ByTrevor Norkey, writer at
Writer, filmmaker, actor and film enthusiast.
Trevor Norkey

Summer is the season for big blockbusters, like The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World and Transformers. As fun as these huge films may be, they often take away from the other films which are usually just as good, if not better, that just don't get as much publicity. These are the 'sleeper films' that some people hear about but most people don't go to see, instead hitting the 3D theaters for the latest installments in big franchises.

In no particular order, here are 9 of the best 'sleeper' summer films from the past five years:

1. The World's End (August 23, 2013)

This sci-fi comedy written by and starring Simon Pegg was not the most well-recognized comedy during the summer of 2013. Though it was amazing, it was washed out by the more popular 'American-version' This Is the End which featured big names like Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel. Though The World's End received the better rating of the two, This Is the End was much more popular and put this amazing film on snooze for the remainder of the summer.

2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (July 11, 2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was one of those films that everyone had heard about but almost no one went to see. Most who saw the movie, though, had amazing responses to it and how it actually managed to connect the audience to the apes. It was very well made, but other films like Transformers: Age of Extinction, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to drown it out.

3. Edge of Tomorrow; a.k.a. Live Die Repeat (June 6 2014)

This Tom Cruise action-thriller brought forward crazy and intense concepts that were simply overlooked by fans last summer. Its action sequences and in-depth concept should have packed the theaters, but most people overlooked it, as they did with the other films on this list.

4. Super 8 (June 10, 2011)

With J.J. Abrams as the writer and director and Steven Spielberg as the producer, this movie was destined for greatness. But publicity? Not so much. Though it was a phenomenal film, it was overlooked during the summer of 2011. Maybe it was the shaky camera scenes or the lack of an 'A-list' cast that made it lose fans, but whatever the reason, Super 8 did not become the memorable masterpiece it was supposed to be.

5. X-Men: First Class (June 3, 2011)

That's right, there's a superhero movie on this list. Why? Because this film too was overlooked at the box office. In fact, it's safe to say that about half of the people reading this are scratching their heads right now trying to remember which movie this was. This was the X-Men prequel starring Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence (before The Hunger Games). It is actually my favorite X-Men movie and it kills me that it did not receive the publicity it deserved.

6. Boyhood (August 15, 2014)

After making the movie for 12 years, you would have thought the filmmakers would have worked better on their marketing. Boyhood was an Oscar-nominated film about a boy growing up. The cool part is, it's the same cast all the way through as they grow too. It was done remarkably well and deserved more recognition after all that was put into it.

7. Snowpiercer (July 11, 2013)

This dark, post-apocalyptic film starring Chris Evans extremely under-performed at the box office. This, like many other films on this list, was most likely caused by a lack of marketing. It was an extraordinary film with a great cast and an awesome concept, but it did not receive nearly enough attention to showcase that.

8. Paper Towns (July 24, 2015)

This rather recent movie adaptation of John Green's book with the same title was, in my opinion, outstanding. Most people looked at the trailer and assumed it would be like a Nicholas Sparks book, but this was not the case. Instead, it brought forward a story of adventure and moving into the next chapter of your life. I recommend it for anyone; not just teenagers, as it may help bring back your younger, more adventurous side. Though it was a great movie, the romance-movie stereotype made many potential fans decide against it in favor of other, bigger movies.

9. The Help (August 10, 2011)

This Oscar-nominated film told a very inspiring story during the Civil Rights movement that touched the hearts of almost everyone who watched it. Tears were shed by the audience members and, of course, Oscar nominations were tossed every which way by the Academy. It actually did very well for a non-franchise film, but it too makes the summer 'sleeper' films list as it was still rather overlooked just like every other movie on this list.

Bonus: American Ultra (August 21, 2015)

With its release slated for tomorrow (August 21), rumblings on Twitter and with the stoner-core film legion hint that American Ultra is going to be really fun. It reunites two brilliant young actors in an original blend of Pineapple Express comedy meets Bourne-esque action, with some original twists along the way. Ultra tells the story of a regular stoner (Eisenberg) who ends up being a sleeper agent for the government and has no clue what he can do. The trailer looks hilarious and you can view it here. The positive social chatter, super cool marketing materials, and rollicking badass vibes scream summer sleeper. It's a crowded summer playground at the theater, but I don't see a more sneaky fun offering hitting the big screen this summer, and this one is definitely worth a watch.


Which summer 'sleeper' film is your favorite?


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