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Summer 2012 was a mixed bag for families at the movies

By Jeffrey Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Aug. 30 2012 3:25 p.m. MDT

Similarly, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” and Pixar’s “Brave” have, respectively, pulled in an additional $369 million and $212.3 million from non-U.S. markets.

Ultimately, though, the summer of 2012 belonged to a trifecta of superhero movies that varied pretty widely in terms of content and appropriateness for children. “The Avengers,” perhaps the most family-friendly of the three (in spite of its “Transformers”-scale violence), kicked off the season with a record-setting opening weekend haul of $207.4 million, eventually earning a whopping $1.49 billion worldwide — just below “Titanic” and “Avatar” on the list of highest-grossing films of all time. Even Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” which has so far brought in $959 million in global box office, couldn’t dethrone Marvel’s team of super-powered brawlers this summer.

Rounding out the top three movies of the season, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Sony’s more “grounded” take on the web-slinging hero starring Andrew Garfield, has so far earned $704 million, guaranteeing at least one sequel to the divisive franchise reboot.

For slightly older audiences who nevertheless wished to avoid the bombastic violence and sexual content of many Hollywood films, this summer also had a few art house hits that made pretty sizable waves considering their budgets. Indie auteur Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” for instance, set records of its own, earning $669,000 in just four theaters before expanding nationwide.

Likewise, the magical realist fantasy “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” a critical favorite when it debuted earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, has done remarkably well, making $8.9 million while in limited release.

Surprisingly, some of the summer’s most varied and refreshingly original films have appeared in the so-called dog days of summer, right as parents and kids turn their attention to the beginning of school. August releases like “ParaNorman” and the fairly tame PG-13 chase movie “Premium Rush” demonstrate the value of unique ideas in a market increasingly dominated by sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots.

For a complete list of summer films and how they’ve performed at the box office, check out the website boxofficemojo.com.

A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.

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