In a summer box office dominated by huge hits like "The Avengers" and "Dark Knight Rises" and filled with more than a few misfires, 2012 had its share of players who won big, but even more who really didn't.
Superhero movies and animated films clearly triumphed, while originals, non-sequels and movies that weren't based on comic books were the most obvious failures. It appears that the bean counters were losers, too, as several films that might have made money didn't because of bloated budgets.
So congrats to the winners, but remember you're only as hot as your last film. And condolences to the losers, but know that you're just one hit away from reversing your fortunes.
WINNER: Joss Whedon — "The Avengers” director got all the popcorn stuff right. But it was his feel for the Marvel Comics vibe and the razor-sharp dialogue among the characters that made the movie a cultural phenomenon as well as a great superhero movie and a $1.4 billion bonanza for Disney. His reward: “Avengers 2," set for 2015.
LOSER: Colin Farrell — Everyone who saw “Total Recall" totally recalled Arnold Schwarzenegger, and $26 million was not the opening Sony was hoping for on a film that cost $125 million.
WINNER: Seth MacFarlane –TV’s animation king — he’s done “Family Guy,” “American Dad” and The Cleveland Show” for Fox — transitioned to features spectacularly with Universal's "Ted.” The comedy posted the best opening ever — $54 million — by an R-rated original comedy. McFarlane directed and starred as the potty-mouthed teddy bear, and if there were an Oscar for best rapid-fire spewing of trailer-trash girls’ names, he and Mark Wahlberg would be locks.
LOSER: Tom Cruise — Between turning 50, splitting with Katie Holmes and nobody seeing his hilarious turn as the ’80s hair-metal god Stacee Jaxx in “Rock of Ages,” he did not have a bitchin’ summer. The $14-million "Rock of Ages" opening stalled any comeback momentum from last year's "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol" for Cruise and puts extra pressure on his December action film "Jack Reacher."
WINNER: Matthew McConaughey — He gave his career a major jump start with his work as Dallas, the middle-age male strip club owner in the Warner Bros. hit “Magic Mike.” Critics loved it, and there’s even Oscar talk. If you doubt he’s left his bimbo past behind, check out his turn as Joe Cooper, a Dallas detective moonlighting as a hit man, in William Friedkin’s NC-17 indie film “Killer Joe.”
LOSER: Adam Sandler — Targeting an R-rating crowd rather than his younger base with “That’s My Boy” resulted in a major misfire. But he’ll be back next month, or at least his voice will, as Dracula, the owner of a high-end resort for ghouls, in Sony Pictures Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania (in 3D).”
WINNER: John Madden –– The director's gentle tale of British pensioners retiring in India, "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," became the biggest indie hit of the summer in the U.S. That's on top of the $85 million it made overseas.
LOSER: Seth Grahame-Smith — Two of the films written by the mashup maestro — “Dark Shadows” ($80 million domestically on a production budget of $150 million) and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” ($37 million on a $70 million budget) — landed with a thud.
WINNER: Chris Wedge — Ray Romano, Drake, Queen Latifah, Peter Dinklage, Denis Leary, Nikki Minaj and Jennifer Lopez all lent their talents to the animated “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” which has taken in nearly $800 million worldwide. But it was the saber-toothed squirrel Scrat — voiced by Wedge, director of the original “Ice Age” back in 2002 — who stole the show chasing his ever-elusive acorn.
WINNER: Anne Hathaway — Flip, funny and not obnoxiously feline, she provided welcome relief as Catwoman in the compelling but relentlessly foreboding “Dark Knight Rises.” No less a fan than President Obama called her “the best thing in it.” Take that, Julie Newmar.
LOSER: Taylor Kitsch — He followed up spring's megaflop "John Carter" with the disappointing "Battleship" and "Savages." As trifectas go, that's a bummer.
WINNER: Channing Tatum — "Magic Mike," the film he produced and starred in that was based on his days as a male stripper, was made for $7 million. It made $39 million in its first three days.
LOSER: Sasha Baron Cohen — He denied reports in June that he faced deportation and was wanted in Kansas and Arizona over scenes he shot for “Borat” and “Bruno.” One more movie like “The Dictator,” and he won’t be wanted in Hollywood, either.
WINNER: Andrew Garfield — His new take on Peter Parker in “The Amazing Spider-Man” has brought in nearly $700 million worldwide and will keep Sony in the Spidey business for at least the next several years.
LOSER: Johnny Depp — Any thoughts that his Barnabas Collins would resemble Jack Sparrow at the box office vanished with the $29 million opening of "Dark Shadows."
WINNER: Woody Allen — His intimate ‘To Rome With Love” didn’t come close to doing the box office that last year’s “Midnight in Paris” did, but $15 million on a small film isn’t bad … and he did get to spend months filming in Rome.
WINNER: Benh Zeitlin – The first-time director’s indie film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" has graduated from festival fave — it won prizes at Sundance and Cannes — to moderate indie hit, having taken in $8 million in limited release. Will that translate to award season love?
LOSER: Samuel L. Jackson –– He threw a Twitter fit and said N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott should lose his job after Scott wrote that “The Avengers” was a “snappy little dialogue comedy dressed up as something else.” Mike Ryan of HuffPo Entertainment cracked to Scott: “I’m just going to guess that Jackson has never read your positive ‘Revenge of the Sith’ review.”
WINNER: Wes Anderson — Critical raves and more than $43 million in box office for his indie tale of tween love, "Moonrise Kingdom," have put him in the awards season spotlight.
LOSER: Katy Perry — Maybe all of her might have worked, but her concert documentary “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” definitely didn’t. Maybe the problem is concert movies; it's been four years since the Miley Cyrus movies made money for Disney.
WINNER: Charlize Theron – She proved she can handle character roles as an icy corporate operative in “Prometheus” and as the evil Queen Ravenna in “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Their budgets prevented those films from being big hits, but her “Kinky Sex Tape” on Funny or Die became a viral sensation.