Summer in Review: June
By BOP Staff
October 29, 2008

They're gonna make it after all!

Kim Hollis: June's releases were:

Kung Fu Panda - $213.8 million domestic, $604.5 worldwide, $125 million budget
You Don't Mess With the Zohan - $100 million domestic, $169.2 worldwide, $90 million budget
The Incredible Hulk - $134.5 million domestic, $254.2 million worldwide, $135 million budget
The Happening - $64.5 million domestic, $162.6 million worldwide, $60 million budget
Get Smart - $128.5 million domestic, $216 million worldwide, $75 million budget
The Love Guru - $32.2 million domestic, $38.3 million worldwide, $70 million budget
Kit Kittredge: An American Girl - $17.5 million domestic, $10 million budget
WALL-E: $218.6 million domestic, $393.6 million worldwide (so far), $180 million budget
Wanted: $134.1 million domestic, $276.2 million worldwide, $75 million budget

In a few sentences, describe your final thoughts of the performances of each of these films.

Brandon Scott: Kung Fu Panda was a hit chopping up a lot of receipts while the ET for a new generation, Wall-E, was a slight disappointment even though they rode to roughly the same box office domestically. That's where budget and expectations come into play, I guess. Kittredge showed that the little doll Breslin couldn't anchor her own film just yet. I didn't mess with Zohan, but it's blowing enough hair just to try and dry out at $100 million, so Sandler can claim another in his repertoire. However, with its big budget, it was as disappointing as rocking a Jheri Curl in present day. While Carell, being shrewdly teamed with Hathaway, got Smart, nobody had love for the Guru Pitka. Myers' career might be in some real trouble now as a result. I would rather watch Rog and Rerun try to figure out what's Happening than gamble on Shayamalan's misfire. That was a disappointment to be sure. The Hulk shouldn't really be done as any sort of solo film at this point, as a collaborative Avengers effort might be a bigger smash. Wanted generated a surprising total sum and McAvoy could be sought out for a Matt Damon-esqe career now. Good for him.

Scott Lumley: Kung Fu Panda - So very, very good. I'm praying for a sequel to this film because I want some more of that world. Just amazing work all around.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan - Meh. Typical Adam Sandler schlock. MUST we keep giving Rob Schneider work?

The Incredible Hulk - In spite of the fact that the original Hulk movie made just about the exact same amount of cash, I still think the reboot was a good move. This was a fantastic action film for the summer and I think only the fact that it got caught in "the superhero summer of 2008" hurt it.

The Happening - At least it wasn't Lady in the Water.

Get Smart - It made money, but got swallowed up by the Dark Knight juggernaut.

The Love Guru - All we need him to do now is jump up and down on Oprah's couch and that'll completely kill Mike's career.

Kit Kittredge - Who knew the pedophile market was this small? How does 20/20 keep finding these guys?

WALL-E - It's Pixar. It's awesome. If you haven't seen it, you're just a bad, hateful person.

Wanted: I don't know what the hell this was, but I liked it. I even picked up the graphic novel after I saw the movie and I actually liked the movie better than the novel.

Jason Lee: I think the biggest story out of June was Wanted - show the people something they want to see, deliver on their expectations and you'll find yourself with a hit. The tired antics of Myers and Sandler resulted in tepid box-office responses. In fact, Wanted grossed more than both of those films combined. I was surprised by the Panda's box-office staying power, especially given that all non-Shrek DreamWorks Animated films seem stuck at a $160-$180 gross. But most of all, I was stunned, once again, by Pixar's unmatched storytelling ability. WALL-E, in my opinion, is one of their greatest films and while I would have liked to see a higher gross, I'll be pleased with a $220 million total.

Shane Jenkins:
Kung Fu Panda - An unabashed smash, and deservedly so. DreamWorks and Jack Black both had a lot of atoning to do for Shark Tale, but this goes a long way towards starting the healing. A "family" movie in the truest sense of the word.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan - Where we learned that Sandler's audience will show up to see him in anything not directed by P.T. Anderson. $100 million is low by his standards, but this looked atrocious, even by his standards.

The Incredible Hulk - The lesson here is that people just don't like the big green guy that much. This reboot barely made more than the much-ridiculed (and vastly superior) Ang Lee version (yeah, I said it!). A seemingly Xanax-ed Liv Tyler and a never-more-annoying Edward Norton didn't help anything.

The Happening - This is my go-to joke movie of the summer. Sure, sure, it made back its budget, but it made 20 times that much in Unintentional Hilarity! Outrunning the wind, Zooey's crazy eye movements, the Lemon Drink Lady, sharing a tiramisu - oh man, this is a gold mine! Thank you, Night! Thank you.

