The New York Times has this to say about this summer's movies: "Hollywood’s summer movies promise to be a little fresher, more original and funnier than usual. And that could be a problem for an industry that has done well lately by peddling the familiar."
This has awakened me to something I should have realized, but did not: Hollywood was pleased with last summer's movies.
I'm not going to tell you anything earth-shattering here, but Hollywood likes making money and doesn't care if the movies are good or bad. And man, is that short-sighted thinking. There were lots of movies that made a great deal of money last summer, some of them quite good. But the ones that made the big money were pretty bad. The top 4:
Spiderman 3 - $336 mil
Shrek the Third - $322 m
Transformers - $319 m
Pirates 3 - $309 m
Of these, only Transformers is pretty ok, and it's the only one that made money because it was pretty ok. Those other three made big money not because they were big event movies but because they were sequels to big event movies that were actually good.
The Times writes: "As hot as “Iron Man” is, with domestic ticket sales of about $180 million in its first week and a half, it still trails last year’s summer season kick-off movie, “Spider Man 3,” by about 25 percent in the same time."
But that's a ridiculous comparison. Iron Man is a good movie with a mid-level star that's raking in tons of money because it's good. Spider-man 3, which sucked, raked in tons of money as a sequel to two good movies. (Disclaimer: I hated all 3 Spider-Man movies, and may have preferred the 3rd because it was only conventionally bad, not just Sam Raimi vomiting his hack tendencies all over us and thinking it was brilliant)
In other words, this summer, which promises a whole host of movies which should be good (Hellboy 2, Batman Begins 2, Iron Man, Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Prince Caspian, etc) will be a much better summer than last summer even if Hollywood makes less money. Because when someone pays $10 to get shat on in the form of Spider-Man 3 or Pirates 3, I guarantee they're not that excited to do it again next summer. But when they spend $11 for Iron Man and then actually enjoy that experience, they might just think about coming back for The Hulk, and they'll definitely show up for Iron Man 2. But everybody who watched Shrek the Third is going to think twice about Quadra-Shrek.
This makes Transformers triply the only movie of those four Hollywood should be happy about. First, it made Spider-Man 3 money by being pretty good, not by riding something else's coattails, unless you count a 20 year-old TV show. Secondly, it means Transformers 2 should make that kind of money as well. And finally, although Spider-Man 3's production costs are under wraps for shame reasons, it is the most expensive movie ever made. Transformers cost $150 million dollars to make. Spider-Man 3 may have cost $600 million, only made $17 million more, and made pretty much everyone who saw it unhappy. That's a bad summer. But it holds the record for biggest opening weekend ever, so I'm not sure you could convince Hollywood that.