How to Read a Hollywood Release (Part 3)
The summer wind, came crashin’ in…
We’re continuing from yesterday. Now for the middle months…
The great thing about May is that it’s the film equivalent of gunning it after a red light. Let’s see how fast you can go 0-60. That’s what it’s like. And given the amount of money that’s spent, it’s also kind of like racing for slips.
Usually what the studios try to do in May more than in any other month is establish franchises. Sure, they do it in June and July, but you’ll notice more stand alone films coming out in those months. Plus, the franchises they start in July are almost guaranteed to work. Transformers? July. Speed Racer? May. May is the month where they really try to lay the franchises on you. Just look at it: Iron Man 1 & 2, Sex and the City, The Hangover I and II (which is more of a May/June franchise, straddling the last/first week of those respective months), Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek, Shrek, Prince of Persia, X-Men (which, based on how well these last two did, they bumped First Class into June). May kind of feels like the farm system for franchises. You get the new upstart ones – Speed Racer, Thor – ones they’re not sure will fully click, even though they are designed to — whereas the established ones are in the majors, June and July – we’ll get to those in June and July — and the old timers end up back in May. Looking at you, Indiana Jones. And Shrek. These are the old timers. Also, you’ll notice, of the other ones, only Iron Man is the one that is a solid May franchise. That is to say, all the other franchises I mentioned, Pirates, Hangover, Sex and the City – they’re all franchises where they weren’t quite sure whether or not there would be another one. The first two Pirates films were released in July. At World’s End was in May, as it was expected to be the last one. Franchises stick to the same summer release dates. They carve their name in the tree, so to speak. When they’re not sure when another will come along, they put it in May, because other franchises have already stuck their claims in May and June. Notice how Pirates 4 is a May date. However, if they end up shooting 5 + 6 back to back like they want to, I guarantee you that one or both of them will get June/July dates. Also, think of the date carving this way — The Dark Knight came out July 18th. It now owns that date. So much so that now July 18th has become the go-to date for the strongest possible film. 2008, Dark Knight. 2009, Half Blood Prince. 2010, Inception. It’s Nolan’s date when he wants it. 2011, Deathly Hallows Part II. I don’t even have to look at 2012 to guarantee you that Dark Night Rises is scheduled for that date. That’s how it works. Your name is carved, it’s yours. But May is more for when they’re easing the throttle on the franchises. Letting them end, or they aren’t so much invested in having them do incredibly well. I feel as though June and July are the fast lanes. Things come and go, speeding along at crazy speeds, most of them collect their money and get off the first exit, while others just crash and burn. While May is just laid back. Everyone’s lounging around the pool. No sharks or anything. Or even if there are sharks, they’re sitting on the lounge chairs next to humans, like, “Yeah, it’s cool. I know I’m supposed to eat you but, I got a tan going. The pool’s big enough for the both of us.” I guess that’s what I’m saying — May, is socialist.
Also, just so you know, there isn’t a fine line that separates May from June from July. I’m mostly just picking out whatever trends stand out to me. Some franchises do straddle the line between months. Specifically The Hangover and Kung Fu Panda. Both of those had one come out the last month of May and the other the first week in June. Which, are basically the same week. Months don’t really end over the summer like they do in other months. They sort of bleed into one another. And it’s weeks like that that help it. The May 28th week or whatever it is has the pseudo-June franchise, then June 6th has the June franchise. No difference really except a week. You’ll just have to figure it out for yourself.
