While the box office takings of the US Top 10 movies may not appear to be interesting, there are certain trends which yield some potentially fascinating insights about the current state of commercial cinema.
Let's start at the top. Fast and Furious 6 is by rights, a film that shouldn't even have been made in the first place. It's the sixth movie in a franchise that started unpromisingly back in 2001 with the uncharismatic Paul Walker and Vin Diesel in leading roles. 12 years later, the same pair are still present and correct, and have added Dwayne aka The Rock to their number. It seems unlikely that he is solely responsible, but the film has grossed $170 million in 2 weeks (not to mention £16m in the UK in the same period). It seems bizarre that this should be so popular in a country where Jeremy Clarkson's baleful influence does not extend, but the facts speak for themselves.
At No. 2, we have a new film Now You See Me, which has a trailer with great appeal (ie it makes me want to see it), but hardly a starry cast. But it is ahead of After Earth, which stars Will Smith who is - in theory - a huge star. The trailer for the Smith film has had 9 times as many you tube hits as NYSM, but that shows how unimportant trailer hits are. And we should not forget that After Earth is directed by M Night Shyamalan, who has produced a series of unimaginable stinkers since the one hit wonder that was The Sixth Sense.
At No 4, Star Trek: Into Darkness has accumulated $188 million in 3 weeks which is pretty decent, but since Iron Man 3 has notched up $385m in 5 weeks, it is clear which superhero/sci fi movie has come out on top. Call it the Avengers influence, but it also helps that IM3 is a lot of fun.
At No 5. Epic has not exactly hit the heights with a less-than-impressive $65m in 2 weeks. Compared to The Croods, these are disappointing figures. But even more disappointing (I'm thrilled to say) is the $88m so far raked in by Hangover 3, which was supposed to be one of the great comedy/sequel hits of the summer. Since the film is such a stinker, it seems that justice has been done.
It's hard to say what expectations the studio had for The Great Gatsby, but $128m after 4 weeks and heading out of the Top 10, might seem to be at the lower end of what they might have dreamt of. Not a flop, but something less than a smasheroo. At No. 9 is an unusual American film phenomenon - an Indian/Bollywood film. The start of something new, or a one off? And finally, at No 10, I'm impressed by the staying power of Mud, which has been around for 6 weeks, taken $16m (almost certainly more than it cost to make) and has attracted glowing reviews to push it above its pay grade.
You may have noticed that there are 4 sequels in those 10 films, which is about par for this time of year - depressing, but true. But there are at least a few films that I could honestly recommend, and even one or 2 I'm looking forward to. It could be (and has been) worse.