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Monday, July 08, 2019

Summer Movie Season: WINNERS and LOSERS

It is the Summer Movie Season and because the Summer Movie Season now begins in late spring that means we have already reached its halfway point. And though logic might dictate allowing the Summer Movie Season to see itself all the way through and then, and only then, ruminating on its issuing proclamations about its Bigger Meaning, well, the in vogue mode of content is declaring immediate Winners and Losers. Winners and Losers were declared on the first day of NBA free agency; Winners and Losers were declared after the Democratic Primary debates; Winners and Losers were declared in The Mueller Report; Winners and Losers were declared in the wake of What’s-His-Spray-Tanned-Face’s trip to London (Meghan Markle won and everybody else lost). And because Cinema Romantico, given our ultramodern blogspot design and just, like, you know, being a blog in a world of YouTube influencers, is nothing if not on-trend, the staff thought it would be wise to declare a few Winners and Losers where the in-progress Summer Movie Season is concerned.

Summer Movie Season: WINNERS and LOSERS 

LOSER: Box Office. Through the end of June, as numerous outlets have reported, U.S. box office grosses were down nearly 9% from the same point in 2018. What any of this means, nobody knows, because nobody knows anything, a famous phrase proffered by the late William Goldman that people tend to quote at the beginning of so-called think pieces before deliberating about what it all means anyway. Speaking of which...

WINNER: Box Office Analysts. If the dawn of every new weekend has brought us the release of yet another ho-hum, under-performing sequel, so too has it brought us the dawn of another round of pieces about, well, what all these ho-hum, under-performing sequels mean. Time will tell if this is merely a boom period for Box Office Analysts, or if they will gradually replace critics, kind of like how sportswriting now is less about describing the action of a single game and more about big picture speculation, quoting sources and utilizing data to predict the future, completing the film de cinema’s transformation from art to content. Can’t wait!

WINNER: “Avengers: Endgame.” If box office has generally suffered, the culmination of the 22-film MCU (Marvel Comic Universe) did not, earning the top spot for 2019 box office so far going away, raking in a little less than $3 billion worldwide.

LOSER: “Avengers: Endgame.” Alas, that box office haul still left it short of “Avatar’s” worldwide box office record, prompting Marvel to order a re-release to try and push it over the top only to still come up short, no doubt leaving Jim Cameron cackling from the cozy confines of his Na'vi Blue Humvee.

WINNER: “Avatar.” Not only has “Avatar” thus far retained the all-time top box office slot, but after her recent Democratic Debate, ah, performance, we, along with so many others, were intrigued to learn that Future President Marianne Williamson once decreed that Mr. Cameron deserves the Nobel Peace Price (sic) because of it. I don’t see anyone arguing for the Brothers Russo to get a Nobel.

WINNER: Rose Dewitt Bukater. “Avengers: Endgame” and its abundance of superheroes may have passed “Titanic” in the all-time box office tally but Cinema Romantico’s Superhero Emeritus nevertheless remains Rose Dawson.

WINNER: “Booksmart.” 97% on Rotten Tomatoes! 😊

LOSER: “Booksmart.” Only $20 million at the box office. 😕

LOSER: Sequels. Monetarily, sure, as we have already established, but also in terms of artistic quality, which is of less concern to the boardroom suits who now rule Hollywood with their data sets than IP (Intellectual Property).

WINNER: “Angel Has Fallen” Trailer. Look, I’m surprised as you that a trailer for late August release starring Gerard Butler as a secret service agent framed for trying to assassinate the President is a Winner. But this looks exactly like a mid-level 90s thriller and, my heavenly God, in these dark days of endless superhero sequels I get down on my knees and pray for mid-level 90s thrillers.

LOSER: John Grisham Movies. Mid-level 90s thrillers like these! Remember how the 90s were awash in John Grisham cinematic adaptations that were not good, per se, but still entertaining because each one had, like, a dozen really good actors collecting paychecks by chewing up scenery? We can keep the MCU, fine, but bring my JGU back. Dude had a novel come out last year! Buy the rights!

WINNER: “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” Any of these overpriced 2019 cinematic summer siestas would have been markedly better by including a scene where Willem Dafoe covered his body with leeches, lemme tell ya.

WINNER: Keanu Reeves. As surely as “Batman” won the Summer of 1989 and “The Phantom Menace” won the Summer of 1999 with ad nauseam marketing campaigns a la Coca-Cola, Keanu Reeves has already won the Summer of 2019 on the strength of his own brand, a modern Samurai ethos, taking root in all his roles, from “John Wick 3” to “Toy Story 4” to his electrifying two-scene cameo in “Always Be My Maybe” for which he should earn an Oscar nomination (and will not). And rather than milking or trading in on the media frenzy, he has mostly just gratefully acknowledged it from afar and then continued on his way, Keanu to the last, which only makes his 2019 Summer victory that much more true and triumphant.

LOSER: “Speed 2: Cruise Control.” “Speed 2: Cruise Control” already lost in 1997, of course, but such is Reeve’s domination that 22 years later he has managed to make it lose all over again even though we just, one paragraph ago, declared it a WINNER. That’s because now, 22 years later, we can see “Speed” should have waited to release its sequel now by getting Reeves to commit by having Jack Traven not physically defeat Willem Dafoe’s scorned cruise ship employee but spiritually redeem him before becoming his sponsor and finding him work as entertainment director at Carnival®.

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