Valerian and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer? – Special Features #2

It was the best of summers, it was the worst of summers, it was the season of success, it was the season of flops, it was a summer of firings, it was the summer of reshoots. We had a lot to look forward to, yet we were alone in the theater. Tomatoes were ripe, but, for some, golden raspberries lay in waiting. In short, this summer was a lot of things. In this week’s Special Features, I’m giving you my thoughts on the summer movie season of 2017.

Right before Andy Muschietti’s version of IT hit theaters and had more success than anyone could’ve possibly hoped for, the summer movie season of 2017 ended. The summer movie season ran from the beginning of May until the end of August, and it all began with a long-awaited sequel that actually opened in April in many foreign markets: James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 from Marvel Studios and Disney.


MAY
Fake Title of the Month: Pirates of the Galaxy: Dead Men Watch No Bays

LIST OF NOTABLE FILMS: 

  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 — Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes): 82% — Metascore (Metacritic): 67 — Cinemascore: A — Current Box Office Total (Worldwide): $863m
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword — Tomatometer: 27% — Metascore: 41 — Cinemascore: B+ — Current Box Office Total: $148m
  • Alien: Covenant — Tomatometer: 70% — Metascore: 65 — Cinemascore: — Current Box Office Total: $233m
  • Baywatch — Tomatometer: 18% — Metascore: 37 — Cinemascore: B+ — Current Box Office Total: $177m
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales — Tomatometer: 30% — Metascore: 39 — Cinemascore: A- — Current Box Office Total: $793m

The summer movie season started off with a good superhero movie that was enjoyed by both audiences and most critics, and it, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, has, at this point in time, made almost $100 million more than the first film did in its run. Other than that, well, the rest of May was a bit of a disappointment. King Arthur seems to be a huge box office flop, and most people disliked the film. The biggest disappointment this month, however, was Alien: Covenant. I liked the movie, but it seems that I’m in the minority. Sure, Covenant had a smaller production budget than Prometheus, but it also has a smaller worldwide box office total, at this point in time, and it even had a worse opening weekend than Prometheus did…


JUNE
Fake Title of the Month: Wonder Mummy: The Last Knight

LIST OF NOTABLE FILMS: 

  • Wonder Woman — Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes): 92% — Metascore (Metacritic): 76 — Cinemascore: A — Current Box Office Total (Worldwide): $816m
  • The Mummy — Tomatometer: 16% — Metascore: 34 — Cinemascore: B- — Current Box Office Total: $407m
  • Cars 3 — Tomatometer: 68% — Metascore: 59 — Cinemascore: — Current Box Office Total: $350m
  • Transformers: The Last Knight — Tomatometer: 15% — Metascore: 28 — Cinemascore: B+ — Current Box Office Total: $605m
  • Baby Driver — Tomatometer: 93% — Metascore: 86 — Cinemascore: A- — Current Box Office Total: $214m
  • Despicable Me 3 — Tomatometer: 61% — Metascore: 49 — Cinemascore: A- — Current Box Office Total: $1b

Were it not for Wonder Woman and Baby Driver, both of which were huge success stories, June would’ve looked pretty bad to me. The Mummy was not the kick-off to the Dark Universe that Universal wanted it to be (not by a long shot), and audiences didn’t seem all that interested in it. Cars 3 wasn’t the huge hit I expected it to be, but, as all Pixar films do, it did find some success. Despicable Me 3 just climbed up to $1 billion a week, or so, ago, which I didn’t expect it to. Transformers: The Last Knight is the most interesting film of this month, surprisingly. It did not find as much success as previous entries in the franchise — not by a long shot (Age of Extinction crossed the $1 billion line, after all, and The Last Knight won’t).


