Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss films with your fellow commenters. Want to make a recommendation? Looking for recommendations? Want to share your opinions of movies, both new and classic?
2023 was supposed to be the Summer of Movies.
It was going to be our first normal summer since 2019, before theaters were on lockdown, masks were mandatory, and everyone had to stand 6 feet away from each other.
And it started off strong, too, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 opening in May and seemingly signaling that audiences were back on board with crowd-pleasing blockbusters. The summer was lined up with new entries in the DCEU, the Spider-Verse, Transformers, Pixar, Fast & Furious, Indiana Jones, Mission: Impossible, and live-action Disney adaptations of classic animated movies. If I were some sort of stock broker, I would give all of these a “Buy” rating.
Then again, like a stock broker, I would also ignore telltale danger signs. Like how movie studios — especially Disney and Warner Brothers — had been conditioning subscribers to expect new movies to show up on their streaming services either immediately or pretty close to immediately.
The other miscalculation is putting out a movie without offering anything new… and that might not be good enough for people returning to theaters after staying away for three years. It’s a different world on this side of the pandemic, too. Inflation, people laid off of jobs or in jobs that don’t pay nearly enough. The high cost of living means being more selective about a theater excursion that will be upwards of $40 for two people.
And then there was a writer’s strike and an actors strike and pretty much everything went to hell. That was already compounded with stories about how special effects artists and animators all over the world were being overworked and underpaid. Who wants to go watch a movie when the people reaping all the money are waiting to starve out some poor writers so they get back to work? The strike brought the looming threat of AI to the forefront. While not prevalent yet, services like Netflix have been using AI to determine which projects to greenlight… and while it’s effective, personally I think it does begin to create a gap between “product” and “art”.
The geopolitics this year have also forced studios to face reality. For the past few years, it seemed studios were cynically formulating their movies not caring about domestic box office as long as they sell tickets in China. Bigger productions, higher reliance on CG, and sanitized stories to not offend a global market. Well… now they have go wake up to a reality where Chinese audiences, for a myriad of reasons, are now watching more domestic fare than whatever Hollywood is serving them up lately. It’s a challenge facing al businesses who decided to make money off the world’s fastest growing economy: the harsh realization that the money train doesn’t last forever.
Some of those films did deliver on the promise of something new. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, for one, brought the audience stunning visuals. And the dual force known as “Barbenheimer” proved that having effective counterprogramming can shock even Tom Cruise. Unless there’s a late year shocker, Barbie will likely be the highest grossing movie of the year. Meanwhile Oppenheimer is doing incredible for an R-rated film in which people are just talking most of the time, outgrossing even this year’s entry in the Fast & Furious franchise.
Bonus prompt: did go to the theaters to see any films this summer? If you didn’t, why not?
Bonus bonus prompt: did you catch any movies on $4 Sunday?