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Archive for June, 2008

Poster Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Ah, Summer.

The sun, the warmth, the flowers, the fun, and of course…the movies.

Every year I find myself dizzy with anticipation as the summer grows closer for two reasons, one: I love warm weather, even excessively warm weather is good, and two: I love summer blockbusters. Now, every single one of the last eighteen years of my life has served a generous, but perfectly portioned amount of Hollywood entertainment during the months of May through August. However, the year 2008 has not been so pleasant, as we, the American public have encountered a tragic epidemic: Blockbuster-itis.

Blockbuster-Itis:(Noun) A profound illness with symptoms of entertainment apathy and boredom due to an unhealthy inundation of expensive, exciting, and flashy filmmaking resulting in skewed reviews, angry patrons and empty wallets. Avoid at all costs.

I classify a “Blockbuster” as any film costing more than 50 million dollars to make with hopes of generating at least 50 million or more in box office returns. This is normally a GREAT thing. During the Spring and Fall we all feel the lag in quality film as Hollywood spews out its “buffer” films (i.e. the romantic comedies, low-budget horrors, off-beat animated, parody comedies and ‘artistic’, independent films). That is why summer is so great, because beyond the short window of the Thanksgiving-Christmas movie showdown period, summer is the only time when we actually get some worth-while fare. And, in truth, Summer 2008 has been full of said fare. So what is the problem? Here it is: THERE ARE TOO MANY MOVIES. Yes, I said it. And no, I am not the only one. Hollywood is already feeling the financial pressures of the cinematic flood as the American and International public cannot keep up with demand from the studios to see their films. In May ALONE, we had the following:

Posters Courtesy of Comingsoon.Net

Iron Man-May 2nd, Speed Racer-May 9th, Narnia: Caspian-May 16th, Indy Jones: Skull-May 22nd, Sex and the City-May 30th.

That is one MAJOR Blockbuster EACH and EVERY weekend!! No wonder we can’t keep up! With nationwide gasoline topping $4 dollars a gallon and movie ticket prices sky-rocketing to offset cinema expenditures, the Global movie market is simply unable to comply. Let me illustrate this. Look at the schedule above, now using even trace amounts of logic, listen to this:

Opening Weekend goals: Iron Man- $50 million, Speed Racer- $35 million, Narnia- $75 million (no joke), Indy Jones- $100 million, Sex and the City- $30 million.

Now guess how many actually met those? Only 3. Iron Man exceeded all expectations, Indy made money but tanked critically (I loved it), and Sex and the City had the highest rated-R opening ever, only to make next to nothing in week two.

The real Loser here: Speed Racer.

I don’t include Narnia because quite frankly it was not very good and Disney knew better than to release it in such close proximity to other films. Shame on you Disney. But Speed Racer is a true gem that simply fell through the cracks. Plagued by Iron Man pandemonium, this wonderful and artistically nuts family delight with great morals and some of the most entertaining moments I’ve seen on film in years went largely unseen by the public. But how can you blame them?

That’s just it. You can’t.

Most of the movie going public are lower-middle to upper-middle class citizens ages 10-40. And yet, this is exactly the demographic most negatively impacted by the rising cost of living in today’s world. It makes me wonder just how out of touch the critics, as well as the entirety of Hollywood, are with the very people who pay their salaries. If I had been the studios, I would have aimed to only have a one major movie come out every other weekend ( I do realize this would greatly decrease the volume of films, which is the point). And yes, they do fight like cats and dogs over release dates, so the studios knew exactly what they were doing when they assigned them this close together. Secondly, I would have moved Caspian to Christmas 2008, and Speed Racer to August 15th to end the summer with an upbeat and exciting bang.

Needless to say Hollywood is panicked. New Line Cinema just recently went belly-up and Warner Brothers has since liquidated two of their studios (Picturehouse and WB Independent). How could they expect a recession-ridden economy to be able to support these films? And, better yet, how did they believe the critics could tolerate so much crammed into so little time only to be slammed by them purely out of desperation?

With the summer still young and more of the same inundation to come it makes me wonder: What was Hollywood thinking?

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