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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

This week, I wrap up my top summer movies series.  We pick up at 2012 where the top grossing film was The Avengers.  Released May 4, 2012, the movie netted $1.5 billion at the box office globally with a production budget of $220 million.  The Avengers was the culmination of four years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first phase.  Today, those first few movies seem like an experiment, as Marvel has certainly discovered what has worked in more recent years.  Compared to “Endgame”, the first Avengers movie may seem like child’s play.  But at the time, it was a truly impressive achievement.


Moving onto the Summer of 2013, the Conjuring was the number one film.  Released July 19, 2013, this horror movie made $319 million globally with a production budget of $20 million.  Horror movies aren’t generally Summer movies but a few have proven to be an exception: especially James Wan’s The Conjuring.  Wan had already impressed horror fans with Saw in 2004 and The Conjuring in 2013 with its gore and spooky ghost story.  But its hauntingly thrilling all the same and has sparked a successful franchise.

The top movie of the summer of 2014 was “Guardians of the Galaxy.  This is a favorite franchise of mine.  Released July 11, 2014, the movie made $772 million globally with a production budget of $170 million.  Even after the epic scope of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, Guardians of the Galaxy remains the funniest, most unique and best Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie.

The top movie in the summer of 2015 was Mad Max: Fury Road.  Released May 15, 2015, this sequel to the ‘80’s hit made $375 million globally with a production budget of $150 million.  Not just the best summer movie of 2015, the best action movie of the last decade-Mad Max: Fury Road is an exhilarating movie with a ferocious performance from Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa, who gains a little help from road warrior Max(Tom Hardy) in freeing enslaved women from a tyrant. 

2016’s top Summer movie was Captain America: Civil War.  Released May 6, 2016, the movie took in $1.15 billion globally and had a production budget of $250 million.  An Avengers movie in all but name, “Civil War” adapts the comic event of the same name for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  The next year’s top summer movie broke away from Avengers.

Wonder Woman was the top movie of the summer of 2017.  Released June 2, the movie made $821 million globally with a production budget of $149 million.  Wonder Woman paved the way for more female-centric superhero movies like Captain Marvel and Birds of Prey.  Director Patty Jenkins understood not only the source material but what this movie would mean to audiences.  That shines throughout the movie, highlighted by Gal Godot’s performance as the title character. 

The top movie of the summer of 2018 was Mission: Impossible-Fallout.  Another franchise I love, this movie was released July 27, 2018.  Globally netting $791 million at the box office with a production budget of $178 million, Fallout is the highest-grossing movie and best in the franchise.  Tom Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie push the franchise to new limits-Cruise jumped out of a plane more than 100 times with a broken ankle to get the perfect shot.  I probably would not have done that.

Thanks to Covid, 2019 was the last time there was a summer movie blockbuster.  That blockbuster was John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum.  Released May 17, the movie took in $326 million globally with a production budget of $75 million.  The John Wick series is the rare one where each movie makes more money than the last as it has gained in word of mouth and popularity.  You can also argue that they get better with each installment.  Chapter 3 is an action movie that never lets up off the gas.

Now that movies have returned, what will be the top summer movie of 2021? My guess is F9.  I saw the movie on pay-per-view and really liked it.  I’ll close with this, last night I watched Let Him Go, Kevin Costner’s latest.  Last week I watched the latest Suicide Squad.  I’m fairly certain those movies will be on the list for 2021. 




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