Get Smart - I seem to be in the minority in finding this to be literally laugh-free, but it's a decent, if unexceptional, performance for Steve Carell et al.

The Love Guru - Do you personally know anyone who saw this? I don't. The stink of failure and desperation was on this one from the first trailer, and audiences stayed far, far away.

Kit Kittredge - I've heard that this is a decent movie, and smarter than you might think. It turned a profit, but given the built-in audience for the dolls, I'm surprised this wasn't a little bigger. My guess is that it got lost in the chaos of summer, but it should be a monster on video.

WALL-E - This is a pretty good result for such an unconventional animated feature. As with Ratatouille, while watching it, I wondered if kids would really enjoy it - it seems to be aiming more for their parents. I guess they did, though, which is encouraging, because WALL-E was fantastic.

Wanted - If you say so. Actually, this acrid bit of misanthropy/misogyny was one of the surprise hits of the summer. Hooray for The Matrix Wanted!

Jim Van Nest: Once again, in June there were a couple large stories and a couple interesting subplots. The biggest story of June had to be Kung Fu Panda. Seriously, who would have thought the goofy martial arts panda movie would not only take on Disney/Pixar, but win? Sure, domestics are interchangeable, but look at the worldwide! That's crazy! The other big story from June is the apparent end of Mike Myers above-the-title movie career. Sure, he'll do Shrek films until he dies now, but will he ever be a viable movie star again? My bet is that after Love Guru, the answer is no.

The reboot of the Hulk is a smaller subplot. Looking at budget versus gross, it really just looks like Hulk is not that popular. Maybe they should skip the CGI and just get some huge freak of nature and paint him green. The surprise success of Wanted provided one of the other subplots for June. Sure, I wanted to see it, but I want to see ALL Angie Jolie flicks. The fact that this found as large of an audience as it did was one of the bigger surprises of the summer.

One last personal comment here...I still say WALL-E was the best movie I saw this summer. Hands down.

Kim Hollis: Kung Fu Panda - This is best case scenario territory for DreamWorks. Even better, it's a wonderful film that is completely deserving of the audience it received. I'm hoping the studio doesn't muck up the sequel by trying to make it too much like their other product.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan - I think this is a pretty solid result for a movie that looked pretty awful. I'm also kind of fascinated by the divide in opinion on it. Some people I really respect love the movie, but there is also plenty of hate to go around. Either way, I think Sandler is one of the true good guys in the business and I'm always happy for his successes.

The Incredible Hulk - I think Marvel just needs to stay away from the Hulk for awhile - Avengers not withstanding. I think it's too hard to find the right tone in a live action film that will suit audiences as far as what they expect from the big green guy.

The Happening - I'd completely forgotten about this, which speaks volumes. M. Night Shyamalan has become more of a punchline than he ever was. People aren't going to see his movies simply because his name is attached.

The Love Guru - Mike Myers is kind of the anti-Sandler for me. I'm glad this failed.

Get Smart - I thought this was a fun flick and am happy for everyone involved in the project that it succeeded as it did.

Kit Kittredge - Given the built-in fanbase (my niece has one of these dolls), I thought it would perform a little bit better than it did. I suspect it will be a DVD hit, though.

WALL-E - This is my favorite movie of 2008, and I wish more people had gotten out to see it, but you can't say that a result over $200 million is bad. I can't wait for it to hit DVD.

Wanted - This is one of my most disliked movies of 2008, and I'm not comprehending any of the love that it received. It was nihilistic and overly violent and, frankly, predictable.

Sean Collier:

Kung Fu Panda - There are lyrics on Tenacious D albums that I can't write on this site, and yet, Jack Black can make $600 million worldwide as a lovable panda. The spirit of George Carlin lives on in him.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan - Do I have to talk about this movie? Can I just talk about how I really liked Spanglish? Seriously, it was grossly underrated! Boy, Adam Sandler was good in Spanglish. And Punch-Drunk Love. Those are two movies worth commenting on, there.

The Incredible Hulk - Marvel is lucky they managed even this somewhat meager result so soon after The Hulk. I understand that they want to build their brand, but (and I know everyone has been saying this all damn decade) the remake monster is out of control. There was no way they were going to light the world on fire here; they should count their blessings and shelve the character except for cameos and eventual crossover world-crushing superfilms.

The Happening - And to think Shyamalan didn't even give us the pleasure of making a cameo as someone jumping off a building into a lion's mouth. That would've saved the whole project.

