“The Possession”: An evil spirit that lives in a box bought at a garage sale? Nah, I don’t want to see that.
“The Oogieloves”: A kids’ movie that encourages the kids to get up and sing and dance right there in the theater? Spare me, oh Lord.
“Trishna”: A riff on “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” set in India? I dunno. I still haven’t gotten over the depression brought on by Roman Polanski’s 1979 version that starred Nastassja Kinski and Peter Firth.
“Lawless”: Shia LaBeouf in a bloodbath about moonshiners? No, thanks. Shia has been pretty much a disappointment to me ever since “Holes.”
“Cold Light of Day”: A kidnapping thriller starring Bruce Willis? Well, maybe. Nothing better out there?
“Bachelorette”: A crude wedding comedy about bridesmaids who used to make fun of the bride in high school? I think I’ve seen it. Sounds like “Mean Girls” with tulle.
Well, here we are. Again. Caught in the cinematic doldrums of late summer and early fall.
Yes, May, June and July were overloaded as usual with noisy, action-hero blockbusters, a sprinkling of fun animation and regular doses of gross-out comedy to tempt teens and twentysomethings freed from the rigors of academia.
And the last months of the year will predictably be crowded with Academy Award contenders. The Oscar field will compete with franchise frenzy over the latest chapters in the Twilight and James Bond franchises.
But what about now?
If years of reviewing movies have taught me anything, it’s to have low expectations for what’s opening from late August to early October, and again in February and March.
Do you ever wonder, as I do, what the marketing geniuses at all those movie studios are thinking as they put together the calendar of opening dates?
Is anybody saying, as they schedule each weekend, “Well, here’s a title for the youth market, and here’s one for the older crowd” — Anybody? Bueller?
It doesn’t feel like it. Not now.
In the midst of the feverish award season, the problem becomes the opposite. Three titles you really want to see, all opening on the same day.
And you find you’re yet again asking yourself, “Which one is likely to disappear first, so I need to rush and see it now, and which one will hang around awhile?”
It’s a guessing game people often call to tell me they’ve lost. They can’t believe the movie they want to watch has come and gone in just one or two weeks.
I had a moment of hope last July. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” opened opposite the hoopla over the Spidey and Batman flicks, and everybody had a movie to talk about for a little while.
But that was a fluke, limited to secondary markets such as Omaha. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” actually opened on the coasts in May, opposite “Men in Black III,” a movie that some adults might have actually been looking forward to because they’d enjoyed the earlier MIB versions.
Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson versus Batman and Spider-Man sounded like genius, in the form of common sense. Too good to be true.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the studios decided to spread the wealth over a little more of the calendar, instead of bunching up what they think is their best stuff in late-spring early-summer and again in late-fall early-winter?
After all, more than half the Oscar nominations go to movies that did not open in November and December. Academy voters are not all brain-dead when it comes to remembering a good film.
And the box office take for some movies would no doubt be better if the competition had a more even keel.
For example, might the remake of “Total Recall” have done better if it had not opened on the same day as “The Bourne Legacy”? Seems to me they’re competing for the same audience.
And would Woody Allen’s “To Rome With Love” have sold more tickets at this time of year than it did in late June, buried on a busy weekend and overwhelmed by parents taking their kids to see Pixar’s “Brave”?
Looking ahead, do Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” and David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” really need to open on the same November day? They both seem like movies thinking people might be glad to see. We could use one of them now.
Do “The Hobbit” and “Les Miserables” really need to go head-to-head on Dec. 14? I’d jump at either one this weekend — and I’m not even a Middle Earth fan.
Just a thought.
My own coping mechanism for the dry spells? Local theater. “August: Osage County” at the Playhouse and SNAP’s “Avenue Q” are terrific adult fare.
Feeling frugal? There’s always hope for a good vintage movie on cable.