Sense of Wonder: Genre films keep movie-going alive!

Spider-Man 3 smashed its way to the top of the box officeI’m a little bit old school when it comes to enjoying genre movies: I believe they deserve to be seen on the big screen, where the special visual and sound effects can really blast your senses into another dimension. Yes, I own a big screen TV and a DVD player (and even a laserdisc player for those titles not yet available on DVD), and my computer is set up to download movies from Netflix. Yet, when push comes to shove, I want to go to the theatre to see a film, even if it’s not a great one.
Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised to see this column by Peter Part in Variety: “Spree of threes defies doomsayers.” The gist of Bart’s piece is that, two years ago, doomsayers were predicting the death of theatre movie-going, thanks to the disappointing box office results of Summer 2005; however, this year sees ticket sales up 10%, with eleven films earning over $100-million and four passing the $300-million mark.
Bart credits much of his upturn to what he calls “three-quels” – that is, sequels with the number 3 in the title (which have historically often proven to be box office disappointments).  The third entries in the RUSH HOUR, BOURNE, SPIDER-MAN, SHREK, and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchises have all proven to be big hits.

What Bart glosses over is that the Top Five Summer films (which, not coincidentally, are also the Top Film films of the year overall) are all genre films: SPIDER-MAN 3, SHRED THE THIRD, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END, TRANSFORMERS, and HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. A little farther down the list you will find FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SUFRER in 13th place – another summer fantasy flick that earned over $100-million. And if you stretch the definition of what constitutes a “genre” film, you can even include RATATOUILLE, THE SIMPSONS MOVIE on that list.
Therefore, while audience viewing habits may be changing, it seems that cinefantastiquecan, for the time being, still lure viewers away from their iPods, computers and home video systems.
Long live the theatrical experience!

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