The summer movie season officially ends this weekend (sup, awards season), which means studios and pundits alike will be dissecting Hollywood's hits and misses in an attempt to better figure out how to get your money next year. (Pro tip: keep making movies about superheroes, stop casting Johnny Depp.) There were some surprises: A movie about soldiers stranded on a beach made more than one about shape-shifting robots; Girls Trip grossed more than any other comedy. And there were those films that met expectations: People will still watch Vin Diesel if he's behind a steering wheel. Here are other takeaways from the blockbuster season that was.
WINNER: Gal Gadot and Petty Jenkins
The undisputed queens of the summer movie season. Thanks to the wild success of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot is now a household name (she covers the latest issue of Rolling Stone), and Patty Jenkins has in many ways laid the groundwork for the next generation of female directors leading big-budget Hollywood movies. Sure, those women already had the chops, but it's thanks to Jenkins' success that they may finally be given the chance to prove it.
Kudos to Sony for swallowing their pride and enlisting Marvel—with their golden touch—for help reviving their flailing Spider-Man franchise by infusing Spider-Man: Homecoming with humor, youthfulness, and a sense of genuine glee. It also doesn’t hurt that in Tom Holland, they found maybe the one person on the planet who was born to play Peter Parker.
WINNER: Black female actresses
Proving that Hidden Figures was no fluke, the heartening success of Girls Trip showed once again that movies featuring a black female ensemble at its center can win over audiences, and make serious bank while doing it. Note to studios: Don’t let this become a "trend," let it be the norm.
WINNER: Idris Elba
Amidst the rubble of the disaster that was The Dark Tower, Elba was singled out by nearly every critic, who, while eviscerating the movie as a whole, named the British actor as its lone bright spot. With Daniel Craig announcing that the next 007 movie will be his last, let the “Idris Elba for James Bond” campaign officially begin right now.
WINNER: Harry Styles
Truthfully, anyone involved with Dunkirk should be considered a winner this summer, especially Christopher Nolan, who once again showed why he’s the most ambitious director working in today’s blockbuster arena. But if we had to single out one player who’s the ultimate victor from team Dunkirk, it would be the former One Direction singer, who had a much bigger role in the film than anyone expected, managed (spoiler alert) not to die on screen, and used this movie to establish himself as a multi-talented artist in the vein of that other boy bander-turned-actor, Justin Timberlake.
Even though this summer had its fair share of flops, uninspired sequels, and lazy comedies, there were still a bunch of bright spots that bode well for the future of mainstream movies. Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was a success both artistically and commercially, proving that there’s still a market for original movies, as long as they have something to offer. Dunkirk proved that audiences will flock to blockbusters that tell real-life stories of heroism, rather than ones pulled from the pages of comic books. Speaking of which, the three major superhero movies that came out this summer—Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Wonder Woman—were all creative successes, meaning that if Hollywood is going to keep making them, at least they’re getting it right. And perhaps best of all was the relative failures of the Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Hopefully, this signals a merciful end to those soulless endeavors and a wake-up call to Hollywood that they need to give audiences more than just a familiar title and once-lovable characters if they want to fill those seats.
Even though she was barely in it, Zendaya stole all the scenes of Spider-Man: Homecoming that she was in, and the ending of the movie slyly set her character up to be Peter Parker’s love interest for the rest of the series. We can’t wait to see what she does with more screen time.
WINNER: Charlize Theron
Theron carried Atomic Blonde on her shoulders, singlehandedly making it a must-see movie with some of the most brutal fight sequences in recent memory. It also confirmed her as the greatest action star alive.
LOSERS: Old white male movie stars
The Dark Tower officially ended The McConaissance. The Mummy is arguably the worst movie of Tom Cruise’s career. And Jack Sparrow (and the man who plays him) again wore out his welcome. This is the end of the old guard of white dudes who used to be able to sell tickets on star power alone.
LOSER: Scarlett Johansson
After the PR and box office debacle that was Ghost in the Shell, ScarJo needed a hit badly to prove she could still succeed outside of the Avengers ecosystem. Rough Night had all the tools to become that hit and was poised to introduce her as a legitimate comedy star. Unfortunately, the movie was a misfire. Her next movie is Wes Anderson's animated Isle of Dogs, and after that, it's Avengers: Infinite Wars, which means it will be a while before Johansson gets another chance to prove her box office clout.
LOSER: Andrew Garfield
The British actor was supposed to be the Spider-Man for a new generation, but after the muddled mess that was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, he promptly lost the job to Holland, another British thesp who made Garfield’s well-received performance seem wooden by comparison.
No one deserved The Emoji Movie. Not emojis themselves, and especially not us.
LOSER: Charlize Theron
Just because you’re a winner, it doesn’t mean you can’t also lose. With its $50 million domestic gross, it’s unlikely that Atomic Blonde will become the John Wick-style franchise Theron was hoping it would be. Also, her hairstyle in Fate of the Furious was one of the summer’s earliest punch lines.
Photo via Universal Pictures
Though excellent, War for the Planet of the Apes didn’t kill at the box office. That likely spells the end of this iteration of the Apes movies, which has been one of the consistently best franchises over the last decade. That said, you can look for the film's director, Matt Reeves, in the not too distant future: He's on board to make the next Batman movie.
LOSER: Zac Efron's abs
They were the real star of Baywatch, and worth the price of admission alone. Unfortunately, the rest of the world did not agree.
Even though Transformers: The Last Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales sputtered at the North American box office, they made enough money overseas that their respective studios would still technically be justified in making more sequels. (Note to the rest of the world: Stop seeing shitty American movies.)