Excuse me for being absent from the Cairns on Cinema column for the past little while. I've been busy, and quite frankly, the movie box office has not been all that interesting.
True there have been hits at the theaters, such as Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Aaron Sorkin's movie about the founders of Facebook entitled The Social Network, and the sequel to last year's sleeper hit Paranormal Activity, entitled Paranormal Activity 2. We've also had strong 3D box offices for Saw 3D and Jackass 3-D. But it has not been a case of runaway box-office smashes for the most part, though Jackass 3-D did pull in $50 million in its opening weekend, a remarkable performance for this time of the year.
I have a few theories on why September and October are usually never good months at the box office. The obvious one is that September and October are the times when people go back to work and go back to school, so there's a lot less free time. Also, that period is the high point of the football season, so a lot of football fans are going to games on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and skipping the movies entirely.
Finally, there is the weather. One of the reasons why people go to the cinemas is to escape the harsh weather outside. Think of it - during the summer months, people go to the movies in order to enjoy extremely-good air-conditioning and avoid all the hot weather outside! Then as it cools down in November and December, people no longer are able to do things outside, so they go to the movies in order to warm up! I know these have been valid reasons for me to go to the movies. But in September and October, there's no reason to go to the movies to beat the weather. The weather isn't hot enough to warrant a trip to the air-conditioned theater, and it's not cold enough to avoid the outdoors completely, especially in these southern climates in the USA.
So that's why you have this "dead" period in September and October. The movie studios know all about this, so they save their blockbusters for the peak periods and use the fall months to release the kinds of movies that wouldn't normally get an audience any other time of the year. As a result you see a lot more horror movies and a lot less "blockbusters" and family fare.
Now, we are heading into the "holiday" season, starting with the American Thanksgiving later this month and leading into Christmas and New Year's. That means a lot of freed-up vacation time to allow people to head to their favorite movie theaters to watch blockbuster movies.
One of the blockbusters rolling out this weekend is one of the two final Harry Potter movies to close out the series. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, opens November 19. Directed by David Yates and once again starring Daniel Radcliffe in the title role, it promises to be one of the most-anticipated movies of the year as the series prepares to wrap up. Its North American release will be into approximately 4,000 theaters, with several midnight showings.
Then in December we can expect to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader rolling out the weekend of December 10. This will be the third in the series of popular and successful Narnia movies.
I am expecting a major box-office battle to brew on the weekend of Friday, December 17, as two new movies with retro appeal come out. Tron Legacy, which is rooted in the popular video game-inspired movie from the Eighties, rolls out from Disney. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. will be releasing the 3D family movie, Yogi Bear.
That's right, folks, Yogi and Boo-Boo are back on the big screen in CGI, in a combined animated-live action effort! You would have thought Yogi Bear would be done stealing picnic baskets by now, but the Sixties cartoon icon is back hoping to appeal to a new generation of moviegoers. Some of the cartoon purists who loved the original cartoons are somewhat mortified at the prospect of a CGI Yogi Bear movie. The voices feature Dan Aykroyd as Yogi and Justin Timberlake, of all people, as Boo-Boo. That thought is enough to scare the purists who remember the great voices of Daws Butler and Don Messick in the original cartoons on TV.
Will it make a lot of money? Probably. Keep in mind that the lovable Sixties singing cartoon characters Alvin and the Chipmunks, who had a hit TV show at the same time that Yogi Bear was around, came back with a movie of their own released at Christmastime a few years ago. Nobody expected much to come of it, and a lot of people thought it wouldn't make a lot of money and that it would be the low point of actor Jason Lee's career (playing the Chipmunks' manager David Seville).
It proved to be such a big hit that it brought about a sequel where our three Chipmunk heroes all acquired girlfriends. The original brought in $361 million worldwide and last year's "Squeakquel" made $443 million around the world.
It wasn't as if these Chipmunks movies were any good, either. A lot of people hated these Chipmunks and their squeaky pitch-high voices. But they were a hit anyway. No doubt, that's what Warner Bros. is hoping for - another similar smash hit, regardless of whether the movie is any good. Like I say, there's a lot of diehard Yogi Bear fans out there who have seen the movie trailers and who say they are horrified by the whole effort.
We'll see. It should make a ton of money from family audiences, but Yogi's got some competition to deal with.
December wraps up with three movies released wide on December 22: Gulliver's Travels, the comedy sequel Little Fockers, and a remake of True Grit from Joel and Ethan Coen. If you cannot hack any of these more populist movies, there also promises to be a wide selection of Oscar-contenders to choose from in the coming weeks.
We can expect a busy next several weeks of activity at the movie theaters. If you're a movie fan Christmas has come early.