I’d like to discuss summer movies today, especially since I just got off a plane and have YET to catch my recorded GleeandRaising Hope and Running Wilde (as well as all the other gerund-based TV show titles that launched this week). But first, a news item I find newsworthy although given the network it concerns, perhaps it’s not newsworthy at all. We have reports that HBO has renewed Boardwalk Empire for a second season. Obviously great news for them. And, if the reports are accurate, it’s great news for a genuinely great show. Plus it’s surprising news in some ways too, because you know we’re in that era when nothing gets a huge vote of confidence early on (in fact the reverse is true and things get canceled abruptly since times are sooo bad that advertisers don’t want to proceed for another second with a show that’s not a hit). So the crazy thing is that this show aired and was picked up for a second season some eleven minutes later. Obviously the premiere was popular– but in this time of extreme caution it’s shocking. But doubly nice to see a show of tremendous, absolute and overwhelming faith in something. And kind of a nice thing for the show’s star, Steve Buscemi, who’s a very charming and wildly talented guy. Just saying. Now the reason this newsbit might not be so newsworthy (or at least indicative of some kind of upward trend) is because it’s HBO, and HBO doesn’t work like any other networks; they’re known for taking their marbles and doing whatever they want (Years ago, they also passed on a little show called Mad Men, so maybe they’re being super careful with potential hits. Let’s hope so). But now to summer movies. So I was reading Entertainment Weekly’s summer box office recap. You know I LOVE the lists. #1 was Toy Story 3 (with $405 mil), #2 was Iron Man, #3 was Twilight : Eclipse, #4 was Inception, with Shrek Forever After, Despicable Me and Karate Kid following. First thing that pops into my mind is: what does it mean? I saw a lot of these films and wasn’t at all sure who’d be the highest grosser. So while the magazines, TV shows, radio programs, the blogs and just about every other media outlet on earth try to make sense of it (what’s the summer trend /is there a pattern/ can we repeat it/ is there a formula being revealed?) there may not be many lessons here at all. (Other than if you’re a movie studio, just do whatever Chris Nolan wants). One thing I noticed about the top three films? People will spend a ton of money to watch indestructible, otherworldly and frequently man-made heroes prevail. We can say some sequels work – but not all (witness Sex and The City 2). Plus, Inception is continuing to make money but it’s also a very tough film to get your brain around (or at least it was for me). And then you get into the TV stuff – since some of the remakes might work (Karate Kid did, MacGruber – based on a TV spoof of a TV show – didn’t). So no magic potion here. Now I didn’t see Toy Story 3 and even though everyone says it’s extraordinary, I just can’t bring my (obviously cold-hearted & cruel) self to watch it. But I do know that Toy Story 8 will likely be just as popular. Nor will that basket of toys ever really interest me. I did love Iron Man 2 (which was derisively called a “chick flick” by some critics – fine by me). I knew Eclipse would be successful (or is that just because the book is the best of them and thus far the most exciting to adapt?) I am looking at the summer’s top ten finishers and I cannot see any patterns – let alone rules for future movie makers. For example, The Last Airbenderwas #9 and it got abysmal reviews, and Salt was #10 and were it not for Angelina, it too would have gotten super-abysmal reviews. The bottom line here is that there’s no accounting for accounting in today’s Hollywood. I can’t tell where the patterns are here; but you’ve probably got some thoughts. I’d love it if you’d weigh in on this final tally from summer. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these highest-grossing films of summer is your favorite:
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