Do we really have a Summer Movie Season anymore?

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Maybe I’m just nuts, but it’s slowly beginning to seem to me like there isn’t really a summer movie season anymore, or at the very least no longer one that resembles what there used to be. I’m sure I’m hardly the first person over the last few years to say this, or even the last year (or even this month, I’m sure), but it appears like a simple fact of the matter. What used to be an important designation that would get audiences excited and symbolize a certain type of studio output has now become antiquated. Blockbusters happen year round, counter programming happens year round, and only really the awards bait type film still has a designated season.

This all began with the summer movie season being extended, slowly but sure. I’ll give some examples below, but it showed studios that it was possible to play popcorn entertainment throughout all 12 months. Even March has gotten in on the action, a time usually reserved as the end of the movie dumping season with January and February. Don’t look now, but February is next in line for this treatment too. It really is a new age at hand.

To me, Godzilla this year signified the end. A perfect July type event movie, it hit theaters in May. That was a real death knell in my eyes, along with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also avoiding the true summer months. It’s been happening for years now, but it really came to the forefront for me now. It began with the surprising success of 300 back when that was a March release, continued for years slowly with other films testing the waters, and announced itself in a major way when The Avengers opened in the first week of May a few years ago. That was the terminal diagnosis, if you will. Godzilla was just the flatline.

I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. A fun movie or a good movie is just as top notch whenever it comes out, so the aforementioned Godzilla for example didn’t suffer one bit. Nor did The Avengers, and nor will most future releases. Aside from Oscar bait like I said before, almost every other type of movie (give or take overtly Christmas fare, but even then it’s not a hard and fast rule) can now open whenever it feels like and do comparable business. The model has just changed, likely forever.

Again, I’m not complaining, just noticing. Perhaps this sort of a change was bound to happen? With the onset of VOD and things like Netflix, folks don’t like to wait anymore for their entertainment, so the idea of a certain type of flick only playing during a certain portion of the calendar year is antiquated, at best. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but it was just more noticeable to me than it might be for others.

In the end, I’m sure this means very little, though in a perfect world I’d love to see those Academy hopefuls spread out more throughout the year. It’ll likely never happen, but this is one instance where I’d be thrilled to see Oscar contenders take their cues from summer blockbusters…or more appropriately now, “all season” blockbusters, I guess?

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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