A few days ago I posted a snarky piece about Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix moving its release up two whole days wherein I posited that it was merely a harbinger of things to come as summer films are increasingly under pressure to use gimmicks to squeeze every last dollar in their opening frame. Nobody wants to be the behemoth that can’t break records, and since there are probably vagrants who head into public libraries on Sunday afternoons to log on to Boxofficemojo to get the weekend estimates way ahead of everyone else at the shelter, opening gross appearance is everything – even to regular Joes. Sad, but true.
Michael Bay’s Transformers was scheduled at a seemingly perfect date – The Fourth of July. That it was a Wednesday this year seemed to suggest it was destiny for the bombastic filmmaker to enchant American audiences in search of a summer blockbuster that truly satisfied after lots of nice tries in the month of May. Then suddenly, the film officially jumped up a day to open on Tuesday, July 3, thereby scooping my joke about Spidey 4 doing the same in 2011 (Also, for those offended by my “black people talking to the screen/Wednesday opening” joke in that article, I’m sorry……that you don’t have a sense of humor. The fuck you think this is? MSNBC?). So, “Transfans” who preemptively took the day off now have to eat even more time off from work. But before you get to rescheduling your vacation days, get this: Now comes word that special showings of the film to the public actually start Monday, July 2.
Thus far, the only word is that these are night showings, so we don’t know if we’re talking the standard midnight flavor, the 10PM model, or even the newfangled 8PM joints (The most likely of the three). Hell, Michael Bay’s a trailblazer…why not have theaters synced to start their projectors at dusk? It seems that whatever silly ideas you have for when films can come out will probably become reality soon enough. The traditional wisdom not so long ago was that films set the release dates for these blockbusters in stone years in advance to secure a non-competitive summer weekend and to maximize “synergy” between the film, the marketing department, and all of the related BS like videogames, toothpaste, and what have you. You get all the ducks in a row, and then you make the money. Now, opening massive seems to trump all, and we’re moving to a point where release dates are mere suggestions rather than proclamations. It’s a shame as I think the immovable start date is part of what makes an event film…well, an event. I can understand wanting to squeeze every last drop out of an opening, but might I suggest you start with trimming these bloated nigh 3-hour “extravaganzas” masquerading as coherent sequels? An extra showing a day keeps the disappointed beancounters away.