Summer movie season: Which films ruled over the box office?

Labor Day's almost here, and that means the summer movie season has just about come to a close. Which movies came out on top at the box office?

Universal Pictures/AP
The small creatures known as minions returned in the summer film 'Despicable Me 2.'

Labor Day approaching means it’s almost time to pack away the beach chairs and get that last ice cream cone, but in movie world, it also signifies the competitive summer blockbuster season is drawing to a close.

While there are always misfires as movie studios rush to release their tentpole films during a time of the year when no one’s in school and everyone’s desperate for air-conditioning, some films came out on top. Now, the week before Labor Day, we can take stock. Here are the movies that were crowned kings of the box office. (We counted summer as lasting from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day, though the Labor Day weekend box office may push one of these movies off the list.)

5. “World War Z”

The movie, which came out on June 21, puts Brad Pitt at the center of a zombie infestation when his character Gerry Lane, a former investigator for the UN, has to figure out what’s caused the pandemic. The film is based on the book of the same name by writer Max Brooks and grossed more than $198 million, according to the website Box Office Mojo. Critics were lukewarm – “Z” currently has a score of 63 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.

4. “Fast & Furious 6"

“Fast,” which was released on May 24, had cast members Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, and Jordana Brewster return as a group of criminals who face off with Luke Evans as villainous former military man Owen Shaw. Despite its domestic box office haul of more than $238 million, it received a middling response from critics, with the film scoring 61 out of 100 on the review aggregator site Metacritic. However, it’s already done better at the box office than its precedessor, “Fast Five,” which brought in more than $209 million in domestic ticket sales.

3. “Monsters University”

“University,” Pixar’s sequel to its film “Monsters, Inc.,” was released on June 21 and traveled back in time to tell the story of protagonists Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman) attending college and learning to be the top scarers they later become. The movie grossed more than $261 million domestically but received mixed reviews, scoring a 65 at Metacritic. But reviewers were more enamored of it than Pixar’s last sequel, “Cars 2,” which scored an average of 57.

2. “Man of Steel”

The newest Superman film came out on June 14 and starred Henry Cavill in his first go-round as Clark Kent, Amy Adams as intrepid reporter Lois Lane, and “Boardwalk Empire” actor Michael Shannon as villain General Zod. The film was the latest attempt to reboot Superman after 2006’s “Superman Returns,” and a sequel to “Steel” is already planned. The movie raked in more than $289 million at the box office, but critics were even less impressed with this film – it currently has an average review score of 55.

1. “Despicable Me 2”

The animated film starring Steve Carell as a former supervillain and Kristen Wiig as his romantic interest was released on July 3 and has grossed an estimated domestic haul of more than $350 million, already far beyond the original movie’s domestic gross of more than $251 million. However, critics liked the first better; “2” has a 62 Metacritic average, while the original “Despicable Me” scored a 72.

The list of films shows more than ever how May is increasingly becoming part of the summer movie season – we had to toss out the highest-grossing film of the year so far, “Iron Man 3,” because it came out May 3.

So now does the release of the historical drama “The Butler,” starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, and a host of actors as various American presidents, mean it’s Oscar season?

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