Summer movies: 6 fearless predictions
Looking ahead to summer movie season in April is a tricky business. Last year was supposed to be the summer of the towering threequels (Shrek, Pirates, and Spider-Man), and it was, sort of, except if you define the summer by movies people actually liked. This year, I'm staying away from guesswork about quality or box office performance, and instead offering predictions about something that's much easier to forecast: the hype, the spin, the second-guessing, the Monday-morning quarterbacking, and the gun-jumping. Here are my hunches about what the summer of 2008 has in store:
A furious controversy will arise over whether Heath Ledger deserves a posthumous Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Dark Knight. This will begin when an anonymous informant on morbidlyobesefilmgeek.com pronounces Ledger's performance brilliant. Three days later a flurry of chat-room postings on iwannabefirst.com will say that Ledger's work is being overpraised. A week after that, a major film blogger will pronounce him a shoo-in for the Academy Award. A couple of days later another blogger will write that he senses that the movie is basically over and the public has rejected it. Three weeks after that, the movie will open.
Not a single major summer movie will fail at the box office because it's bad. Instead, disappointing grosses for certain movies will be blamed on one or more of the following factors: Warm weather. Cold weather. Rainy weather. The recession. Bad marketing. The war. Film festival fever. Unfairly high expectations. Theaters that are filled with just too darn many good movies at once. An unexpected ''backlash.'' Tom Cruise (because that just never gets old). Intense national interest in TV's riveting gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Republican National Convention. Movie piracy. Actual pirates. Fear of avian flu. And Hillary. In cases in which a movie's performance is so exceptionally poor that it cannot be excused by anything on the above list, we will be sternly reminded that everyone knows the real money these days comes from DVDs. The movie will then fail on DVD. But quietly.
NEXT PAGE: The three most coveted words at the top of a summer 2008 movie advertisement will be ''This year's Juno.''