10/18/2006

Movie Seasons

Posted in Side Topics at 10:32 am by Stephen

The leaves are changing color in places that aren’t Southern California, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s Fall, which I like to refer to as “That Season Where Allegedly Leaves Fall But We Get a Lot of Good Movies.” Since Oscar voters apparently have a long-term memory that’s even worse than mine, the studios save their best films for release between October and January in the hopes that members of the Academy will be able to remember the title of the new Scorsese movie long enough to not vote for it.

I don’t want to sound unexcited — I really do have a good time following all the Oscar hype, though I know it’s all silly — but I can’t stop thinking that this way of dumping all the good movies into a three month period kind of stinks.

I don’t really know how long this trend has been going on for, but in the old days before multiplexes and home video movies didn’t really have national release dates. They would come out, play in the big cities, then those prints would sort of wind their way around the country playing in smaller venues, maybe winding up in the revival circuit. These days nobody but me goes to theaters to see old movies, and the big blockbuster model includes releasing a DVD six months after the movie opens, so movie showings don’t have that sort of slow release cycle.

The summer movie season began in the 1970s, when Jaws and Star Wars told execs that big budget spectacles could score when the kids were out of school. Unfortunately, it now means that I hate almost every film released between April and July. Even worse, the films released in February, March, August or most of September are generally total garbage, as they’re stuff the studios didn’t think were good enough to serve as Oscar bait or flashy enough to attract mass audiences.

What gives? Why are there are four or five months out of the year where there aren’t any movies playing I want to see? I hate it because come Fall and Winter, I feel a bit overwhelmed and always miss out on a lot of stuff that looks good. It’s tough to make it to the movies every single weekend, and looking at the next 8 weeks there’s at least one movie I want to see practically every weekend. If some of these were released in March, they’d have no competition at all and I’d end up seeing more films.

I can’t really fathom the economics of this. I get why you’d release all the teen-oriented films in the summer, but dramas for adults shouldn’t really be seasonal. It’s no easier for me to see a movie in December than it is in July or March. Is the amount of money a potential Oscar nod or win worth the lost revenue by releasing into a crowded marketplace?

8 Comments »

  1. Dave (130) said,

    October 18, 2006 at 12:27 pm

    You could maybe consider being less of an elitist snob and actually liking movies like Spiderman, so you could have something to do during the summer?

    HAHAHA BURN!

    Anyway, I don’t have much to say about “Oscar Season”, except that if Academy voters really have memories that are THAT bad, perhaps they need BETTER Academy voters? How does one get to be a voter, anyway?

  2. Sam (405) said,

    October 18, 2006 at 12:49 pm

    You’re invited to become a member when you become accomplished enough (however one defines that) in your field, or you can apply directly.

    It’s a real chicken-and-egg thing with the Oscar season. Do Academy members vote for recent movies because they have short memories, or do they vote for recent movies because studios *think* they have short memories and release all their good ones at the end of the year? It’s a vicious cycle.

    I think there probably is a tendency to vote for the movies freshest in our minds, perhaps not so much because of short memories but because movies that have an emotional impact do wear off after a while. If you see two great movies, one in January and one in December, and they both resonate with you personally, probably the one in December is going to trump the one in January, because its effect still lingers. Also, a highly successful movie like Titanic or Rain Man or whatever sets itself up for a backlash when people start forgetting the initial effect and decide the lavish praise is unwarranted. So studios jockey for position at the end of the year, to try to capitalize on the initial wave of hype.

    I think we’d get better results if the Academy voted on movies from the *previous* year, so a momentary fad doesn’t impact the votes. But then the Oscar machine wouldn’t be a marketing benefit to anybody, which defeats its real purpose.

    But exceptions run rampant. “The Silence of the Lambs” won Best Picture after a January release. Both “Gladiator” and “Crash” overcame early spring/summer releases to beat out end-of-year favorites. The exceptions are plentiful enough that I think the greater explanation for the phenomenon is actually the tendency of the studios to pile their best movies at the end of the year, rather than short-term attention spans on the part of the Academy. But certainly both factors are in play.

  3. Stephen (221) said,

    October 18, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    My problem with summer movies is that I invariably get fooled into thinking they might be good, and then I’m angry at myself for being such an idiot. And I’d like to note that my favorite film of 2005 was Sin City, a comic book action movie.

    I’m a bit of a snob, but let’s be honest: The Fast and the Furious 3 is not really a movie aimed at thinking adults.

  4. KTSlager (55) said,

    October 19, 2006 at 7:33 pm

    3 Fast 3 Furious!

  5. Sam (405) said,

    October 19, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    I really hope the next one is called “4 Fast 4 Furious: Faster and Furiouser.”

    It’s too bad Jet Li isn’t doing action anymore, or we could have “Cradle 3 The Grave: Cradle 2 The Grave Part 2.”

  6. Stephen (221) said,

    October 19, 2006 at 10:31 pm

    Thank heaven they’re making Die Hard 4, so now I have a joke title for movies that go to four.

    “Live Fast or Die Furious” is obviously the correct title.

  7. KTSlager (55) said,

    October 20, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    I had a joke I made wih friends that I think went on for an hour. “Bring It On” had a sequel called “Bring It On Again”. “Bring It On: All or Nothing.” “Bring It On Yet Once More.” “Bring It On Again, But This Is Seriously The Last Time.” “We’re Totally Not Kidding, Bring It On Just One More Time And We’ll Never Ask You For Anything Again.”

  8. Eric (44) said,

    October 26, 2006 at 7:57 pm

    My stock joke sequel titles are the Star Trek titles, especially “The Wrath of Khan”. “The Wrath of Khan” is, to me, way funnier than “Electric Boogaloo”.

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