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    Harry Potter, Heigl & Hangover Rule Summer, but What Was the Biggest Bomb?

    Michael Gambon, Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince Warner Bros. Entertainment

    Why was Harry Potter bigger than big robots? Why were Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl and Meryl Streep bigger than just about any guy? And why didn’t size matter for The Hangover?

    The answers—and more questions—in the end-of-season summer box-office quiz:

    1. True or false: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was the top-grossing movie of the summer? Both. Worldwide, Half-Blood Prince grossed nearly $900 million, topping Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's "mere" $828 million take, per Box Office Mojo stats. Stateside, Revenge of the Fallen was No. 1, with nearly $400 million versus Half-Blood Prince's $295 million.

    2. Two-part question: How many movies grossed at least $100 million, and who cares? As of Wednesday, 14 summer movies had grossed at least $100 million, and nobody should care because only four of those movies cost less than $150 million to produce.

    3. Two part-question: How big was Hollywood's record summer, and who cares? According to the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations, summer movies, boosted by higher, 3-D-enhanced ticket prices, grossed $4.17 billion, just topping 2007's previous high of $4.16 billion, and nobody should care because the actual number of tickets sold fell to its lowest level in 12 years. Said Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock: "This has to be of great concern to the studios."

    4. Which movie produced the biggest bang for the buck, no double entendre intended? The Hangover cost $35 million. It made $270 million. As the French say, not bad.

    5. Why should male movie stars be nervous? Because their services were simply not needed this summer. The only Top 10 movies arguably sold on the strength of an actor’s name or face were X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (Ben Stiller). Women, on the other hand, put bottoms in seats. Bullock scored the biggest hit of her career with The Proposal. Heigl showed up Seth Rogen with The Ugly Truth outgrossing Funny People by $35 million. Streep made turning 60 look like a smart career move with Julie & Julia. Even Cameron Diaz made the $30 million My Sister's Keeper a $70 million worldwide hit.

    6. Did Brüno really bomb? Not for its studio. Universal paid $42.5 million for the film; the film made about $137 million worldwide.

    7. Did Land of the Lost really bomb? Yes. The Will Ferrell comedy cost $100 million. Worldwide, it made $62 million. Of major releases, only Eddie Murphy's Imagine That ($55 budget/$18 million worldwide gross) ran a similar deficit.

    8. Which movie was the hippest bomb, and/or which hipster movie left the biggest crater? The $17 million Away We Go, which boasted an A-list director (Sam Mendes), starred a certain kind of crowd's dream cast (John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph)—and made just $10 million worldwide.

    9. Which movie was apparently the most misunderstood or allegedly the most mismarketed? The teen-shunned Bandslam, which opened at more than 2,000 theaters, set Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer soaring—and, to date, hasn't cracked $5 million.

    _________

    We weren't all that impressed with the summer movie selection—let's hope these future releases prove more popcorn-worthy.

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