"The Lone Ranger" may have been lonely at the box office, but summer 2013 pulled in a record amount of money.
Paul Dergarabedian at Hollywood.com estimates the season's gross at $4.71 billion, up 10 percent from the summer of 2012.
The average ticket price was 27 cents more than a year ago, and "Iron Man 3" got the season (first Friday in May through Labor Day) off to a roaring start.
As the summer crawls to an end, here's a look at some lessons from the months that brought heat and "Heat," iron and steel and a surplus of animated movies.
1. Familiarity breeds success: Originality took it on the chin this summer, further driving Hollywood into the safety of franchises, prequels, sequels and recognizable titles.
2. There is always an exception to the rule: No one under 55 or 60 seemed eager to see "The Lone Ranger." Still, they sometimes dragged adult sons or young nephews to the movie, which didn't do itself any favors with its 149-minute running time.
Disney could lose $190 million on the movie, prompting Mr. Depp, co-star Armie Hammer and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to blame the critics who "slit the jugular of our movie." The PG, however, said it had much to offer, in Mr. Depp, its spirited use of the "William Tell Overture," the location cinematography and spectacular train derailments.
3. It's not over till the fat lady sings or is eaten by a zombie: Before it opened, stories about "World War Z" focused on clashes, delays and other troubles on the set. Once it actually arrived, though, moviegoers warmed to it, attracted by Brad Pitt, a PG-13 rating and the notion of a zombie pandemic.
4. Minions, here we come: The turnout for "Despicable Me 2" bodes well for "Minions" in 2014. "Man of Steel" had a bigger three-day opening but the second movie featuring Steve Carell as the voice of Gru, now a husband and father of three girls plus keeper of the minions, outpaced Superman.
5. Septuagenarian success: If Woody Allen had stuck with TV, he probably would have been drummed out of the writers' room long ago due to age discrimination. But, at 77, he's at the top of his game with the drama "Blue Jasmine."
6. Bigger is not always better: Some of the best movies of the summer were the smaller gems, such as "Blue Jasmine," "Before Midnight" (yes it's talky but that's the point), "Fruitvale Station," "The Way, Way Back" and "The Spectacular Now."
7. Who's laughing now? Critics were brutal in their assessments of "Grown Ups 2," but audiences were happy to gravitate to the PG-13 sequel with Adam Sandler and comic company. Most of the other hit comedies, such as "The Heat," "This Is the End" and "We're the Millers" were rated R.
8. Coming down to Earth: First "After Earth" and then the mistaken impression that Will Smith and his children were aghast at Miley Cyrus' MTV Video Music Awards performance. Closer analysis showed they were reacting to Lady Gaga's opening performance and innocent actions such as gum chewing were seriously misinterpreted.
The Smiths can take comfort in the lesson of "After Earth" as explained by father to son: "Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. ... Danger is very real but fear is a choice."
9. Other losers, winners: Mr. Smith, the actor once known as "Mr. Fourth of July," wasn't alone in failing to deliver at the box office.
"Jobs," starring Ashton Kutcher, took too small of a bite of Apple's mercurial genius, and even a cast led by Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford couldn't make the shallow script of "Paranoia" appealing.
"Kick-Ass 2" was disowned by one of its own stars, Jim Carrey, for its violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shootings, and it was RIP for "R.I.P.D.," featuring Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds and villains who seemed cartoonishly dated in their digital design.
The winners' column would have to include "Fast & Furious 6," which closed with a tease for the seventh installment, and "The Conjuring," which has made nearly $132 million in North America and spawned plans for a sequel drawing on the case files of demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.
10. Oscar watch: "The Butler" could earn Oscar nominations for Forest Whitaker, already an Academy Award winner, and Oprah Winfrey, who received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2011 but lost the 1985 supporting actress race to Anjelica Huston from "Prizzi's Honor." Ms. Winfrey had been nominated for "The Color Purple."
Cate Blanchett seems a given as best actress contender for "Blue Jasmine," and Michael B. Jordan could vault into the actors' circle for "Fruitvale Station," in which he plays 22-year-old Oscar Grant, killed on New Year's Day 2009 on a subway station platform in Oakland, Calif.