I don’t know about you, but the deluge of visual-effects heavy, less-than-satisfying superhero movies that grace the screens of our local movie theaters every summer leaves me with one thought: Where have all the good movies gone?
More and more these days it seems that the studio executives in Hollywood are making the easy choices — choices that just so happen to have big budgets, flashy CGI, and hot actors. These high-concept movies are safe. They’re guaranteed to make money so they’re pretty much risk-free. But they’re not the greats and they never will be.
Summer is prime time for moviegoing. It’s hot, so audiences seek refuge in air-conditioned theaters. With most TV shows are on hiatus, audiences turn to the big screen instead of the silver one at home. Yet nowadays the best films of the year aren’t released until November or December.
There’s a reason for this, and it has everything to do with awards season. If a potential awards-contender is released right before awards season, it has a better chance with those eligible to vote. And the general public, everyone who actually buys the movie tickets, doesn’t have any say in awards season.
During the summer months, people will see what’s available to them, usually the likes of The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and whichever Tom Cruise movie is next. The meaty, powerful dramas and incredible indie films are nowhere to be found.
But that’s not how it always was. Classics like The Shining, Grease, Forrest Gump, Dead Poet’s Society, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off all premiered during the summer.Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Back to the Future, and Raiders of the Lost Ark — all the first in successful franchises devoid of superhero capes — hit theaters in the summer, too.Movies like Moulin Rouge!, Inception, Moonrise Kingdom, Midnight in Paris, and 500 Days of Summer are perfect examples of award contenders that opened six months or more before the Academy Awards — the culmination of red-carpet season.Just last year, both Dunkirk and The Big Sick were able to stay in the conversation until awards season began — the result of good storytelling, acting, and marketing. Maybe this year, as movie-loving audience members, we should be the ones who keep the good films from the early months of the year in contention for the highest awards.As 2018 draws to a close, we need to remind the awards voters about A Quiet Place, Annihilation, Love, Simon, Tully, and Black Panther, among so many others. We need to keep the greatest movies of the year at the forefront of the conversation. Then, and only then, will the box office schedule begin to change.So let’s do it. Let’s usher in the reinvention of the summer blockbuster schedule by whatever means necessary — blog posts, Facebook comments, tweets, word-of-mouth. I want good movies in theaters throughout the year. You should too.
Britton Perelman is a writer and storyteller based in Los Angeles, California. When not buried in a book or failing spectacularly at cooking herself a meal, she’s probably talking someone’s ear off about the last thing she watched. She loves vintage typewriters, the Cincinnati Reds, and her dog, Indy. Find more of her work on her website, or follow her on Instagram.