"Times are tough and getting tougher, and as the summer movie season launches, Hollywood is banking on escapist fare and fantasy flicks to cheer recession-weary audiences." -- Cristy Lytal of Reuters
This past weekend marked the unofficial beginning of the summer movie season with the premiere of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Traditionally, it's supposed to begin on Memorial Day and end on Labor Day, the bookend holiday weekends of the summer months, but Hollywood does its best to stretch out a good thing, so we tend to see potential blockbuster popcorn flicks debut earlier and earlier, trying to get a jump on the competition. Some summer movies have debuted in early May, in April, even in March.
The whole idea of summer tentpole films, studios' big moneymakers and franchise motion pictures that attract young audiences in droves and pretty much generate the bulk of the revenue for the year, began in the 1970s with Jaws and Star Wars. Summers would never be the same again.
On Sunday, I read the New York Times' annual Summer Movie Preview section (one of the last remaining reasons I still subscribe to the Former Gray Lady whose fancy color layouts have failed to hide the fact that its content continues to shrink and become irrelevant in the Age of Online News).
Here's a list of the movies coming up for which I have high hopes. There are countless others that may rake in the big bucks by the time autumn rolls around that didn't make my list, like the DaVinci Code prequel Angels and Demons or Eddie Murphy's family-friendly fantasy Imagine That, or comedies like Year One or Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, or cartoons like Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs or G-Force, but they just didn't do it for me. Hopefully there will be little gems that surprise me, such as, maybe, District 9, Pandorum, or Moon. We'll see. For now, these are the ones that are beckoning me to the multiplex.
Star Trek (May 8) -- J.J. Abrams revamps the Trek franchise with young, new actors stepping into the boots of those familiar characters romping across the galaxy aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise.
Terminator: Salvation (May 21) -- The trailers for this Terminator sequel look amazing and should rejuvenate the saga, wiping away the tepid memories of Rise of the Machines and revitalizing the franchise despite the ratings collapse of the promising television version The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Up (May 27) -- Pixar is bound to make a lousy movie eventually, but I hope this charming looking animated film isn't it.
Land of the Lost (June 5) -- Another remake, as Will Ferrell confronts earthquakes, dinosaurs, and the Sleestak.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (June 12) -- Denzel Washington stars in another remake, this one about the hijacking of a New York subway train.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (June 24) -- The sequel about those giant robots in disguise.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (July 15) -- The adaptations of the J.K. Rowlings adventures of the "Boy Who Lived" continue to be a marvelous achievement in fantasy cinema.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of COBRA (August 7) -- Yes, I'm looking forward to this. I loved the cartoon and action figures when I was growing up.
Inglourious Basterds (August 21) -- A war movie by Quentin Tarantino. Enough said.
So sit back, pass the popcorn, and have a wonderful summer at the movies.