I referred to May as the minor leagues. I think that’s an accurate sentiment. Because in May you do have either unproven talent, talent they want to scout to see if they’re ready for the big leagues – like Night at the Museum, which was originally a Christmas movie that popped huge, and now they want to see if its good for a summer release (plus they also don’t know if there will be another one, so May would be an optimal time for it). Then you also have the franchises sent there to improve their swing. Those would be the ones that either faltered, or its believed that they might falter for various reasons. The first example of this is Terminator. Here’s a franchise that took 12 years off between #2 and #3, and #3 was a moderate success but not huge. So when you make a 4th one, you really need to wonder how it’ll do. You know it has recognition, but it’s a war horse. It’s been around for a while. Do people even care about it anymore? Plus, you’re using all new people than you did before. No Arnie. So you drop it in May. See how it does. If it does like you expected, maybe a bit less, you drop the next one in May. If it does better, the next one comes out sooner and it comes out in June/July. It’s really not very scientific, but, from my end, it seems like that’s how they do it. Probably the way they really do it is with even less thought and more effort. That is, I’m putting no effort and a little thought looking for patterns. I bet they probably put no thought into it and put so much goddamn effort and money. That’s just how Hollywood is.
The other example to point out here is Narnia, which was guaranteed a first audience because the first book is the most widely known of the bunch. But did you really think the six other books were gonna have guaranteed huge audiences? So, they put it in May to see what the retention rate is. See if the fact that they called it The Chronicles of Narnia will get people to show up anyway. And they had a moderate success with it. Enough that they got a third film out of it (mostly out of international grosses and not so much domestic, though they went back to December on that, thinking that would work. It didn’t. Good luck with the fourth one).
The last set of films that come out in May – at least the last noticeable trend in May films – are the Rom Coms. Capital R, capital C. The ones that go full retard. These come out all summer long, but a specific brand comes out each month. The Rom Coms of May are the sappy ones. Just Wright, Jumping the Broom (these two are Urban), Something Borrowed, Bridesmaids (which is interesting in that they seem to be trying to pull this one off as a female Apatow movie. I think. It’s too early to tell), Letters to Juliet, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Made of Honor, and The Strangers. Well – all but that last one. You know. Though What Happens in Vegas is decidedly not a straightforward one. Unless it is. I assumed it was a bad slapsticky one that you’d see during other months like February. But it’s possible they play it straight and the trailer just made it seem that way. I don’t know. I avoided it like I avoid 300-pound trucker ladies in flannel with the armpit holes cut out.
Now, instead of just lecture, I’m going to test you out. Pop quiz, hot shot:
I’m going to give you a list of movies that came/are coming out in May, all of which have failed or probably will, and you’re going to tell me what month they should have been released instead. You don’t have to tell me why they failed (or will), though the release date is partially doing that for you. You can also tell me what they’re doing in May if that’s applicable – which it is for some of them. Have your pen and paper ready. Write your answers down in your copy books in a neat and orderly manner. Let’s begin:
- The Beaver
- The Tree of Life
- Robin Hood
- Next Day Air
- Dance Flick
Stop writing, now. Let’s see how you’ve done…
Priest, an action movie based on a graphic novel starring Paul Bettany and directed by the man who directed Legion. There’s a film that was a modest success in January and is now having its follow-up (that has nothing to do with the original except director/star and the whole, religious figure fighting vampires/supernatural figures thing. So really nothing at all) pushed into May. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work. What month does a film like this feel as though it would be released? Normally you’d think January, but apparently, the film was originally scheduled for last October. Which makes sense. More Halloween-y. Religion goes in January, vampires go in October. Action-wise. Not, shitty tween movie-wise. But, then they said, “Let’s convert it to 3D!” because, they were deprived of oxygen at birth. So then they bumped it to January. Big hint on quality there. Then they saw how a conversion actually takes some effort to not fuck up too badly (it’ll be fucked up anyway), so now it’s a May release because, as they say, they’re “trying to attract summertime audiences” with this. Which means, cutting losses. You know this is gonna be terrible. It may be awesome, but it will still be terrible. Please tell me we can all see that. I feel like a fifth grade teacher trying to teach math or something. Where I can see the end goal and why everything makes sense, but they’re all brainless twits and I can see there’s a chance they don’t get why this all makes sense. I also just called you all brainless twits. Unless of course you understand all of my logic, in which case you can then laugh at all the brainless twits around you that don’t. And isn’t that funny? Look. Look at them. Look at their faces. Those foreheads. Look at them. They don’t look you in the eye when you talk to them.
