2010 Winter Movie Scorecard

  • Publish Date: March 8, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 13 user comments

That was it?

Breakdown of 2010 Winter Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 20 films
Mixed (40-60) 19 films
Bad (≤ 40) 11 films

While your calendar -- and your thermometer -- may still say winter, in Hollywood the first weekend in March means the arrival of spring, at least as far as recordkeeping goes.

Now that the winter movie season has officially concluded, let's take the opportunity to examine the bests and worsts of the season. Unfortunately, "bests" are in short supply -- especially when it comes to wide releases.

We start by looking at how 2010 is shaping up so far compared to last year.

Quality measures: It's bad, even for winter

Comparing Metascores for Winter Movies: 2010 vs. 2019
  Median Low / High Scores Score Distribution
2010 Wide Releases (through Mar. 4) 43 25 / 63 25,33,43,54.5,63
2009 Wide Releases (through Mar. 5) 43 17 / 80 17,35,43,50,80
2010 Limited Releases (through Mar. 4) 64 19 / 89 19,48,64,72,89
2009 Limited Releases (through Mar. 5) 63.5 17 / 87 17,44.25,63.5,75.75,87

In the score distribution charts, half of all scores (from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile) fall within the shaded box, with the vertical line in the middle of the box representing the median. In this and all other charts on the page, only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2010 and March 4, 2010 were considered. Re-releases and movies with fewer than seven reviews are excluded. A wide release film is one that screens at more than 600 theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good).

While the medians are about the same for this year's winter films when compared to last year's releases, you'll notice that 2010's wide releases are bunched together -- the Metascores for this year's movies have fallen into a very narrow range of mediocrity. In fact, as we look at the highest-scoring (best-reviewed) films from the first few months of the year, we see that only two wide releases have actually earned generally positive reviews from critics so far:

The Best Wide Releases of 2010 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1Youth in RevoltComedy637.1
2Shutter IslandSuspense/Thriller626.9
4Edge of DarknessSuspense/Thriller557.1
5 The CraziesHorror556.9
6 The Book of EliAction537.6
7Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning ThiefFantasy, Adventure476.6
8Extraordinary MeasuresDrama457.0
9 The WolfmanHorror434.6
10Dear JohnDrama, Romance436.2

Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores are from March 7, 2010.

The story improves when we look at limited release films. The winter season's two highest-scoring movies are a pair of Oscar nominees (for best foreign language film).

The Best Limited Releases of 2010 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 A Prophet Foreign, Crime Drama899.5
2AjamiForeign, Drama829.5
3Fish TankDrama818.0
4 The Ghost Writer Suspense/Thriller777.1
5 The Red Riding Trilogy Suspense/Thriller757.3
6 The Art of the Steal Documentary758.0
7Prodigal SonsDocumentary74n/a
8Easier with PracticeDrama722.0
9Terribly HappyForeign, Crime Drama728.3
10LourdesForeign, Drama71n/a

Of course, if past winters have taught us anything, it's that bad movies are plentiful. Here are the worst-reviewed films from the first months of 2010.

The Worst Films of 2010 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1To Save a LifeDrama196.6
2Crazy on the OutsideComedy215.3
3When in RomeComedy, Romance256.5
4 The Spy Next DoorAction, Comedy, Family/Kids278.3
5Cop OutAction, Comedy314.1
6Saint John of Las VegasComedy329.5
7LegionAction, Fantasy323.1
8Leap YearComedy, Romance335.2
9Valentine's DayComedy, Romance345.1
10Happy TearsComedy358.0

Money matters: Winter's biggest successes and flops

Successes? There weren't many, for films released in 2010's winter season. The holiday-themed romantic comedy Valentine's Day tops 2010's box office chart so far as the only film to break the $100 million mark, despite miserable reviews. In fact, it was so successful that a New Year's Eve-related follow-up is in the works. (We wish we were kidding.)

