2011 Spring Movie Scorecard

  • Publish Date: May 9, 2011
  • Comments: ↓ 6 user comments

Spring forward

Breakdown of 2011 Spring Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
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:

Seasonal Metascore Comparison, 2011 vs. 2010
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

In this and all other charts on the page, re-releases and movies with fewer than seven reviews are excluded. The winter season ended on March 4 in 2010 and March 3 in 2011; spring season ended May 6 in 2010 and May 5 in 2011. 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). A "good" film is one with a Metascore of 61 or above.

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.

New = spring release Best Wide Releases of 2011 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 New Rango Animation, Family, Adventure, Comedy 75 7.3
2 New Source Code Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller 74 7.7
3 New Fast Five Action, Drama, Thriller, Crime 67 7.8
4 The Way Back Drama 66 7.0
5 New Hanna Action, Adventure, Thriller 65 7.2
6 New The Lincoln Lawyer Drama 63 7.4
7 New Rio Animation, Family, Adventure, Comedy 63 7.0
8 New African Cats Documentary 61 6.9
9 New The Adjustment Bureau Sci-Fi, Thriller, Romance 60 6.7
10 New Limitless Thriller 59 7.2

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 on this page are from May 5, 2011.

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.

Best Spring Wide Releases by Year
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar Image bar
75 75 76 71 81
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.

New = spring release Best Limited Releases of 2011 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 New My Perestroika Documentary 92 8.0
2 New The Arbor Biography, Documentary 89 n/a
3 Poetry Foreign, Drama 88 7.6
4 New I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You Foreign, Drama 87 n/a
5 New 13 Assassins Foreign, Action 87 8.4
6 New Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Foreign, Fantasy, Comedy 87 7.3
7 New Cave of Forgotten Dreams Documentary 86 n/a
8 Of Gods and Men Foreign, Drama, History 86 6.7
9 New Meek's Cutoff Western 85 5.9
10 New 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.

New = spring release The Worst Films of 2011 So Far
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 New 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
5 New Peep World Comedy 27 n/a
6 New Footprints Drama, Mystery 28 n/a
7 Season of the Witch Adventure, Drama, Fantasy 28 5.4
8 New Atlas Shrugged: Part I Drama 28 6.5
9 Immigration Tango Comedy 28 n/a
10 New 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).

Highest Grossing Films of 2011 (Through May 5)
  Title Release Metascore Users Domestic Gross
1 Rango Mar 4 75 7.3 $119,931,720
2 Hop Apr 1 41 4.6 $105,403,285
3 Rio Apr 15 63 7.0 $104,014,751
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
9 Limitless Mar 18 59 7.2 $76,090,316
10 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never Feb 11 52 1.5 $72,945,029

The above table includes movies released in 2011 only. Note that all of the above films (except The Green Hornet) are still in theaters. Source of box office grosses: Box Office Mojo.

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.

Winter winter      Spring spring Seasonal Box Office Comparison (in Millions)
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

The New Films totals Include movies released during the winter and spring seasons 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.

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.

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

Comments (6)

  • T.J. Detweiler  

    I loved Rango and Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2. I hated Mars Needs Moms, that has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life.

  • Rockin Robin  

    No way RIO is way better then RANGO those birds are far better then some stupid lizard

  • Kadeem  

    My favorite movie of 2011 so far was Source Code, Hop, Soul Surfer, and the ever-popular Rio. Sucker Punch was also cool, a hit for Zach Synder. The real losers of 2011 that I will not watch are Season of the Witch, Take Me Home Tonight, Your Highness, and the big sheeps of Mars Needs Moms.

  • Scott  

    Hanna was very pleasantly surprising. I saw it right after Source Code (which I also loved) and I think I liked it even better. It's good to see a filmmaker taking a standard premise and twisting it, not to mention getting creative with the production.

  • lucas  

    not gunna lie, fast five rocked. Also Rango is my favorite movie of the year so far. Plus source code, not a bad spring, still nothing beats kick ass from last year but thats okay cus i mean, how do you top that?

  • Jeremy F  

    i reeeeeeeeeeally wanna see POETRY, but i don't think it has a dvd release date yet.

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