Movie summers over the past few years have become numbingly monotonous. Franchise film follows reboot, follows sequel or prequel, follows new flick with mix-and-match superheroes, follows film based on a toy, or a game, or a theme park ride. If you don’t like this kind of product, then you mostly have to wait until after Labor Day for something different. This absence of studio creativity is not just boring, but probably a major reason why several franchises, like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” were obviously suffering from exhaustion and pretty much tanked this summer.
It was also a major reason why the seasonal box office was down more than 12 percent from last year. Audiences are getting tired of the same old same old, and moving onto other things — like “Game of Thrones” or streaming services.
Still, there are always glimmers of sunshine amid the gloom. Herewith, the winners and losers of summer 2017.
MINIONS The success of “Despicable Me 3” means these adorable little yellow guys have become a franchise to rival anything DC or Marvel puts out.
WONDER WOMAN Well, it’s about time.
TUPAC The solid showing of “All Eyez On Me” proves Mr. Shakur could be the Bob Marley of rap.
SPIDER-MAN The teen web-slinger has few equals as a stand alone character.
ANSEL ELGORT He was relatively unknown before “Baby Driver,” which has grossed more than $100 million. Now everyone knows Elgort, and he’s set to play JFK in a reboot of “PT 109.”
SIMIANS “War for the Planet of the Apes” — and the two films that preceded it — showed how franchise reboots can be successfully done, with intelligence and style. And while we’re at it . . .
ANDY SERKIS About time this guy receives an Oscar nomination. “War” proved once and for all that motion capture acting is still acting, plain and simple.
KUMAIL NANJIANI He’s got a hit series in “Silicon Valley,” and now his film “The Big Sick” is the big indie success of the summer, with more than $38 million in the bank. Say hello to America’s first Pakistani film star.
BLACK MOVIEGOERS “Girls Trip,” produced for $19 million, has grossed more than $100 million, according to Box Office Mojo, making it one of the most profitable films of the season. That 88 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating helped drive people to the theaters, but its success also proved, once again, that African Americans want to see more films starring black actors.
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN “Dunkirk” is a big hit, and director Nolan received some of the best reviews of his career. Can an Oscar nomination be far behind?
DEVIL DOLLS “Annabelle: Creation,” a fright flick made for $15 million, grossed $35 million on its opening weekend, Box Office Mojo reports, proving that the killer doll genre — think Chucky and his ilk — which has been flying under the radar for years, sure has maintained its popularity. Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES If the tepid response to “The Mummy” is any indication, the studio’s attempt to revive its classic 1930s and ’40s horror films could be in trouble.
TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT A 15 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating, and mediocre box office (on a $200 million budget) means this franchise needs to be given last rites.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Another exhausted franchise limping toward a finish. Terrible reviews (29 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and its $166 million gross failed to cover its $230 million production costs.
BAYWATCH Lousy reviews, lousy box office. It sure would be nice if The Rock picked better projects.
WILL FERRELL You’d think teaming this guy with Amy Poehler would make for a hit, but “The House” received dreadful reviews (20 percent on Rotten Tomatoes) and failed at the box office. Maybe another “Anchorman” film will bring back the fans.
SOFIA COPPOLA The meh box office for “The Beguiled” sure didn’t match its decent reviews (plus some folks thought it was about as exciting as watching paint dry). The real head scratcher was why did this talented director bother to remake a 1971 Clint Eastwood film in the first place.
FRENCH COMIC BOOKS Valerian who? Grosses for the sci-fi flick about a space- and time-traveling hero weren’t out of this world.
THE NATION’S CRITICS Despite a truly lousy 8 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes — one critic called it “a cash-grab based on a cynical high level concept” — “The Emoji Movie” pulled in $25 million on its opening weekend, trailing only megahit “Dunkirk,” and has grossed more than $70 million so far. Critics? Who needs ’em?
DETROIT The city itself might be making a comeback these days, but despite solid reviews and the prestige of Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow, audiences didn’t seem interested in a movie about the Motor City’s violent racial history.
HALLE BERRY It seems like eons ago that Berry won a best actress Oscar (2002 for “Monster’s Ball”). Ever since, she’s made an unending series of undistinguished films like “Catwoman,” and “Frankie and Alice.” “Kidnap,” her latest, got a 37 percent rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and received middling to poor box-office results. Has she joined the Cuba Gooding Jr. Club of Actors Whose Career Tanked After an Oscar Win?
STEVEN SODERBERGH The director of the “Ocean’s” franchise took a few years off from feature filmmaking, then came back with “Logan Lucky,” which received excellent reviews — 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — but was pretty much ignored by audiences. Where does he go from here?