Get Smart - I get the feeling that they were secretly hoping for a bit more with this one - the marketing campaign was pretty nuts - but it was funny, it had a decent run, it made money. Good enough. Steve Carell may now be an official automatic draw.

The Love Guru - Anything I say here would just delay the healing process.

Kit Kittredge - I've got nothing to add, but the most disturbing moment of this summer was when I sold a single ticket to this film to a slovenly, physically filthy, overweight man in his 40s, who didn't know the title of the film, referring to it as "the kiddie picture." It was the only moment in my life that I wish Chris Hansen was nearby.

WALL-E - That the audience for a film this visionary was only worth $218 million is a crime. Disney and Pixar dropped the marketing ball on this one, unfortunately.

Wanted - predicting which action films are going to hit and which are going to miss is a shaky operation, but it's always good to bet on the one with Angelina Jolie's ass.

Daron Aldridge: Kung Fu Panda - Given the track record of non-Shrek Dreamworks Animation films, I thought this would end up with a total in the typical mid-100 million range. Its timing worked out perfectly as it filled the young kid audience void that Speed Racer failed to meet. Despite a close box office contest with WALL-E for biggest animated movie of the summer, let's hope that Pixar doesn't get robbed again by DreamWorks at the Oscars. Sorry, I am still bitter that Monsters, Inc. lost to Shrek.

You Don't Mess With the Zohan - The bloom might finally be coming off the rose with regard to Sandler. This is the lowest take for an Adam Sandler comedy since 2000's Little Nicky brought in a pathetic $39 million. While this one crossed the $100 million mark, the law of diminishing returns is evident with Sandler films over the last few years. 2005's The Longest Yard made $158 million, 2006's Click made $137 and last year's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry made $119 million. His titles are consistently shedding 14 to 16% of their totals.

The Incredible Hulk - It's sad that it couldn't shake the stink of the Ang Lee version, since this one was widely considered superior. It looks like Mr. Banner may just be relegated to a supporting role in the Avengers movie in the near future.

The Happening - Here is the lesson. The wind is not a sufficient villain for any film. I was honestly surprised that it made this much as soon as I started hearing the bad word-of-mouth. Not Lady in the Water bad but not good enough to merit even renting it.

Get Smart - With fond memories of the show's reruns playing in my head, it is nice to see this one be successful. Unlike Speed Racer's nostalgia trip that was purely eye candy, Get Smart took the opportunity to update the story and get a good balance of the comedy and action. As an added bonus, it beat the snot out of the Love Guru. Long live Michael Skarn.

The Love Guru - Why in the world did 4.5 million people support this junk? I wish it had made less or never existed.

Kit Kittredge - An American Girl - Well, it can at least claim to have made more than the other doll-based movie, Bratz, which brought in less than $10 million last year.

WALL-E - It has been stated numerous times, but this one simply should have made more money. A beautifully animated film that has heart to spare, which is strange for a movie about a robot, shouldn't be one of Pixar's lowest performers. People couldn't get past the lack of dialogue and action in the first half of the movie.

Wanted - Guns and outrageous stunts once again strike theaters and produce the same results as last year. Eerily, Wanted's $134.1 million is nearly identical to 2007's Live Free or Die Hard's $134.6 million.

David Mumpower:

9) The Love Guru - There is a Studio 60 quote that applies here. "Chevy Chase woke up one day and he just wasn't funny any more." I would argue that Mike Myers experienced the same thing the day after the original Austin Powers stopped filming. The rest of the world had clearly disagreed with me up until The Cat in the Hat came out five years ago. Since then, if he is not doing his Irish brogue ogre voice, they have come to see him for what he is: an angry, bitter man who is convinced he is much more talented than is the case. The Chevy Chase analogy holds. With The Love Guru, this is a film that everyone involved should have known wasn't a good idea months prior to the start of principal photography. The fact that it even got filmed is somewhat amazing, all things considered. Similarly, while The Love Guru is a financial disaster, Myers did manage to trick $32.2 million into giving it the benefit of the doubt. To my mind, this is an even more impressive feat than Joe Maddon's leading the Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series.

8) Kit Kittredge: An American Girl - I was told by someone I consider to be an expert on the subject that these dolls are hugely popular and that a movie based on one of them would do very well. I can tell my advisor is not the only one who holds this opinion since several of the dolls are getting straight-to-DVD releases of their own. Even so, common sense here is that a movie about a plucky girl during the Great Depression would have been great for Shirley Temple. Half a century later, it's a bad idea and Kit Kittredge has the box office to prove it. Fortunately, the production budget was low enough that it didn't take a significant beating.

