A look back over summer 2013’s blockbuster movies

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Updated on December 10, 2021

Monsters UniversityWhile it’s a week before Labor Day weekend, with next weekend only opening one major film (“Getaway”), I think I can get away with looking back over how well this summer’s films did and didn’t do, as I did for last summer’s films. Again, they’ll be separated by the “Jay Sherman test” categorizations. Like last year, I’ll call a film a “hit,” “broke even,” or “flop” based on domestic North American take (but will note foreign take if relevant). Information taken from Box Office Mojo as of this weekend.


Movies that passed the Jay Sherman test:

  • The Great Gatsby: a hit, and one of the summer’s more successful films.
  • Tyler Perry Presents Peeples: a flop, oddly, given Perry’s usual track record for films.
  • Epic: broke even in the US, while mildly successful overseas. Not a critical success either; it’s all but forgotten by now—and already out on DVD.
  • The Purge: a hit… but since it only had a $3 million budget, it couldn’t possibly be a flop.
  • Now You See Me: a hit.
  • After Earth: a flop domestically. While it did much better overseas (and made a profit on that alone), it’s a pretty weak showing by Will Smith, usually a reliable summer blockbuster star.
  • The Internship: a flop, though did slightly better overseas.
  • Man of Steel: one of the summer’s biggest hits (financially, not critically). However, since it didn’t rake in as much as “Iron Man 3” (MOS’ total take is dwarfed by IM3’s foreign take alone) and to get to their desired “Justice League” film faster, Warner’s derailing the sequel for more Batman over-reliance. While I’m not sold on Ben Affleck as Batman, even the ghost of Paul Newman playing Bruce Wayne wouldn’t get me to see it, as long as the same people are producing MOS2…
  • This Is the End: a hit domestically (an apparent flop overseas).
  • Monsters University: a hit.
  • World War Z: a hit (and an even bigger one overseas), against expectations it’d flop. Guess people haven’t had enough of zombies (or Brad Pitt).
  • The Heat: a hit, going against the usual sexist Hollywood mentality against women protagonists in films.
  • White House Down: a flop.
  • Despicable Me 2: a major hit, the summer’s second most-successful film.
  • Grown Ups 2: a hit here (unfortunately), though more a flop overseas. Guess North Americans also haven’t had enough of Adam Sandler.
  • Pacific Rim: a flop domestically, unfortunately, while a big hit overseas. Not sure if the foreign take would merit a sequel (that isn’t direct-to-video)…
  • The Conjuring: a hit; having a low budget surely helped.
  • R.I.P.D.: R.I.P.D. is D.O.A. Yeah, others already used that headline, but I wanted to use it too. One of the summer’s biggest bombs, seeing as it’s just “Men in Black with ghosts instead of aliens.”
  • Red 2: a flop.
  • Turbo: a flop.
  • 2 Guns: broke even as of this weekend or so.
  • 300: Rise of An Empire: N/A; pushed back to an indefinite release date.
  • The Smurfs 2: a flop domestically, though a success overseas.
  • Elysium: a flop.
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters: a flop.
  • Planes: broke even. However, the overseas take and low cost, plus merchandising opportunities, will make Disney pleased.
  • The Wolverine: broke even domestically, a hit overseas.
  • We’re the Millers: a hit domestically, less so overseas.
  • The To-Do List: a hit; despite the extremely low cost and playing in very few theaters, it made twice what it cost.
  • Kick-Ass 2: a flop so far.
  • Grandmasters: this film’s been released to only seven theaters in the US so far, but has made $55 million overseas. However, there’s also no indication (on Box Office Mojo) of its production budget. Still, per various reviews and the international take, I’m inclined to put this one in the “hit” column.
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones: a flop, despite only opening this weekend.
  • The World’s End: a flop in its opening weekend, though might break even/do better post-Labor Day.
  • You’re Next: no indication what its production budget is, but given it did worse than “World’s End” this weekend, I’m inclined to put this one as a “flop.”
  • The Butler: forgot to list this one in my start of the summer post, but this one’s a late summer hit.
  • “Closed Circuit,” “Getaway,” and boy-band concert film “One Direction: This Is Us” are being released Labor Day weekend, so I won’t go into them here. Weinstein Bros.’ “Satanic” apparently must’ve been canceled or postponed indefinitely, as there’s now no information on it at all, even on IMDB.com.


As for movies that failed the Jay Sherman test:

  • Iron Man 3: the summer’s biggest hit film, with a $1.2 billion global take so far.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness: a hit.
  • The Hangover Part III: broke even domestically, but a big hit overseas.
  • Fast & Furious 6: a hit domestically, and an even bigger hit overseas.
  • The Lone Ranger: a flop.


Out of the films that passed the Sherman test (and ignoring the unreleased/postponed stuff):

  • Hit/broke even: 19
  • Flop: 15

A success rate of 56%.

And for the films that failed the test:

  • Hit/broke even: 4
  • Flop: 1

A success rate of 80%.

Like last year, despite the few films that failed Jay Sherman’s criteria, the formulaic fare was again this summer’s most financially successful films.

As for what 2014 will bring, from Box Office Mojo’s listings, it looks like a lot more sequels and remakes of previous years’ films, including “Fast and Furious 7,” several Marvel superhero movies, and another “Transformers” film.


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Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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