Death at the Multiplex: The Summer Movie Body Count begins now!

What do mermaids, mutants, pirates, cowboys, nice aliens, mean aliens, handsome vampires, gross vampires, evil fascist wizards, evil fascist robots, evil fascist Nazis, evil communists who have the redeeming trait of not being fascist, and homicidal psycho rebel apes have in common? They’re all going to kill — or be killed — at your friendly neighborhood multiplex this summer. Because, fellow moviegoers, today marks the beginning of the summer blockbuster season: Four straight months of slambang superhero action, epic science-fiction battles, and historically-inaccurate explosive devices. And, in honor of Hollywood’s most important season, we’re kickstarting our official Summer Movie Body Count.

We’ll be in the theater right next to you every week, counting every fatal gunshot, every decapitation, every bomb, every Avada Kedavra, and every Smurf-icide. The hunt began at midnight this morning, when Thor decimated the galactic population of Frost Giants, and it won’t be over until late August, when Final Destination 5 ends the summer in a veritable orgy of death-by-household-object and A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy ends the summer with a veritable… orgy.

We want you to play along at home, and in the interest of making this as precise as possible for the stat-geeks in the audience, here are the rules:

1. We’re only counting deaths that legitimately occur onscreen. So, just because Michael Bay shows a skyscraper being knocked over by Megatron, don’t just round up to 5,000. Also, let’s not forget that most of Michael Bay’s skyscrapers are probably empty, because…

2. Hollywood is currently in the grip of a horrific PG-13 pandemic, which means many of the deaths that occur onscreen will be bloodless non-human deaths. This is because the MPAA doesn’t think a twelve-year-old should see a human being get comically decapitated, but they have no problem with showing the same twelve-year-old an image of Thor’s hammer slicing a Frost Giant in half. Hooray for ambiguously legislated morality! Hence, we have opened this body count to any species who have achieved human-level sentience or beyond. No, cute little dogs don’t count. Because they are stupid.

3. In the interest of letting everyone play along, we’re focusing our official Body Count only on films with wide releases in 2,000 theaters or more. However, if you catch an indie film that features a particularly gruesome fatality, be sure to mark it down, because…

4. We’ll be handing out awards. We’ll be on the lookout for the best deaths, the funniest deaths, the saddest deaths, the best last lines, the most unexpected murder weapons, and more. Each week, we’ll ask you to vote on your favorite death of the summer so far.

We’ll be back on Monday to report on the all the deaths in this weekend’s wide releases: Thor, Something Borrowed, and Jumping the Broom. So, probably just Thor. But you never know — maybe Ginnifer Goodwin goes on a murderous shotgun rampage at the end of Something Borrowed. I’ve said too much! Spoiler alert!

Here’s to a fun, frothy, comically kill-tacular summer at the movies, PopWatchers. Now get counting!

Comments (23 total) Add your comment
  • ralph

    Do you count a death if the character is later brought back to life, like Optimus Prime in the last Transformers disaster? Inquiring statistics geeks want to know.

    • Cygnus

      Darren, tell #2 to Gary Ross as he makes The Hunger Games. The books are chocked full of the horrendous deaths of minors, but apparently Gary is shooting for a PG-13 rating because of the YA audience of the books. I’ve always thought the movies should be R, and allowed to show the gruesomeness portrayed in the books. Instead we’re probably going to get some horribly watered down Disney version.

    • Darren Franich

      Good question, especially given the weirdly regular occurrence of main-character resurrections in blockbuster movies.

      We WOULD consider Prime’s death as a candidate for a Deathy award, but since Prime’s resurrection would ALSO be counted (as a -1) in the total body count, the net gain would be 0.

  • Bin Laden

    It’s about time for summer movie season! Winter and Spring sucked.

  • Jackie

    For saddest deaths, I’m already predicting any of the deaths in ‘Deathly Hallows Part 2′, although two in particular stand out in my mind.

    • BFD

      Well there are some that won’t be so bad. Kinda like the end of bin Laden if you think about it.

    • robert

      prof. snape’s should be the saddest

      • Lauren

        yeah it should. i started crying when snape died in the book and alan rickman should easily make us cry in the theater

  • Joesph

    You guys aren’t going to backtrack and include Fast Five? C’mon! You’re better than that EW

  • therealeverton

    Well a fair number of humans and Asgardians die in Thor too, I’ll have to count in my head! Frost Giants count I assume, because they are sentient, sapient and all that and further advanced then Humans too. The good thing about Frost giants, the really good thing, is they don’t bleed. The even better thing is that, whilst they have no problem stabbing and cutting people and other aliens to ribbons, they like freezing them too, which is also bloodless.

    Also, re your unseen deaths thing. We know that Asgardians and Frost giants died in the 100s and thousands, but probably only saw dozens actually bite it, so what’s the count?

  • Tim @rural_juror

    I look forward to this every summer now. Thanks Darren!

  • kec

    i want to know the body count for fast five!

    • chris

      me too

  • DanBoston

    If only Kate Hudson was brutally murdered at the end of Something Borrowed, maybe people would actually go see it.

    • Cygnus

      Ginnifer Goodwin is mega-cute. She has one of the best Hollywood smiles when her cheeks puff up.

  • Nick T

    This is why I read EW.

  • Monty

    I move that your award for “Most Unexpected Murder Weapon” be referred to as the Clive Owen Award (or something to that effect) in Honor of his use of a Carot to kill a bad guy in Shoot ‘Em Up. All in favor?

    • Cygnus

      I prefer the phallic-shaped ornament in A Clockwork Orange as the all-time best murder weapon.

  • Monty

    BTW you’re going to have to include Hobo with a Shot-Gun.

  • PN

    But those blockbuster movies with the body counts always do well in the summer months. They never do well in the fall, winter or spring. But there’s not been a standout the past 3 years; there’s been too many dull, lethargic action movies, not something to pull in $175 million or $200 million. I hope this summer makes up for that lull.

  • Anonymus

    how long does it take to calculate the death counts of movies?

  • Anonymus

    Next year you should count the deaths in every wide release movie, not just summer movies

  • tresorparis

    Great article. I cant wait to hear more about your research tool. If it is as good as your other products, then you will have another winner. Your article pretty much summed up what I have been seeing too. Great to see some hard data.

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