By the slimmest of margins this summer's box office topped last year's ($4.254 billion to 4.2 billion), while attendance is down by 13 million, or 2.39 %. So says box-office tracker Paul Dergarabedian of Hollywood.com, attributing the disparity in the two figures to higher ticket prices.
Sequels and reboots accounted for three of the box-office top five. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (#1) has made nearly $400 million; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (#2) nearly $300 mil and Star Trek (#5) more than $250 mil. Up (#3 with $289 mil) and The Hangover (#4 at $270 mil) round out the top five.
Like many industry analysts, Dergarabedian characterizes this as a "starless" summer -- pointing to the fact that box-office powerhouses are not attached to the top-five films. I beg to disagree. It's more that stars from a younger generation dominate the biggest earners. Transformers' Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are two of the reasons for the film's success as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are for Harry Potter's. Certainly Hugh Jackman (X-Men: Origins, #7) is a star, as is Ben Stiller (A Night at the Museum, #8), and Sandra Bullock (The Proposal, #9), Tom Hanks (Angels & Demons, #10), Johnny Depp (Public Enemies, #14), Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler (The Ugly Truth, #16), Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds, #17) and Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia, #18).
The biggest surprise of the summer is that Julie & Julia (which through last weekend had made $70 million and is on track to hit the $100 million mark) has outgrossed both the action film The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 and the confrontational comedy Bruno.