As we slog our way through the vast film wasteland that is otherwise known as the Spring months, how long might we have to wait for a film that appeals to those of us who are not rushing to see Red Riding Hood, Battle: L.A., or perhaps the season’s most appropriately-titled film, Sucker Punch?
In other words, when might some films that are based on character and story telling finally emerge from their forced hibernation?
In searching for that answer, I took a look back at the 10 films that were nominated for Best Picture in both 2009 and 2010. Here they are, listed in the order in which they were first released theatrically:
Up: May 29
District 9: August 14
Inglorious Bastards: August 21
An Education: October 8
A Serious Man: October 9
The Hurt Locker: October 10 (Won)
Precious: November 20
The Blind Side: November 20
Avatar: December 18
Up In The Air: December 23
Toy Story 3 : June 18
Inception: July 16
The Kids Are All Right: July 30
Winter’s Bone: September 17
The Social Network: October 1
127 Hours: November 5
Black Swan: December 17
The Fighter: December 17
True Grit: December 22
The King’s Speech: December 24 (Won)
A number of things caught my eye about this release pattern.
With the exception of one animated film in the early summer of each year, none of the nominees were released until July or August and only 6 of the 20 films were released in the first 8 months of the year.
It’s also striking that 13 of the 20 films were released in the last 3 months of the year.
So what’s the point of this exercise?
As most of us have noticed, the first 6 months of the calendar year are almost always entirely devoid of these kinds of films. As a result, people who look for these kinds of films are basically out of luck for at least half the year. Although it’s admittedly a pretty wide generalization, it can then also be said that those of us who are not clamoring for Fast and Furious 5 don’t have all that much reason to attend movie theaters on a regular basis in the first half of the year. It is no big surprise then that many people who love movies have fallen out of the habit of going to theaters because the New Hollywood basically ignores us until late summer at the earliest, with most films of interest jammed into the last 3 months of the year.
And The New Hollywood wonders why attendance has plummeted for those of us in Acts 2 and 3 of life?
Whereas The Old Hollywood released all genres of films on a yearlong basis, such is no longer the case and that’s one reason why independent films in particular are in such danger of extinction.
You simply can’t release those kinds of films in a very short 3 or 4 month window and expect people who have lost the habit of regular filmgoing to just show up on demand when you want them to.
And that’s yet another reason why we’re bringing back The Old Hollywood.