Is summer movie season kicking off in April a good idea?

From left to right: Angelina Jolie in

From left to right: Angelina Jolie in "Maleficent", Johnny Depp in "Transcendence" and Chris Evans in "Captain America: The Winter Soldier".

Liz Braun, Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:39 PM ET

QMI writers Liz Braun and Jim Slotek debate whether kicking off the summer movie season in the spring is a good idea.

JIM SLOTEK:

When stores inaugurated Christmas sales the day before Black Friday - on U.S. Thanksgiving itself - Jon Stewart declared that, far from being under siege, Christmas was so big it was eating other holidays.

Somewhat the same thing has happened to Hollywood’s calendar. Summer blockbuster season has now eaten spring. Snow is still on the ground in much of the country, even as the box office returns come in this weekend from (appropriately enough) Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

That will set the bar for a summer that includes a Godzilla reboot, a much anticipated X-Men past-and-future mashup, Planet Of The Apes, Transformers and a movie (Transcendence) where Johnny Depp’s brain is uploaded into a computer (presumably to be downloaded at will later by Tim Burton).

Okay, none of it is Oscar fodder. It’s 99% big, dumb entertainment. But seriously, what are you going to be reading on the beach this summer – A Brief History of Time?

And here’s the thing about summer blockbuster season – it has the word “summer” in it.

For me, thanks to a generation of conditioning by Hollywood studios, watching The Amazing Spider-Man 2 later this month will be like watching Grapefruit League baseball. No matter what the temperature outside, I’ll be watching the type of movie I associate with sweltering Red Carpet premieres. Turn up the air-conditioning Buddy, because frankly, I’m more interested in cooling down than in war heating up between the Transformers and the Decepticons.

But apart from extending “summer” to some very unsummer-like months, the expansion of Summer Blockbuster Season is welcome because it shortens post-Oscar crap season.

Said season actually begins in early January – before the Oscars, but after the nominated movies have been watched and discussed to death. For hidden gem hunters, it’s where distributors dump foreign films and Canadian movies (good luck finding the good ones). But it’s also where they dump movies – period. Comedies like Ride Along, misbegotten projects like I, Frankenstein, bad ideas like the rebooted RoboCop, Endless Love, Veronica Mars, 300: Rise Of An Empire, Pompeii and Tyler Perry’s The Single Moms Club. Winning the box office in January, February or March is like getting a participation medal on field day at elementary school.

It’s as if there was some law that mandated the absolute worst that Hollywood has to offer must play during the time when we’re most likely to be afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder and losing our will to live (or at least shovel).

There really are only two true seasons in moviedom – Awards Season, when we get the kind of movies that are ostensibly good for us (12 Years A Slave, Gravity, August: Osage County, etc.) with the odd blockbuster sprinkled in, and Blockbuster Season, when the brightest minds in Hollywood figure out how to blow ours in IMAX and 3D.

So… winter followed by summer. Kind of like Winnipeg.

And I don’t think there’s any argument, summer is long overdue wherever you are.

Twitter: @jimslotek

Jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca

LIZ BRAUN:

Honestly, gentle reader, we're as excited as you are about Godzilla.

Maleficent? Can't sleep for anticipation.

And we're hoping The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will catch us all in his narrative web.

We just worry that you can have too much of a good thing.

Blockbuster season – that annual movie-going stretch aimed mainly at adolescent boys (of every age) – has been a staple of summer fun since gramps took everyone to Jaws and Star Wars in the 1970s. Thing is, it used to span the actual summer, covering off the months when nobody was in school and everybody needed air conditioning. It was a boon to parents everywhere — what better than some adventure on the big screen to keep a bored adolescent amused for a few hours?

Somehow the blockbuster season dates got expanded a bit, moving up to late May and Victoria Day weekend (or Memorial Day weekend for our American cousins.)

Now it's expanded further. These days, summer apparently starts in early April.

As Mr. Slotek explains, that divides the movie-going year into three parts:

(1) the desperado set-up, those three months of crap during the darkest part of winter that make an upcoming summer film like Godzilla seem like War & Peace;

(2) blockbuster season, several noisy months of special effects and explosions; and

(3) that brief fall period of improving pictures that win Oscars and are always called films and never movies.

This is worrisome.

We like battling robots and talking raccoons as much as the next guy, and we've accepted popcorn as one of the five major food groups, but come on — five months of tent pole folderol? The extended blockbuster season means it's all about men in tights, fantasy worlds, barfy young adult novels turned into movies and the same dystopian future imagined over and over and over again in so many Science Fiction extravaganzas.

Space ships. Creature features. 3D glasses.

Blather. Rinse. Repeat.

To say your movie options are limited in the summer season is a massive understatement.

As far as Hollywood is concerned, however, nothing succeeds like excess, so the more big movies aimed at a $1 billion payday they can churn out, the better.

It would make sense if there were no downside, but enough of these things fail so badly that you have to wonder who's minding the store.

Look at last summer — the smell from The Lone Ranger and After Earth still lingers. But never mind, because as long as some of the movies make money, the old formula will hold, and we'll continue to get a glut of 3D, over-the-top, CGI and effects-laden movies.

Familiarity breeds contempt? Here, maybe, but our friends in faraway places like Japan and Russia and China constitute a huge market for Hollywood movies and continue to shore up the bottom line.

And let Hollywood go on catering to the lowest common denominator.

Solution? Short-term, you can seek out alternatives at local festivals everywhere across the country, from the Salt Spring Film Festival to the St. John's International Women's Film Festival. Torontonians can go to Hot Docs (April 24 - May 4 this year) to stock up on intelligent, thought-provoking movies.

Long-term, get out your library card.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

Liz.braun@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos