I remember when I was younger and I would be upset that most of the really good Hollywood movies would start coming out during the month of June. I was upset because, in the Philippines, this was precisely summer ends and school starts. So, although I would’ve rather been watching big movies like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Robocop 2, Die Hard 2: Die Harder… I just realized how many movies of the summer had the number “2” in them. Anyway, I actually knew why most of the good movies came out when our school season started. It was because June is when the US summer season begins and was generally the best time to release all those summer blockbusters to rake in all that cash.
However, the trend of the “summer blockbuster” seems to be waning. Most of the “big summer films” of the year have been considered huge flops. In fact, most websites are reporting that the 2017 summer movie season is at the worst its ever been for the decade. If a film like The Mummy, a film that has the immense star power of both Russell Crowe and Tom Cruise, what are the chances for other movies without star power have to make money?
Truth be told, however, I was never really interested with The Mummy. Nor did I watch the majority of the supposedly “summer blockbuster” films this year. I only watched a handful of them, namely Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming and It: Chapter 1. Maybe you can consider Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 a summer movie because that’s when most people say the 2017 summer movie season started. But that’s it! I only watched 3 or 4 movies during the “big” summer movie season. Just a couple of years ago, I would watch much, much more. I’m guessing this is the feeling of a lot of other moviegoers because, like I said, this year’s summer movie season flopped hard so not many people are going to see them.
So, why is this happening? Why is the “Summer Blockbuster Movie” season dying? Well, it’s actually really simple: the movies that are coming out as of late have been sucking more and more. Okay, that’s an incredibly simplistic and abstract answer. I’ll try to explain what I mean by conveying why I don’t feel compelled to watch the “big” movies of the summer lately.
First off, I go look at the trailers of these movies and, well, I don’t feel inspired to watch most of the films. Take the aforementioned Tom Cruise starring film, The Mummy. Did you watch the trailer embedded above? I did and I wasn’t impressed. It didn’t look bad or anything like that. The problem was it looked like so many of the other action films that have came before it. It didn’t look like it was going to be anything special and that made me decide to skip The Mummy, including Tom Cruise, entirely. I just didn’t feel the need to watch it. This was the same feeling I got with the majority of movies this year. I’m giving special mention to Transformers: The Last Knight here because the trailer actively made me not want to watch it! I even wrote an entire piece explaining why I wouldn’t watch it! That’s how much I disliked the idea of paying good money to see it!
Actually, Transformers: The Last Knight is a perfect example of why I think summer movies generally suck nowadays: Hollywood are making movies that just feel so devoid of heart and emotion. Essentially, most movies today lack memorable characters. With movies like Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Robocop 2 and Die Harder, you actually remember the characters because they had their own little quirks that make you feel for them. The characters in those films didn’t feel bland; they were awe-inspiring. The movies of old would find ways of letting their personalities seep out on-screen through one-liners or the way they handle tense situations or even during some oddly quiet moments. They let these characters actually grow throughout the film before.
Take a look at Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Although we know The Terminator is a machine, John and Sarah Conner formed a bond with him and the viewers did as well. This was because of how the story was laid out. In the first movie, the Terminator was sent from the future to kill Sarah Conner so she wouldn’t give birth to John Connor. This time around, the Terminator was sent back in time to protect both her and John Conner. Initially, Sarah doesn’t trust the Terminator because, you know, the same thing tried to kill her 10 years ago. But, as the film progressed, Sarah actually bonds with the T-800 and even acknowledges the robot to be the best suited person to take care of John. Even The Terminator himself grows as he adapts his programming to John’s orders. I mean, everyone knows the line, “Hasta la vista, baby,” right?
Those were moments where the characters actually develop deeper personalities. I will admit that movies today do try to do it but they don’t really focus on it too much anymore. They don’t let the characters enough time to breathe to let them be more that what they were at the start. In fact, with some movies, they just seem to revert to their old selves. Take the first three Transformers movies, specifically, Sam Witwicky. By the end of the first movie, he realizes that his world has changed forever because of the Transformers. But in the start of each subsequent movie, it’s like he didn’t learn anything new. He always starts out as the dweeby little, down on his luck kid and never undergoes any significant growth. If a robot like the Terminator can grow as a character, why can’t Sam Witwitcky? Because Hollywood producers don’t seem to care about character development at all, it seems.
But you know what the biggest reason why the summer blockbuster movie season is dying? It’s not any of the above actually. The biggest culprit is globalization. Hollywood used to only make movies with domestic audiences in mind. But now, what they really care about is the worldwide box office! They’re not just targeting the United States cinemas; they’re also going after China, Russia, Australia, India, the entire continent of Europe and many more countries. This has probably impacted the way Hollywood produces its movies, some of them negatively.
This globalization has left Hollywood distilling the creativity and soul from a lot of their films. I just talked about most action movies looking all the same and the lack of character development in today’s movies and this is because movie studios don’t really know how to make their movies appeal to different cultures. Also, they’re afraid to offend other countries it seems. They don’t want to make another country bad guys anymore because they want to appease them. They don’t want their characters too “American” because other countries may not buy into the character. They seem to forget that most countries actually just love watching old “American” films.
Globalization has also affected the way Hollywood schedules release dates as well. Before, America try their darndest to release their movies during their summer. But since they’re after the international market, they’ve started to spread out their releases throughout the entire year. You would expect a film like Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the surprise hit, Kingsman: The Secret Service. I fully expected it to have been released sometime in the “summer blockbuster” season. But no. The new Kingsman movie was released just a couple of weeks ago, a full two weeks after the “official” end to the summer blockbuster period.
Hollywood is now spreading out their releases throughout the entire year instead of clumping them into a 3-month period and this is actually a good thing. This allows more movies to have ample time in the spotlight. More movies can be made and seen by more people without having to concern themselves what big blockbuster to watch. This has resulted in the summer blockbuster season losing priority in the grand scheme of things. I’m not really concerned if they’ll be less blockbuster films during the summer season in the long run, though. What I’m more concerned about is the dilution of creativity of today’s movies. There are still some really great movies that have been released. Thankfully, they all seem to be the movies I’ve seen so far this year.
What do you think of the current state of the “summer blockbuster” season? Let me know in the comments section below!