Friday, 22 April 2011

Summer releases

As it's the first Bank Holiday of the year, the sun is shining and my peely wally skin is beginning to burn, my mind naturally wanders to the summer holidays, air conditioned cinemas and the fact that Hollywood brings out the big guns to ensure it makes enough money to do it all again next year.

Following on from last year's Toy Story 3 and Inception releases - can this summer possibly be any better?

The blockbuster season usually kicks off a couple of weeks into May and, every other week into the August Bank Holiday, will see huge star, franchise and concept film released. The smaller, independent, foreign language films are only released to give people some refuge - don't expect to see them at your local multiplex - this isn't Oscar season.

Ignoring the Easter release Thor (how many films did Natalie Portman make before going on maternity leave?) the summer gets underway on 18th May with the release of the new Pirates film - playing in 3D and IMAX it will offer more of the same (thrills), for more of the same (money) and everyone will leave feeling the same (that's probably enough now - we don't need a fifth).

Two weeks later it's The Hangover 2 - granted an unlikely blockbuster but this is exactly what Hollywood craves - a small to medium budget film that coins it in at the box office. It costs little but yields a huge return. These are fluke films that no one expects to hit but part of the reward (other than the financial side) is that it does hit - it connects and finds an audience. It's very difficult to repeat as part of the appeal of the original is that no one expected it. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how The Hangover 2 plays.

From this moment on, the films fly thick and fast, X-Men: First Class, comes at the end of May. After the middling success of Wolverine Fox will be looking to get their franchise back on track and what better way to win back an audience than to completely change the cast and director? Imagine changing the entire cast of Coronation Street and expecting people to watch - I'm sure it would work...

More 3D with Kung Fu Panda 2 and Transformers 3 (pity the poor cinemas who only have one 3D projector - look out for 'For Sale' signs of the smaller independent cinemas who have none...).

I'm exhausted already and it's only the beginning of July. Research and wisdom tells us the average person will visit the cinema three times a year - the summer, Christmas and one other. If you hear people laughing at an advert you've seen a thousand times or complaining the cinema is always busy - that's your average person right there.

So, go, enjoy the summer and what the cinema has to offer. Without these big films, which are made to appeal to everyone, with (usually) no more than a 12a certificate and a 110 minute running time, the smaller films, your King's Speech, Black Swan, Submarine and Animal Kingdom, would never get made.

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