summer blockbusters

Pacific Rim

It’s not that I wanted Pacific Rim to fail. It really isn’t. I definitely don’t have any stake in how well the movie does or doesn’t do, and as a fan, it’s natural to want to see one of my favorite filmmakers succeed in such a way that increases his ability to make the movies he wants to make. Yet at the same time, I can also see the silver lining to its semi-lackluster financial performance: the freedom afforded a director who didn’t just have a smash hit. Del Toro making a ghost story with Crimson Peak was always promising, but you never know what can happen when success traps you in a sequel prison; all the sudden your schedule has a lot of 2s in it. Don’t get me wrong. It’s exceedingly cool that geeky directors are getting house-sized checks to work with, but after revisiting Devil’s Backbone and Cronos, it’s clear that getting a $200M budget shouldn’t always be seen as graduating. And there’s the problematic irony of what summer movies have become. The slate has become a predictable celebration of repetitive stress injuries delivered by computer graphics strapped to a stick of dynamite. By trying to be huge, everything looks the same, so you get a situation where a movie is greenlit because it looks like Transformers but then fails (largely) because it’s marketed like Transformers. Go figure. Somewhere along the way, “loud” became the vanilla ice cream of the summer.

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Empty Movie Theater

To Whom It May Concern: 532,000,000. If you’re drinking the last drops of stale champagne from last night after celebrating the second highest-grossing summer on record, that number should sober you up a bit. It’s the number of actual tickets sold from the first week in May to Labor Day, and it’s down 4% from last year – making it (if the number holds) the smallest amount of moviegoers coaxed into theaters since 1993. This isn’t a doomsday scenario or anything. It’s not an air raid siren; just a wake up call. Overall revenue dropped for the first time in 7 years, but even as you’re still making large amounts of money, take note that your audience is looking for something else. You might say that the Olympics were the villain, but they were offset by higher ticket prices that managed to hide a deep, bleeding cut. Sometime soon, there will be a saturation point for how high you can drive up individual ticket costs while audience numbers creep down and the blood shows. That’s pretty basic economics, but who knows. Maybe a growing economy will mean you never have to see larger numbers of customers chased away by absurdly high entry fees; perhaps they’ll stabilize alongside a population willing and able to spend a little bit more to see magic in a big, dark room. Regardless, you’ve got to change your products, and you’ve got to change the way you’re presenting them to us. You’ve got to know that there’s a […]

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as DogEatsHeart and 5Obstructions5 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the pair apply some sun screen and some green screen in order to forecast how the movies of Summer 2011 might shape up. Is there a secret weapon to its inevitable success? Is its success inevitable? Anything would be better than last year, right?

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Last summer was a good (not great) movie season. Granted, there were some notorious duds with Robin Hood, Jonah Hex, Avatar: The Last Whatever-It’s-Called, the one where Jake Gyllenhaal talked real funny and had his shirt off a lot, and many, many others. And, of course, there were some rather disappointing missed opportunities (*COUGH* Iron Man 2 *COUGH*). But overall, it was a solid time for both big event films and the smaller ones. There were two excellent high profile films (Toy Story 3, Inception) and a handful of great little-seen ones (Animal Kingdom, Cyrus, Solitary Man, etc.). And who could forget about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? This summer will most likely be no different. There are a few films not to get too excited about, but there are plenty of other films to get tingly about. There are two Marvel films, a new frickin’ Terrence Malick epic, a great looking new X-Men…the list goes on and on. In fact, the list goes on right now with the 15 Must See Movies of Summer 2011:

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Boiling Point

Ah summer. It is finally upon us. Okay, technically, in scientific terms, summer doesn’t begin until June, but in movie season, May is summer. Suck it, scientists. Summer brings many wonderful things: warmth, trips to the beach, drinking in the daylight, bikinis, and summer blockbusters. Unfortunately, summer also brings many terrible things: crippling heat, overcrowded beaches, drunken idiots, fatties in small swimsuits, and summer blockbusters. See, it’s a joke – some summer blockbusters are awesome, some are terrible. All of them, however, are designed to be fun, something many in the critical community can abide or swallow without gagging. Soon you’ll start seeing phrases like “a real summer movie” or “mindless summer fun.” You know what I call movies like that? Regular fun.

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Jaws didn’t mean to do it, but Summer has become the biggest business in movie-making. This summer, we’re getting a new batch of movies that the studios are hoping to be gigantic, but thankfully for us, they fit into 6 handy categories. Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius have worked tirelessly (except for five or ten naps) in order to break these movies down and present them to you. What will you be watching this summer? What excites you the most? What do you have the highest hopes for? These films all have the potential to bust blocks, but will it be your block they’re busting? Here they are, the six types of films coming out in the following months.

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Most casual movie fans don’t know anything about the contentious relationship between the studios and the screens they use to display their wares. The quick and dirty version isn’t a pretty one. The studio system basically holds all of the power when it comes to how movies play, how much of the cut they get from them, and how long they’ll stay exclusively on screens. Now that studios are attempting to show new films on Video-On-Demand just a month after hitting theaters (at the premium price of $30 (which is less premium than going to the theater with a family of 2-4)), the theaters are finally fighting back. Sadly, they’re fighting back with empty threats. At least they’re going for the gusto. The National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) is threatening to boycott screening films involved in the VOD plan, and that includes the giant summer flicks that were on everyone’s Most Anticipated lists. The money quote from NATO chief executive John Fithian’s statement to the Financial Times: “Let’s say you’re Regal Cinemas and it’s a busy weekend with a couple of big pictures opening. If it’s 50-50 between this picture and that picture and you have a partner that respects your [business] model and another one that doesn’t, you’re going to give the screen to the partner that respects your model.” Respecting that model is a case of giving theaters enough time to make money off of doing what they do.

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