Have we lost the summer movie phenomenon?

July 10, 2014
summer movies
Tobey Maguire was an adorable quirky Peter Parker fighting off Willem Dafoe's high-pitched Green Goblin. Mary Jane's (Kirsten Dunst) alleyway attack by thieves was thwarted by Peter Parker masked as his spidier alter-ego that ended with a memorable kiss in the rain. Nickleback rocked you out of the theater when the ending eluded that Parker's quest for power coming with responsibility was not yet finished. Everyone who was anyone saw Spider-Man in the summer of 2002 - probably more than once.

When I think of blockbusters, this frowned-upon action film is one of the first to come to mind. But, I can name more: The Mummy Returns, Shrek, Star Trek: Revenge of the Sith. My summers at the theaters used to get a euphoric high from movies that were simply mega-phenomenon to all of us. It's not necessarily that the script made your head hurt from overthinking the plot, or that you were seeing the best entertainment money could buy - but there was an electric energy: You gotta see this man! YOU HAVE TO.

Both released in 2010, Inception and Avatar could be the most recent exceptions to the example. Both took control of the box office is different ways; the former for its story and intrigue for what was the real dream, the latter for its special-effects and escapism into Pandora. Both carried the weight that everyone had to see them; that buzz, the reputation that you were gonna be missing out on something if you get to the cinema ASAP.

Glimpsing out our recent collection of summer flicks, twelve years later it's hard to imagine that summer used to be the time to go to the movies when you had nothing else to do. Or you were hanging out with a bunch of friends, and why not - let's go to the movies, there's gotta be something fun out. But in a world of social media and staying connected 24/7, there is rarely a movie that seems to make people talk for more than a minute.
"Movies used to run in a theater all year 'round. Now you're lucky if a movie runs for an afternoon." - Tom Cruise
Half of 2014 is over, and I maybe went to the movies about six times. Not that I didn't want to or couldn't or wouldn't make the effort (my closest theater hours away). Interest for movies like Godzilla and A Million Ways to Die in the West lingered until the release date, and then just dropped off. The Fault In Our Stars slightly squelched that ache I had to see a Really Big Movie, but the satisfaction was short-lived. Edge of Tomorrow was on my must-watch list, but getting to see it was something I didn't manage to do in the time before it went out of theaters. In one day, out the other.

Word of mouth has been replaced with social media, so now our tweets and reblogs would seem to the backbone of what drives people to theaters. The Fault In Our Stars, hyped by readers and supported by John Green's huge following, was a temporary hit. Trending Hashtags in the U.S. lit up on twitter but after a night seemed to die down and then away. Even a popular post on Tumblr with some 200,000 notes proved that cyber interest doesn't necessarily produce longevity at the box office.

 Big or small, I miss when movies had an energy to them. Social media might spark an interest but the flame quickly dies out and often satiates our interest until we get the nerve enough to go and see something. Whatever the appeal was - the action, the cast, the romance, the special effects - rarely movies carries the weight of hype and anticipation. If it does, it won't last long - sadly.

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