The Beaver, the Mel Gibson film. I’m going to save you the trouble and tell you, this was pushed from April, and no one’s entirely certain it will even release in May like they say. But we’re all hoping it does, because I’m terribly excited for this. I hear Mel is incredible in it. But, this has been pushed so many times, and I think was also an October release from last year. This is an anomaly in the film world — the film that gets pushed due to issues with its star. Like if, say, Tom Cruise came out publicly as a Nazi and then made Valkyrie. Chances are that film would have been held back for a while. So, this one doesn’t really count as a May release. Something tells me they’re not gonna put this one out there too much. Just the tip, you know?
The Tree of Life. It’s been pushed for over a year, and is a Terry Malick film. Honestly, this could come out any time of the year and it wouldn’t matter. Notice how I gave you all the really hard ones? Well, this is the end of the lists when I can’t spot any trends and really don’t want to write about it. So, I leave it to you, and can explain all this writing as me being able to make fun of you. Seriously, look at that, they’re not looking at me when they talk to me. Tree of Life won’t make that much money, so that part doesn’t matter. This film being released in May is really a matter of what they think its Oscar chances are. And May is early enough to where maybe it could catch traction if its really strong, but they’re thinking this will be more like Get Low, which was an Oscar film released over the summer that was an Oscar frontrunner until all the Oscar films came out in October, and then only the really strong nominees stayed until the end (and lost out). So, they’re saying shortlist but no Oscar with this release date. It should have absolutely no bearing on the film’s quality whatsoever. Terry Malick is amazing. Plus it’s Pitt and Penn. This should do amazing in the art house circles.
Robin Hood. Ridley Scott. Russell Crowe. I’ll answer this with one question. Gladiator. Gladiator was released the same weekend this was. Ten years earlier. Plain and simple. Did you see the trailer? They basically turned Robin Hood into Maximus. But to answer the question, what month this was better suited for? April, without a doubt. This did well, but would have seemed like more a success if it came out a few weeks earlier. It’s not a May film. It’ll make money, but its obvious lack of quality, complete unoriginal storytelling, and the casting of old people as characters who were probably dead by the time they were the actors’ ages really didn’t help it. You release it in April and people would be more likely to go to it.
MacGruber. What the fuck was this doing in May? Did they really expect this to do well? Seriously, the month this should have been in is easy. March. Better opportunities. When has an SNL sketch, post-1999 led to a good movie? Someone fucked up here. Maybe they tracked this with all the idiots that are responsible for Two and a Half Men being the #1 show in America for like eight years. Of course they’re gonna be like, “I like me that MacGruber. He’s funny. He gets all, blown up and shit. That’s funny.” I picture that person talking with a redneck accent and sporting a mullet. And perhaps some mental retardation due to mild incest. Just mild, though. Like that mild glaze on top of the spicy Doritos.
Next Day Air. Ice Cube hood comedy. The correct answer here is never. That’s when this should have been released. We would also have accepted February, and if we had to, April.
Dance Flick. Why did this fail in May? Because it sucked. It should have been out in either February or August. Too bad. Wayans brothers haven’t ever been a mark of success in anything anyway.
The other last thing to note is that the indies from Sundance and such also get trickled in here. Examples are Solitary Man, The Brothers Bloom and The Fall. Look closely, good shit comes out here. So that’s May.
What have we learned? May is a month where we gear up for the real summer, and try out all those new and old reliable franchises. Most of the May films tend to be more fun, whereas the summer films are usually more, by the numbers (Star Trek vs. Transformers 2). You can be sure that, unless you know a franchise is for shit, most of the May films will be at least 3 stars. Normally you can spot the shitty films because they’re the ones you wouldn’t be willing to see if they paid you. May and April are months you need to look closer at, because there are some fantastic films that will be in limited release, and more often than not they’ll be better than the blockbusters that they put out during the month.
June is really where the summer starts. June and July are your two big summer months. August is more a cool down period. You don’t see blockbusters in August. Which is weird, because you think of August as your prime summer month. Nuh uh. This is where the magic is – June and July.
