There has never been much doubt in my mind that Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be the big summer blockbuster. After all, at this point in time, Marvel can basically do no wrong, and fans will flock to see anything with their stamp of approval.
However, I was still looking forward to a summer of fantastic movie-going....until I actually wrote all the release dates on my calendar. In fact, I wrote them on my calendar, then I checked them, then I checked them again, then I wondered if I had maybe forgotten some movies, then I checked them a final time and made this face:
So why am I so unimpressed with the summer line up? After all, this is an incredible year for movies! DC may not have made an appearance, but we will have had a whopping seven superhero movies released by the end of 2014. Well, as long as you stretch the definition of "superhero" movie a little bit. They may not all be comic book-based, but I am willing to throw Transformers: Age of Extinction and Lucy into the mix. Transformers because it falls well within the "nerd" camp (and does involve some world-saving) and Lucy because she does gain superpowers, despite not being a comic book creation.
That's one movie every other month, and an extra one just for fun - which is the fangirl dream, right? Maybe it's just my dream, but I think that that is a pretty perfect number for a big year in cinema. There's enough to theoretically let the big names all get a piece of the action (Marvel, DC, Fox, Sony), as well as a couple smaller players, and one or two that just about fit the definition of the genre.
Of course, a movie every other month sounds great if the movies are actually being released every other month! In fact, that almost sounds modest! Except that release dates never work that way. There will always be a glut of romantic comedies over the winter, as companies try and capitalize on the romance of Christmas and the forced "romance" of Valentine's day. There will always be a marked absence of anything that might appeal to school and college-age audiences in September and October, because no one wants to compete against the frenzied start of a new term. And there will always, always be the fight to be the biggest hit of the summer.
All of which has come together to mean that while the year started off at a nice, easy pace, the last three big "superhero" movies of 2014 are going to be crammed into fifteen days between July and August. Ugh.
It was going so well! We had Captain America: The Winter Soldier on April 1st, then The Amazing Spider Man 2 a month later on May 2nd. X-Men: Days of Future Past came just under a month after that (May 23rd) and Transformers: Age of Extinction a full month later in June.
That kind of timing is ideal. One movie every four weeks or so, giving me plenty of time to focus on whichever is up next, get my anticipation on, see it right away (and maybe even go back to see it a second time), and then there are a couple weeks to digest, discuss and bask in the afterglow of awesome before we start the cycle again.
Not going to happen for our last three. Lucy is next up on July 25th, which is at least still a nice solid month after Transformers. However, Guardians of the Galaxy comes smashing into theaters exactly one week later. One week! Where's my breathing room? Definitely not coming up the week after that, as the next Friday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is released.
Are you kidding me, Nickelodeon? I'm not sure who booked their releases first (and no clue how to find that out), but someone screwed up. I can forgive Lucy. It's a month after the last movie, and it isn't targeted at exactly the same audience, although I choose to see the crossover.
But Guardians and TMNT? This is as much direct competition as you can get without releasing on the same day, and frankly, a smarter move on Disney's part than that would be. By the time I get to the 8th of July, I may well have opening-night-fatigue. I may also be less than thrilled to fork out for yet another advance-booking-opening-night-when-did-this-get-so-expensive ticket.
If they opened on the same night, there would be a split between the two (albeit a very unequal split), but by taking that first weekend and creating enough promo to make anything look good, Guardians is virtually guaranteed to get the crowds.
By the time the smaller, weaker TMNT comes in the next weekend, the people who saw Guardians already will probably be in the mood for a non-movie weekend, those who didn't will have heard so much about it that it is what they want to see, and those truly die-hard fans will be going back for round two. Few fans are going to go back for opening night of a new movie the third week running; that will probably be the die hard turtle fans. (Shell-heads?)
Topping it all off is that the timing is Right. After. ComicCon. Which in some ways is awesome; it's nerd Christmas, and everyone is in the mood. Marvel proves their smarts yet again with that move, and will obviously have panels for Guardians to whip the fans into even more of a frenzy.
TMNT will most likely also have a presence, but they just do not have the clout that Marvel does, and it shows. I was so excited for the movie, and have been defending it against the critics, but I am sad to say that I think this release date may well be the death of our favorite sewer-dwellers.
This was either a clever, and slightly evil, move on Marvel's part - maybe to counter the original fear that Guardians was not well-known enough to bring in the crowds? TMNT does have a much higher profile in pop culture, after all.
Or this may just be a coincidence. Three movies, three studios that did not realize they would be crammed together in such a short timespan.
Either way, do we think that if I wish hard enough, I could get TMNT moved back a month?