Other winter success stories include the Martin Scorsese thriller Shutter Island -- which brought the director his best opening weekend ever -- and Lasse Hallstrom's small-budget romance Dear John. The Denzel Washington actioner The Book of Eli edged past $100 million globally, but with a production budget alone of around $80 million, any profits the film generates will be small. While the Percy Jackson film underperformed at home, it has brought in close to $100 million worldwide in addition to its domestic total of over $70 million to date.

Flops are easier to come by. For example, there's always The Wolfman. Benicio Del Toro's passion project received lukewarm reviews from critics and moviegoers, and with a production budget estimated at $150 million, it's certainly not a moneymaker. (Even factoring in foreign grosses, the film has grossed only $125 million, and is fading fast.)

Other notable winter failures include Mel Gibson's aborted comeback attempt Edge of Darkness ($80 million production budget, $55 million in worldwide grosses to date), the John Travolta action film From Paris with Love ($52 million budget, $28 million worldwide gross), and CBS Films' Harrison Ford melodrama Extraordinary Measures ($31 million budget, $12 million gross).

For what it's worth, here are the year's highest grossing new films to date, though you'll notice a few of the "flops" on this list.

Top 2010 Box Office Performers, Through March 4
  Title Release Metascore Users Domestic Gross
1 Valentine's Day Feb 12 34 5.1 $102,149,760
2 The Book of Eli Jan 15 53 7.6 $92,879,734
3 Shutter Island Feb 19 62 6.9 $82,524,894
4 Dear John Feb 5 43 6.1 $73,844,007
5 Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Feb 12 47 6.6 $72,933,126
6 The Wolfman Feb 12 43 4.6 $58,809,485
7 Tooth Fairy Jan 22 36 3.7 $54,555,647
8 Edge of Darkness Jan 29 55 7.1 $42,552,257
9 Legion Jan 22 32 3.1 $39,649,858
10 When in Rome Jan 29 25 6.5 $31,145,051

The above table includes movies released in 2010 only. Note that all of the above films are still in theaters. Source of box office grosses: Box Office Mojo.

If we look at the industry as a whole, the winter months of 2010 failed to match the box office heights established in 2009, when that winter's new films combined to gross over $1.2 billion domestically. This year's winter releases grossed about a third less than last year's, and are also behind 2008's pace.

Thanks to a healthy bump from Avatar, if we look at all box office grosses to date (including those of films released in 2009 that have stretched into 2010), this year isn't too far behind last year's total, and is actually ahead of 2008 -- although if you take inflation into account, 2008 actually has a slight lead over the current year.

But it is a poor reflection of the caliber of films released in 2010 that almost half of the total box office receipts so far this year were generated by last year's leftovers. Without James Cameron's film -- which has generated over $360 million of its domestic total this year -- 2010 would be a disaster, with the lowest-grossing winter in a decade.

Winter Season Box Office Comparison by Year
Year Total Domestic Gross - New Films Total Domestic Gross - All Films
2010 (thru 3/4) $843,390,814 $1,627,515,850
2009 (thru 3/5) $1,211,926,389 $1,780,113,493
2008 (thru 3/6) $1,052,739,901 $1,582,539,350

The New Films totals Include movies released during the winter only (i.e., excludes movies released during the previous calendar year that carry over into the following year). The All Films totals do include those carryover movies from the previous year. Source: Box Office Mojo.

Of course, 2010 has a chance to improve considerably in the spring, with this past weekend's astounding performance of Alice in Wonderland (which falls into the spring stats, not the winter numbers) a positive indicator, at the very least.

What are your favorites?

Have you seen any good movies yet this year -- or any terrible ones? Let us know in the comments section below.

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (13)

  • kf  

    Shutter Island was a boring romp (though visually, it looked grand).

  • Jix Hedgehog  

    Well one things for sure, this summer will be better than last years

  • Mitch Sloan  

    Shutter Island was phenomenal, regardless of what the critics had to say. And A Prophet was absolutely robbed at the Oscars.

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