Looking at June, you have your standards – Superhero movies (X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern, The Incredible Hulk), mostly the lesser superhero movies, as June is the lesser of two summer months (thought its mostly interchangeable. July is just where the bulk of the money comes from, like 60/40), Pixar movies (Wall-E, Toy Story 3, Cars 2, Ratatouille), big budget star vehicles (Knight and Day, Land of the Lost, The Love Guru, Wanted, Get Smart), and on a similar note, shitty Adam Sandler movies (You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Groan Ups), star-driven “comedies” (Year One, Get Him to the Greek – that one’s actually a comedy, no quotes around it – Bad Teacher), shitty Katharine Heigl movies (One for the Money, Killers), which blends in with star driven genre films, that weigh more heavily on the genre than the star driven, even though the star is why they’re June and not May (Mr. Popper’s Penguins (children’s movie with Jim Carrey), Imagine That (children’s movie with Eddie Murphy), The Proposal (Rom Com with Sandy Bullock). The other ones left are franchises slightly out of place – Transformers and Kung Fu Panda are in different months than, but still less than a week away from, the release dates of the other films in their franchise, so not so much part of June, Twilight, which was forced out when Harry Potter said, “Fuck you, I’m taking my November spot before Thanksgiving,” and Twilight was like, “I got some drawing power, but I ain’t fucking with the Potter,” and retreated into the summer. Too bad it didn’t catch fire and burn away. (You know, Vampires. Yeah, I went there.) Also, we have other big one-offs or potential franchise starters. Those are Super 8, which seems like a one-off, but you can’t trust someone like J.J. Abrams. He’s from the Spielberg school – they’ll make a sequel to anything. Also, The Karate Kid, which was a remake, really, but once that made money you know they’re gonna have a sequel to that shit. Watch them. Will loves his sequels. Jonah Hex, which quickly became a one-off when they realized how badly it sucked. The A-Team, which will certainly get a sequel because of how awesome it is. But that’s gonna go to May. I don’t think it’ll pull enough to get July. Which then leaves Marmaduke, which, they must have fucked up. They seem to be fucking up with kids movies all over the place. They think they can drop them anywhere and still make money. That failed, then they pulled back on the throttle and now kids are starved. If this were released in March or April, it would have made money. Idiots. The Hangover, I don’t think anyone expected that one to hit. The only other two that really rate talking about are The Happening and The Taking of Pelham 123. I think people assumed the Tony Scott thing would have helped that make money, but, it’s more talk than action. A little too much action. This feels like a September/October movie to me. Like Spy Game. It’s a great film, which would have benefited from slightly less Tony Scott. Not a June release, I count that as a fuck up. It happens. And Happening, I think they really don’t know how to tell with an M. Night movie. Everyone raves about his scripts. Then the movies are shit. I mean, this one is amazing, but, for all the wrong reasons. I guess executives can’t tell between a good script and a bad script. If you can explain why that was released in any month, let me know. Otherwise, that’s June.
What have we learned? June is the summer movie month. Franchises and shit. Use your judgment. Chances are the majority of the films will be at least palatable. The good films out of the summer generally come from personally taste. Whichever you’re inclined to liking are the ones you like the best. You can’t rate the summer because it’s big and loud. Of all those movies, maybe you get a great film out of Pixar, which is expected, maybe a good comedy once in a while, and some good ones that shouldn’t be there, like Splice or Pelham. And then maybe one of the franchise films is better than just, “Yeah, shit blew up.” But don’t expect it to be.
The heart of the summer. The 4th of July weekend, the 11th weekend and the 18th weekend are the big three weekends for summer films. This is where they release big guns, the ones expected to make a shit ton of money. Just to list them: Transformers 1 & 3, Harry Potter 6 and 7 Part 2, Captain America (which intrigues me, that they released this after Green Hornet, which means they have the most faith in this one, which is cool, because it’s the one I’m most interested in), Cowboys & Aliens, Inception (which I explained already as having the Dark Knight date), Ice Age (which, the first one was early May, the second, after the first one made money was May 31st, then they moved 3 into July when they saw it was a cash cow, and now 4 is there too. If this one underperforms, watch them bump it back to June or May for 5. Because you know there’s gonna be a 5), Zookeeper (because they figured Paul Blart did so well this is a guaranteed summer blockbuster. Fucking idiots. Watch them line up for this). The Last Airbender. These are movies that are expected to automatically make at least $150-200 million. This is the world we live in.
