But obviously, it's Joss Whedon who became the overnight megastar this summer. Already beloved by geeks, but never having cracked the mainstream, Whedon took $1.5 billion with his second feature film, "The Avengers," and you can't ask for much more than that. Together with the excellent reviews, the world is now Whedon's oyster, but he ended up committing to Marvel for "The Avengers 2" -- presumably for an enormous paycheck -- after which he'll be able to make whatever the hell he likes.
Meanwhile, reliable old hand John Madden had his biggest hit since "Shakespeare In Love" with "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," while "Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection" was the hyphenate's second biggest hit ever.
For a while, it seemed as though the Tim Burton brand was untouchable after the billion-dollar success of "Alice In Wonderland." But no one checked if anyone other than Burton and Johnny Depp wanted to see "Dark Shadows," and the film performed more like "Sweeney Todd" than 'Alice.' Given the usual ceiling on spooky animation fare, we're not sure the black-and-white "Frankenweenie" will be an immediate box office return to form, so Burton might need to choose his next project a bit more carefully.
For younger names, Peter Berg and Len Wiseman both had hefty budgets placed on their shoulders and came up short with "Battleship" and "Total Recall," respectively. Neither will take too much of a hit -- it's that the films got the greenlight in the first place that'll be blamed, rather than their execution (though neither were exactly outstanding). But neither are likely to get to make their "Inception" any time soon (though Berg cannily got passion project "Lone Survivor" greenlit in exchange for making "Battleship").
It wasn't an outright disaster, but Oliver Stone has been trying to get back in Hollywood's good books since "Alexander," and we're not sure how much "Savages" would have helped that. As a $10 million indie, a return for a film like this would have been a triumph, but as a bloated, star-studded studio picture with a $50 million budget, that has to be seen as something of a disappointment. It's not sending Stone to director's jail or anything, but any hope of the film restoring him to former glories didn't come to pass either.
Finally, it wasn't a great few months for screenwriters making their feature debuts, with both Lorene Scafaria's "Seeking a Friend at the End of the World" and Alex Kurtzman's "People Like Us" pretty much disappearing immediately ($7 million and $12 million, respectively). In fairness, both were inexpensive and essentially buried by their studios, put into not-that-wide releases in the hope of making a quick buck, but lukewarm reviews mean that the 'Nick and Norah' and "Transformers" writers will probably be stuck behind their typewriters for a little while longer.