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Shockbuster season: why the death of the summer movie is a good thing

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Shockbuster season: why the death of the summer movie is a good thing

Forty-seven years ago today everything changed. True believers may already know what it was: on May 25, 1977, Star Wars It arrived in movie theaters and irrevocably altered almost everything about the act of going to the movies. Lines around the block, overexcited nerds, appetite for action figures. Star Wars It taught Hollywood that certain genres (sci-fi, fantasy, anything that seeped into the offbeat TV shows, books, and comics of the ’50s and ’60s) had fans, and those fandoms would appear. Star Wars it earned a meager $1.6 million in the United States in its opening weekend. But people kept coming back and by the end of its initial run there were did more than 300 million dollars. Hollywood’s next big thing had arrived.

Common wisdom dictates that Jawswhich came out in 1975 and earned about 260 million dollars, was the first box office hit of the summer. That’s true, but it was Star Wars that changed the idea of ​​what kind of movie future popcorn movies tried to be. In the years following its release, a large number of science fiction and genre films hit theaters: Bounty hunter, Alien, Eastern Timehe Mad Max continuation The road warrior. By the ’90s, the energy of summer movies had shifted toward action movies.Twister, Speed, Jurassic Park, Independence Day—But the nerdy stuff still dominated. For each Forrest Gump there was a Batman Returns either Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

Then came a little giant called Marvel. When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies started grossing nine figures on opening weekends in the 2000s, it was obvious that the comic book heroes’ true superpowers involved making money disappear. the Avengers It opened in early May 2012 and nearly recouped its production budget of more than $200 million in three days. Suddenly, there were at least two superhero movies every year, if not every summer, and a few new Star Wars movies around the holidays.

The double blow of cinema closures and streaming due to Covid-19 practically put an end to this entire process. The summer of 2020 was virtually blockbuster-free, and by the time moviegoers returned to multiplexes in 2021 and 2022, a change of scenery had occurred. Movies like black widow and Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness They did it well, but they weren’t events. Running to Fandango for tickets no longer seemed as urgent as it once did. Last summer, Barbenheimer was the most talked about movie. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 They made money, but they were still defeated. BarbieThe power.

Overall, this year could be a wake-up call to studios that superhero fatigue has completely taken hold, says Chris Nashawaty, author of The future was nowa new book coming out in July about how the 1982 films—Bounty hunter, Eastern Time, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, among others, ushered in the current era of blockbusters. That time, he says, “was always going to be something that couldn’t last forever; “Frankly, I’m surprised it lasted this long.”

Nashawaty says the success of Barbenheimer (both films) indicates that audiences are hungry for smart movies, but Hollywood’s risk aversion will likely mean studios will greenlight more projects based on toys and games like Monopoly instead. of movies about physicists. “This is a real existential moment in Hollywood right now,” she adds, and studios need to be bold to stay relevant.

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