JULY
Fake Title of the Month: War for the Beaches of Dunkirk: Homecoming

LIST OF NOTABLE FILMS: 

  • Spider-Man: Homecoming — Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes): 92% — Metascore (Metacritic): 73 — Cinemascore: A — Current Box Office Total (Worldwide): $823m
  • War for the Planet of the Apes — Tomatometer: 93% — Metascore: 82 — Cinemascore: A- — Current Box Office Total: $368m
  • Dunkirk — Tomatometer: 93% — Metascore: 94 — Cinemascore: A- — Current Box Office Total: $493m
  • Girls Trip — Tomatometer: 90% — Metascore: 71 — Cinemascore: A+ — Current Box Office Total: $130m
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets — Tomatometer: 51% — Metascore: 51 — Cinemascore: B- — Current Box Office Total: $219m
  • The Emoji Movie — Tomatometer: 10% — Metascore: 12 — Cinemascore: — Current Box Office Total: $171m

July was fantastic. Three of my favorite movies of the year (so far) were released this July. Sadly, only two of the three made a lot of money. Girls Trip was also a huge success story. But let’s now talk about Valerian […], The Emoji Movie, and War for the Planet of the Apes, one of my favorite movies of the year. Although Valerian sure looked intriguing, it did not find an audience. To be honest, this film never felt like a box office success, so we shouldn’t be surprised. The Emoji Movie was destroyed by critics, and audiences didn’t seem too impressed either. I can’t speak to the quality of The Emoji Movie, though, as I did not see it. The new trilogy of Apes films was nothing short of fantastic. Sadly, this, seemingly, last film in the rebooted franchise made over $100 million less than Rise and over $300 million less than Dawn. If you didn’t see it, then I’m very disappointed in you.


AUGUST
Fake Title of the Month: The Hitman’s Tower: Creation

LIST OF NOTABLE FILMS: 

  • The Dark Tower — Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes): 16% — Metascore (Metacritic): 34 — Cinemascore: B — Current Box Office Total (Worldwide): $107m
  • Annabelle: Creation — Tomatometer: 68% — Metascore: 62 — Cinemascore: — Current Box Office Total: $281m
  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard — Tomatometer: 38% — Metascore: 47 — Cinemascore: B+ — Current Box Office Total: $66m

Not a lot to talk about in August — the dessert (or desert, depending on how you look at it) of the summer movie season. Annabelle: Creation was an entertaining horror movie sequel that made more than the original film, but The Dark Tower was, to me, as big of a disappointment as Duncan Jones’ Warcraft was. Ultimately, we were all let down by what was a really messy Stephen King adaptation, which closed out a summer that was, to me, both good and bad.


The Final Word: Valerian and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Summer?

Some people have called the summer movie season of 2017 the worst summer in decades. They’re not entirely wrong. A lot of Hollywood films that were presumed to be ‘surefire’ hits didn’t shine as brightly as the people in charge of blockbuster filmmaking wanted them to. You need only look at the current box office total for Transformers: The Last Knight – and the fact that The Emoji Movie tickets didn’t sell like hotcakes – to figure that out.

I was particularly annoyed with how little attention was paid to War for the Planet of the Apes, but the other films that I was worried about finding an audience actually did. Baby Driver was a hit everywhere, which isn’t something director Edgar Wright has been used to with cult hits like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Meanwhile, a significant marketing push and the name on the back of the director’s chair made a movie about British soldiers trying to survive during the Second World War (Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk) successful in America. The Big Sick, which I saw last month, is another summer hit that I adored.

So, if you can look past a few exceptions, good movies survived the summer movie season and were not hurt as much as I expected them to be. But Hollywood won’t be motivated to focus on making great films based on this summer alone. For the most part, the biggest franchises made a lot of money, and one of the greatest movies of the summer failed even though it stood head and shoulders above most of the other blockbuster films out there. I enjoyed this summer a lot because of the films that were released, but I am very worried for Hollywood. This wasn’t a good summer for Hollywood, but it was a pretty good season for movie lovers.


LAST FRIDAY: Early Best Picture Predictions – Special Features #1

NEXT FRIDAY: What’s Next For Indiana Jones? – Special Features #3

– Jeffrey Rex

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