The other strain that runs through these films is the kid-friendly blockbuster. Zookeeper counts as one of those. So does Ice Age. Other examples are Despicable Me, Cats and Dogs 2 (which, I think they really miscalculated that one), G-Force, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Movies that will generate money because under 15s will go see them. They count as expected blockbusters. Technically Winnie the Pooh counts as that because, one, it’s Disney, two, it’s aimed at the under 5 crowd, and they go in huge numbers to movies (see: Gnomeo and Juliet, plus, the parents go to, so, it’s added business), and they get people like me, who will go to any Disney movie. That’s hopefully gonna be huge. I’m hoping a $50 million opening weekend.
The other category is Will Smith movies. He gets his own paragraph.
Bouncing off of Will Smith, there are also “star” blockbusters, ones they think will be carried into success purely because of the star of the film and nothing more. Brüno is one of them. Borat hit big and they figured, how can Sacha Baron Cohen go wrong? Gay jokes. That’s how. Tom Hanks has Larry Crowne coming out this July. A movie about a dude having a mid-life crisis and going back to college and then fucking his professor, who is, Julia Roberts. So basically they think those two will propel this to $100 million. Then you get Crazy Stupid Love, Dinner for Schmucks, the Steve Carell movies. Hopefully after this one they’ll realize not to do it anymore. Then you get Meet Dave, which, they must have been drunk for. But maybe they still thought Eddie Murphy had drawing power back then. Funny People, I talked about, is the Apatow thing. His movies will be summer releases for the next few, until that well dries up. Also, Salt. They figured Angie opens too. Public Enemies is Depp. And to a lesser extent Michael Mann. Collateral did well. Step Brothers is Will Ferrell. Even The Ugly Truth is Butler and Heigl. The difference between June and July isn’t big, but usually, July is where they expect films to make a bit more and be a bit more successful. But I’m sensing that they’re pretty interchangeable. It’s all about the money.
What have we learned? Like it seems, summer is a high stakes gamble. High risk, maybe high reward. I guess if you show up stoned to the movies. Sometimes there are great ones, but usually at best you’ll get very good. Usually you can tell which ones to avoid. It’s really about turning the brain off. That’s it. Once in a while you’lld get something amazing. But don’t hold your breath. You kill brain cells that way. Oh, I get it. That’s what they want! Less brain cells, more likey of the bang bang. Oh…
Oh, August. August, unlike popular conception, is not really a summer month. I mean, it is, but it’s really all smoke and mirrors. Like that attempted arson at the funhouse. There are some franchises and big budget films that come out, but if you look closer, you’ll see that they’re really ones the studio doesn’t have huge hopes for. Let me show you.
First, let’s get the big franchise trends out of the way. August has its staple of franchises. Spy Kids – been released in August/early September for years. Any Spy Kids movie is going there. Even Robert Rodriguez’s other movies, the kids movies, Shorts and Sharkboy, also went here. And there’s Final Destination. Final Destination, and even now Rob Zombie’s Halloween, is to late August what Resident Evil is to September. Think about it. You think Resident Evil, you think, September release. I know this for a fact because, it’s usually released around my birthday, and I get upset when I want to see something and most of the movies out that time suck. Those are your two big franchises that are now dominating August. Last August we had Piranha 3D make a potential franchise spot, but it seems now they’re moving that franchise into September. Which makes sense. Anyway, that’s the solidified franchises. What you’ll see there are low budgets, for the most part. Nothing above $60 million. And grosses. You’ll get moderate to good gains off of them. They’re fairly consistent franchises, earning-wise (not so much quality-wise).
