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Summer Blockbusters Scare Studio Chiefs

Published February 20, 2006 in Movie News
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of Disney
Pirates of the Caribbean 2 Movie Poster Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
During 2005 Hollywood raised up its hands and screamed 'box office slump.' Though the actual details behind the slump is still being debated by avid moviegoers and studio execs alike, fingers have now begun to point at Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ; a film that created a box office spike and overall shift for 2004.

But now we have begun 2006, a year that had studios push all in with astronomical budgets on highly anticipated sequels and adaptations.

Back in December of 2005 we had mentioned that studios were now giving their highly anticipated films of 2006 budgets north of $200 million. It seems like only yesterday when people were freaking out over the budget of films like Titanic and Terminator 2. But it doesn't end there, X-Men 3 and Spider-Man 3 (2007 release) have also joined on the $200 million-plus bandwagon.

For the summer of 2006, each studio is counting on at least one flagship movie to be box office gold. However, each major tentpole film has also encountered a problem-- competition.

Summer 2006: The Battle of Blockbuster Films

We here at CanMag have been watching the release dates for the big-budget releases for summer 2006 with keen interest and excitement. If the lineup remains as is, there will hardly be a weekend from May to July that will not have some sore of big-budget or highly-anticipated film being released.

This is great news for us as the moviegoers, but horrible news for the studios who have placed large sums of money behind the summer blockbusters in hopes to catch three to five week runs without any competition. What do we have to look forward to? Let's take a brief look below:

Mission: Impossible 3 (May 5th)
Poseidon (May 12th)
Over the Hedge (May 19th)
The Da Vinci Code (May 19th)
X-Men 3 (May 26th)
Nacho Libre (June 2nd)
The Break-Up (June 2nd)
Cars (June 9th)
Superman Returns (June 30th)
Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest (July 7th)

With this type of summer competition Variety estimates that there will be some high-profile 'casualties'-- the production chiefs. Given the extraordinary costs ($150 million and up) of summer blockbusters, they know that a major flameout will impinge on the bottom line of their parent companies. They also comprehend the implications of the Kong conundrum: Rich talent deals have triggered big paydays for the talent, leaving only distribution fees for the studios.

It turns out that the best spot to be in the list of films above may be right in the middle or right at the end. 20th Century Fox has secured May 26th for X-Men 3, a date that should allow the film to have a solid box office run for at least a few weeks, while Disney has secured the July opener with Pirates of the Caribbean 2. The only problem for Disney is that Pirates will have to directly compete with Warner Bros big-budget Superman Returns.

As we approach April the release dates will become more for certain and studios will not want to risk losing faith in one of their tentpole films by having the release date pushed. However, I am sure the increased competition has caused August to look pretty appetizing for the larger-budget films.

With this direct competition between tentpole films for summer 2006 the box office numbers could go one way or the other. Either the box office is going to have an amazing summer that will push it through 2007 or it will suffer and never recover thanks to the density of high-profile release dates between May and July.

Studio execs may have some anxieties before the start of May, but we at CanMag couldn't be happier to find even more reasons to head out to the theatres.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Image property of Disney

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