Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Is the New Summer

I feel like it all began with the unexpected success of 300 back in March of 2007. Up until then, everyone knew that if you had a potential blockbuster on your hands you released it in the summer. Big-budget, popcorn films and summers off just go hand in hand. Something about not being in school and the heat just make you wanna go to an air-conditioned theatre for a couple hours and turn your brain off. But, all that changed with the $70.89 million opening weekend of 300. Suddenly, studios realized that summer movies didn't have to be released in summer. (I wonder if they'll ever realize that Oscar movies don't always have to be released in the final weeks of December? It gets so hard trying to see everything at awards time when they're all released at the same time. They're probably afraid that if people actually had time to think about a film, they'd realize that it's not as good as they initially thought.)

With the success of 300, each year since has had a major March release. Tim Burton's (horrible) take on Alice in Wonderland in 2010 is still the biggest success of any film released in March. Its opening weekend was $116.1 million and its final US gross was $334.19 million. With the better-than-expected $70.2 million opening of Dr. Seuss' The Lorax this past weekend and a couple more high-profile, blockbuster films coming out this month, I think it's safe to say that March is no longer in the forgettable, barren wasteland stretch between awards bait and summer fare, but has established itself as the beginning of the Summer Blockbuster Season (if only the March weather would realize that)...

'I have a feeling we're going sink faster than the Titanic. The ship not the movie. Is there still a chance to join the cast of The Hunger Games?'
March 9: John Carter of Mars
This Friday brings the release of Pixar director, Andrew Stanton's first venture into live-action with the reported $250 million budgeted, John Carter. There has been a lot of press about this film lately– all bout how the over-budget film is looking to be one of the biggest flops in history. Last year, they decided to change the title of the film (based on a series of books from the early 1900's by Edgar Rice Burroughs) from John Carter of Mars to the very generic sounding, John Carter (that's also the name of Noah Wiley's character from 'ER' which would be a different movie altogether). Apparently, they were afraid that the sci-fi aspect of the film would alienate (pun intended) a potential audience. But, I mean, the film is set on Mars. You can only fool people so much. They're gonna realize once (and if) they actually see the movie. Because they haven't embraced what the film actually is, the average movie goer has no idea what the film is about now. It really hasn't been marketed well and I read some reviews today that weren't too glowing. Entertainment Weekly gave it a D, y'all. Things aren't looking good for its success or the intended trilogy it was supposed to start. But, every interview I've been reading with director Andrew Stanton has been really interesting and he's wanted to make this movie since he read the books as a kid. It makes me really want it to succeed. People were predicting a huge flop with Avatar as well and that turned out for the best (Oscar noms and blockbuster status ain't too bad). We'll find out on Monday how it all goes down.

March 16: 21 Jump Street
Academy Award nominee (it's still strange to write that before his name) Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum team up on this buddy comedy based on the Fox TV series from the late 80's/early 90's that started Johnny Depp's career. Chan is already starting 2012 off well as his rom-tragedy with Rachel McAdams, The Vow, is one of two films that have already grossed over $100 million in the US. The other being Safe House. (Two very different movies. Good job on keeping Hollywood guessing what makes a hit, America.) I really don't see this as being a huge blockbuster, but it should be a reasonable hit that should make some money. That is until the following weekend when a certain movie gets released...

"Hey, this guy from ER wants to join our movie."
March 23: The Hunger Games
Get ready because this is gonna be huge. Tickets already went on sale last month and are tracking at Twilight levels of success. But, this film really has the potential to be even bigger than those films. People keep comparing them because they're both based on a hugely successful YA trilogy of novels, but the appeal of Hunger Games is more vast. Everyone is reading them–not just females. This movie is so big that no other films are being released that weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. But, I wish the damn thing would open already as everyday brings the release of some new trailer or clip or new 100 stills from the film. I would share them, but do we really need to see and know everything about it before it's released? Until then, we can always satiate our appetite for the film (and actual hunger) with these cookies from Eleni's bakery. Nothing celebrates children fighting each other to the death quite like a sugar cookie with Jennifer Lawrence's face.

March 30: Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titans 
Oh, boy. I don't really see either of these films (Mirror Mirror is the first of two Snow White based films released this year and Wrath is the sequel to 2010's Clash of the Titans) doing that great. (Have you seen the trailer for Mirror Mirror? It looks so bad. Julia is really straining herself with the comedy and everything looks so unintentionally hilarious. And the poster everywhere here in NY looks like it's for an ABC Family TV movie. Her evil queen is no Charlize or even Sigourney Weaver, for that matter.) But, the studios must think they have a place in this suddenly crowded, potential Blockbuster month. It's nice to have options if you don't feel like seeing Hunger Games a third or fourth time...

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