Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and for most that means beach, sun and water sports. For us, however, that means big summer movies are officially here. Whether accurate or not, Hollywood views box office totals from this weekend to predict how the summer will go like Punxsutawney, Penn., uses a groundhog's shadow to forecast winter's end.
This doesn't always hold up. Despite last year's Memorial Day box office haul being the lowest in 17 years, Hollywood still had one of its most profitable summers ever. The following five movies will tell you one thing about what type of movies do well over Memorial Day: huge action-adventure sequels.
Opening this weekend, 'The Hangover: Part II' and 'Kung Fu Panda 2,' have the "huge" and "sequel" parts down. But they'll be trying to break into the list as the only raunchy comedy and animated film in the top five. Can they do it? Read the breakdown and decide.
5. 'The Day After Tomorrow'
Opening Gross: $85,807,341
Total Gross: $186,740,799
Opening in 2004, the 'The Day After Tomorrow' is the only non-sequel to make the list. Yet it fulfills all of the other requirements: huge budget, special effects, adventure and a PG-13 rating so families can enjoy it together. Plus, it's sort of a sequel to 'Independence Day'; they're both end-of-the-world scenarios directed by Roland Emmerich and feature a Quaid brother. While it killed at the box office, it failed to win over critics or make Jake Gyllenhaal an action star.
4. 'The Lost World: Jurassic Park'
Opening Gross: $90,161,880
Total Gross: $229,086,679
'The Lost World: Jurassic Park' may be one of the lesser films in Steven Spielberg's catalog, but it's arguably the best movie on this list and an overall enjoyable sequel. It's also the oldest (1997) blockbuster in the top five and put then–critical darlings Vince Vaughn and Julianne Moore on mainstream America's radar.
3. 'X-Men: The Last Stand'
Opening Gross: $122,861,157
Total Gross: $234,362,462
The third film in the series, 'X-Men: The Last Stand' divides a lot of fans. After directing the first two, Bryan Singer dropped out to helm 'Superman Returns,' and 'Rush Hour' director Brett Ratner stepped in. The result may have been a more mainstream interpretation than superfans wanted, but that broad appeal sure helped it at the 2006 Memorial Day box office.
2. 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
Opening Gross: $126,917,373
Total Gross: $317,101,119
Released in 2008, 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' is the fourth entry in the series and the second Steven Spielberg–helmed movie on this list. It's also the most recent. For that reason, there may still be a bitter taste from it in many readers' mouths. The CGI monkeys, aliens and Shia LeBeouf were a little too much for many critics and audiences to take. Still, everyone had to go see it for themselves.
1. 'Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End'
Opening Gross: $139,802,190
Total Gross: $309,420,425
To demonstrate how Memorial Day weekend really does drive moviegoers, last weekend 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides' pulled in only $90,151,958. Opening in 2007, 'At World's End' continues to be the biggest movie to open over this holiday. You can attribute it to the downturn of the economy since then, or to the momentum the series had from 2006's 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.' Whatever the case, it's still the top dog to beat this weekend.