This Friday sees the UK release of the latest in the Transformers series. This third installment, Transformers – Dark of the Moon follows 2009′s the derided – but hugely successful – Revenge of the Fallen. 2011 has been a summer cluttered with huge franchises, superheroes and sequels but few have failed to make massive box office. Could Transformers be the film that saves summer?
Comic books are often a guaranteed smash and in terms of superheroes we’ve seen Thor join the ranks of the Avengers, a fresh batch of X- Men in First Class and DC’s hope to unleash a new franchise with Green Lantern.
Thor, as a less well known comic book hero did good business on it’s own terms; the X-Men also performed moderately well on a cut down budget with a new cast but was still the lowest grossing X movie. Despite a huge budget , promotional campaign and star power from Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern failed to light up the box office to any great level. While none of these films could be considered a failure, there hasn’t been a single bonifide blockbuster to rival previous winners Spider-Man(2002) or The Dark Knight (2008).
In terms of revenue the industry has been rocked by the increasing apathy towards 3D, in America at least. Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides is heading towards grossing $1billion worldwide in spite of poorer than expected attendances in the US market. Without adjusting for inflation it is the worst performing of all the Pirates movies in the US . Just 40% of those attending decided to take advantage of the 3D experience due either to the increased costs or a general loss of patience with the gimmick.
This trend can also be seen in terms of animation with more parents opting to take their children to see Kung Fu Panda 2 without the added glasses and costs. That film also underperformed based on industry predictions but it has been a crowded year for animation with other animal adventures Rango and Rio having already played. Pixar’s Cars 2 looks like it should be the industry leader with a strong domestic opening weekend despite middling reviews.
Reviews don’t seem to matter when it comes to box office with The Hangover Part 2 becoming the highest grossing R rated comedy of all time despite the media negativity. Better reviewed Bridesmaids has also performed strongly for a female lead comedy.
With July and August remaining it’s all to play for in the summer box office. With so many underperformers so far the only real contenders remaining are Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Captain America: The First Avenger. Potter has the pulling power of being the final part of a long running franchise while Captain America could prove a surpise package in it’s patriotic homeland despite its period setting and the fact that it is the first cinematic outing for the character.
Despite the busy box office one film must be crowned king. Transformers is the third and final part of a trilogy with both director Michael Bay and star Shia Labeouf stating this will be their final participation in the franchise. With huge crossoever appeal from children to action fans this could be the critic proof movie that can finally dominate an overcrowded summer.
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