Thursday, June 03, 2010

Summer Roundup Part I (May)

The month of May is traditionally the start of the red-hot summer blockbuster season but this year, it seems audiences are not heading to the theatres as much as they used to. Put that down to a case of 'sequelitis' as Hollywood seems to be playing it safe by lining up a less than ballsy release slate this year including sequels, and more sequels.

Kicking off the first wave of summer blockbusters was Paramount's Iron Man 2 which opened solidly both in Singapore as well as Stateside. Singapore also had the privilege of being one of the first to see Asian action star Donnie Yen's return to one of his most iconic characters in the sequel Ip Man 2. The two "I"s slugged it out in the first weekend of May but still ended up with impressive box-office returns for both- with Ip Man 2 surpassing Red Cliff to become the highest-grossing Asian film in Singapore. 

Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott teamed up again for the retelling of the folklore hero, Robin Hood, in the third week of May. Although rated considerable better than Kingdom of Heaven and King Arthur, audiences seem rather indifferent to the film which opened to middling numbers both here and Stateside.

Same goes for the green ogre, Shrek- despite touting it as the final film in the franchise and the first to go 3D, the animation opened way below expectations (in the US, $30 mil to be exact) and confirmed that it's high time they put the beast to rest.

Hoping to jump-start a new franchise, the Jerry Bruckheimer/Disney/fantasy video game production, Prince of Persia starring Jake Gyllenhaal unfortunately did not get enough votes from audiences. Box-office opening numbers was nowhere near that for similarly-themed The Mummy and Pirates of the Caribbean movies, a likely consequence of the movie's utterly fuzzy plotting and Gyllenhaal’s out-of-place British accent.

The disappointment was one more for the sassy cougars (aunties to be politically-correct) in Sex and the City 2 as the movie expected to top the US Memorial Day box office weekend crashed out at a distant third. In Singapore too, the movie opened third, behind both Shrek 4 and Prince of Persia.

If you're getting tired of seeing more of the same, we hear you and we share your sentiments. June might bring some reprieve with Owen Wilson's talking dog Mamarduke, the flashy update of the '80s TV series The A-Team, Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz's action bonaza Knight & Day, and of course Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 3, one sequel we're sure you'll definitely want to see. Yes, by most summer standards, this year's seems unusually tepid and studios will do well to take notice.

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