Also, I said you get the big budget (possible tentpole) films that the studio is not confident about at all. They don’t believe they’re going to do as well as they did when they greenlit them. Mostly because they’re probably for shit. Examples: The Smurfs. You knew that was a train wreck from the beginning. They’re praying they can make $100 million out of this and recoup that budget. They’ll even take $80 million. If they really had confidence in this it would be out in July. Also one they didn’t have too much confidence in, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. It did well enough to earn a sequel, but not as well as they were hoping for. Personally, I loved the film. I loved how stupid the whole thing was and had a lot of fun with it. But, they knew going in that it wasn’t as good as they were hoping, so they dumped it in August. Because G.I. Joe was a July film dumped into August. It was meant to make $200 million in July off a $175 million budget. August franchises are like $100 million budgets expecting to do that, maybe a bit more. So, dumping an overpriced film in a month where the budgets are all around lower, you’re gonna get the kind of profit Joe made. Which, was $300 million worldwide and only $150 domestic. Would have been a nice hit if the budget were lower. The next one I guarantee you will have less characters, less budget, and more of a focus on storytelling. Oh, here’s another franchise the studio didn’t have faith in – The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. They released a sequel seven years later and recast the female lead. Oh, and they basically took out a story and added CG in its place. Needless to say, they weren’t confident with the returns this was gonna get. So, August. Result? Didn’t recoup its budget domestically yet did fucking amazing overseas. But domestically, where the perception counts, it failed. The new August franchise that’s coming out is Conan the Barbarian. Personally, this feels like an August film. Because I’m excited for it, though I know it’ll probably be shit because it’ll be all action and won’t be able to retain the character of the 80s version. Hey, it’s just like Clash of the Titans.
That’s what August is for. The big budgets they’re expecting will fail. The ones that, while they may be good or even brilliant, the studios are expecting them to flop, and dump them in August because I guess it cushions the blow after all that success they had in June and July. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Inglourious Basterds, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, even The Expendables – these are all films that were made on large budgets and have obvious factors that make studios think they might not perform so well. Mostly being intelligent. Well, not so much Pineapple Express. But the rest of them. The Expendables was mostly, they didn’t believe Sly could open a film. That’s why Rocky Balboa and Rambo were dumped in December and January (Rocky for sentimental reasons, Rambo for shitty action reasons). This one, though, had a huge cast of famous people and planned on being a kick ass movie. But the Sly being old factor and the hard R kept them hesitant, so they put it in August. But it opened. I still say the next one stays in August, though don’t be surprised to see it in July. Also, Scott Pilgrim – huge budget, brilliant movie. Will it fly? It didn’t. They saw this coming. There’s something about it that makes it not marketable. I can see that, but I can’t see what specifically. So I’m not the one to ask there. Inglourious Basterds makes perfect sense. A Quentin movie (Kill Bill 1 & 2 were released in October and April), a war picture, and one where he rewrites history. Plus, it’s an Oscar picture, but also not really. August strangely makes perfect sense for it. Plus they made a hefty profit on it. Tropic Thunder was mostly, they spent more money on it than they should have, and probably the whole war/racism thing kept them hesitant. I think everything worked out on that one. But for various reasons, you can see why the studio wasn’t entirely sold that it would be guaranteed to make a profit. Also, District 9. They didn’t know how that one was gonna do, so they put it in August. Oh, and, Babylon A.D. Big budget Vin Diesel movie that everyone knew from real early on was gonna suck. They knew it wouldn’t make summer money but had to put it in the summer to give it a chance to. So they gave it the latest possible August date to put up appearances that it can still make money. The later in the summer and the bigger the film, know it’s all smoke and mirrors. The film is shit and they’re trying to pretend like they’re looking for profit, but are expecting not to get it.
August is also the dump month for the Friedberg and Seltzer abortions now. Disaster Movie and Vampires Suck being the last two that graced us with their stench. This is because now they start writing them in April, get them picked up in May, shoot them in June, and edit in July. That’s seriously how they do it. Shows, doesn’t it?