7) You Don't Mess with the Zohan - North American audiences took the message to heart and not only didn't mess with the Zohan, they didn't show up for his movie. Sandler was already on a creative downturn with the well-intended but low brow (even by Happy Madison standards) I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. That one had been his least successful true Sandler comedy (ignoring stuff like Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish and Eight Crazy Nights) since the Little Nicky disaster. Now Zohan has thrown $20 million under that. I don't feel North American audiences have grown tired of Sandler. To the contrary, I believe that this film's sneaking (just) over $100 million speaks volumes about the line of credit the comedian has. He just needs to find movies that better fit his style of comedy. 50 First Dates, Anger Management, Click and The Longest Yard are the types of films I believe fit into this category. Stuff like Zohan and Chuck and Larry is well intended but misguided. Sandler and Sony made money on this project, but I expect its lackluster quality will negatively impact their next project.

6) The Incredible Hulk - Face it, green guy. Your movies are never going to be a smash...except maybe The Avengers. The Incredible Hulk was an ambitious reboot that wound up making almost exactly the same amount of money domestically and just under $15 million more worldwide. Given that five years of box office inflation happened in this period, Ang Lee's The Hulk is the more successful project financially. The good news for Marvel is that a better product was delivered to consumers here and the stink of failure of the first title has been removed. Given that this was the primary goal of the film, it's a mission accomplished.

5) The Happening - Logically, I don't feel right about this since The Happening is such a dreadful movie. Discussions such as this are not intended to evaluate the quality of the product, however. We are only talking about the monies involved. The Happening had a relatively frugal budget for a Hollywood blockbuster these days, and it made most of its domestic box office on opening weekend. Combining that with the title's solid performance overseas, it is quite the profitable endeavor, despite what it did to the good names of Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg (and plants).

4) Get Smart

When this project was finally confirmed, the cast seemed like a series of masterstrokes. Still, spy satire is a hit or miss proposition. Since Get Smart was a series that prided itself on the cheap joke, there was a fear that it might not translate well to the big screen. Fortunately, Steve Carell shook off the failure of Evan Almighty and Anne Hathaway channeled Barbara Feldon to the point that audiences worldwide made Get Smart a blockbuster. Its worldwide receipts are a three to one return on investment (on paper), placing the film safely into the black and possibly even launching a franchise for Warner Bros.


I see a rather clear line of demarcation between most of the groupings for June. #8 and #9 are disappointments, #5, #6 and #7 are placeholders and #4 is a success. The top three films are all huge hits, and determining the factors to delineate which is the best of them can be somewhat arbitrary. In the case of WALL-E, expectations for Pixar films have to be factored in. While the title has easily surpassed Ratatouille domestically and outperformed Cars in terms of worldwide box office, it still isn't anything more than a run-of-the-mill Pixar performer. Given the magical quality of the first half of this movie, that's something of an indictment on movie-goers this past summer.

2) Wanted - Choosing between first and second place for June releases is almost a toss-up. Both titles are huge successes that are wildly profitable. Wanted has made a factor of 4.5 more than its budget and showed relatively strong domestic legs for a low-brow comic book adaptation. It was marketed as a Matrix clone and audiences were reasonably satisfied that this is what they got from the film. In the end, what prevents it from winning is actual dollars. A blockbuster hit at $335 million, it is still roughly $300 million behind the strongest performer of June.

1) Kung-Fu Panda - When this film was announced all the way back in 2002, I immediately recognized the genius of the concept. A martial arts CGI film targeted to kids is a good enough idea on its own, but making the characters lovable tigers and pandas...that's a license to print money. Over the years, DreamWorks Animation has largely disappointed me due to their creed to make animated movies short on story but long on pop culture jokes. The end result is that even their most successful franchise, Shrek, has instantly dated itself. The studio somewhat moved away from that idea with the underrated and underappreciated Over the Hedge, but Kung-Fu Panda is the first title that truly focuses on timeless storytelling. The results speak for themselves. Panda is the most successful non-Shrek animated title in DreamWorks Animation history. It also broke $200 million domestically and is currently the 36th biggest movie of all time in terms of worldwide revenue. Among 2008 releases, it is the third biggest film of the year in terms of worldwide appeal, surpassing even Iron Man, Hancock and Mamma Mia! in this regard. Kung-Fu Panda is a true tentpole blockbuster and DreamWorks Animation recognizes this, which is why a sequel is already in the works.