Henry Cavill in 'Man of Steel'Warner Bros.

While several major studio tentpoles took massive face-plants at the box office this summer, that didn't stop Hollywood from raking in record earnings.

This summer's movies took in $4.75 billion at the box office (8 percent over the former summer 2011 record), bringing this year's domestic box office to $7.67 billion to date. Although some big-budget films like "The Lone Ranger," "White House Down," "After Earth," and "R.I.P.D." fared rather poorly, franchise installments, comedies, and a few horror films made some serious moolah.

R-rated spookshows "The Purge" and "The Conjuring" surprised studios and audiences alike, while stand-alone comedies like "The Heat," "We're the Millers," and "This Is The End" proved you don't always need a franchise to lure in moviegoers.

But building on a preexisting franchise never hurts, something proved out by the summer's biggest moneymakers: "Iron Man 3," "Fast and Furious 6," "Star Trek Into Darkness," "Despicable Me 2," "Man of Steel," and "Monsters University" were the six highest-grossing movies of the season.

One surprise standout is "Lee Daniels' The Butler." This sprawling ensemble piece, featuring critically acclaimed performances from Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, will likely earn more than a few nods this upcoming awards season -- but who knew it would give even One Direction a run for their money during its third weekend out?

Other films like "Elysium" and "Pacific Rim" didn't do as well domestically as some had hoped, though they found key success in international markets.

All eyes are on this fall's expensive and exciting offerings, like "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," "Thor: The Dark World," and Oscar-baity dramas such as "Gravity," "Captain Phillips," and "Rush."

[via Box Office Mojo, Variety]

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