I remember like it was yesterday. I was 12 year old back in the summer of 1989 and seeing the onslaught of summer previews made me giddy. When you’re 12 and your social options are highly limited, (playing outside, sports, video games), the cinema is usually hangout number 1. Being I was (still am) a HUGE film nerd/snob/afficionado, I had no problem spending a ton of time in the multiplexes. And when we had to write one of our final essays for our 6th grade English class, I chose to write about what summer films I was most excited to see: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Nightmare on Elm Street 5 (I was 12, cut me some slack on some of these), Uncle Buck, Karate Kid 3, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, License to Kill (James Bond), as well as everyone’s crown jewel that summer…BATMAN. Jesus christ, I counted the days down for that one like kids counted down until Christmas. It came out on June 23rd (happy birthday to my then 6 year old sister, Jill) and boy, did America go all-in with this film. 24-7 showings in NYC, breaking box office records. And look what else came out that summer that I learned to appreciate a little bit later in life: Field of Dreams (ok, it came out in late April. Also, tied with Major League as my favorite baseball movie) Lethal Weapon 2 (Diplomatic Immnity! Has just been revoked!), Do the Right Thing, Parenthood (still holds up), Road House, Dead Poet’s Society, and the Abyss. I mean, wow. I dare say probably the best summer slate I’ve ever or will ever see.
Fast forward to present day. Every April, I still enjoy looking for that summer release schedule to see what the biggest films of the year are going to be. And every year, I have about 3-5 I truly am excited for. This year, Captain America 3 was my biggest anticipation and it didn’t let down. X-Men: Apocalypse was a CLOSE second but unfortunately, this was a letdown and Singer’s first swing and a miss in this franchise. The new Star Trek looks ok and Matt Damon is back as Jason Bourne so I was pretty sure I’d be giving my 15 bucks to see Bourne yet again. But after that, the list went bleak. Bleaker than Yankees playoff hopes. Yeah, didn’t think I’d be writing that sentence in awhile but here I am. I’m a movie reviewer for a radio station in NY but I haven’t been fully doing my job as I refuse to pay money to see crap in the theater. I’m mainly reviewing new to DVD films, that’s how bad it is.
Here’s a list of the most likely money makers along with their budgets (domestic grosses)
Secret Life of Pets: week 1 take over 100 million, budget 75 million. Verdict: Winner Most cartoon films do pretty well in the summer time. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Legend of Tarzan YTD 81 million, budget 180 million. Verdict: BOMB How many times do we have to tell Hollywood that no one cares about Tarzan since 1960?
Finding Dory: YTD over 400 million. Budget N/A Verdict: HUGE winner. Pixar RARELY misses (The Good Dinosaur is the lone exception)
Independence Day: Resurgence YTD 91 million, budget 165 million Verdict: BOMB (Should’ve paid Will Smith what he wanted, probably could’ve saved this)
Warcraft YTD 46 million, budget 160 million. Verdict: COLOSSAL BOMB. Even the gamers turned their backs on this one.
Xmen: Apocalypse YTD 158 million, budget 178 million. Verdict: It will break even, especially with DVD and overseas but this was not supposed to be a break even or slightly profitable, it had higher expectations. Are poor reviews to blame (yes and it wasn’t that good) or over saturation of superhero films?
BFG YTD 38 million, budget 140. Verdict: Colossal Bomb. Spielberg doesn’t eat shit but in this case and Indiana Jones and the Curse of the Crystal Skull, he sure did. No one gave a shit about the 3rd most popular Roald Dahl story.
Ninja Turtles 2:YTD 80 million, budget 135 million. Verdict: BOMBS AWAY. Again, world box office receipts may get it to even but how do you fuck up a Ninja Turtles movie? Answer: Keep Michael Bay in charge.
Alice Through the Looking Glass: YTD 76 million, budget 170 million. Verdict: Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined. No one gives a shit about the Looking Glass story anyway, why make this a live action film?
Next week is probably one of the most negatively discussed film that has yet to be released, the Ghostbusters film. I hate reboots because 9 times out of 10, there’s no need to reboot a solid film. And there’s no need to reboot a film just to force-feed us political correctness. I loved Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars. Why? It was organic and not contrived about this. I love Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique and Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft for the same reasons. The new Ghostbusters has the dubious honor of being the most negatively reviewed trailer on youtube. Even Target put the action figures in the clearance bin (target clearance) before the movie comes out!? Yeesh, not a good sign.
And what else do we have to look forward to?
The new Ice Age film comes out soon and not one has grossed under 160 million yet. Will America burn out on this franchise? Maybe but I doubt it
The new Star Trek film. Justin Lin (Fast and the Furious) takes over JJ Abrams director’s chair so we’ll see.
Jason Bourne. Should be fine
Suicide Squad-DC’s answer to the Avengers. Massive reshoots were ordered after the success of Deadpool because they felt more humor needed to be injected. The real question will be how does Jared Leto handle the Joker after Heath Ledger put that character in the stratosphere with his performance.
Pete’s Dragon (live action) The Jungle Book live action was a smash but I don’t think this will be near as successful. I never saw the original Pete’s Dragon and don’t recall anyone else looking back fondly on it. Hell, did or do they even have a ride at Disneyworld for this film?
Ben Hur-historical reboot. No thank you
Sausage Party-animated Seth Rogen film. I’ll pass.
Here’s the bottom line: A lot of these tentpole films bit the big one. Why? America is getting smarter and not dropping $15 a ticket. And god forbid if you go see a film in 3D or even 4D where you could shell out as much as $30 a ticket for a mediocre film. Audiences are saying no thanks, I’ll wait for Netflix or illegally stream it. And can you blame them? You run the risk of sitting next to assholes who are talking and chewing their food loudly. The guy 5 rows in front of you is on his cell phone every 2.5 minutes and the light keeps distracting you.
The reason you see so many reboots is because a lot of the good ideas have been done and the knockoffs of those good ideas are mediocre at best. Long gone are the days where an entire summer offers a variety of quality movies. I wish they weren’t but it sure does seem that way. And good for you, America. Keep your wallet in your pockets and don’t pay top dollar for less than acceptable quality films. I know I’m not…