Hope for Hollywood Summer Blockbusters

Remember when you could anticipate a summer movie season full of movies that didn’t feel like they were pulled off a Xerox machine? Probably not. And with increasingly disturbing trends in the US economy, Hollywood’s offerings are becoming even less appealing.

In 2000, Spider-Man kicked off a trend of great comic book movies. The original film, directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, was a smash–a beautifully written romantic fantasy thinly disguised as an action movie.

Since Spider-Man was released, nearly every comic book ever made has been turned into a film. And as the recession hit, Hollywood became terrified of green-lighting anything else. The Angelina Jolie film “Wanted” was based on a comic book that hadn’t even been published yet, and the screenwriters had to make up an ending and a mythology that hadn’t been created.

It has come to a point where, due to the worldwide credit crunch and terror among investors, Hollywood is remaking comic book films that are not even a decade old yet, and dubbing them “reboots” instead of remakes. The first batch came with X-Men: First Class. A Superman reboot is filming. After the much-hyped “The Dark Knight Rises” is released, Warner Brothers has already announced its intentions to reboot the franchise with a new director, new stars, and reinvented story. Of course, Sony Pictures is rebooting the summer tentpole that kicked it all off: the new Spider-Man film, with an all-new cast and director, releases this summer.

Fortunately, a number of great films are still getting made. The fifth film–the FIFTH–in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise–was a surprise critical and commercial success, and one of the most well-regarded action films since Pixar’s “The Incredibles.” Warner Brothers’ Batman franchise has become one of the most acclaimed film series of the decade; “The Dark Knight” missed a critical Best Picture nomination by a hair’s breadth and stands as one of the ten highest grossing films of all time.

Times are tough everywhere. Hollywood is hurting, but even with an apparent drought of creativity great films are being released. Yes, it feels like they are all remakes: the most anticipated films of 2012 are a sequel to Batman, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, a prequel to Alien, and a remake of Spider-Man. However, we still have a lot of popcorn-munching action to look forward to as Hollywood sends us the hits.

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