News item: The Harry Potter, Transformers and Pirates of Caribbean movies each grossed more than $1 billion at the box office. Reaction: Yawn.
For unexpected results from the summer movie season, you had to look in unexpected places—and at unexpected stars.
1. Caesar the monkey: Not only did Andy Serkis' great-ape character in Rise of the Planet of the Apes revive talk of a CGI-acting Oscar nod, it revived James Franco's post-Oscars, post-Your Highness career.
2. The Smurfs: You mocked the trailer. You mocked the bus ads. You mocked the very idea. The movie's little blue creatures, meanwhile, mocked the lousy reviews, and laughed all the way to the bank.
3. Thor: If going into the summer, you'd bet that this B-list, long-haired Marvel hero would be the biggest superhero around, besting Captain America, the X-Men and Green Lantern, you'd be about as rich as Samuel L. Jackson, who appeared in half those characters' movies.
4. Cameron Diaz: Somehow, some way, she turned the critically unloved $20 million Bad Teacher, opening on a killer weekend opposite Cars 2, into a $200 million-grossing behemoth. Who knew Diaz had that much star power?
5. Grown-ups: They hung with Brad Pitt's The Tree of Life enough to put it in the black. They made Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris a Top 10 perennial. They drove Emma Stone's The Help all the way to No. 1. They even merited a Winnie the Pooh marketing campaign. So, really, if one shakes a cane at you, tell 'em to stop complaining, and start realizing just how loudly they crashed their kids' summer-movie party.