Summer Movie Wrap-up 2015: Box Office's Biggest Hits & Misses

Summer at the movies this year was one of opposites — we saw the box office dominated by ferocious dinosaurs in Jurassic World and those tiny, mumbling yellow nitwits in Minions. Along the way, comedian Amy Schumer proved her rising star power when she joined forces with director Judd Apatow in Trainwreck, Melissa McCarthy teamed up with her Bridesmaids director Paul Feig for a third time in the gut-busting Spy and Tom Cruise embodied spy Ethan Hunt for the fifth time to revive the always-popular Mission Impossible franchise.

The Blockbusters

Jurassic World. No movie this summer made as much of an impact as Jurassic World did. Steeped in knowing nods to the 1993 original, Jurassic World enjoyed the biggest box office opening in history ($208 million) before going on to make a staggering $632 million, making it the third-most popular movie of all time. Even more amazing, Jurassic World was number one at the box office for a whole month — which is practically unheard of these days, when it seems like each weekend has bigger numbers than the previous one. This blockbuster proved the sometimes-terrifying but always jaw-dropping Jurassic World is one movie goers always want to get lost in.

Avengers: Age of Ultron. The box office reign of T-Rex and friends Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard was preceded in May with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which had to settle for $456 million — great, but not quite as massive as the original’s $600 million-plus haul in 2012. Don’t cry for the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and friends, though; in this case, it’s easy being green with plenty more movies and crossovers planned for Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and company.

Inside Out. For years, Pixar has been making some of the most sweetly sentimental family favorites of all time. From the mighty Buzz Lightyear to earnest Nemo, these artists know how to connect people to their protagonists, and they struck gold again with Inside Out, the story of the voices inside a young girl’s head trying to guide her out of a slump after moving to San Francisco from her beloved Minnesota. With a voice cast led by comedian Amy Pohler, “Out” proved to be as beloved as any of the other Pixar classics, bowing with the highest-ever opening for an original animated film ($91 million) before going on to earn more than $331 million in total.

Minions. While those voices made sense, that wasn’t the case with the Minions. Beloved in their successful supporting role in the juggernaut known as the Despicable Me cartoon franchise, the bumbling, indecipherable whatever-they-ares found a villain they could bow to in Sandra Bullock, aka Scarlet Overkill. Even without the help of Gru (Steve Carell), the little guys pulled in $291 million — so it’s a fair bet we shall see them messing up for the sake of evil again.

Honorable mentions. San Andreas proved The Rock’s box office mettle with a surprising $152 million, and Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) collected $136 million to become the latest Marvel Comics tent pole.

The Funny Ladies

Spy. It’s a good thing next summer will usher in an all-female installment of the hilarious Ghostbusters franchise, because funny women kicked butt at the multiplex this summer. One of the new ghostbusters herself, Melissa McCarthy, continued her comedy queen reign with Spy, collecting $109 million at the box office. The movie more than created the perfect hat trick for muse McCarthy and director Feig after comedy blockbusters Bridesmaids and The Heat.

Trainwreck. Though she caught heat for posing provocatively with Star Wars characters for a magazine cover, no star is more on the rise than Amy Schumer. In just three weeks, Comedy Central’s naughty heroine made $82 million. The reason? There has never been a woman with a more unique point of view about sex and the sexes; almost masculine in sheer bravado yet distinctly feminine and always spot-on. Schumer is going to be a big deal for all time, so this is one Trainwreck you might want to check out.

Pitch Perfect 2. The Barden Bellas brought pitch-y back in May, when the juggernaut sequel to the unlikely box office sleeper Pitch Perfect opened at the box office. At $183 million, it’s the most popular movie musical of all time (somewhere, Barbra Streisand is throwing a fit) and the third installment is already in the works with Anna Kendrick and fan-favorite Rebel Wilson (aka Fat Amy) planning to repeat their roles. We don’t know yet though if the Green Bay Packers will reprise their hilarious cameo singing Bootylicious and other a cappella karaoke gems.

The Sequels & Flops

No summer would be complete without a number of sequels and reboots jockeying to recapture the magic of their originals — but save the Avengers, dinosaurs, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation ($69 million in one week) and a Mel Gibson-free Mad Max reprise Fury Road, ($152 million), the summer of 2015 might be known as the year sequels didn’t click. Case in point:

  • The once-sparkling comedy duo of Mark Wahlberg and a marijuana-smoking, potty-mouthed teddy bear in Ted 2 stalled out at $80 million, about half of what its original made.
  • Ah-nold was finally back as the Terminator in Terminator: Genisys, but his stoic one-liners were lost on the masses; it only made $87 million before disappearing from the multiplex.
  • Channing Tatum’s Magic Mike: XXL had one of the most omnipresent pre-opening campaigns ever — those biceps and abs were everywhere — yet it stumbled, collecting only $64 million, or about half what the original 2012 sleeper hit did.
  • Still, that was way better than the men of HBO’s Entourage, who did not match the movie success of their sister show Sex and the City and tanked with only $32 million after eight solid years of Hollywood debauchery on the air.
  • Other flops include George Clooney’s expensive opus Tomorrowland ($92 million), the Adam Sandler video game-loving Pixels ($49 million) and the reboot of the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist ($47 million) (why would you even bother to remake a classic and not name the little girl Carol Anne?)

Before Summer Goes

It remains to be seen if August will remain box office hot, but there is plenty to look forward to as summer draws to a close. Look for three-time Oscar-winner Meryl Streep in Ricki and the Flash (opened Aug. 7), the reboot of the not-as-popular-as-it-should-have-been comic book franchise Fantastic Four (also opened Aug. 7) and the long-awaited biopic Straight Outta Compton (opened Aug. 14) about Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube and a rap group you may have heard of called NWA. See you at the movies!

*All box office figures are for U.S. sales and come from