It’s no secret – well, it’s no secret if you’ve been reading this column – that movies have seasons. Over the course of a year, what’s available at the cinema changes; not just individual movies, but what kind of movies. On one level, this is obvious.
This issue of Forte is out at the end of school holidays, and so over the last few weeks we’ve had a couple of hard-core kids’ movies on in cinemas – Sherman & Mr Peabody and The Lego Movie. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been other kinds of movies showing – Noah opened last week, and while that’s kind of all-ages in a way (lots of kids have read The Bible over the years), it’s not exactly pure kids fare – but last week we got Muppets Most Wanted and Divergent, both of which skew a little younger than the norm across the year. And considering the other big release of the last few weeks was Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it’s fairly safe to say we’re in a bit of a kids-zone at the movies at the moment.
That’s a minor blip in the wider pattern of movies across the year, which basically goes like this: from late December until early February are the Oscar favourites – the quality movies the studios release then so the members of The Academy (who are, percentage-wise, getting on in years) remember them when they get around to voting. Then, from around mid-May until early August we get the serious blockbusters – the big crowd-pleasing movies the studios have invested a lot of money into.
You can usually tell these by the way there’s only ever one of them a week, as they cost so much money no studio dares risk splitting the audience by pitching one of them up against another one. That doesn’t mean there’s one out every week for that period, just most weeks. And everything in between is when Hollywood dumps its duds. Well, obviously not every film out between those periods is a dud (and many of the films out in the quality or expensive times of year are duds, too), but they’re almost always films that, for whatever reason, the studios think are below par. The Lego Movie? A toy tie-in that became a surprise hit. Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Disney almost always release their Marvel movies on the fringes of blockbuster season because they make them on the (relative) cheap, and with almost no (big) stars they rake in the money. But given the choice between seeing one of them and the latest Transformers movie? It’s probably going to lose.
As much as it’s possible to have a “risky” period at the movies these days – if a movie fails overseas we’re almost certainly not getting it here unless it stars an Australian name, and entire genres (horror, teen comedy) are pretty much shut-out from our cinemas at the moment – this time of year is it. It’s still the usual diet of blockbusters, comedies and kids movies treated “seriously”, but because these are the ones that aren’t quite right, there’s always the chance they’ll turn out to be more interesting than the usual standardised product. Unless it’s I, Frankenstein, of course.
Written by Anthony Morris