Sun’s out, flops out: what’s the worst movie summer ever?

After a string of disappointments, analysts are calling 2019s summer season one of the most disastrous on record but there have been far, far worse

This summer might have started with a bang, thanks to the Avengers finally reaching their Endgame, but its set to go out with more of a shrug, thanks to pretty much everything thats come since. Godzilla: King of Monsters; X-Men: Dark Phoenix; Men in Black: International, Shaft, The Hustle all loathed by critics and shunned by audiences. Animated sequels Toy Story 4 and The Secret Life of Pets 2 are far from flops but theyre both performing way below expectations. Aladdin might be a hit but its the second Disney live-action remake to have scored rotten reviews this year. Its the summer that Hollywood cant seem to figure out and its already had many calling it one of the worst on record.

But its a precarious claim given the seasons tendency to disappoint and looking back to years prior, it looks like 2019 is far from the coldest summer on record.

2001

Ben
Ben Affleck failed to charm audiences in Pearl Harbor. Photograph: Allstar/BUENA VISTA/Sportsphoto Ltd./Allstar

The rotten eggs: Pearl Harbor, The Mummy Returns, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Jurassic Park III, Planet of the Apes, Evolution, Atlantis The Lost Empire, Swordfish, Rush Hour 2

There was so much that was wrong with 2001s crop of summer hopefuls and in so many different ways that its almost hard to know where to start. But easily the seasons biggest misjudgment was Michael Bay trying to retell the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor through the lens of someone whod seen Titanic multiple times. The disastrous romantic disaster movie did solid, if un-Cameron level, box office but was critically reviled, deservedly picking up six Razzie nominations thanks to its banal love triangle between the pretty yet pretty unengaged trio of Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale as well as a questionable grasp of history. It was the worst kind of blockbuster in that it was staggeringly useless trash that thought it was necessary art but there were no such pretensions with the other missteps of the season. When it came to sequels, no one expected much from The Mummy Returns or Rush Hour 2 but there was hope attached to Jurassic Park III, hope that soon faded when the film crash-landed onto screens cursed with a quickie script assembled just five weeks before production began. The summer also saw Tim Burton return to the summer scramble for the first time since Batman Returns with the utterly atrocious Planet of the Apes remake (his first of many shambolic event movies to come), a forgettable stumble from Ivan Reitman who failed to conjure any Ghostbusters magic in the sci-fi comedy Evolution, Disney lose to Dreamworks as Shrek received all of the acclaim and box office that their charmless Atlantis The Lost Empire lost out on and Oscar winners Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie coasting in Swordfish and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

2009

Angels
Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer, was the clunky follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. Photograph: c.Sony Pics/Everett / Rex Featur

The rotten eggs: Angels and Demons, Year One, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Terminator: Salvation

In the time between summers, franchise fever had changed the season for the worse with less gambles being taken yet more films being released. They werent all bad this year (JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot and the sixth Harry Potter adventure were notable exceptions) but they were mostly bad, a clunking collection of studio products, with colon-heavy titles, ringing in a new era of dull, risk-averse film-making. Critics loathed The Da Vinci Code and Transformers but audiences turned up regardless, leading to sequels for both but ones that appeared to have learned nothing from their predecessors mistakes with Angels and Demons and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen managing to be lesser follow-ups in every way imaginable. There was also an attempt to refresh the X-Men franchise, after 2006s execrable Last Stand, with prequel X-Men Origins: Wolverine which again was even worse than what came before (it would take another attempt, 2011s First Class, to get the series back on track) as well as McGs rubbishy robot reboot Terminator: Salvation, only worth remembering for star Christian Bales sweary on-set rant. Elsewhere, an unwanted new franchise was born in the shape of GI Joe: the Rise of Cobra while another descended further into the trash with Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.

2010

Jake
Jake Gyllenhaal realised he might not be an action hero after all in Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. Photograph: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP/Publicity image from film company

The rotten eggs: Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, The A-Team, Knight and Day, Shrek Forever After, Sex and the City 2, Jonah Hex, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, The Sorcerers Apprentice

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the multiplex, 2010 drunkenly barreled into view, spewing up arguably the worst line-up summer audiences had ever endured, a crop so crappy that it made 2009s warmer months look like awards season. It was the year that saw Jake Gyllenhaal realise that he might not be an action hero after all, lost as the miscast lead of bland video game adaptation Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. On the adaptation front though, it was a masterpiece compared to the Razzie-nominated comic book mess Jonah Hex or M Night Shyamalans Razzie-winning The Last Airbender, based on an animated series, the fans of which gave the film an enthusiastic middle finger. There was also a rare stumble from Marvel with the flabby, unexciting Iron Man 2, a film that still sits at the bottom of ranked lists of their cinematic universe offerings but it was by no means the summers worst sequel, a title bestowed on Sex and the City 2, a film so aggressively, punishingly awful that it made even the most hardened fan wonder what they saw in the show in the first place. Elsewhere, Ridley Scott discovered that audiences had no interest in another Robin Hood retelling, Fox found out that there was a reason it had taken so long to bring The A-Team to the big screen, the combined star power of Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz couldnt make Knight and Day seem worthwhile and another Twilight sequel was released or something.

