Hollywood's winners and losers of summer
Christopher Nolan hot; Jerry Bruckheimer films underperformWelcome back! If you spent the summer trying to avoid news, here's what you missed: a season dominated by "American Idol" chaos, strong box office but fewer people seeing movies and stars including Adam Sandler and Steve Carell solidifying their value.
Hollywood is a hits-and-misses business, so even the town's most powerful endure ups and downs. For instance, on the same July weekend, Christopher Nolan proved he can deliver a non-Batman blockbuster ("Inception") and Jerry Bruckheimer suffered the second ("The Sorcerer's Apprentice") of his two summer disappointments.
THR takes stock of who gained and lost big during the summer months.
A $160 million gamble, "Inception" became a dream within a dream for Warner Bros. and Legendary, grossing $697 million globally and whetting appetites for the filmmaker's next "Batman."
The MTV programming president fought to air "Jersey Shore," then defended it against loud critics, got the cast big pay raises for Season 2 and was rewarded with a staggering 200% increase in ratings from its already-great first season. He also launched another hit, "Teen Mom."
His animation shingle Illumination's first film for Universal, the $69 million-budged "Despicable Me," has grossed more than $240 million domestic, topping DreamWorks Animation's expensive "Shrek Forever After."
As Blockbuster mulls a possible bankruptcy, Netflix hit 15 million subscribers, enjoyed big stock gains, announced multiple streaming deals and positioned itself as a major player in the online-video space.
A big promotion to ABC Entertainment president gave him both the network and studio -- somewhat of a surprise for the former ABC Family head, who already is winning positive marks from insiders.
An action film starring and directed by a 64-year-old? "Expendables" has hit $175 million worldwide. A director's cut, making-of documentary and sequel are in the works.
Some groused when Lasseter took "Toy Story 3" away from a Disney animation team and told Pixar to start over. Now it's the highest-grossing animated movie ever ($1 billion globally) and earned an unheard-of 99% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Team "Twilight" (Rob Friedman, Patrick Wachsberger, Nancy Kirkpatrick)
The Summit co-chairmen and marketing maven took a fall franchise into the heart of summer blockbuster season and grossed $300 million domestic with "Eclipse," highest of the series.
"The Twilight Saga: Eclipse"
TNT's head of programming not only has the summer's highest-rated cable show, "The Closer," he won an Emmy for star Kyra Sedgwick and launched cable's No. 1 new series, "Rizzoli & Isles."
M. Night Shyamalan
Despite being absolutely pummeled by critics -- a 7% score on Rotten Tomatoes -- "The Last Airbender" has conjured up $261 million worldwide. The Night brand has taken some shots but might be unbreakable.
Two underperformers -- "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" ($90 million domestic) and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" ($62 million domestic) -- in one summer, both expensive and both in the superproducer's wheelhouse. "Persia" did better overseas, but with recent misses "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "G-Force," it's a good thing he's got the fourth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film in production and another strong TV lineup this fall.
Team "Idol" (Fox, 19 Entertainment, FremantleMedia)
Is J.Lo in or out? How about Elton? And Steven Tyler? Really? If Simon Cowell were critiquing the handling of this summer's protracted judge search, he'd say "absolutely terrible" -- and he'd be right.
The self-help guru always seemed made for reality TV. But his expensive, Reveille-produced "Breakthrough" landed with a thud on NBC and was quickly canceled.
Disney's top lawyer was stuck with a $270 million jury verdict in July over ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," the largest ever in a studio profits case.
Hollywood's money grab continues to pump up boxoffice, but James Cameron and Jeffrey Katzenberg are right: Audiences won't go to a movie just because it's in 3D (see "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," "Step Up 3D," "Piranha 3D"). Are studios strangling one of the only geese laying golden eggs?
Sure, "Iron Man 2" rocked, but "Jonah Hex" ($11 million domestic) and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" ($29 million domestic) bombed, causing Hollywood to wonder how far the genre can be stretched.
The ABC topper abruptly quit amid an internal sexual harassment probe. Has he left the business?
"The Beaver" director pushed hard for her longtime friend Mel Gibson to star. Now, after the July release of his racist rants, her quirky dramedy might never hit theaters.
20th Century Fox
Three disappointments ("The A-Team," "Knight and Day," "Marmaduke") and no movie in the summer's top 10. Luckily, fall looks stronger with "Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps," and the studio's still rolling in "Avatar" money.
Dropped from "The Avengers" and slammed by Marvel head Kevin Feige, Norton cemented his difficult reputation by enlisting his agent to fight a war of words in the days before Comic-Con.