Last night I ended up talking to this girl I know from dancing. I say the dancing part because only in bars and clubs can you know someone through dancing and legitimately know nothing about them. Co-workers, or even people you know from being a regular elsewhere, you tend to share more of your daily life than dancing friends – at least I’ve found. We started talking about her summer, and I found out that she teaches sixth and seventh grade. The sixth grader in me who had a crush on his English professor got a transgressive thrill at the thought of being out with a drunk middle school teacher. She asked me if I could tell how much she had to drink, and I told her of course I could – she was slightly passed buzzed. But since I’m out to dance, I rarely drink, so she teased me for that. Because it was an Awesometown night, Rhea took our photo. “My boyfriend would hate to see me doing this.” It was a sentence as loaded as she was.


In 1999, The Mummy came out the first week of May. Universal knew they had a solid film, but what they were saying was that they were happy having two weeks before The Phantom Menace. At the time, no one knew if The Phantom Menace was going to be just a giant or the biggest film in the history of everything, and if it would literally suck the air out of every other picture, so people were trying to get out of the direct cross-hairs. For Universal, the first week of May was a bold, and ultimately successful strategy. Of course, the year before Deep Impact had a similar weekend, and in 1996 there was Twister, but The Mummy cemented it: The first week of May could launch a shaky but A list film, and have a weekend to really kick ass because of the lack of competition. And though there’s been some sure things with the date, it seems a good place to put a film that isn’t meant to weather as much competition.

What we’ve also seen is that August has dried up in the interim. Where films like XXX might have staked a first week of August date, and The Sixth Sense used it to play for months, nowadays even with the legroom the end of summer provides, nothing plays all that long, so why bother? In that way we’re seeing more “could be something” titles in this time-frame, films the studios aren’t as confident about but may have spent money on, and films like Piranha 3-D. It can work for a movie – the late summer bows of District 9 and Inglourious Basterds generated $100+ grosses – but those aren’t A+ titles, like an Iron Man.

My assumption with Cats and Dogs 2 has long been that it’s a strike movie, as it’s effects heavy and was likely put into production as a back-up title. Even with the possible 3-D extra bump, I have no idea why this happened except easy availability or contractual obligation. Perhaps the original title was selling well on DVD in bundle packs of family entertainment. Likely the film was made simply because between foreign and ancillary, if they hit their budget it would be nigh impossible not to make a profit.

Dinner for Schmucks looks like Jay Roach’s comedy talents have been overrated, as it doesn’t look like he brought enough to the table to make it worth seeing. Much like the equally underthought out – but way more expensive – failure of Evan Almighty, Roach seems to be hitting the Shadyac wall of a modestly talented assembler without the vision or gift to make great comedy without a hook or a star performance to fall back on (does anyone think the Austin Powers films were well directed?) The film is generating a range of reactions, but no one loves it. It’s either getting a “gets by” review or a flat out dismissal. Comedy is like that, in that you either laugh or don’t. But for this to be anything, it would be nice if someone loved it.

Charlie St. Cloud was made for a certain audience, and films like this can do surprising business, but – like Cats and Dogs 2 – it was surely done at a price. Efron got a following with women, but this is a cult film in that it only plays to the base.

But – though this has been coming for years – summer is now starting first week of May and ending mid-July. For movies.


So Inception

1. Inception - $32.1 Million
2. Dinner For Schmucks - $20.5 Million
3. Salt – $18.7 Million
4. Cats and Dogs 2 - $17.5 Million
5. Despicable Me – $16 Million

Charlie could sneak in, I’m going a little high on Inception, and I could be going high on Schmucks. I just don’t see the appeal, but the cast is the cast. Inception will hold the tops spot regardless, and will be in a position to cross the $200 mark sometime during the week. How it weathers determines if it has enough juice to get to $300. Currently I would bet against it getting all the way there, but I hold out hope.