With this year’s popcorn season being tipped as financially the worst in over a decade, one could be forgiven for thinking that the public’s interest in expensive junk food, crowded foyers and seat allocation is entering its waning years; honestly, who can blame them?
With the likes of Game of Thrones, Fargo and Ozark available at the end of a remote, it’s difficult to argue the case for an expedition to sit through King Arthur: Legend of the Sword- a film with the personality of a bottle of still water and a name so clunky it sounds like it was improvised on an uninspired episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
As we would see, Guy Richie’s ambitious mediocrity was only the first of a series of box office let-downs. Alien: Covenant failed to reignite interest in the sci-fi slasher series after audiences decided its curious blend of pretentiousness and stupidity didn’t merit repeat viewings. Tom Cruise’s Mummy reboot - intending to serve as the jumping off point for Universal’s desperate fever dream of a cinematic universe - failed so spectacularly that it pushed every other planned project in the franchise into potential flux. And as for whoever thought it was a good idea to pump $180 million into Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, they must surely be packing up their bindle and moseying on out of Hollywood under cover of darkness.
With all this said, it must also be noted that the summer was not without its highlights. As always the relentless train of superhero movies shows no sign of slowing down with Wonder Woman, Spiderman: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy 2 raking in huge sums of cash. Who would have thought that films starring a squeaky millennial, a talking racoon and- most ludicrous of all- a woman would manage to entice such enthusiastic crowds?
Similarly, the animation market proves as lucrative as ever with the threequels of Despicable Me 3 and Cars 3 barrelling their way into the big earners list despite general lukewarm reception proving, as I had always suspected, that kids don’t care about RogerEbert.com.
Outside of animation and comic books, Cristopher Nolan’s Dunkirk kicked off Oscar season four months early making millions of dollars; International markets kept Pirates 5 afloat despite domestic viewers appearing largely indifferent to Johnny Depp’s shenanigans, and the War for the Planet of the Apes did great business for Fox’s rebooted franchise. As usual, when the Transformers series came calling, we lined up to throw our money at it even if criticisms of the first four ‘films’ had been met with a resounding shrug from ‘director’ Michael Bay.
Even considering a few glimpses of greatness, the summer of 2017 will nevertheless likely be remembered as a franchise heavy disappointment. With the likes of Thor, Justice League and Star Wars on the horizon for the autumn/winter season, one might consider that the time of lumping all the biggest projects into a few short months is very much entering its winter years.