It’s almost September, folks, and you know what that means: Time to wash the sand out of your unmentionable areas, put away the grill and say sayonara to those lazy, hazy days of summer.
But before we wave goodbye to the beach, let’s mix ourselves one last glass of lemonade, sit on the front porch and take a look at the biggest winners in a summer full of cinema. Because just when it looked like we might drown in the shark-infested waters of movie mediocrity, these films came along like David Hasselhoff in red trunks to save the day.
[movie id="369201"]“The Hangover”[/movie]
Todd Phillips’ latest “Old School”-like comedy had quite a party at the box office and certainly isn’t feeling any leftover ill effects. While Judd Apatow was getting all James L. Brooks with [movie id="383434"]“Funny People,”[/movie] Phillips muscled in on his turf and filled the crude, hilarious, no-stars void occupied in past summers by “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” Now, the sleeper hit of 2009 is up to an astonishing $270 million domestic total — nearly eight times its reported budget — and a sequel is on the way. If the summer had three big winners, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis, veteran actors who took a risk by traveling to Vegas and walked away from the table with A-list careers.
At this point, it seems like Pixar is just trying to challenge its own genius: Can we make a silent movie with a robot? Can we make a summer blockbuster with a 78-year-old main character? Apparently they can, as nearly $300 million worth of tickets were sold for this beautiful joyride atop a balloon-powered house. Is the next stop a Best Picture nomination?
[movie id="372771"]“District 9″[/movie]
Just like the prawn invasion itself, this $30 million sci-fi epic snuck up on us, made its presence known in a massive way and has impressed us with its weaponry ever since. The film is currently at $79 million and climbing rapidly — and really, can a “District 10″ be far behind? Credit producer Peter Jackson with another triumph, and keep an eye on newbie director Neil Blomkamp for years to come.
[movie id="307087"]“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”[/movie]
Hollywood used to believe that every sequel made a little bit less than the one before it, and most franchises were lucky if they were still profitable by the third installment. Then, along came Harry. July’s “Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth film in the blockbuster franchise, grossed more than $300 million — and another $600 million around the world. Breaking records for biggest midnight showing and biggest five-day opening, the franchise has never looked stronger. Now, as we head into the final two “Potter” films, the only question is what Hollywood will do once Harry finally puts away his magic box-office wand.
[movie id="305755"]“Star Trek”[/movie]
Overcoming enormous pressure, the “Trek 90210″ label and declarations that the franchise was dead in the earlier half of this decade, J.J. Abrams’ sleek, sexy “Trek” kicked off the Summer of ’09 in style. Talk quickly shifted away from whether that “Heroes” dude could pull off the Spock ears and onto how soon they could make a sequel. After the smoke cleared, “Trek” had taken in over $250 million domestically, placing it in the top-five grossing films of the year. Can Hollywood please resolve to let J.J. do all the reboots from now on?
[movie id="349900"]“The Proposal”[/movie]
The harmless Ryan Reynolds/ Sandra Bullock romantic comedy didn’t have any critical acclaim, but did you know that it has now quietly grossed $160 million? That’s more than “Fast & Furious,” “Angels & Demons” or “G.I. Joe.” It’s more than “Hannah Montana: The Movie” and “17 Again” combined! Bullock has hypnotized the rom-com audience for two decades and shows no signs of slowing down. As for her younger co-star, a lot has been made about his recent moves to star in two superhero movies. Judging by the fact that “Proposal” has made nearly as much money as his “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” however, Ryan might want to make sure he stays in touch with his sensitive side.
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