Is the summer blockbuster dead?

Anna Wells

The summer blockbuster is a tough nut to crack.  The audience is fickle, maybe two years ago a movie like “After Earth” would have succeeded over a movie about magicians in the box office, but how would you ever know?  Perhaps the summer blockbuster needs to encapsulate qualities that appeal to all audiences, humor, love, violence, but then the summer blockbuster would become a cliché, right?  Perhaps it already has.  Or maybe, the perfect summer blockbuster is something so elusive that only the rare director can capture, and usually never twice.  The film “Jaws” is arguably the first summer blockbuster.  Originally supposed to be a flop, however, when released in theaters in 1975, “Jaws” transformed into one of the most iconic American films.  Audiences flocked to see it, it was so graphic that people were rumored to run from the theater to avoid vomiting in their seats, and yet, the film made around 400 million in the box office.  And thus, the summer blockbuster began.

This summer (and the last) could be called the Summer of Superheroes.  From “The Avengers” to “Captain America” we have seen it all and are only bound to see more as this summer begins to see more heroes in the theaters.  The new Superman movie looks exciting don’t get me wrong, but there is something about watching Superman grow up again that could make the film exhausting.  “Ironman 3” was good, but not great.  Even other non-superhero movies that have come to theaters such as “The Great Gatsby” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” don’t seem to be making the mark.  It makes you wonder, how a film about a killer shark could make it to the great summer movies list. While there is not concrete answer to this, there are several factors that could be lessening the impact of summer blockbusters.

In comparison to other films, audiences did not see the shark in “Jaws” for about an hour into the movie, nowadays with the amount of commercials and endorsements given to movies half of the movie is given away to audiences before the movie is even released into theaters.  I have seen Superman commercial tie-ins with basketball games, Hardees, and Kellogg’s, I have seen so much of Superman that I am almost inclined to not see the movie because I almost know the whole film based on its commercials.  The last film I saw that did not give away anything in endorsements and commercials was “Alien”-prequel “Prometheus”, and I immediately saw it because it was something I wasn’t familiar with.  Film companies should lay off some of the endorsements and commercials because I don’t need or want a film’s entire plot to be laid out for me in a series of different commercials.

It seems to be quantity over quality, thousands of films are brought to theaters each year, and it seems hard to believe that these films are all carefully crafted and thought out before they are brought to theaters.  This is just another way for film companies to continue making money, but it also lessens the amount of quality films that are brought to theaters.  Because of the vast amount of movies that are released one could ask whether the summer blockbuster will truly even exist again, and in order to bring it back film companies should be more choosy and less monetarily driven with what it allows to be brought to theaters.