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Summer Movie Awards Part 1: Surprise Hit, Biggest Bombs & More

Andrew Payne Andrew Payne
September 9th, 2009 9:53am EDT
G.I. JoeNow that Labor Day has come and gone, the official end to summer has now passed. Yes, the days will now be shorter, the weather cooler (unless you're smart enough to live in Southern California like this column's scribe), and for some school resuming its session, but there's also a lot of good news.

TV is back, football is back, and summer movie season is finally at its end. Yes, no more summer movies, no more endless weekends filled with event films that shatter theater speakers and routinely melt screens with too much rambunctious action. It's a thankful end to a season that routinely disappoints more than it lives up to expectations. It's a season that often has people filling out a calendar of movies that look "awesome" only to put sorrowful faces next to each flick on that same list of dates.

Yes, no season holds more promise and leaves more disappointed fans than summer movie season. Even a season replete with Brett Favre's return from retirement can't compare to the disparity between hope and results that summer movie season brings.

Of course, it's not all bad. In the midst of requels and popcorn fare, a few great movies sometimes slip through the cracks, bringing unexpected quality to the abyss that is May/June/July/August film calendar. This, however is rare. And, with that disclaimer in mind, we give you the Part One of the "First Annual Summer Movie Awards."

First we start with a few goofy awards...

The "Sixth Sense" Award for Surprise Hit of the Summer


Winner: "The Proposal"

Sandra Bullock proved she still has it, as she propelled a very formulaic-looking romantic comedy into a nearly $200 million behemoth in the midst of heavy marketing campaigns and requels all around her. Sure, "All About Steve" didn't do too well, but can you blame it with that title?

Not a Winner: "The Hangover"

Anybody who didn't think it would make boffo bank following that marketing blitz has no idea about anything.

The "Poseidon" Award for The Bomb Nobody Noticed


Winner: "Imagine That"

Yes, Eddie Murphy made a movie this year. No, it didn't make any money whatsoever. No, it wasn't called "Meet Dave".

Runner-Up: "Dance Flick"

This movie that people noticed for about the length of its trailer was supposed to herald the coming of the Wayans dynasty's third generation. Instead, it may have left the family's fourth without its trust fund.

Imagine That

Image © Paramount Pictures



The "Cutthroat Island" Award for The Bomb Everybody Noticed


Winner: "Land of the Lost"

This was that rare type of movie that everybody knew would bomb the moment it came out. Be it the horrible show that served as its basis, the strange premise, or Will Ferrell attempting to do action/adventure, there wasn't a soul who didn't know it was a flop the moment they first saw the trailer. Despite this, studio executives dumped about $125 million into its production and another $40 million into marketing the movie. Where's somebody with common sense when you need them?

Not a Winner: "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"

This may have been the least successful of Matthew Mcconaughey's unique genre of chest-oiling nonsense, but with a $55 million gross against an approximate $40 million budget, it certainly wasn't a bomb.

The "X-Files: I Want to Believe" Award For Marketing FAIL


Winner: "Post Grad"

Nobody really knows this movie exists, but a few weeks ago the wonderful Alexis Bledel (aka Rory Gilmore) made a screwball comedy about a college graduate who can't find a job. Kind of the perfect recession comedy - too bad there wasn't a single TV commercial for it.

Not a Winner: "Orphan"

That trailer was creepy, and on all the time. Somehow the huge blitz didn't translate into any ticket sales.

The "Evolution" Award for The Bomb That Didn't Make Sense


Winner: "Drag Me To Hell"

In a world where every horror movie starring people under the age of 30 debuts to $40 million in grosses no matter how terrible it looks, a film comes along with the entire formula PLUS universally rave reviews. Yet it makes less than $10 million? Doesn't add up.

Runner-Up: "The Time Traveler's Wife"

So this may not have been a bomb, but at a scant $55 million gross, it seems like it should have made a lot more money. After all, this was based on one of the most popular books of the decade and featured supposed mega-stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Wait, are they not quite the stars we thought?

The "Memento" Award for The Indie Hit of the Summer


Winner: "The Hurt Locker"

Just when you thought the film industry was out of slack-jawed surprises, the director of "Point Break" delivers a breathless verite-thriller that finally made something watchable out of the second Iraq War. Even more surprisingly, audiences responded with over $10 million in receipts for this microbudget war film.

Not a Winner: "500 Days of Summer"

Any movie that has commercials on the radio, TV, bus benches and billboards at a rate that would make General Motors blush cannot be considered an indie.

The "1408" Award for Relentlessly Promoted Movie You Now Forget Exists


Winner: "The Taking of Pelham 123"

At one point in early June one couldn't make it through a single commercial break for any television show without Denzel Washington telling his wife via cell phone that he'd pick up a half gallon of milk (apparently easier than picking up a full gallon) and John Travolta remarking on how tall and good-looking Washington's character is. Then the movie came out, it made an okay sum at the box office, and by now it may as well have been a Lifetime movie.

Runner-Up: "Year One"

Around baseball's All-Star break fans of America's Pastime were forced to watch half-asleep versions of Jack Black and Michael Cera pretend to care about promoting their upcoming movie for commercial break-long stretches of airtime. Now the same audiences think "Tropic Thunder" and "Superbad" were the last movies they made, respectively.

Year One

Image © Columbia Tristar Marketing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.



The "Happy-Go-Lucky" Award for Movie Everyone Said was Good but Nobody Saw


Winner: "Moon"

A 90% Rotten Tomatoes Score just doesn't seem to buy any tickets. This tiny film featuring Sam Rockwell and Earth's only satellite managed an infinitesimal $4.5 Million at the box office despite universal acclaim and everybody you ever met saying, "You know what's supposed to be good, 'Moon'!" nobody ever went to see it.

Runner-Up: "Tyson"

Apparently people just don't want to see a documentary about an ear-biting former heavyweight champion. Somewhere "The Tommy Morrison Story" can't get greenlit.

The Adam Sandler Award for Movie Everyone Said Was Awful but Everbody Saw


Winner: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen"

Not only did this movie get scathing reviews, but it was hard to find somebody so much as mentioning it in conversation after they saw it. No, "Hey, you should go check out 'Transformers', it rocked!" or even, "I caught 'Transformers' the other night. It was okay." Just silence. Probably because nobody wanted to admit they paid $18 to see it in IMAX.

Runner-Up: "GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

How bad do trailers have to look and reviews have to be to keep people out of the theater? Apparently worse than this.

The "Hancock" Award for Most Disappointing Summer Movie


Winner: "Public Enemies"

Anybody who saw the trailer for this film when it debuted last spring was surely expecting a breathless look at 30s crime through a lens that could only be held by Michael Mann. Instead we labored through a staid character study that moved with the urgency of a sloth rising from a quagmire. Couldn't we get any of the thrills the preview promised?

Runner-Up: "Whatever Works"

Woody Allen + Larry David = Mediocre Comedy? Bad math.

The "Eurotrip" Award for Most Surprisingly Good Summer Movie


Winner: "Bandslam"

The TV spots and posters for this movie signaled some sort of lame "High School Musical" ripoff causing moviegoers to skips its showings in droves. Those who actually saw the movie were treated to an intelligent comedy that showed some real musical chops. Sometimes imitation just doesn't work in marketing.

Runner-Up: "Inglourious Basterds"

We all thought it would at least be a good movie, but nobody thought Quentin Tarantino still had that much ammo left in his fist-mounted gun.

Inglourious Basterds

Image © The Weinstein Company Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Check back tomorrow for Summer Movie Awards Part 2!

Andrew Payne
Story by Andrew Payne

Starpulse contributing writer



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