There are four sure-fire blockbusters ready to kick down the doors of Summer this May, one for every hot weekend. Iron Man 2 gets the Summer started on May 7, followed by Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, then Shrek Forever After the week after that, with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time closing out the month. It's a schedule designed to put butts in cinema seats.
And then June happens. There's one potentially big hit and a whole lot of question marks. Pixar's simply not going to bomb with Toy Story 3, but how strong is the competition? A live-action Marmaduke film? A horror-western starring Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex)? An Adam Sandler comedy reuniting him with his SNL cast from twenty years ago? The A-Team? My thoughts on this have no bearing whatsoever on whether or not I actually want to see these movies. I think Knight and Day looks cute, and I liked Forgetting Sarah Marshall enough to get myself to Get Him to the Greek, but most movie-goers can see the obvious difference between May's blockbuster month and June's month of let's-see-what-sticks releases.
Need more proof? Just look one month ahead to July. Twilight Saga: Eclipse opens June 30 for the July 4th holiday, followed in order by The Last Airbender, Inception, Predators, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and Salt. I didn't even include Despicable Me, which Universal has been shoving down our throats for a whole year now. Since when did June become the new August (a month notorious for the weakest of the Summer releases)?
Last year. May brought us X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Angels and Demons, Terminator Salvation, A Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and Up. In 2009, June may have seen the release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (and two surprise hits -- The Hangover and The Proposal), but it was also the month for product that failed to find an audience, like Year One, Land of the Lost, My Sister's Keeper, Imagine That, The Taking of Pelham 123, and My Life in Ruins.
So from a strictly business standpoint, why has June become the odd month out? May and July have become the big months for tentpole releases, for no good reason other than there've been some huge hits released in those months. In true Hollywood fashion, the execs probably see the month of release as the key to a film's success and not the actual film itself. Look at the success of 300 back in March of 2006. That's since become a hot month for programming (last year's Watchmen, this year's Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans -- which was wholly intended for March if it didn't need one more week for a digita 3-D retrofit). Alice would've been a hit in any month, same with 300. March has nothing to do with it.
The truth is not in the calendar; it's in the releases themselves. If people want to see The Karate Kid, they're going to see it, regardless of the month. Predators would probably gross the same with a June release as it would with its July one. My plea to the studios would be for them to stop getting fixated on the traditional dates that films make money, and try to create new dates where films make money (which is exactly what happened with 300). Spread the must-see blockbusters around a little better, rather than front-loading May and leaving audiences with a bunch of iffy choices for June.