2017

No
No one cared about Tom Cruise in The Mummy, unless he had been performing death-defying stunts. Photograph: Allstar/UNIVERSAL PICTURES

The rotten eggs: The Mummy, Baywatch, Despicable Me 3, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Dark Tower, The Emoji Movie, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, The Hitmans Bodyguard, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Anyone claiming that film fans are suffering this summer need only think back just two short years to remember a season packed with even more brazen emptiness. It was another bad summer for Tom Cruise, whose latter day box office has shown that the only thing people now want from him is to see films where he performs stunts so dangerous that he might conceivably die on screen. No one cared about The Mummy and in turn, Universals shameless attempt to start a Dark Universe of interconnected monster movies. There was similar disinterest across the board with audiences and critics showing apathy for Guy Ritchies lads on tour take on King Arthur, a dumb-but-not-in-a-fun-way reboot of Baywatch and a long-gestating adaptation of The Dark Tower, a proposed franchise-starter than was a resounding franchise-killer instead. There were also commercially successful, yet critically disliked, sequels to Transformers, Despicable Me and Pirates of the Caribbean as well as Luc Bessons wild and wildly misjudged Valerian, a film that performed so badly it led to huge staff layoffs at production company EuropaCorp.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2019/jun/27/suns-out-flops-out-whats-the-worst-movie-summer-ever

AT&T $85.4bn takeover of Time Warner approved by judge in blow to Trump

Merger will create telecoms and media giant but Trump had called deal not good for the country

AT&Ts politically charged takeover of Time Warner was approved by a US judge on Tuesday in a blow to the Trump administration, which had fought hard to have the deal scrapped.

US district judge Richard Leon dismissed the antitrust case brought by the justice department last November, the culmination of a 20-month ordeal that has seen the deal attacked by Donald Trump, critics of media consolidation and consumer groups.

Leon said the governments objections rested on improper notions and warned against an appeal. I hope the government has the wisdom and courage not to seek a stay, he said.

The $85.4bn merger will create a telecoms and media giant combining AT&Ts mobile, cable and satellite TV business with Time Warners portfolio of blue-chip media assets.

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Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, home to Game of Thrones and Veep, and Warner Brothers, whose franchises included Batman, the Lego movies and Harry Potter.

Corporate America had closely watched the case and the decision is likely to lead to more mergers. Seats for the ruling at the E Barrett Prettyman courthouse in downtown Washington were in such demand that lines began forming outside the courthouse a full day before the scheduled 4pm announcement.

The decision on a so-called vertical integration between two companies who do not make competing products could have a profound impact on future mergers. Vertical mergers, such as Amazons takeover of Whole Foods and drugstore chain CVSs purchase of health insurer Aetna, have become increasingly popular.

But the most immediate effect of the deal will be on the already consolidated media market. A clear win for AT&T will embolden Comcast, the USs largest cable company, to top Walt Disneys $52bn bid for 21st Century Fox, the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family.

Comcast has made clear its intention to challenge that merger and is reportedly preparing a $60bn all-cash offer of its own. Comcast has already made an offer for Sky, the UK satellite TV business. 21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky and has been in a long battle with UK regulators to buy the rest of the company.

AT&Ts wooing of Time Warner has been politically complicated from the outset. Announced in October 2016, it was seized on by then presidential candidate Donald Trump as the sort of deal his administration would block.

On the campaign trail Trump argued that a combined AT&T/Time Warner was too much concentration of power in the hands of too few. Trump weighed in again after the justice department filed its suit: Personally, Ive always felt that that was a deal thats not good for the country. I think your pricing is going to go up, he said last November.

Critics charged that Trump had come out against the deal because of Time Warners CNN, which has been highly critical of his presidency. The Trump administration has denied those charges.

In May it was revealed that AT&T had paid Michael Cohen, Trumps personal attorney, $600,000 for consultancy fees as it attempted to woo the White House. AT&Ts chief executive officer, Randall Stephenson, said the hiring had been a big mistake.

In court the justice department argued an integrated company would use its size to raise prices and that it was problematic for one company to own a top pay-TV distributor, AT&Ts DirecTV, as well as Time Warner, a company that makes content distributed by DirecTVs rivals.

AT&T in turn called the governments arguments absurd and has argued the deal is necessary for it to compete with tech companies like Netflix, Apple and Amazon as they spend billions to bolster their positions in media.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/jun/12/att-time-warner-takeover-approved-trump