In the Dark: Clear winners and losers as summer heats up

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Skyscraper

Halfway through the summer movie season, there are clear winners and losers at the box office and with critics. Superheroes and dinosaurs are at the top, but there, is a plethora of movies that have underperformed in what is already a season that has offered less to movie fans.

Call it a sign of the times, but there are fewer releases than in previous years. Movie failures are costly, and some studios have pulled back their productions and gone with sure winners like superheroes, sequels of every kind, and the occasional animated feature that pulls in both adults and children like the recent “Incredibles 2,” a huge hit for Pixar. Less popular and harder to find in theaters are adult comedies like “Book Club” and Melissa McCarthy’s “Life of the Party.”

At the top of summer earnings is still the early and clear winner, “Avengers: Infinity War,” which has grossed over $6 billion since it opened in May, and “Black Panther” following closely behind. There are still a few hits left this summer including the sequel to “Mamma Mia” with Lily James playing the younger Meryl Streep part and Cher popping in. And Tom Cruise will return in the new “Mission Impossible” installment at the end of July.

“Ocean’s 8” and the “Deadpool” sequel are in the middle of the pack, while the Star Wars prequel “Solo” bombed, to Disney’s stunned surprise. The biggest loser so far is John Travolta’s “Gotti,” which barely made a blip in theaters.

Horror films do well in the summer and two big winners this season have been “A Quiet Place” and “Hereditary.” The difference is both of these are more psychological terror in nature rather than the slash and trash variety that usually fills the theaters for the teen audience. Having seen both, I recommend them, even though “Hereditary” is extremely intense.

Beaumont theaters rarely get the documentaries, but as a genre there are some strong entries out there right now. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” the definitive look at the life of Fred Rogers is in Houston theaters. “Whitney,” a hard take on the troubled life and times of Whitney Houston, is just arriving this week, and “Three Identical Strangers,” involving the stranger but true case of triplets separated at birth and reunited as teenagers has been wowing audiences for a couple of months.

Looking ahead to fall there is a potentially huge hit coming in October when Bradley Cooper stars in the latest remake of “A Star is Born” with Lady Gaga taking over the part that has been played by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. The first trailer is out now and it looks like it could be a winner. This is also Cooper’s first direction credit, too.

Look for a more extensive preview of fall movies in late summer. Coming this week is “Skyscraper,” an action pic with Dwayne Johnson and the third installment in the “Hotel Transylania” franchise.