Also in August you get the shitties comedies of all. Seriously. Don’t’ believe me? This is when they put out those comedies that are so bad, you cringe. The ones no one wants anywhere else. The ones you will only put up with because school is coming up and you want one last fling before going back. The Switch. Unforgivable #1 from 2010. Also, The Change-Up, which is coming out this year, which is a body swap comedy with Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann. Actually, that cast gives me hope. ¾ of it anyway. Maybe it’s the body swap thing that makes me assume this will suck. Plus the August release date. But there’s more. The Sitter, which, admittedly is a Jonah Hill movie, but, he’s only funny when he has a good supporting cast around him that he can bounce jokes off of. Here? He’s babysitting children the whole film. Yeah, I think it’ll suck too. Oh, and Swing Vote was here too. That Costner movie about him having the last vote in the election. Not so much a comedy, but not really a drama either. Maybe that’s why they put it in August. Oh, and The House Bunny. The epitome of the August comedy.
Another trend I’ve noticed is the August women’s movie. At first it was for younger women, mostly with Alexis Bledel in it. Sisterhood of Traveling Pants and Post Grad. Clearly aimed at young females. But also they aim at middle aged women too. Julie & Julia, Eat Pray Love – they want those fat housewives in the theater. This is because of Mamma Mia. There will be a fat housewives movie every August from now until it fails. I guess we can also count The Time Traveler’s Wife as a transition between young and old, but that was definitely a push film. They needed reshoots and Bana had shaved his head for Star Trek. So, they dumped it late summer. So as not to mistake it for an Oscar film. Which it certainly wasn’t. Man they fucked up translating that book.
Now we’re left with four movies, before the final trend. Those are, 30 Minutes or Less, The Other Guys, Step Up 3D, and The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. First, 30 Minutes or Less is clearly meant to be the Pineapple Express slot. Action movie that’s also funny. That’s what that’s there. plain and simple. Next, The Other Guys was the very first week of August, so that could also count as a late July film. Plus that was also action more than comedy (there really wasn’t any comedy in it at all), and Ferrell isn’t exactly the draw he was in 2003. So maybe there was some slight hesitancy there. But not much, since it’s August 1st and not August 21st. So I guess that’s just a first week/last week deal. Step Up, no idea what the fuck that’s doing in August except, it’s in 3D. Maybe they thought people would go. No idea. And The Goods? I can only guess because it’s an R rated raunchy comedy with Jeremy Piven. He’s not exactly a draw. So, it’s summer because it’ll draw the Hangover crowd, but not July because it won’t make that much money. August just makes sense for it.
And at the end of August, you get the beginning of the genre films that typically fill up September. Takers – the pseudo urban crime film, The Last Exorcism – obvious, Traitor, the action film masquerading as an Oscar film but really as a drama, A Perfect Getaway, the thriller with alleged “twists” in it, Lottery Ticket, the “hood comedy”, which, I think they’re now trying to figure out which month they can release these in and make a profit (none of them. Hopefully they figure this out soon), Fright Night, which I think is gonna be a vampire movie/thriller/comedy thing, which makes sense it’s the last week of August, because it’s not a summer film and not really a September film either, the Guillermo del Toro horro movie – Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, that was reversed, my bad, and Death Race, the weird out of place film. That seems like an obvious September choice, but perhaps it being in the last week of August was either because that meant it was essentially a September release or because they thought they could sneak on that end of summer money. Either way, it worked.
What have we learned? August is for franchises they don’t expect to work that well. It’s for cooling down after the hot fire they spit at you in June and July. The later in August a film comes out, and the bigger its budget, the more likely it is to really suck. Unless it’s by an established director. They dump films they don’t trust to make a lot of money in August. Especially when they had big budgets. They feel the summer months make the most money, so they think even though it’ll flop, it can do the best if they release it in August as opposed to October or something. Also in August you get a lot of transitioning into the genre month that is September as well as a lot of bad comedies. If it’s August, and it’s a comedy, run for your life. But overall, you can gauge that, if it’s a big budget movie, maybe it’ll actually be good, and many times, there will even be some gems hidden in August that the studios think will fail financially, but are actually really high in quality. But seriously, watch out for those comedies.