As I mentioned in my May update, it looked like the summer was going to peak in May on the movie front. Shrek 3, Pirates 2 and Spiderman 3 were undoubtedly the biggest movie picture events.
The last installment of Shrek at 441 million dollars was the 3rd highest grossing film of all time behind only Star Wars and Titanic. The original Spiderman launched this whole megablockbuster era that we have today by being the first film to gross 100 million dollars in a single weekend (this is akin to the film industry's version of breaking the 4-minute barrier) and Spiderman 2 got immense love from a large fan base and critical respectability. Like Spiderman, Pirates of the Carribean has created a cult fugure (and an oscar nomination as well) out of Jonny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow and left its marks all over the box office record books setting opening day, opening weekend, and opening 10-day records before becoming the second highest film of the decade.
So to summarize, what all these numbers mean is that last month we had the final promised installment of the three biggest summer movie phenomenons of the new millenium and whether it was because they were all crammed together or not, they all dissapointed. They still made money but sequels automatically tend to do that anyway, and they did not make money in terms of satisfied customers.
Of the three, Spiderman 3 is probably the least dissapointment-proof. It is safely above 300 million dollars now and while it had some mixed reviews upon its opening, the general consensus was pretty positive. I personally thought it was a very uneven experience at first, but satisfying overall, and it served as a satisfying conclusion to the series. The main problem, I think was that so much was resolved in Spiderman 2 (Harry knows who Spiderman is, Peter and Mary Jane get together, Peter confesses to Aunt May for lying about Uncle Ben's death, etc.) that there was little tension left over for Spiderman 3. That left the first hour of Spiderman 3 boring and uneventful. It started to feel like a teen flick and reminded me that without the superhero element, Spiderman does not have as much to offer in terms of rich and dynamic characters. In other words, I don't feel that Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Harry are interesting enough characters to base a film around if the superhero angle was taken out of the equation. Therefore, it was imperative for the film to not waste too much time with exposition and get into the superhero dynamics before the audience gets bored, which was the case with me. Once, the film found its groove, things started rolling, however. When Spiderman's suit turned from red to black (I'm sure there's some more technical term for what happened to him that some comic geek would know), you could really tell that Tobey MaGuire was having fun playing against type for the first time in his career and I felt the new additions to the Spiderman ensemble were all complimentary. My final verdict of satisfaction came about ultimately because the ending really was very effective and it's hard to feel satisfied by any ending that you've waited five years and sat through a combined 7 hours of film to see.
Shrek 3 I've heard pretty bad opinions across the board from the imdb.com comments that it just didn't measure up to its predecessors.
Pirates of the Carribean III, on the other hand, just didn't succeed as a film, in my opinion. I say
this as someone who counts the original Pirates of the Carribean as one of his favorite films of all time so needless to say, I was rooting for the film and gave it every benefit of the doubt. In the end, it was just a squandered sequel. It was about as bad as it could possibly considering the potential of the story and the greatness of these characters. The story was so convoluted, it made Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest (which I complained was too confusing) look like Little Red Riding Hood. I was surprised that despite the fact that the movie was a failure and sequels usually have major trouble pleasing critics, Pirates of the Carribean III actually got some good reviews. My local newspaper and a number of others actually found the film to be pretty good.