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Summer Blockbuster Hype

Summer Reading: Is Summer Blockbuster Hype Too Much?

After seeing Tropic Thunder, I felt a teensy bit of relief that the Summer blockbuster events of 2008 seemed to be over at long last. Not that I didn't have fun, but I'm a little maxed out on major hype, epic special effects, and huge box office totals. I'm ready to dig out my warm jackets and sweaters and settle down with some little Fall movie gems.

I'm not alone in this feeling, as Salon's movie critic Stephanie Zacharek describes her own fatigue in a thoughtful piece she wrote this week called "Do You Suffer from Blockbuster Fatigue?" She broaches some interesting topics and makes some good points, including:

  • Zacharek says that "this year the assortment of big Summer movies hasn't been that different from other Summers in recent memory," but she wonders: "So why has the Summer of 2008 seemed exhausting in a way previous Summers haven't?"
  • Here's one excellent point she makes: "The most important element of Summer-blockbuster culture isn't the selling of movies; it's the selling of anticipation, because the amount of time we might spend looking forward to a big Summer movie is almost always longer than the shelf life — in theaters, at least — of the actual movie."
  • Also, did you know the all-important opening weekend summer box office precedent started with Jaws in 1975? Zacharek notes that after that fateful and lucrative summer, Jaws became "the picture to beat, and to emulate." Thus the action-adventure tradition.
  • She concludes her column by accepting that Summer blockbusters that have "great characters, an arresting visual style, and brilliant storytelling" and also draw millions to see them are "rare and elusive." She says fatigue comes when Hollywood tries to repeat a winning formula, like with The Dark Knight. "The minute you try," she writes, "you've already diluted some of the magic."

What do you think? Has the summer of 2008 been overwhelming in hype? Or do you hope blockbuster season gets bigger and better each year?


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