Summer movie doldrums
June 17, 2010
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This is really more of an editorial than anything else, but a look at the movie listings for our local theatre has kind of compelled me to comment.
Why in the world are we getting Marmaduke, and not Splice? One of them is a braindead “comedy” that’s been almost universally panned by critics. The other is an edgy sci-fi film that’s gotten tons of positive buzz.
So what gives? Unfortunately, one look at the box office figures tells the story. Both films opened on June 4th. Marmaduke has pulled in $22 million, while Splice has just over half that, $13 million. The reason is pretty plain. Splice is an R rated film (and a pretty hard R, if what few details I’ve gathered from reading about it are correct). Marmaduke is PG. This means parents can take their kids to Marmaduke. Bigger audience equals more money for theatres, and obviously for the larger chain theatres, money is the be-all end-all.
I can understand the need for a business to use whatever means it can to make a buck, but this situation still irritates me. Looking down the Galaxy Cinema’s list of what’s playing today, I don’t see a single film that looks like any sort of a risk. We have two sequels (three if you count Get Him To The Greek, which uses some of the same characters as the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall). We have two remakes (okay, A-Team isn’t really a remake, but it’s based on the TV show, so it amounts to the same thing). We have a movie adapted from a video game. We have a goofy action-comedy with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl. And completing the circle of rehashed junk, a talking animal movie.
Each of these films look as though they’ve been test marketed into a grey paste suitable for mass consumption and mass apathy. There’s really nothing there designed to make anyone think. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that watching Jake Gyllenhaal hack and slash and rewind time doesn’t sound like mindless fun. But variety is the spice of life. Couldn’t they at least throw in one independent film that might stimulate people to think?