Steve’s Box Office Report: May 2009
Top 10 Films for the Month of May:
1. Up – $293,004,164
2. Star Trek – $257,730,019
3. X-Men Origins: Wolverine – $179,883,157
4. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – $177,243,721
5. Angels and Demons – $133,375,846
6. Terminator Salvation – $125,322,469
7. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past – $55,250,026
8. Drag Me to Hell – $42,100,625
9. Dance Flick – $25,662,155
10. Next Day Air – $10,027,047
1. Battle for Terra – $1,647,083
So as we head into the month of May and the unofficial beginning of the summer, it was now time for the big guns to start coming out and make their mark in the box office. This month had plenty of big titles coming out that would look to kick off the summer on a high note, and for the most part they did just that as we have a solid amount of winners for this month. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is Pixar’s newest film Up, a film about a man who uses thousands of balloons to help fly his house to Paradise Falls unaware that he has a stowaway guest. After releasing their films the last three years in the month of June, Pixar decides to move back to May after 6 years and the end result was still the same as it would finish with close to $300 million while also being Pixar’s second highest grossing film for the time. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the sci-fi film Star Trek, a reboot of the classic TV series and film series which sees a young James Kirk and Spock join Starfleet and team up to save Earth from the Romulan Nero. As the first Star Trek film in 7 years and being set in an alternate timeline, the film would end up receiving critical acclaim from critics and would go on to have a very successful run throughout the month which we will delve further into later in the recap. The next film from this month that makes it into this category is the superhero film X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a film about Wolverine’s upbringing and becoming infused with adamantium by William Stryker. Despite still having some goodwill from the previous X-Men films and the fact that it features the most popular of the X-Men, this film would receive mixed reviews from critics and while it had a solid debut, it would fall behind some of the other films from this month and barely finished in the top 3 for the month. The fourth and final film from this month that makes it into this category is the action fantasy film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the sequel to the first film where former night guard Larry Daley must retrieve the Tablet of Ahkmenrah from the Smithsonian Institute with the aide of Amelia Earhart. Much like its predecessor, the film would receive mixed reviews from critics but it still had some goodwill from how successful the last film was, and it would end up having a solid debut over Memorial Day weekend and finished in the top 5 while almost overtaking X-Men Origins to get in the top 3. Considering these four films were looked at to be the ones to drive the month, they did very well and helped lift the month of May up and kick the summer off to a strong start.
May Losers: Terminator: Salvation
Going into this month, there were several films that were being closely looked at as to how they would end up doing and if they would be successful. While most of the films from this month did very well or at least moderately well, there were a few that were not able to live up to the expectations that were set for them. Amazingly though, we only had one film that ended up being in this category and that is the sci-fi action film Terminator: Salvation, serving as a sequel to Terminator 3 where John Connor leads the Resistance against the Machines with some help from a half human/half cyborg. The film would receive mixed to negative reviews from critics who felt it didn’t live up to its predecessors and while it did have a decent debut, it would tail off pretty quickly and couldn’t even surpass the previous two films. It was a major disappointment for the franchise that was looking to regain momentum after the failure of the third film and the TV series, and it would be quite a while before another Terminator film would be released and try to reignite the spark of the franchise.
The Surprise/Story of May 2009: Up rises its way to the top of loaded May 2009
Going into the month of May, there were several films that were being released this month that were seen as potential money makers and it would be interesting to see which film would end up finishing at the top of the month. One of the more intriguing decisions was Pixar’s decision to release Up this month instead of in June which had saw their last three films released during that month, and it would be interesting to see if the film would have the same success in a different month. Sure enough, Up would indeed debut at number one in the box office which made it 10 out of 10 for Pixar in terms of debuting at number one, and coming out at the end of the month ensured it would have a healthy run throughout June which would feature a lack of family films. There was no doubt by this point that Pixar was on possibly its best run to date and that any film they make was going to be a success, and it will be interesting to see how long the run would last or if it would even slow down.
Overachiever of May 2009: Star Trek
As the 2000s continued on, it seemed like the Star Trek franchise was in a major state of flux given the commercial and critical failure of Star Trek: Genesis, and then the TV series Star Trek: Enterprise had been cancelled in 2005. It was then decided that the series would be rebooted with the next film and that it would feature younger versions of the characters, but eventually it was determined that this film would also be set in an alternate timeline from the original series while still being tied in with the original series. There was plenty of hype going into this film and a lot of questions as to whether it would be able to succeed, especially given that it was being released on the second weekend of May which is typically a dead weekend where big films aren’t released. Ultimately, the film would receive critical acclaim as many felt it was a breath of fresh air and exactly the jolt that the franchise needed, and it would end up crushing all the other Star Trek films in terms of money made while also finishing second for the month. It was a major win for the franchise and you knew that there was still plenty of juice left, and it would only be a matter of time before a sequel would be greenlit and would come out within the next few years. As a result, there is no question that Star Trek would end up being one of the bigger films to come out in 2009 and deserves its title as the overachiever for the month of May.
Underachiever of May 2009: X-Men Origins: Wolverine
For the entirety of the 2000s, the Marvel franchise on the big screen has mostly consisted of 3 X-Men films and three Spider-Man films, and there have been a handful of one-offs and now the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched last year. When it was announced that a spinoff film featuring Wolverine was going to happen, there was plenty of buzz as Wolverine has always been considered the most popular of the X-Men. Even though the 3 X-Men films had touched on Wolverine’s origins, this film was going to delve even further while also potentially begin a string of origin films for the X-Men. Unfortunately, the end results was not what most had hoped for and while the film did have a fairly strong debut, it would fall behind other major releases from this month like Star Trek and Up. Despite the film receiving some positive reviews for certain aspects, there was considerable disappointment amongst the fanbase and it would end up marking a change in shift for the X-Men franchise when the new decade started. It would also be several years before another Wolverine standalone film would come out and as a result, this film would end up being given the distinction of being named the underachiever for the month of May 2009.
May 2009 Awards Watch: Up and Star Trek
As we continue on into the spring, we have had a pretty limited amount of films come out that have been nominated for one of the big three awards. Since March, we have only seen two films a month be nominated for one of the big awards and that holds serve here as only two films from this month manage to make it into this category. The first film from this month that makes it into this category is Up which was considered one of the finest animated films released this year, and it would win two Academy Awards (Best Animated Film and Best Original Score) while being nominated for three more (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound Editing). This was a pretty historic moment as Up became only the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture which is quite a feat since it had been almost 20 years since the last time an animated film was nominated for that award. Up would also win two Golden Globe Awards (Best Animated Film and Best Original Song) which would solidify its status as one of the most successful films of the year. The other film from this month that makes it into this category is Star Trek as it would win one Academy Award (Best Makeup) while being nominated for three more (Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects). So even though only two films from this month were included in this category, the fact that they were nominated multiple times proves that they were among the elite of the films released this year.
Overall Thoughts of May 2009:
So overall, the month of May 2009 ended up being a pretty successful month and easily the best of the year thus far. After the last two years where May had only a couple of films come out and carry the month, this year had quite a number of films able to carry the month with 6 films reaching over $100 million. While the rest of the films from this month ended up being a pretty mixed bag of results, the major films that were released this month mostly met their expectations and a few even exceeded expectations. 2009 has been a very interesting year in that every month from this year has had at least one film do very well, but the rest of the films in each month ranged from solid to below average. However, it was pretty obvious that this month had too much going for it to fail and sure enough, it didn’t fail and we will see if the box office can keep the momentum going as the summer officially begins. As for the month of May 2009, it was a very successful month and has currently set the bar for the rest of the year to try and match or even surpass.
Final Grade: A+