As part of our series of Box Office Mojo's series of Summer recap stories, we're breaking down this Summer's releases in to three categories: Winners, Losers, and Toss-Ups. Judgments are being made based on a combination of factors, including historical comparisons, budgets, and expectations. Many of the categorizations are pretty self-explanatory—with over $1.2 billion worldwide, Iron Man 3 is obviously a winner—though some are a bit more controversial. We encourage you to share your thoughts with us and other Mojo fans on Facebook.
Iron Man 3: The first movie of the Summer, Iron Man 3, also wound up being the highest-grossing movie by a long shot. Typically, the third movie in a franchise earns less than its predecessor at the domestic box office; that wasn't the case with Iron Man 3, which wound up being viewed more as a spin-off of mega-hit The Avengers than as a sequel to the underwhelming Iron Man 2.
While Iron Man 3 did fantastic business domestically (over $408 million), the real upside was overseas, where its $806 million haul was more than double that of its predecessor. Worldwide, the movie's $1.2 billion total ranks fifth all-time. Overall, this is a huge win for Disney, who has high hopes for Phase 2 of the Marvel Universe movies.
Despicable Me 2: Building on goodwill from the beloved first movie, Despicable Me 2 has become one of the most successful animated movies ever. Domestically, it ranked second for the Summer with $355 million, which is over $100 million more than its predecessor. It saw even bigger gains at the overseas box office, where it has earned $467 million so far. With a few major markets left to open, Despicable Me 2 should ultimately bank over $900 million worldwide, which will make this Universal's highest-grossing movie ever (during its initial run, at least).
Monsters University: While Monsters University was runner-up to Despicable Me 2 among Summer 2013 animated movies, that shouldn't take away at all from its massive success. Among Pixar movies, it ranks fourth all-time with $264 million, and it's also only the fourth Pixar movie ever to earn over $700 million worldwide.
Fast & Furious 6: The 12-year-old Fast & Furious franchise clearly still has gas left in the tank—the latest entry, Fast & Furious 6, dominated Memorial Day weekend this Summer and went on to earn over $238 million (an all-time best for the series). It also set a new high mark at the overseas box office ($549 million). Universal is clearly thrilled with these results: the studio has fast-tracked the next installment, which is due in July 2014.
The Heat: In a Summer packed with successful comedies, the biggest of them all was June's The Heat. With Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy and Bridesmaids director Paul Feig, The Heat was a strong option for underserved female moviegoers, and ultimately grossed an incredible $157.4 million at the domestic box office.
The Conjuring: With a confident, aggressive marketing effort, The Conjuring kicked off its run with $41.9 million, which is the highest opening ever for an R-rated horror movie. From there, word-of-mouth was so strong that it managed to overcome the horror genre's front-loading problems, and consistently had weekend drops below 50 percent. Through the end of Summer, The Conjuring had earned over $134 million, which made it the top supernatural horror movie in over a decade.
Now You See Me: Opening on the heels of a handful of high-profile sequels—and going up against a Will Smith sci-fi adventure—it seemed like Now You See Me was going to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, what appeared to be a scheduling disadvantage turned out to be the opposite: tired of expensive franchises and star-driven vanity projects, audiences flocked to this original magician thriller. To date, Now You See Me has earned over $117 million at the domestic box office, which makes it Lionsgate/Summit's highest-grossing movie ever outside of the Twilight and Hunger Games franchises. It has also done surprisingly robust business overseas, where it will ultimately close with well over $200 million.
We're the Millers: Benefiting from good scheduling and a strong premise, road trip comedy We're the Millers got off to a solid start in early August. The movie then held well thanks to strong word-of-mouth, and ultimately became the highest-grossing movie of August 2013. Through the end of Summer, We're the Millers had earned $113.2 million, and is on pace to close with over $130 million.
Lee Daniels' The Butler: Recognizing that there was nothing to fill the mid-August adult counterprogramming slot, The Weinstein Company moved Lee Daniels' The Butler up from October. That turned out to be a shrewd move, as The Butler dominated the box office during the second half of August. Through less than three weeks the movie has earned over $79 million, and should blow past $100 million by mid-September.
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain and Instructions Not Included: Lionsgate scored with two modest releases targeted at underserved audiences this Summer. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain grossed $32.2 million, which made it the fourth-highest-grossing stand-up comedy movie ever. Meanwhile, Spanish language comedy Instructions Not Included—technically a Summer release—debuted to over $10 million over Labor Day weekend despite opening in just 347 theaters.
Continued with a look at Losers and Toss-Ups >>
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• Summer 2013 Sets New Record with $4.76 Billion
• 'Despicable' Drives July to Second-Highest Monthly Gross Ever
• 'Man of Steel,' 'Monsters U' Lead Record-Setting June
• May Kicks Off Summer 2013 With Record Grosses
• Summer 2013 Forecast
• Summer Calendar Grosses
• 2013 Grosses (2013-only releases)
• Year-to-Date Comparison