|Good (Metascore ≥ 61)||45 films|
|Mixed (40-60)||43 films|
|Bad (≤ 40)||13 films|
Before we get too far into the summer movie season -- which kicked off this weekend with the arrival of Thor -- it's time for one of our periodic looks at the year in movies to date. Fortunately, after a disastrous winter season that saw few hits and even fewer quality films, the industry took a turn for the better in the spring.
Indeed, not only did the spring months show a marked improvement over January and February in terms of box office grosses (more on that in a minute) and overall film quality, but 2011 as a whole is now shaping up to be better than 2010, at least in the latter category. Whether you look at wide releases or limited releases, average Metascores for 2011 films are up several points over the averages at this time last year. Interestingly, however, just under 45% of spring releases (with at least 7 reviews) received positive reviews from critics, down from 48% in the winter. But the average Metascore for all spring films was 57.9, up from winter's 55.5.
Here's a more detailed breakdown of the seasonal average scores, for this year and last year:
|Year/Type||Winter Releases||Spring Releases||Year to Date|
|Avg.||# Good||Avg.||# Good||Avg.||# Good|
|2011 Wide Releases||43.2||1||49.8||7||47.2||8|
|2010 Wide Releases||45.3||3||45.9||5||45.6||8|
|2011 Limited Releases||60.9||28||61.2||38||61.1||66|
|2010 Limited Releases||59.0||17||60.0||28||59.6||45|
When we checked in at the end of the winter season, there was just one well-reviewed wide release in 2011 -- the little-seen The Way Back. That film was joined by seven other positively reviewed movies released during the spring months, putting us at the same place we were at this time last year, with eight movies scoring in the green range of 61 and higher.
|1||Rango||Animation, Family, Adventure, Comedy||75||7.3|
|2||Source Code||Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller||74||7.7|
|3||Fast Five||Action, Drama, Thriller, Crime||67||7.8|
|4||The Way Back||Drama||66||7.0|
|5||Hanna||Action, Adventure, Thriller||65||7.2|
|6||The Lincoln Lawyer||Drama||63||7.4|
|7||Rio||Animation, Family, Adventure, Comedy||63||7.0|
|9||The Adjustment Bureau||Sci-Fi, Thriller, Romance||60||6.7|
This spring's highest-scoring wide release was the Johnny Depp animated comedy Rango, with a score (75) matching that of last spring's best-reviewed title.
|Rango||Oceans||Adventureland||Horton Hears a Who!||Hot Fuzz|
The spring months proved to be fruitful for indie and foreign films as well. On our winter scorecard, just two limited releases met or surpassed the 81 cutoff to qualify as having "universal acclaim" from critics. Now, with the spring releases factored in, there are are a dozen such films, the 10 highest-scoring of which are displayed below. Leading the way are a pair of documentaries: My Perestroika, about day-to-day family life in the waning days of the Soviet Union, and The Arbor, an artistic look at playwright Andrea Dunbar.
|2||The Arbor||Biography, Documentary||89||n/a|
|4||I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You||Foreign, Drama||87||n/a|
|5||13 Assassins||Foreign, Action||87||8.4|
|6||Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives||Foreign, Fantasy, Comedy||87||7.3|
|7||Cave of Forgotten Dreams||Documentary||86||n/a|
|8||Of Gods and Men||Foreign, Drama, History||86||6.7|
|10||The Four Times (Le Quattro Volte)||Foreign, Drama||83||n/a|
Spring didn't just bring quality films, however. Also arriving over the last few months was a strong new contender for the title of 2011's worst film: the animated sequel Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, a movie that no critic liked. It was a bad few months for Little Red Riding Hood movies in general; Catherine Hardwicke's darker, teen-oriented take, Red Riding Hood, also failed to impress reviewers.
|1||Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil||Animation, Family||20||3.5|
|2||Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son||Comedy||22||3.8|
|3||The Roommate||Drama, Thriller||23||3.2|
|4||Waiting for Forever||Drama, Romance||26||n/a|
|7||Season of the Witch||Adventure, Drama, Fantasy||28||5.4|
|8||Atlas Shrugged: Part I||Drama||28||6.5|
|10||Red Riding Hood||Drama, Thriller||29||4.2|
Money matters: Spring's biggest successes and flops
At the end of the winter season, no film had passed the $100 million mark in domestic box office revenues. Two months later, four films have surpassed that figure, led by the year's best-reviewed wide release film, Rango. Of course, at this point in 2010, five films had passed the $100 million mark, paced by Alice in Wonderland's record-setting $330 million take.
But despite any major breakout hits, spring brought a decent number of solid performers, especially at the end of the season, when Rio and Fast Five managed to open strong. The latter film, with its $86 million opening weekend, is probably the surprise hit of the season, though, since it opened during the very last week of spring, its total numbers were good enough only for seventh place on the year-to-date chart below.
The spring months brought several major box office disappointments as well, including what is shaping up to be one of the biggest bombs in history. Disney's animated adventure Mars Needs Moms 49, made for a reported $150 million, had one of the worst opening weekends ever ($6.8 million) for a major film, and has grossed only $36 million to date worldwide. While nowhere near as disastrous, the stoner comedy Your Highness 31 ($23 million worldwide grosses against a $50 million budget), the aforementioned Hoodwinked Too! ($6.9 million in grosses, $30 million budget), and the independently financed Atlas Shrugged Part I 28 ($4.3 million in grosses, $20 million budget) all appear to be losers. And several other films expected to be strong performers will finish with much less impressive totals. This group includes Scream 4 52 (only $36.9 million domestically so far, when it was expected to surpass that amount in its opening weekend alone) and the action-heavy Sucker Punch 33 (just $36 million domestically).
|4||Just Go With It||Feb 11||33||6.6||$102,808,747|
|5||The Green Hornet||Jan 14||39||6.0||$98,780,000|
|6||Gnomeo and Juliet||Feb 11||53||6.0||$98,765,136|
|7||Fast Five||Apr 29||67||7.8||$86,198,765|
|8||Battle: Los Angeles||Mar 11||37||6.2||$82,795,220|
|10||Justin Bieber: Never Say Never||Feb 11||52||1.5||$72,945,029|
Just when it seemed that 2011 was going to be a complete disaster at the box office, industry fortunes took a dramatic turn for the better, thanks to many of these late-arriving hits. In fact, the month of April 2011 was the highest-grossing April on record, with the studios pulling in $791 million. So while 2011 year-to-date grosses are still down compared to the two previous years, they are now ahead of where we were at the end of spring in 2008. Before April, grosses had been back down to 2006 levels instead.
|Year||Total Domestic Gross - New Films||Total Domestic Gross - All Films|
|2011 (thru 5/5)||$2,216.2||$2,926.5|
|2010 (thru 5/6)||$2,406.2||$3,490.9|
|2009 (thru 4/30)||$2,270.7||$3,125.5|
|2008 (thru 5/1)||$1,948.2||$2,716.7|
Despite this last-minute improvement, total box office attendance (rather than revenue) for the January-April period was lower than at any time since 1995, reports Box Office Mojo. But perhaps the strong consecutive openings for Fast Five and Thor indicate that better things are ahead.
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.