Just missed the cut:
10. The Muppet Movie ($185 million): Jason Segel’s Muppet Movie was a huge Thanksgiving weekend hit this year, opening with $65 million and demonstrating that there is still a lot of box-office power in Jim Henson’s creations, although there was considerable help from the solid script and the multitude of celebrity cameos. Like a good Pixar flick, it really was a movie that both kids and their parents gravitated toward. There’s even some talk of Oscar nominations.
9. X-Men: First Class ($195 million): Matthew Vaughn’s directorial effort turned into a massive improvement over X-Men: Wolverine, although it was still both somehow too convoluted and too simple. Stylistically, though, it was a fun summer movie, even if January Jones almost single-handedly ruined it.
8. The Green Lantern: ($205 million): Ryan Reynolds solidified his place on the A-list, even if The Green Lantern was a little on the slight side. It was more comedic than most were expecting, but it took better advantage of Reynolds’ timing. I think Double-R’s abs sold $100 million in tickets alone, although I don’t think anyone is going to forgive Blake Lively for her messy role in the film. She was embarrassing.
7. Super 8: J.J. Abrams Super 8 (produced by Spielberg) ended up being this summer’s Inception, a blockbuster on the smart side. The secrecy that shrouded the project up nearly until its release certainly helped sell tickets, but in the end, there were more than a few disappointed people walking out of theaters and shaking their heads, “That was it?” Yes, that was it? What’d you expect? Movies can’t actually melt your mind.
6. Thor: ($251 million): All that hype. Round-the-clock trailers and an advertising blitz that put every other superhero movie to shame. If only they’d spend some of that money on the script. Kenneth Branagh is a decent director, but the man needs to understand his strengths and limitations, Thor is not Shakespeare, but if you treat it like Shakespeare, what you end up with is an overblown, overly acted disasterfuck of a film. Not that it would stop audiences from attending the first blockbuster of the summer, starved for entertainment by most of the Spring offerings.
5. The Hangover 2 ($260 million): Todd Phillips sequel to the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time managed to be funnier than the first movie, but not as fresh. They definitely pushed this one to the its Jackass limits (and how they got a former President to be involved is a hilarious mystery), but, in its narrative structure, it was mostly a remake of the first film. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon, though.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($302 million): Ugh. What an overblown, overcooked boring piece of shit this was. But then again, so were the last two Pirates movies, proving that — if you put Johnny Depp in a pirate costume — people will watch. But, man that was a bad movie.
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part One) ($310 million): Is it over yet? No? There’s a part II? Oh, fuck me. At least I didn’t have to review this one (sorry, SLW).
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II ($325 million): You know, this franchise has been with us for a full decade. It was a fitting end to the series: Neat enough while you were watching it, but it completely evaporated from our memories the second we walked out of the theater. I think they’re designed that way to force us to revisit them to gain some traction in our memory. These movies are like cotton candy — they just dissolve in our minds.
1. Cars 2 ($370 million): Another year, another Pixar movie tops the box-office. Cars 2 didn’t quite generate the $415 million that Toy Story 3 did, but Cars isn’t the franchise that Toy Story is. Who knew, however, that Cars 2 would actually end up being a better movie than Toy Story 3 and that those who predict the quality of films before they see them would end up spending the entire summer eating crow. We will never doubt Pixar again. At least until 2012 because Monsters Inc. 2 looks dumb.