Can 'Toy Story 3' save summer movies?
Summer movie profits have been held down by tepid sequels and remakes so far. 'Toy Story 3' represents one of a few chances for Hollywood to turn around its traditional blockbuster season.
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What will be the biggest surprises of the summer movie season?Skip to next paragraph
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Perhaps the rise of niche categories such as the theatrical documentary. This summer a record number – almost 20 – will debut, including the current "Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work" and the latest from the folks behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," a cautionary tale about the dangers of nuclear arsenals called "Countdown to Zero." Fare such as foreign films certainly won't morph into blockbusters, but works such as "MicMacs," the latest from the French director of "Amélie," are potentially interesting.
"This is a tepid summer in terms of the big movies," says Mr. Phillips, adding, "but that just means these other genres may find more of an audience."
"The two coolest movies at the end of June are foreign language," says critic Dave White of Movies.com, pointing to the latest from legendary French director Alain Resnais, "Wild Grass," and a new Italian movie starring Tilda Swinton called "I am Love," which debuted at the Venice Film Festival.
The Italian film is "gorgeous," says Mr. White, adding that it is a visually luxurious melodrama about the matriarch of a wealthy family whose whole life is about to change. While the niche films aren't likely to turn into blockbusters anytime soon, he adds that he has been surprised by the strength of unexpected films.
"I had some friends tweet me from the movie theater last Saturday night," he recalls. "They were in a screening of the Joan Rivers movie and they said the theater was at least half full. Go figure." He adds, "Ten years ago, that number of people watching a documentary at a movie theater on a Saturday night would have been unthinkable."
What is Hollywood's biggest challenge as summer goes along?
At the moment, says Mr. Dergarabedian, it may be overcoming what he calls the reverse momentum of a bad run of weekends. Movie fans such as dancer Aime Lucas are on the sidelines with a wait-and-see attitude. Too many unsatisfying sequels and remakes have put the brakes on her moviegoing, she says, adding that while she liked "Iron Man," the sequel in May was a letdown. "There isn't much I really want to see in the theaters right now," says the San Francisco native, as she walked her dog in front of the mall on a recent Saturday night.
What could bring back audiences?
Nothing succeeds like success in this town. While 15-year-old Nick Kushnir puts such rehashes as a remake of the 1980s TV show "The A-Team" on his personal D-list, all it would take for him and his friends to leave the food court where they were hanging out on a recent Saturday night would be a good film with lots of buzz.
"If there were any big, exciting blockbuster movies, I might go with my friends," he says. But, he adds, "there really isn't anything all that exciting right now."
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