Monday, August 4, 2008
New York Magazine Tackles the August Movie Graveyard
This week New York magazine is taking an in-depth look at movies released in August. I've always referred to this month (along with September, January, and February) as giant graveyards for studios to dump low-quality films or movies they just don't know how to market. That being said, there are always one or two quality flicks to come out of these couple months, and I'm glad the magazine has recognized that as well.
(Random side note: why greenlight or pay for a film you don't know how to market? If a studio ponies up the money to produce a script, they should be aware of what audience they're going for, or have some kind of contingency plan in place to target some section of the market. They don't skip out on marketing costs, these studios put up tons of money a year in advertising, so why do some legitimately great movies get lost in marketing. This issue never frustrates me enough to consider going into marketing, I just bemoan the hiding of great films due to a bad job done by studio advertisers.)
They've got two articles up: one charting the history of terrible films and diamonds in the rough from August 1993 to the present. The other is "A Theory of Awfulness", which examines why the August phenomenon has come to exist, and a possibility to better it for the future.
Most people are quick to point out that not every other month has a large supply of great films, and that's true. It's just that August, September, January, and February have the lion's share of craptacular movies. August gets the most terrible movies because schools are still out for the summer and some folks are still taking vacations, so they can attempt to squeeze "Well, it's the only thing playing that we haven't seen.." dollars out of some wallets.
And sometimes those diamonds in the rough shine incredibly bright. A few of my favorite films like Collateral, Hero, and Superbad were released in August, but they were one of the very few movies in that particular August to actually be good films. The desparity between films in these months is incredible: you've either got one or two films that would be great regardless of its release date, and then a ton of crap dumped by every studio so nobody associates their studio name with a crappy film.
I've only got one issue with the New York feature. In listing crappy August movies, it's a little unforgiving to some light, entertaining films that I probably apologize for (Accepted, Stardust, Airheads, okay I'll admit it, Air Bud), and claims that some terrible pieces of crap were good August films (Bring it On? Blue Crush for crying out loud???) I think 3 categories are necessary: Diamonds in the Rough, Light Entertainment, and Unforgiveable Crap. Sure there's still going to be debate, and the terrible movie months will have more than their fair share of bad movies, but people like a light piece of fluff that isn't terrible but isn't heavy intellectual lifting from time to time, no matter what the month.