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Remake me Beautiful

Whatever happened to originality? This is the first weekend since Wolverine kicked off the blockbuster movie season a month ago that there isn’t a sequel, prequel or reboot opening at the multiplexes in America. Despite the fact that Pixar’s Up and Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell are reviewing very strongly, most box office folk seem to think that this will be a relatively quiet weekend at the old box office, which is a shame really when we’ve got two of the best reviewed movies of the year going head-to-head. Still, what happened to Hollywood’s originality?

Brideshead Revisited, Revisited

Brideshead Revisited, Revisited

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The Horror! The Horror!

This weekend sees the release of the only two original (i.e. not a sequel, prequel or spin-off) major releases this May. For the kids – both young and old – we have the newest Pixar film, which is steadily becoming one of the highlights of the movie year. The other film – while firmly awaited by horror aficionados – has snuck up on the rest of us, generating great buzz from preview screenings. Drag Me To Hell is apparently the best horror film in quite some time, and one I am now hotly anticipating, but it got me thinking – whatever happened to the horror genre?

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

Bruce Campbell just isn't trying any more

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It was the summer of 2009…

Lately I’ve taken a bit of interest in Box Office numbers – I figure that might distract me from the fact Ryan Tuberty is hosting the Late Late. And looking at the few months ahead of us, I can see this being a very big summer for the US box office. In fact, I can see the film industry beating the recession with a large stick (cinema generally does quite well during recessions as it’s well, cheap), thanks to a fairly epic and broad lineup of blockbuster films.

It seems that just about every film this year is a sequel or prequel. Some (Angels & Demons) are both – it’s complicated (the book is a prequel the film is a sequel). We’ve had a relatively strong introduction to the season with the two prequels on offer. Neither Star Trek nor Wolverine broke any major records (though the Imax thing is pretty neat, as is the biggest second-week in May ever). I can see Star Trek having the legs to last in the background at least a month (which, given the onslaught of bigger movies and the disappointing staying power of other would be blockbusters, is really something).

Even before we reach the end of the month, we’ll have the second Dan Brown film, which can’t do too badly with a cast like Ewan McGregor and Tom Hanks and a cult following among a slightly older demographic usually ignored, the fourth Terminator film, which should do big business despite all the reasons that geeks have to worry, and the kid-friendly A Night at the Museum. Rounding off the month’s smaller (pbut possibly slow-burning) releases are Pixar’s Up and Sam Raimi’s return to cult horror with Drag Me to Hell. Again, neither should set opening weekend alight, but I’d expect a decent amount of business from either or both.

Then we have the traditional summer months. Summer movies have been creeping in earlier and earlier (Watchmen was arguably better suited to a summer release; Iron Man last year set the official start-of-season bell back at least a few weeks), but your meat-and-potatoes are here. These are the movies that cannot possibly fail, they are just that wired-in to cheesy pop sentiment. Michale Bay will confirm his title to the throne of summer blockbusters with a brainless sequel to a feature-length toy commercial with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but even he will likely have to stand in the shade created by what most commentators have settled on as the biggest money-spinner of the year, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The series has built in devotees that Star Trek can only dream about, and they will be out in full force along with any parent looking to entertain a child over the summer months. This and the fact that my sources within the fan community tell me this is the best book points to a right to print money.

I think that GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra may falter as a brand with relatively little name recognition, despite the most over-qualified cast ever – Christopher Eccleston, people! On the other hand, I really hope that Michael Mann’s Public Enemies can do at least respectably, as the man generally delivers and has an amazing cast at his disposal.

All that said, I wouldn’t expect anyone to dethrone The Dark Knight or Titanic. I just think that culminatively the box office should be huge, but it could hugely backfire and lead to blockbuster fatigue, though I doubt it. It’ll be interesting to read the end-of-year numbers.

After that there’s the lonely Autumn followed by the glut of awards-bait. I’m already hyped about some of the movies we won’t be seeing on this side of the Atlantic for another nine months, but I’ll talk about them some other time.