Has summer blockbuster fatigue set in? Not really


Graeme McMillan has an article online at Time talking about how there is “summer blockbuster fatigue.” I disagree with him at least to the specific point of fatigue. Yes, as somewhat predicted, the Depp vehicle Lone Ranger, for all intents and purposes, bombed. Disney inevitability will lose money on this film, as the New York Times points out; the film would need to make $800 million in global receipts just to break even, if accounting for revenue splits with theater chains.

There are a lot of reasons Lone Ranger failed to drum up a lot of business. For one, competition from the widely popular Despicable Me 2 and holdover Monsters University ensured that Depp’s film would have a difficult time amassing attention. Secondly, the marketing failed to properly articulate to moviegoers exactly what this film was; a slapstick comedy or a serious attempt at a Western action film? Speaking of which, Westerns in general have a difficult time drawing attention at the box office. Finally, some, as I’ve alluded to in my own blog, may be tiring of Depp’s zany character. All of those ingredients clearly indicated, from anyone that pays attention to the box office, that the film would fail from the onset.

However, on the other hand, movies thus far in the summer blockbuster cycle that have clearly articulated premises have succeeded at the box office, which disproves this notion of “summer fatigue.” Even World War Z, which most analysts expected to bomb, has turned into a surprise hit.

I do agree with McMillan on one point though; there are many similarities among the big summer blockbuster films: wide scale destruction, aliens, and the like. It would be fun to see a different formula. That said, a blockbuster is about big special effects and fun since Jaws started it off. While, yes, I like a great artsy, serious film, I also love film because it is something enormous in scale that can take us to another world or reality. Such is the magical side of film that I’m in love with.

I suppose for McMillan’s point to have more weight depends upon upcoming film from Guillermo del Toro Pacific Rim. Are there aliens? Check. Is there wide scale destruction? Check. Am I going to see it? Hell yeah. We’ll see if others are of the same mentality.

3 thoughts

  1. Couldn’t it be something a tad more simple? The trailers made the movie look silly and unfunny, it just looked like it would be a bad movie. Also to qualify as a blockbuster, it must appeal to adults and to teens/children as well. Superman accomplished this but I doubt The Lone Ranger attracted the younger demographic.


    1. Great point. One of the keys to a summer blockbuster’s success is appealing to the widest audience possible and that means appealing to most demographics. As someone pointed out in a thread I was reading about this, the movie appeared too dark for children and too silly for adults. According to Box Office Mojo:

      “One slight positive for The Lone Ranger: its audience skewed older (68 percent over the age of 25) and male (57 percent), which is a group that usually doesn’t rush out to movie theaters.” While he says that’s a positive, which I guess in some sense it is, it goes back to your point that the film didn’t draw in younger viewers.


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