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ (a movie originally conceived for a Christmas 2012 opening) offered audiences in May a genuinely welcome and escapist alternative to ‘Iron Man 3’s’ box office rampage.

The losers

Johnny Depp
Safe-bet Johnny Depp took a battering at the hand of the critics when ‘The Lone Ranger’ became the year’s new byword for “failure”. Hampered by bad weather, fires, illness and even the death of a crew member, Depp himself famously admitted critics probably had their scathing reviews written before they’d seen the movie. No wonder by August the star was threatening retirement

Watch Johnny Depp's infamous remarks below. 

Ryan Reynolds
After a strong start with ’The Croods’, Reynolds went on to spend Summer promoting two of the year’s hardest sells: ‘Turbo’, about a snail who dreams of being a racer, and shameless ‘Ghostbusters’-meets-’Men In Black’ caper ‘R.I.P.D.’ It’s difficult to say which was the most overlooked by audiences, but ‘R.I.P.D.’ approached ‘Howard the Duck’ territory according to one reviewer. Is Reynolds this year’s Taylor Kitsch?

Original blockbusters
Originality was the mass casualty of 2013’s Summer of sequels. First timers ‘Lone Ranger’, ‘White House Down’ and ‘After Earth’ flopped, while ‘Elysium’ and ‘Pacific Rim’ just about made their money back (though to former is yet to receive a full release in some places). Worrying.

Bruce Willis
‘Die Hard’ legend Bruce Willis went meta this Summer. After an infamous ‘One Show’ interview back in February, Bruce spent the sunny months reaching a series of new and embarrassing lows. He trumped his BBC appearance in a bum-clenching chat for ‘Red 2’, then appeared on ‘Daybreak’ in a dressing gown. Finally a Sky TV ad fronting his face was banned for being misleading. Willis has made so many gaffes in recent times that some now think he’s doing it all deliberately.

Watch Willis up to his old tricks below.

2013 was also the year of the 3D backlash. Even James ‘Avatar’ Cameron said Hollywood was not using 3D properly, saying:“[studios] are pushing 3D to directors who are not comfortable or do not like 3D.” He has a point, with Guillermo del Toro, Michael Bay and producer Christopher Nolan all making 3D films despite previously slating the format. Megahits ‘Despicable Me 2’ and ‘Iron Man 3’ only made a fraction of their takings from 3D ticket sales - a clear sign that audiences are tiring of the expensive format. Tellingly, this year the BBC also put 3D production on hold “indefinitely".

This summer Hollywood finally accepted there was an audience beyond US shores - with Chinese box office takings in particular rocketing ‘Iron Man 3’ (along with ‘Skyfall’ and ‘The Hobbit’ from 2012) into the exclusive Billion-dollar club. The most important concession then came in May when Michael Bay announced ‘Transformers 4’ had cast several high profile Chinese stars to further the regional appeal. American studios no longer ignore international audiences, and recognise that China is now a cinema superpower.