SUMMER OF THE BORING BLOCKBUSTER
Let’s be honest. This summer has fizzled rather sizzled. 2015 will not be remembered as one of the great summer blockbuster seasons in cinema history.
There have been some hits. JURASSIC WORLD is now the third biggest movie of all time, with a sequel commissioned for 2018. Chris Pratt will be back (that surely puts the kibosh on his being Indiana Jones?), as will Bryce Dallas Howard. Director Colin Trevorrow will help write the story /script but is not directing. Paging McG and Brett Ratner! MAD MAX:FURY ROAD has been universally acclaimed: it reminded us all that film is a visual medium, with simple stories, well told, in visceral and innovative manners being the true backbone of great direction (thanks, George Miller!).
But the other offerings have a stench of ‘meh’ about them. TERMINATOR: GENISYS was enjoyable but redundant and outdated already. It has crawled to $300 million, worldwide. A sequel IS still possible, though one suspects that has much to do with a need to retain the franchise rights for their own sake, rather than any burning need for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be ‘back’ once more. ANT-MAN has done reasonably well, though it’s still among the lowest grossing of the Marvel movies.
Now, the season is not yet over. We still have MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION, THE MAN FROM UNCLE and FANTASTIC FOUR. But even there; something’s just not ‘right’. ‘Mission’ was moved from December (probably to avoid SPECTRE and STAR WARS); UNCLE arrives devoid of hype or anticipation. FANTASTIC FOUR just had its studio refuse to release an advance cut of the film for critics (never bodes well!). At least one of those WILL probably hit ‘big’, but frankly that could be to do with lack of obvious competition, rather than some swell of demand.
So, what’s missing? Why the lack of real BUZZ about this summer? The answer is not some empirical calculation. And there will be legions ready to disagree with me and claim it’s ‘the best summer ever’. Fine. But consider this. 2015 was SUPPOSED to be JAM-PACKED with a swarm of sizzling blockbusters. STAR WARS was supposed to be out NOW. Ditto, BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE. Also, INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE.
Perhaps the summer schedule was amended to enable more breathing space for each movie? Maybe even preventing saturation with one or two otherwise promising entries becoming flop-risks simply by virtue of cinematic scheduling clashes? Remember: it costs a LOT of money to visit the movies nowadays and people are more sparing with cash and choices. Some have even suggested a return to the ‘B’ Movie structure of yesteryear, whereby it costs less to go and see a run of the mill romp-com than a big budget blockbuster.
But what’s interesting is that the unremarkable summer movies have done just as badly WITH breathing space provided! The absence of one or two big brands has not enabled others to shine. It has simply made us all miss or look forward to the later Fall / Christmas / next Spring and summer releases.
Indeed, there has been more ‘hype’ and ‘buzz’ surrounding the recently shown Comic-Con events / associated trailers (be they leaked, official or both) than for ANY of THIS summer’s output. On the one hand that’s a shame as it makes this summer feel like a redundant inconvenience and a damp squib. On the other hand, that reminds us WHY we were so lacking excitement recently.
We had been promised a bigger and better summer. But boy are we all looking forward to late 2015-summer 2016’s slate. SPECTRE! STAR WARS! BATMAN V SUPERMAN! CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR!
There’s always something to look forward to.