The summer of 2010 was a bit underwhelming as far as movies went — but summer 2011's looking like the craziest of them all, with the densest concentration of nerd-candy ever. At least, Jon Favreau is calling it a "bloodbath."
Talking to the L.A. Times' Hero Complex blog on Monday, the Iron Man director remarked that this coming summer is going to be the toughest crush ever:
"It's Omaha Beach, it's going to be a blood bath," the filmmaker said Friday about next year's crush of big special-effects films, remakes and sequels. "There's never been a summer like this next summer. It's going to be bloody [for filmmakers and the studios]. As we were sticking thumb tacks in a calendar we realized that this is going to be looked back upon as Omaha Beach."
So we were wondering, is this really true? We decided to take a look at the past few summers and compare them to 2011.
Summer 2008 had Favreau's Iron Man, plus Speed Racer, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Kung Fu Panda, The Happening, The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart, Wall-E, Wanted, Hancock, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Meet Dave, The Dark Knight, Space Chimps, The X-Files: I Want To Believe, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Tropic Thunder, Fly Me to the Moon, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Death Race, Babylon A.D. and Disaster Movie.
Being reasonably charitable about the definition of "tentpole," that's 10 tentpole movies. And a total of 24 science fiction or assorted geek-friendly genre movies.
Summer 2009 featured Battle for Terra, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Drag Me To Hell, Up, Land of the Lost, Moon, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Ice Age 3, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, G-Force, Aliens in the Attic, G.I. Joe, District 9, Ponyo, The Time Traveler's Wife, Inglourious Basterds, The Final Destination, Halloween II.
Being charitable once again, that's nine tentpoles and a total of 21 vaguely genre-ish films.
Summer 2010 had Favreau's own Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Splice, The A-Team, Jonah Hex, Toy Story 3, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, Despicable Me, Predators, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Inception, The Expendables, Scott Pilgrim and Piranha 3-D.
That's 10 vaguely tentpole-ish films and a total of 16 genre films — or 19, if you throw in Salt, The Killers and Knight & Day.
Summer 2011 is set to feature Thor, Priest, Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda: the Kaboom of Doom, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, The Green Lantern, Cars 2, The Rise of the Apes, Transformers: The Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, Favreau's own Cowboys and Aliens, Smurfs 3-D, The Change-Up, The Darkest Hour in 3-D, Conan 3-D, Fright Night, Spy Kids 4, 5nal Destination and Piranha 3DD.
Again, being reasonably generous about the definition of "tentpole," that's 14 tentpole films. And a total of 21 genre films — or 24, if you throw in The Tree Of Life, Fast (and the Furious) Five and the talking-animals film The Zookeeper, which co-stars... none other than Jon Favreau.
So it definitely seems like this is the biggest summer since 2008 in terms of sheer number of films that a science fiction, fantasy, horror or superhero fan might possibly be expected to see. It's only about the same number of films as 2008, but the main difference seems to be that a higher percentage of these films are huge-budget tentpoles — including three Marvel Comics superhero films and one DC Comics film. Plus Harry Potter, Transformers, the new J.J. Abrams film and the Planet of the Apes prequel/reboot.
(And in case you're wondering what The Darkest Hour is, it's a $40 million film about American tourists trapped in Moscow after an alien invasion, from producer Timur Bekmambetov.)
As the Hero Complex article helpfully notes, all the studios want to put out their biggest movies in the summer, because that's when the sought-after younger audiences are out of school and have lots of time to see a nerdstravaganza several times. Plus, with studios struggling to keep their annual profits up year after year, the more huge tentpoles they can put out in a particular year, the likelier they are to show a healthy bottom line.
Obviously, a higher concentration of must-see geek movies is bad news for film-makers, but it's great news for movie-goers, who get more awesome in one summer — and maybe have the opportunity to be a bit more discriminating, instead of just going to see everything science-fictional or superheroic that comes out. Which is probably what scares many people in Hollywood, since discriminating audiences are Kryptonite to the summer tentpole spirit.