Last weekend, "300, " starring THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA'S Gerard Butler, gave the winter box office a phenomenal 71 million reasons to cheer. That's a blockbuster of summertime proportions. It might as well be spring.
Gerard Butler: from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to 300 Beefcake
As regards age, they say that 60 is the new 40. At the box office, increasingly, Spring is the new summer. With each passing year, Hollywood fires its big summer guns ever earlier. On the back end, the summer movie season now ends mid August.
There was a time when the Summer Movie season was sandwiched between Memorial Day and Labor Day Weekends. Culturally, this made sense. Although Memorial Day Weekend is almost one full month ahead of calendar summer, Americans traditionally use the late May holiday weekend as the time to inaugurate summertime activities and events: outdoor barbecues, the Indy 500, picnics, first trips to the beach, etc. And, for students, school summer vacation wraps with Labor Day.
For a long, long time, everyone seemed content with the Memorial Day to Labor Day Weekends summer movie season. Motion picture exhibitors served up overblown, over budgeted, largely mindless "popcorn movies" through June, July, and August, closing the book on summer over Labor Day. As for Match-Flickers, we were content with the visceral chills and thrills that Hollywood dished out during air-conditioning weather. Everyone was
satisfied with the arrangement. Until....
Will EVAN ALMIGHTY be a divinely inspired summer hit?
It's a TWISTER, a TWISTER. The May 10, 1996, release of TWISTER changed everything. The movie was a huge hit, and its mid-spring launch of the summer movie season became the new industry standard. No more would Hollywood content itself with the previous parameters of the summer movie season.
This year, the three motion pictures that may well rank #s 1, 2, and 3, when all is said and done for Box Office Year 2007, premiere mid to late spring.
First on screen is SPIDERMAN 3, May 4. Not only does SPIDEY weave his web 48 days before calendar summer, but he returns a full three weeks before Memorial Day Weekend. New angst and a new costume, along with the franchise's beloved stars, mark SPIDEY #3 to take a big bite out of the 2007 box office.
SHREK THE THIRD is summertime's second B.O. monster to arrive in Spring - May 18, to be exact. All of the usual suspects return – and then some. As a box office attraction, it's difficult to top the big screen's green ogre.
If any movie can do it, it's PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END. The third in this phenomenal series may be to 2007 what its progenitor DEAD MAN'S CHEST was to 2006: namely the biggest grossing motion picture of the year. Yo-ho-ho, PIRATES dock at a box office near you on May 25.
In truth, and because of the aforementioned early
releases, the race for box office summer supremacy may be decided even before the kids get out of school.
Will HAIRSPRAY be a B.O. "Do" or "Don't?"
Should Match-Flickers insist on seeing true springtime fare in the springtime, the box office reflects that, too.
I'm curious to see REIGN OVER ME (March 23): offering the rarely seen sober side of Adam Sandler, as well as the always memorable Don Cheadle. This flick tackles the tough topic of a man who loses his family in the 9/11 attacks.
If it clicks at the box office, the double-feature (April 6) of Robert Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR and Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF could herald a new vogue for the double feature. For those of you unfamiliar with the double feature: it was a highly successful motion picture marketing ploy that offered mid-20th Century Match-Flickers two full-length movies, shown back-to-back, for the price of one. If this Rodriguez-Tarantino 21st Century incarnation does a box office belly flop, you can kiss the double feature goodbye for another 20 years.
I love a great hoax. That's why I'm hoping THE HOAX (April 6) will be one of them. Richard Gere stars as real-life con man Clifford Irving who, in the 1970s, sold a fake autobiography of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes to a major New York publishing house.
This spring, start your summer early, or be seasonal. The choice is yours. One way or another, just go to the movies.
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Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.|
He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.
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