Monday, May 15, 2017

Goodbye Summer Blockbuster Hype

It was bound to happen eventually, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn't. 2017 marks the second year in a row where there isn't a single summer movie being released between the beginning of May and the end of August that I'm hyped up enough for to want to see in theaters. It's not that it looks to be an especially bad year for summer blockbusters - the Marvel movies should be decent, and I have very high hopes for "Wonder Woman" and "Dunkirk." My enthusiasm level for blockbusters, however, has been steadily dropping over the years, to the point where there are only two or three each year I feel are worth a theater trip. And mostly, they don't come out in summer.

There's no mystery why. I'm in my mid-thirties, and now firmly out of the target audience for most blockbusters. I was enough of a fan of various properties and creators that there were usually one or two movies that could get me excited every summer season. In 2015, it was "Inside Out." In 2014, it was "X-Men: Days of Future Past." And though neither of them turned out well, in 2013, I was salivating at the thought of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" and Neil Blomkamp's "Elysium." This year, however, I'm coming up short. There are plenty of films that I'm looking forward to seeing, like "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" and "War for the Planet of the Apes," but nothing that I'm really invested in as a fan.

There's a PIXAR movie, but it's "Cars 3." There's a Christopher Nolan movie, but it's a WWII epic instead of a twisty genre picture. I'm burned out on "Pirates" and "Alien," which have had a few too many bad installments. I'm still not all that fond of "Spider-man," even though the new version that debuted in last year's "Civil War" was fun. And I was positively meh on the first "Guardians of the Galaxy." "The Dark Tower" is intriguing, but I don't know the source material well enough to really be anticipating it. Also, the less said about "Transformers" and the non-PIXAR animated offerings this summer, the better. If one of these titles unexpectedly gets stellar reviews, I might be tempted into the cineplex anyway, but usually I'm already excited about something by now.

Part of this is due to changing tastes, and part of it is due to my own altered relationship with moviegoing. As with most responsible grown-ups, I don't have time for so many theater trips anymore. Last year I only managed five. There are only certain types of films I feel are worth the price of the ever-more-expensive tickets too. If it's not something that really benefits from a big screen presentation, like a big action film or an effects spectacle, I'm more likely to wait for the home media release. I have no problem waiting three months for something to hit streaming services anymore. So while Sofia Coppola's upcoming "The Beguiled" may be a fantastic film, it's not something that I feel I really need to see in a theater. "Star Wars," however, is.

And speaking of "Star Wars," I am looking forward to making trips to see "The Last Jedi" in December, and the "Blade Runner" sequel in October, and maybe even "Thor: Ragnarok." I've remarked on this before, but most of my most anticipated films seem to come out around the holiday season, when you see more prestige pictures, and the more family-oriented blockbuster fare. Summer tends to be for broader, dumber, more disposable films. However, this isn't set in stone, and I suspect that the summers of 2016 and 2017 may just be a fluke. Looking ahead, the summer of 2018 will have "The Incredibles" sequel, and the "Avengers: Infinity War" movies are mighty tempting.

I also fully expect that the theatrical exhibition business model will continue to change as technology does. MoviePass probably isn't going to work out in the long run, but some kind of theater subscription plans look likely. And I'm not going to be as busy as I am now permanently. I still do love watching movies in theaters, and wish I could indulge more than I do now.

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