2011 could be a good movie year
Anyone reading the weekly movie weekend top 10 knows 2010 sales nationwide are either slightly down or flat.
Readers do not glean the quality of product and script to screen time frame relationships to cycles that generally have several growth bursting years followed by one or steady campaigns.
The toughest economic conditions since the Depression whipped many segments of the economy for the last several years, but the movie industry, from one theater owner’s perspective, rode harsh times in a predictably neutral way, and now anticipates new record breaking weekends with strong reception and buzz for an abundance of “must see” 2011 titles.
3D CONTINUES ITS
Three-dimensional growth and experimentation continued dominating 2010. Family friendly continued pulling in audiences, but the viewers have become a little more discerning by looking at the full package and not just the glasses.
Curtis McCall, chairman and CEO of the regional marquee theatre chain, said the dynamic success of the “Hannah Montana 3D” concert led to a wave of music events, but he explained Hollywood learned the process did not guarantee the same success experienced by the popularity of Miley Cyrus.
Unlike prior industry flirtations with the third dimension in the ’50s and ’60s, McCall believes the 21st Century technology is here to stay, particularly for animation, fantasy and action/adventure flicks.
The circuit owner does not foresee a time when every movie has a 3D version. Besides the added expense to produce a film in 3D, he still hears occasional complaints on digital 3D from customers who already wear glasses. He’s contemplating offering the glassless (and less expensive) 2D version of 3D films, though the decision has not yet been made.
McCall agreed with this writer who labeled it an enhanced experience for special purposes. A good comparison is that Clint Eastwood had not used certain types of special effects until the “Hereafter” script necessitated their use to tell the story on screen.
WHAT WAITS IN 2011
Christmas 2010 did not have a mega-must see blockbuster like “Avatar” but McCall believes product options are solid for the upcoming weeks, as well as expressing “bullish” optimism for 2011.
The new year brings re-boots and re-births for numerous fan favorite franchises (“X-Men: First Class,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part Two,” “Twilight: Breaking Dawn”) as well as initialization of new on-screen Marvel/DC heroes — “Thor,” “Green Lantern,” and “Captain America,” leading to the much awaited 2012 debut of “The Avengers.”
Did I neglect comedy? This year will bring the next installment of “Hangover” onto screens. The schedule also has “Cars,” “Muppets,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Happy Feet.”
Lacking a buzz and must see film like “Avatar,” McCall in mid-December predicted “solid” Christmas releases.
He gave “Tron: Legacy” a thumbs up for action/special effects fans. He’s also heard good buzz concerning multiple Golden Globe nominees like “Black Swan” (a ballerina murder mystery), “The King’s Speech” (King George VI desired speech therapy before he could confidently rule), and this year’s boxing entry, “The Fighter.”
Forecasters warned the Coen Brothers against re-making John Wayne“s “True Grit,” especially during an era when “westerns” have all but disappeared. Positioning the film with a similar title and foundation, the Brothers re-imagined and built part of it on aspects of the novel untouched in the Wayne classic, adding electrifyingly convincing acting from newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon.
INTERNET GRASS ROOTS
Prior to the short release windows of theatrical showing to DVD release, audiences likely found a “sleeper” — a film that develops its audience from word of mouth, not advance advertising — and the 21st Century may have found a separate electronic word of mouth.
“Social Network,” which depicts the formation of Facebook, one of many online communities, has a link to film publicity too. “Paranormal Activity” went rabid through Internet endorsements. Movie sites increasingly offer the official movie trailer, not simply stills, and star interviews to increase movie must see anticipation.
“Combine that with the vitality of the digital 3D technique and you may have the answer for why theatre attendance saw a status quo, rather than a pull back or rapid growth,” McCall said.
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