Friday, July 11, 2014
Our Disposable Culture
According to industry sources, the Fourth of July American movie box office gross was the lowest in about ten years. Of course, there really wasn't all that much to choose from if you wanted to go and see something. The shelf life of a "major" summer blockbuster these days seems to be the same as a loaf of bread. A movie gets all sorts of hype leading up to its release, it has a big opening weekend.....and about a week later it's almost forgotten.
The latest TRANSFORMERS entry is the first movie this summer to be No. 1 at the box office for two consecutive weeks. That's another example of how we live in a sound-bite society, where anything that happened five minutes ago is already considered old news. In May I wrote a blog post about the 30th anniversary of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. I remember that during 1984 that movie played all summer long, and I'm sure it was No. 1 for more than a couple weeks.
The first "big" movie of this summer season was GODZILLA....and then the hype turned to the new X-MEN feature....and then came MALEFICENT, where the mainstream media took the opportunity to talk about how Angelina Jolie is supposedly one of the greatest women to ever walk the earth. Then came the teenage romance movie, and then 22 JUMP STREET (??), and now TRANSFORMERS. I'm sure these movies are still making money (especially in other countries) and I'm sure they will all do well on the home video market....but will any of these films have the stature of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM? What I mean by that is, will they pass the reference test? If, say, 5, 10, or even 20 years from now, you reference any of those movies in a joke, or use a line a dialogue from any of them....will people automatically know what you are talking about?
Nowadays if a subject is not a "trending topic", it gets pushed aside. One movie that I have seen this summer is JERSEY BOYS, directed by Clint Eastwood. This is a film based on a popular Broadway musical, directed by one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history....and it's not making a lot of money, and getting very little media attention. A film like JERSEY BOYS doesn't have much of a chance in today's marketplace. (It must be pointed out that Warners should have had the sense to release JERSEY BOYS in the fall, where it would have had a better audience.)
There seems to be a lack of permanence in the movies and TV shows of today, which is why geeks like me are constantly watching TCM or the MeTV Network. Maybe that just reflects my narrow point of view. I'm about the least trendy person in the world (even though I'm writing a blog...ironic, ain't it?). But I can't help but think that the film culture of today is pretty thin. The only recent major mainstream release that appears to have had any type of lasting mark is Disney's FROZEN. The fact that FROZEN is an animated film says a lot about where the movie industry is at present.