The Big Winners And Losers From This Summer's Movies

·UK Movies Editor
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The summer is when Hollywood studios unleash their biggest, most expensive blockbusters because, so it seems, more people visit the cinemas during the school holidays.

A bad summer can make or break a film studio's year. Last year Disney made headlines after they admitted to shareholders that their big summer tentpole - ‘The Lone Ranger’ - lost them £115 million.

So it’s fair to say that Hollywood stars and studio bosses take ‘Summer Movie Season’ very seriously. But who got it right and wrong in the United Kingdom this year? Tom Cruise fans, look away now.

A Bad Summer For…

Tom Cruise

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While it’s hard to feel that sorry for Hollywood A-lister and multimillionaire Tom Cruise, we are sympathetic for his current woes at the box office.

His superb sci-fi ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ tanked, so much so that it’s been rebranded as ‘Live. Die. Repeat’ for it’s DVD release.

It follows in the footsteps of ‘Oblivion’, ‘Jack Reacher’ and ‘Rock Of Ages’, which all did modest business for Cruise. The smiley superstar will hope his next film ‘Mission: Impossible 5’ can put him back on top.

And ‘A-list’ Stars In General

Cruise isn’t the only A-list star to endure a miserable summer. The latest ‘Expendables’ film, starring Stallone, Schwarzenegger etc. was a sequel too far for the action franchise.

Arnie had another flop with ‘Sabotage’, while Johnny Depp had his second terrible summer in row as ‘Transcendence’ proved an even bigger disaster than 2013’s ‘The Lone Ranger’. The days of these guys opening summer blockbusters appear to be over.

Children 

It’s been a mediocre summer at the cinemas for British kids. It’s partially Pixar’s fault – the ailing studio sat out 2014 to fine tune ‘Inside Out’ and ‘The Good Dinosaur’, but none of their rivals took advantage.

There was no ‘Despicable Me’ this year (the last instalment was one the of most profitable films ever), so the few choices for parents included Dreamworks’ ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ - a big hit in the UK at least - and ‘Planes: Fire And Rescue’ - which really wasn’t.

The biggest children’s film of 2014 in the UK so far was ‘The Lego Movie’, but it was released in February. Imagine how much cash it would’ve made in the summer holidays?

Original Films

A quick look at the top ten highest grossing films of the summer reveals EIGHT sequels, and two adaptations of well-known properties (the Guardians of the Galaxy comics and Sleeping Beauty, for ‘Maleficent’). That leaves NO films that are actually based on original ideas or concepts.

Either cinemagoers only want to see sequels, or risk-averse studios won’t gamble hundreds of millions on a blockbuster without an inbuilt fanbase.

A Good Summer For…

British Comedy

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The success of ‘The Inbetweeners 2’ – it’s the third highest grossing film of the year - proves that the one-time E4 comedy is now a major film franchise. The lads can protest all they want, but a third entry in the series is surely in the offing.

Much more surprising is the huge £15 million haul for ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie’ which was, as we’ve noted already, more successful than several Hollywood blockbusters in the UK, including ‘The Fault in our Stars’, ‘Edge Of Tomorrow’ and ‘Divergent’ (which all had much bigger budgets).

Building on the success of ‘Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa’ in 2013, film versions of beloved British sitcoms are now big business in cinemas.

One-off Special Screenings

With cinema attendances declining, theatre owners have to get creative to put bums on seats.

One way is special one-off screenings, including live events - ‘Monty Python Live (Mostly)’, TV shows, like Peter Capaldi’s ‘Dr. Who’ debut, or retro movies such as Secret Cinema's epic ‘Back To The Future’ events, which (when they finally got going) made more than £2 million. Expect cinemas to be used for more than just films in the future.

Planet Of The Apes

Back in 2009, when James Franco was cast in mid-budget ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel ‘Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’, few predicted that this was the start of a massive new Hollywood franchise. Indeed, most of us assumed it would be terrible.

But five years on, the sequel ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is currently the highest grossing film of the summer in the UK and earned mostly rave reviews. A third film is already in the works.

Marvel… And Not Just Marvel Studios

We say this every year, but Marvel’s stable of superhero characters has once again enjoyed an extremely profitable summer.

Interestingly it’s the films not produced by Marvel studios themselves, but those by studios licensing their characters (here’s a brief explanation of the complex ownership rights for marvel movie characters), that have done great business in the UK.

Top of the tree is ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ from Fox, closely followed by Sony’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’, which some see as a flop even thought it’s made a massive £423 million worldwide.

Marvel Studios’ biggest film ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ performed strongly in the UK, but couldn’t match its incredible performance across the pond.

China

‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ is the highest grossing film of the year… and it’s all thanks to the Chinese.

The fourth robots-in-disguise made almost a third of its 1 billion dollar box office haul in China, thanks in part to a Hong Kong sequence and the presence of Asian superstar Bingbing Li.

Its no coincidence that last year’s biggest film - ‘Iron Man 3’ - was also a huge hit in the territory and, like ‘Extinction’, was also a Chinese co-production.

The days of the USA being the most important movie market could soon be over.

Read More:
- Movie Stars And The Surprising Ways They Made Their Fortunes
- First Avengers 2 Footage Reveals Marvel’s Most Fearsome Villain Yet
- Inbetweeners 2 Inspires Disgusting New Craze

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