"It's not enough that I succeed. Others must fail." -- Gore Vidal.
Like most "viral" quotes, its common attribution to the recently departed Vidal is arguable. But it rings true - especially in the movie world, where an insane hit can share the marquee with a movie as popular as a sexually transmitted disease.
Herewith, a passing glance at the winners and losers of this past summer movie steeplechase.
SUPERHEROES - The Avengers had the biggest opening of all time. The Dark Knight Rises had the second (and would have been first, some said, but for the pall cast by the Aurora, Col. massacre).
REBOOTS: The Amazing Spider-Man did what reboots are supposed to do at the very least - match the box office of the thing they're rebooting. As for The Bourne Legacy, it opened well enough to suggest the franchise can survive without Matt Damon.
NOSTALGIA FOR GEN X THINGS:The Expendables 2 did massive box office with a musclebound cast whose careers had mostly peaked in the '80s and early '90s. Yo: Sly! Arnie! Bruce! This follows the success of 21 Jump Street, which was a surprise hit, and actually pretty funny.
QUIRKY MOVIES: And speaking of Bruce Willis "¦ Okay, they don't even register on the blockbuster radar, but Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom was his sweetest film in years, and Safety Not Guaranteed gave Aubrey Plaza leading-girl cred. And they both made money. Lattes for everybody!
ANIMATED FILMS FOR ADULTS: Really, there was a single, partially-animated one, Ted, directed and voiced by The Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane as the title CGI teddy. But it set a record for the highest opening for an R-rated comedy in history. Time to reboot Who Framed Roger Rabbit with a little less Roger and a lot more Jessica.
MOVIES BASED ON TOYS/GAMES:Battleship bombed. And G.I. Joe: Retaliation (which was filmed and ready to go) got booted ahead to 2013 on the schedule for a whole bunch of rumoured reasons, none of them good.
NOSTALGIA FOR BOOMER THINGS: Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows bombed, following in the debris of 2012's earlier flops John Carter and The Three Stooges.
ORIGINAL PIXAR FILMS:Brave garnered great reviews and good-enough box office. But it was dwarfed by the grosses for Toy Story 3, and didn't even match Cars 2. As a result, Pixar - which made but one sequel in 15 years - is banking on a prequel to Monsters, Inc. and a sequel to Finding Nemo. Don't like where this is going.
HIT MUSICALS MADE INTO MOVIES:Rock Of Ages with Tom Cruise, ahem, underperformed big time. If I had stock in the upcoming Les Miserables movie, I'd sell now.
MOVIES WITH GIMMICKY TITLES: When people first heard the title Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, they invariably laughed and said, "Yeah, I want to see that." But then they said that about Snakes On A Plane.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Len Wiseman, of Underworld fame, whose dead-at-the-box-office remake of Total Recall proved (a) You don't mess with Arnie's legacy, and (b) People expect less from vampires and werewolves than they do from a mind-blowing Philip K. Dick story. You're safer there.