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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Movie Seasons

The leaves are changing color in places that aren't Southern California, and you know what that means. Yes, it's Fall, which I like to refer to as "That Season Where Allegedly Leaves Fall But We Get a Lot of Good Movies." Since Oscar voters apparently have a long-term memory that's even worse than mine, the studios save their best films for release between October and January in the hopes that members of the Academy will be able to remember the title of the new Scorsese movie long enough to not vote for it.

I don't want to sound unexcited -- I really do have a good time following all the Oscar hype, though I know it's all silly -- but I can't stop thinking that this way of dumping all the good movies into a three month period kind of stinks.

I don't really know how long this trend has been going on for, but in the old days before multiplexes and home video movies didn't really have national release dates. They would come out, play in the big cities, then those prints would sort of wind their way around the country playing in smaller venues, maybe winding up in the revival circuit. These days nobody but me goes to theaters to see old movies, and the big blockbuster model includes releasing a DVD six months after the movie opens, so movie showings don't have that sort of slow release cycle.

The summer movie season began in the 1970s, when Jaws and Star Wars told execs that big budget spectacles could score when the kids were out of school. Unfortunately, it now means that I hate almost every film released between April and July. Even worse, the films released in February, March, August or most of September are generally total garbage, as they're stuff the studios didn't think were good enough to serve as Oscar bait or flashy enough to attract mass audiences.

What gives? Why are there are four or five months out of the year where there aren't any movies playing I want to see? I hate it because come Fall and Winter, I feel a bit overwhelmed and always miss out on a lot of stuff that looks good. It's tough to make it to the movies every single weekend, and looking at the next 8 weeks there's at least one movie I want to see practically every weekend. If some of these were released in March, they'd have no competition at all and I'd end up seeing more films.

I can't really fathom the economics of this. I get why you'd release all the teen-oriented films in the summer, but dramas for adults shouldn't really be seasonal. It's no easier for me to see a movie in December than it is in July or March. Is the amount of money a potential Oscar nod or win worth the lost revenue by releasing into a crowded marketplace?

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