By George Rose
June 2, 2009
Things aren't always as they seem (as I say so often). Friends and coworkers can sometimes prove to be two-faced and selfish. On the other hand, rainy days can end up providing some of the brightest moments in life. It's all a coin toss, much like the box office. Just when we thought Wolverine would redeem X-Men 3 (crossed fingers), we got a Ghost Rider (sigh). Just when we thought Star Trek would be Star Wars: Episode I (a lackluster attempt at a franchise reboot), it proved to be a Batman Begins (joy!). Then come three highly anticipated blockbusters in the making (Angels and Demons, Terminator Salvation, Night at the Museum 2) that received lukewarm reviews and receipts at best. But how do we cap off our May 2009? Lifted back to grace with Up.
That's what makes Hollywood a pleasure to follow. Like with sports statistics, trends tend to fluctuate. Sometimes the expected homerun hitter can't even manage an RBI, throwing off the balance and shaking up the fans into a frenzy. How did May 2009 do? Hollywood starts the season off with a .333 batting average, meaning of the six at-bats (the six major releases) it hit two (Star Trek and Up), but boy were they knocked out of the park. Still, I'm quite shaken up.
Expectations were at an all time high for these movies. How could they not be? The month of May has become the launching ground for franchises and fandom but seems to be puttering out after a hotter-than-usual spring (thanks to Gran Torino, Paul Blart, Taken and Monster vs Aliens). T4 was the best of the worst but will probably end up earning the least. Studios are dropping the ball left and right and it's up to June, July and August to pick up the slack. Unfortunately the lineup looks to have as wide a variety as life itself.
June is... well... June. It has the variety but will still lack the punch of the other summer months. It will never quite live up to May or July but usually has a hit or two more than the late August push. There is only one guaranteed success of massive proportions (Transformers 2), a few hopeful hits that might make around $100 million (Land of the Lost, Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, Year One) but not much more, some good chick flicks (The Proposal) and some bad chick flicks (My Life in Ruins, My Sister's Keeper), the surprise hit in the making (The Hangover) and the outright bomb (Imagine That).
When you deconstruct it like that, it sort of takes some of the fun out of watching the month unfold as it happens. All of May was expected to be huge, as the new movies were mostly sequels, prequels and reboots. The shocks came in the disappointments since the studios hoped all would open to massive numbers. June's variety of expectations may lead to a more accurately guessed outcome, since BOTH the expectations and the outcome will have hits and misses. I hope I'm wrong, so as to restore a bit of that wild-card wonder of the spring season but from the looks of it now we are on a pre-fixed path laid out by the Hollywood execs.