Photo by Robert Scott
The smell of freshly popped popcorn fills the air. The sound of the voices— partially muffled by the pane of glass in front of them— surround everything. The area is abuzz with excited chatter from people waiting in line to gain their admission and those who already have. While this scene may seem like it is straight out of a movie, it is actually the opposite — it’s the theater during the summer movie season, when kids are out of school, and big-budget movies hit the screens.
The summer movie season usually features the release of some of the most anticipated films of the year. This draws big crowds to the theaters. Its numbers are only rivaled by horror movies that are released in the fall. But, why is the summer such a popular time for movie goers?
“Who wants to see movies all of the time?” asked Kendrianna Boatman, a student at Mississippi University for Women. “Kids and teenagers, and we do not have school.”
That would explain some of the theater traffic, but what about the adults there without children? Perhaps it’s the types of movies that are being released during this time that draw the crowds.
“It has been the same since 1975,” said Dr. Van Roberts, professor of Communication and the Film Studies minor coordinator at Mississippi University for Women. “When ‘Jaws’ came out, and they decided that there had to be a type of movie you made for the summer.”
These movies are often referred to as blockbusters, and they have dominated the box office for decades.
What about these movies makes them the most popular though?
“It makes it more fun when a movie is full of action,” said Boatman.
If this is the case, then it is easy to see why certain studios seem to own the box office. Take Marvel Studios for example. It has grown to be one of — if not the biggest — movie studios in Hollywood. Coincidentally, it was a summer movie that started the studio’s rise to prominence with the May 2008 release of “Iron Man.”
This summer was no exception, either. This summer saw the release of two Marvel titles—one of which broke countless box office records, both domestic and international. It even succeeded in somewhat changing the time frame of what is considered the summer movie season by moving the release date for “Avengers: Infinity War.” It moved the film up by a week. It released on April 27 instead of the initial May 4. This was widely accepted as the first big blockbuster of the summer; however, it was at least a week earlier than what is considered normal for a summer movie release.
This summer also saw the release of numerous other sequels to popular films. It could arguably be called the summer of sequels.
One of the notable titles that hit theaters this summer was “Deadpool 2,” the long-awaited sequel to the 2016 hit “Deadpool.” However, perhaps the two biggest films that were released this summer were “The Incredibles 2” and “Mission Impossible: Fallout.”
These two films drew some of the largest crowds this summer. They were among the best received, with “The Incredibles 2” sitting at 94 percent and “Mission Impossible: Fallout” at 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.com.
“The Incredibles 2,” in particular might have capitalized on fond memories of the first installment.
“Aside from it being a sequel to a childhood movie that I really liked,” said Daryl Fogerty, a student at Mississippi University for Women, “I kind of noticed how [The Incredibles 2] focused on Mrs. Parr, or Elastagirl, whereas Mr. Incredible was at home, and it was swapped up from the first one.”
“Mission Impossible: Fallout” was also a smash hit. Many reviews have called it the best of the Tom Cruise led “Mission Impossible” franchise. This is no small feat since this is the sixth installment in the series. Usually, the more sequels included in a film series, the less quality each sequential film has. However, something is different if the sixth film is being called the best.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and “Ant-Man and the Wasp” were other sequels released this summer. While they were mostly successful, they didn’t really dominate like many of the other titles that saw the big screen.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” was Marvel Studios’ second release this summer. It was fairly well received, scoring 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. However, after the shocking finale of “Avengers: Infinity War,” audiences were less concerned with the pre-Infinity escapades of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), aka Ant-Man.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” did not fare well at all, as it only scored a 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes; however the first “Jurassic World” faired better, with a 71 percent. The reason that the second one wasn’t received as well can be boiled down to one word— nostalgia.
“Jurassic World” was the first “Jurassic Park” film to be released in almost 15 years. This brought the masses to watch the franchise that many of them had grown up with. They even got to introduce their children to it as well. “Fallen Kingdom” was not a case of nostalgia, and the score online reflects that.
Overall, this summer was a big one for blockbusters, but it also saw the release of several smaller films that faired just as well— if not better than some of the large films. Some of these films include “Upgrade,” which was a personal favorite of Roberts, “Hereditary,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” “Teen Titans GO! To the Movies,” “Eighth Grade” and most recently “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Though this summer saw many movies released— with most of the films receiving overall higher scores on Rotten Tomatoes than in past summers— it was still just like any other. The crowds rushed in to see their favorite characters grace the big screen yet again. But the number of sequels released made it hard for new, original films to get off of the ground. If there had been more successful small films, then it might have stood out among previous years. However, it truly was the summer of sequels.