Thursday, October 29, 2015

For Their Sake, Movie Studios Need To Start Releasing Their Dramas Outside Of October

It's no shocker why movie studios love the month of October as the opportune time to release their major dramatic motion pictures. Tons of films of that very nature have done gangbusters business in this time period (just in the last few years, Gone Girl, The Social Network and Argo excelled here), and these dramas can play as more low-key counterprogramming towards the larger scale releases in November. Plus, it ensures that a number of these films will, in theory, be easier for Oscar voters to remember when it comes time for those voters to figure out who should be nominated for Best Picture. But as this October has shown, unleashing an onslaught of dramas on the marketplace just leads to everyone underperforming.

Now, thanks to the smaller budgets of these dramas, it's almost impossible to say they bombed (except for the rare exception like The Walk, which will barely crack $10 million on a $35 million budget). But it's obvious Universal had higher hopes for Steve Jobs, for instance, than it only making $7.2 million this past weekend, and Black Mass (which got released in late September) pretty much vanished off the face of the Earth once October hit due to the large number of dramatic newcomers it had to face at the box office. Interestingly, the only drama to show long-term stamina at the box office (Bridge of Spies did hold extremely well on its second weekend, for the record) this month was Sicario, which managed to distance itself from the pack by being more action-oriented.

I think it's pretty apparent that, in the years to come, a change has to be made. Hell, next October (which currently has The Girl On The Train and The Accountant facing off on October 7th) already looks to be heading for a similar situation where the marketplace becomes too overwhelmed in dramas all aiming for an older audience. Here's a question to ponder for these studios when they pick release dates for forthcoming dramas; would it be so bad to release some of these movies in earlier months, perhaps in the summertime for instance?

Films from 2014 like Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel prove that an earlier released date doesn't prohibit a film from earning Oscar consideration. Plus, these dramas can a serve as solid counterprogramming against the more action-packed summer blockbuster. Would the Tom Hanks led Bridge of Spies or the Johnny Depp headlined Black Mass really have suffered if they had been released in, say, August instead of the Fall? If anything, they would have had a better chance of sticking around at the box office compared to their current circumstances

There's been a similar release date related struggle when it comes to summer blockbusters, with these costly features all getting shoved in a short three month time frame that doesn't allow the individual films or the moviegoers themselves time to breathe. Just as studios need to learn to spread out their Transformers and Mission: Impossible films throughout the calendar year, maybe it's not a bad idea to remember that great films like Steve Jobs or Bridge of Spies could flourish even better in a less crowded space.

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