Weekend Forecast for July 27-29, 2007
By Reagen Sulewski
July 27, 2007
You can have your pirates, spiders, ogres, robots, rats and wizards. As far as I'm concerned, the whole summer, nay, the whole year has been leading up to this weekend and Our Favorite Family.
In 1969, Man walked on the Moon. In 1971, Man walked on the Moon... again. Then for a long time, nothing happened - until this weekend, with the release of The Simpsons Movie, the culmination of 17 seasons of the animated series' run. Think about that for a second. Eighteen years. There are kids entering college this fall who have never lived in a world where The Simpsons weren't on the air. This truly is the Simpsons Generation.
The big question is whether the Simpsons still have "it", or if "it" is scary and frightening to them now (it'll happen to you). Every Simpson fan has their particular point where they thought the series started going down the tube (Season 11 is the big cliff for me), recent seasons of the series have been stronger, which fills me with hope for the quality of the movie that might not have been there a couple of years ago. It truly looks epic in scope and worthy of the big screen treatment. The "why pay for something you can get for free" argument has never rung true for me, since it's a) five times as long as an episode, b) on a bigger screen and c) almost no one doesn't pay for TV any more.
The TV ratings of The Simpsons have never been tremendous, and last year the show was rated 60th out of about 150 prime time shows, with about nine million viewers an episode. Considering that six out of the top ten shows were some variation on a talent competition, I personally don't feel too bad about where the Simpsons sits culturally, but obviously it makes you wonder about the reach of the show. That said, there are a tremendous number of casual viewers of the Simpsons, and they live on in syndication and DVD sets. It's tough to find someone that hasn't at one time been a regular viewer, and these millions of fans of Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa, that little baby Simpson, etc., are who Fox is counting on to drive the movie's box office.
Details about the movie have been tightlipped, which matches the production. The film was announced out of the blue last year, to the shock of many after years of claiming that there was no way that a movie could be produced while the series was still running. I suppose they just got tired of waiting. Reviews so far have been very positive, and although that might be boosted by general fondness of the show, no one is tougher on the Simpsons than Simpsons fans. There's a general enthusiasm for this project like few other movies out there, and unique marketing attempts, like making over 7/11s into Kwik-E-Marts have met with mob scenes. I don't want to overstate my case here, but life as we know it may seem empty and without purpose come Monday.