It’s almost September and that means that the big summer movie season of 2008 is finally over – but what a summer it’s been!

2008 delivered the kind of summer that superhero and action movie geeks dream of – this is the year that brought us three bonafide superhero movies: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk and what was that third one… oh yeah: The Dark Knight.

We also had the chance to see the long awaited Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the latest Pixar flick Wall-E, Will Smith as a superhero in Hancock, Angelina Jolie as an assassin in Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army. To keep us laughing we had Tropic Thunder, The Pineapple Express (which I haven’t seen) and Get Smart.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight: Summer 2008 box office winner

The Dark Knight was this summer’s box office juggernaut, and no doubt will be the year’s biggest earner. The big surprise of the summer (and the film that kicked it all off) is Iron Man, which came in second and actually beat Indy 4 in the US! That speaks to both how great Iron Man was and how poor an addition the latest Indiana Jones movie was to the original trilogy.

Iron Man: Surprise hit of the 2008 Summer movie season

Here are the top ten movies this summer based on US box office:

  1. The Dark Knight – $493.7MM
  2. Iron Man – $317.6MM
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – $315.3MM
  4. Hancock – $226.5MM
  5. Wall-E – $216.8MM
  6. Kung Fu Panda – $213MM
  7. Sex and the City (yeah, I know) – $152.4MM
  8. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – $141.6MM
  9. The Incredible Hulk – $134.4MM
  10. Wanted – $133.8MM

One big suprise in the above list is Pixar’s Wall-E: I’m really shocked that the R-rating-pushing, PG-13 and mediocre (according to most critics) Hancock actually beat the family friendly Pixar film. Also surprising is that Kung Fu Panda made almost as much as the Wall-E. It looks like despite the universally rave reviews for Wall-E, that the overly message-heavy plot of the movie wasn’t as much of a winner with families as other of their films like The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. Heck, even Cars (considered by many to be Pixar’s weakest film) made more money than Wall-E at the box office.

Wall-E: Below Summer box office expectations?

I’ll take a moment to toot my own horn and point out that I was one of the lone voices pointing out the fact that Wall-E was too heavy handed with its messages. :-)

Also, despite the “cool factor,” Wanted didn’t manage to beat underdog summer flick The Incredible Hulk. I guess more people thought it was ridiculous (as I did) than thought it was “awesome, dude!”. However superhero movie fans across the land can weep in unison at the fact that Hulk was not able to defeat three hip, New York City powershopping babes on the prowl for true love.

Summer 2008: The Incredible Hulk did not go down without a fight

How the heck Sex in the City made into that list is beyond me.

Movies worth noting that are missing from that top 10 list include The Happening (huge stinker for Shyamalan), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (couldn’t bring myself to watch it), 10,000 B.C. (do I even need to comment on this one?), Speed Racer (LSD trip for kids), and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (too niche, I suppose).

In the “bombed at the box office” category I guess I’d add X-Files: I Want to Believe ($20.7MM) and at only $27MM since opening, for a Star Wars movie, I’d say The Clone Wars didn’t do too well.

All in all I’d say it’s been a pretty damned awesome summer for movie fans, and it’ll be a tough one to top in 2009.