On the off-chance that you haven't been following the sky-is-falling news from the world of theatrical exhibition, 2011 hasn't gotten off to a rousing start at the box office — meaning there's now even more riding on the summer movie season. So, since numbers have been omnipresent as a way of covering this theoretically artistic endeavor, here's a look at some of the relevant numbers that explain what to expect from summer cinema. (All release dates and MPAA ratings are subject to change.)
15: Number of sequels (Cars 2, Kung Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, see more examples below), remakes, "reboots" or regurgitations of pre-existing TV shows/properties. Or, roughly a third of the total movies due out between early May and Labor Day.
101.9: Total U.S. box office, in millions, for Thor director Kenneth Branagh's other 11 features as a director — a total topped by Thor in its first two weeks alone domestically, and more than tripled globally.
5: Number of R-or-likely-to-be-R-rated mainstream comedies scheduled for seasonal release. Where once upon a time the assumption was you couldn't score a hit aiming more adult than the PG-13 crowd, the success in recent years of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Wedding Crashers and The Hangover, among others, has made raunch seem like good business. So, post-Bridesmaids, get ready for The Hangover Part II (May 26), Bad Teacher (June 24), Horrible Bosses (July 8) and Friends With Benefits (July 22).
587 percent: Return on investment for the first two Transformers movies, which together cost $350 million to make and (according to the-numbers.com) brought in a combined worldwide theatrical box office gross and DVD sales of more than $2 billion. The third installment — Transformers: Dark of the Moon — arrives July 1, and as long as audiences keep turning these movies into a license for Paramount Pictures to print money, the studio will keep shoving them down our pie-holes.
1982, 1985: Years in which the original Conan the Barbarian and Fright Night were released, respectively. The two 1980s remakes are coincidentally scheduled for release Aug. 19.
100+: Number of weeks Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel The Help has spent on various hardcover, e-book and trade paperback New York Times bestseller lists and circulating through Oprah-inspired book clubs. The film adaptation — starring Emma Stone and Viola Davis, and directed by Stockett's childhood friend, Tate Taylor — is scheduled for release Aug. 12.
17 hours, 28 minutes: How long it would take you to sit through a marathon of all seven of the previous Harry Potter films (theatrical release versions) before watching the finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 on July 15. Impressive though that number is, it currently trails James Bond (45 hours, 53 minutes), Star Trek (21 hours, 4 minutes) and the Friday the 13th films (18 hours, 26 minutes).
3,468,427: Years Neil Patrick Harris will need to spend in purgatory to eliminate the dark stain on his soul from taking a paycheck for The Smurfs (July 29).
4: Minimum number of cast members of summer superhero movies who have already played comic-book/graphic novel characters in other movies. Ryan Reynolds, star of Green Lantern (June 17), previously played the villain Deadpool in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Chris Evans, the titular lead of Captain America: The First Avenger (July 22), was The Human Torch in two Fantastic Four films. James McAvoy, who will be playing a young Professor Charles Xavier in the prequel X-Men: First Class (June 3), starred as the novice super-assassin in Wanted, while McAvoy's co-star Jason Flemyng, playing Azazel, was featured in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (and had a cameo in Kick-Ass). All of which goes to demonstrate that we have now officially had so damned many comic-book adaptations that we're running out of new actors to star in them. (Note to comic-book nerds who plan to find additional examples: Thank you, you are just further proving the point.)
10: Genuine possibilities for unique, surprising, non-sequel movie experiences, including J.J. Abrams' science-fiction adventure Super 8 (June 10); the funky genre mash-up Cowboys and Aliens (July 29); Tom Hanks film-directing for the first time since That Thing You Do! with the comedy-drama Larry Crowne (July 1); Crazy, Stupid, Love, (July 29) thanks to its terrifically promising trailer; and Sundance successes like The Guard, The Future, Project Nim, Our Idiot Brother and Submarine (local release dates still to be determined). We live in hope, movie business. Just give us a reason to keep coming back.