September: Another prime example of Hollywood greed
After an exciting summer jammed with blockbuster films and movies so full of stars and CGI that you thought Michael Bay might have an aneurysm, it's rather disappointing to see what's playing during the fall months between the two main movie seasons: Blockbuster and Oscar. To explain, blockbuster season begins in May, where you'll see huge money makers from Shrek to The Avengers; odds are great that a sequel in a huge franchise or super hero film will rake in the most money this month. Once all the kiddies go back to school in mid-August or September, it's time to get rid of all those useless indie films and other flicks that didn't deserve a summer release.
Oscar season will begin around November when studios will start releasing all those lovely dramatic and heart wrenching movies about the Holocaust/mental illness/dramatic historical retellings, with bonus points if Meryl Streep stars. According to the rules of the Academy Awards, a film must open during the previous calendar year right up until December 31st, and studios are convinced that voting members will forget about their films unless they're released at the last possible second. Furthermore, you can capitalize on this with a limited release in December, and then following Oscar nominations in late January, heavily market that aspect when you open it in wide release. Or you just have an excellent Christmas Day release that will grab you the Oscars and the profits (we're looking at you "Django Unchained" and Les "MisÃ©rables").
Overall, even with some excellent films being released during this period, it is largely a matter of just releasing these films because they didn't make the cut for summer blockbuster time and don't deserve the attention and lobbying to be successful during Oscar season. Granted, some of the films released are pretty terrible; you won't be reading an article by me defending "House at the End of the Street" (2012) or "Straw Dogs" (2011) as artistic and groundbreaking horror films. In fact, their only real contribution is a squandering of the talent in them.
Unfortunately, it's upsetting that there has to exist a period like this for Hollywood. Every young film lover is rather naive in believing that the film industry exists purely so that art can be made, that stories and cinematic techniques can continue to inspire their audience, that a message or an outlook can reach the average person. Then you find out about demographics and learn the names of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Eisner, and it becomes much more clear that the film industry is actually only about money for some people.
According to some, art is typically a medium where you tend to have to make monetary sacrifices in order to get your art across, and maybe this article is swaying a little towards that opinion itself. By being all about earning money, we end up with pathetic releases during the dump months that don't compare artistically or financially to other films. When there's so much focus on the action and the panache for blockbusters, and prepackaged art for Oscar season, there's very little room for actual heart or credibility in films today. Perhaps we're finally getting fed up with it. When film quality goes down and ticket prices continue to increase, we see that since 2002, number of tickets sold has decreased from the previous year except for in 2006 and 2009.
The fact remains that the main source of this dead zone in level of film interest or quality is the film industry's stance on making money. This isn't to say that the film industry shouldn't want to make money--we are a capitalistic country after all. It just needs to note that the top three highest grossing films of this year, "The Avengers," "The Dark Knight Rises," and "The Hunger Games," all received extremely positive reviews from critics, each with above a 85% Rotten Tomatoes score. Not all artsy, well-made movies make nothing at the box office, yet not all flashy blockbusters are mindless films with no heart. The real problem with the September dump month is that there is no soul to it, when the film industry so desperately needs to reclaim the magic behind its art.
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