Movie Scheduling: Timing Matters!

Why do I have to have this conversation with people EVERY FREAKING SUMMER? Seriously guys. I know the average lifespan of a Hollywood executive ranges from six months and two years, but you'd think there'd be someone who sticks around long enough to explain how this works to the new kids. Someone that's not me. Okay, so here goes.

American audiences have either been trained to have or simply naturally possess certain movie moods. We like certain films at certain times of the year. Sometimes this is obvious. Christmas films in July don’t work. Scary movies at Halloween do. But sometimes it's just weird.

For example, everyone's going banana's over the continued success of Knocked Up. Oh my god, Knocked Up is doing so well. That Judd Apatow must be a genius. He is. You know why? Because he knows that for some reason, in the summer, raunchy comedies do well. Even when they're rated R. But every year everyone freaks out. Last year there really wasn't one, so in its place the one that looked most like a raunchy comedy (The Break-up) was a big hit. The summer before that the big surprise hit was The Wedding Crashers followed by Judd Apatow's The 40 year-old Virgin. And the summer before that? Dodgeball. And the summer before that? Bruce Almighty. Every year these silly comedies do giant business.

So when people talk about how well Knocked Up is doing, think for a moment: what really is its competition? It's not Pirates or Spider-Man or Ocean's 13. Those pull from somewhat different audiences. No. Knocked Up has no competition. Because no one else has a raunchy, adult themed comedy to compete with it out there.

And the opposite is true for what's going on with horror. People do not like their horror in the summer. Never have. Rated R horror movies do incredibly well at one time of the year. Halloween. Occasionally they do well in early to mid-spring (when the quality of releases is pretty sketchy as is.) So why on earth would Fox and Lionsgate commit their tentpole horror sequels to the summer? Right now studio suits and commentators are claiming it's because people are sick of Rated R horror. Bollocks. You don't offer dessert after the soup, and you sure as hell don't release a scary movie when people aren't in the mood to be scared. I'm looking at you, 1408

Which reminds me, whatever marketing genius decided to release Rob Zombie's appropriately named Halloween on the brilliant date of August 31st, needs to have a brick smacked upside his head repeatedly while his assailant repeats the word: October! October! October! I mean seriously, who wants to watch a movie about Halloween before Labor day? Come on guys. Learn your trends before making blanket decisions about what America wants or doesn't want.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me


Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD five times a week.