Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Change in the Summer Movie Season

Traditionally the summer movie season ran from Memorial Day to Labour Day. This was the time when Hollywood would release their biggest movies. That having been said, for the past several years it has seemed more as if the summer movie season has ran from early May to July 4, with very few blockbusters being released after that (I wrote about this phenomenon last year). That having been said, this year has been different. Not only have movies that could be considered blockbusters been released in August, but movies have actually done better in August than they have the past several years.

Generally speaking, the past several years late July and August have not been a period when big Hollywood movies have been released. More often than not it has consisted of smaller films and family comedies; however, this year has been different. The Simpsons Movie, widely expected to do well, was released in late July. This summer also saw the release of threequels in two different franchises (The Bourne Ultimatum and Rush Hour 3). It saw a well done fantasy movie with a good budget (Stardust) and a "teen" comedy set in the Eighties that would actually seem to appeal more to people in their thirties and forties (Superbad) as well. None of these movies are typical fare for August

What is remarkable is that many of these films did remarkably well. While none of them quite matched the numbers generated by the summer's earlier blockbuster releases (Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), some of the movies have done very well at the box office. So far The Simpsons Movie has pulled in $165,271,443. The Bourne Ultimatum has earned $164,694,690. Rush Hour 3 has made $87,676,529. This weekend Superbad did very well at the box office for a late summer comedy; it earned $33,052,411. These are fairly remarkable numbers for late summer movies. particularly when one considers that the box office winner of the same weekend last year, Snakes in the Plane, only earned $13,806,311 for that weekend

Of course, not every movie released late this summer has done well. Stardust, based on a Neil Gaiman novel and featuring such heavyweights as Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, has only earned $19,493,894 in two weeks. The Invasion, just released last week, only earned $5,951,409 this weekend. It would seem that this summer is not so different from other summers that every movie is going to do respectably well this late in the season.

Still, the box office numbers for films from The Simpsons Movie to Superbad are far higher than those have usually been seen late in the summer for the past many years. Enough that I have to wonder that the movie summer season is not changing again. While the success of such early films released in early May as Twister, The Mummy, and Spider-Man have insured that it will never again begin as late as Memorial Day, I have to wonder that in the coming years we won't see the end of the summer movie season shift back to Laobur Day weekend or, at least, the end of August. Speaking as someone who has always enjoyed going to the movies, and who has not liked seeing every single big movie concentrated in the months of May and June, I can certainly hope so.


RC said...

good thoughts for sure...unless something amazing happens with next summer august looks kind of drab again.

it does seem like after july 4th the best "big guns" have been played.

Mercurie said...

Yes, August of next year does look pretty drab as far as movies go. I am just hoping that this August the studios will have learned that if they release movies people want to see this time of year, then they can make a good amount of money. If they do, we might see more Augusts like this one.