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End-of-summer throwaway movies bring blockbuster season to a close
Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel star in "Furious 7," which kicked off Hollywood's summer season in early April. - photo by Chris Hicks
The dog days of summer are winding down, not that weather cycles are all that predictable anymore. (Were they ever?) But the Hollywood seasons remain consistent.

Blockbusters dominate late spring and early summer, and throwaway films fill the multiplexes in late August.

Actually, throwaway films are more dominant all year long, in terms of filling the majority of the theater screens. But new major-studio releases in late August are often such obvious turkeys that the studios can only be fulfilling contractual obligations by shipping them to theaters. These are movies that no one expects to make money.

(Again, were talking wide-reaching studio films here, not art films that play on fewer screens and make their way slowly around the country.)

Back when I was a film critic over a couple of decades, I made a practice of taking my two-week vacation at the end of August.

This was time spent with my kids when they were young, before they started school again, and if we did go to a movie, it was something they wanted to see, not something I needed to see.

In fact, it was usually something I had already seen, providing me with a nice two-hour nap at matinee prices (plus popcorn).

Then, in early September, when I returned to work, Id catch up on movies that opened during my absence.

With some luck, several of those woebegone flicks had already played out. But I dutifully went to those that stuck around, writing late reviews and stating the obvious: Yes, its every bit as unwatchable as you thought.

Anyway, here we are in the dog days of 2015, and the mid-August openings held a couple of plot twists Straight Outta Compton is a bona fide commercial hit and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a bona fide flop. Those were the major-studio releases of Aug. 14.

Last weekend, on the 21st, it was more predictable end-of-summer fare, with a horror sequel, Sinister 2; the action comedy American Ultra; and the based-on-a-video-game Hitman: Agent 47. All three fared poorly and will soon fade from movie memory.

And today, No Escape and We Are Your Friends are the major openings, two disparate films with generic titles youll have forgotten before you finish reading this column.

Overall, its been fantasy/superhero/sequel business as usual, not all that different from summers past.

But there are always some surprises the biggest being the enormous success of the summers No. 1 hit, Jurassic World.

The long-awaited third sequel to Jurassic Park was expected to do well and possibly even nestle into a top 10 spot. But to outdistance the Avengers sequel by nearly $200 million? No one saw that coming.

Jurassic World is such a huge stateside hit that it is now the third biggest movie of all time, after Avatar and Titanic, pushing each of the next four down a notch: The Avengers, The Dark Knight and two Star Wars pictures.

And its done so well worldwide that its also No. 3 on the international charts, again trailing Avatar and Titanic. (And yes, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have signed on for yet another Jurassic go-round.)

The second biggest hit of the summer is Avengers: Age of Ultron, which opened May 1, followed by Furious 7, which set the pace with its April 12 opening.

Yes, according to Hollywood, mid-April and the first of May are the new June 21.

Nos. 4 and 5 are cartoons, Inside Out and Minions, respectively. The rest of the top 10 summer movies are: Pitch Perfect 2, Ant-Man, Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, San Andreas and Mad Max: Fury Road.

No. 11 on the summer hit list is Straight Outta Compton, which is still on the rise, as is Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. So its too soon to know where they will eventually end up.

Meanwhile, in the coming weeks and months there are more reboots (The Transporter Refueled, The Jungle Book, The Peanuts Movie, Friday the 13th) and more sequels (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Hotel Transylvania 2, James Bonds Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, Kung Fu Panda 3), along with the more serious fall films that will be jockeying for position among Oscar possibilities.

Stay tuned.