Saturday, January 15, 2011

3D hits January

There may be no greater sign of both the ubiquity of 3D, and the improving profile of January as a release month, than that there is now a high-profile 3D movie being released in January.

The Green Hornet is not the first movie in the recent 3D craze to be released in January. That honor goes to the execrable My Bloody Valentine 3D, which was released on January 16, 2009. But that film doesn't really exemplify the "new 3D" -- it's more of a throwback to the old days, when schlocky horror movies, such as Friday the 13th Part 3 and Jaws 3, were the most likely home for 3D.

The "new 3D" is superhero movies with big stars. Such as The Green Hornet. (Incidentally, I find it funny that the film's biggest star -- or at least best-known name -- is Cameron Diaz, and she's barely seen in the ads.)

In the past, a movie like The Green Hornet would have come out sometime between April and August, maybe not quite blockbuster enough to hold down a key summer release date, but certainly enough to come out during summer's early or late fringes. Nowadays, the calendar has gotten so packed, the studios have gotten so savvy about how to capture the available dollars, and 3D has become so prevalent, that this 3D superhero movie hits theaters on the second available release date of the new year.

The rehabilitation of the month of January may have truly begun in 2008, when, to my surprise, one of the most buzzed about films of the previous six months was released on January 18th. Yep, that's when Cloverfield dropped, and a week later, with a lot less fanfare but plenty of name recognition, came Rambo. The year 2009 reverted more or less to the status quo, with the third Underworld movie not really having the same sizzle as a Cloverfield. But that January produced two really big hits, Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Taken, reminding studio execs why January is not a month just to be sloughed off.

You really saw the difference in 2010, when three rather large-scale post apocalyptic effects movies were released on consecutive Fridays: Daybreakers, The Book of Eli and Legion. (For a longer discussion of that, see here.) None of them fared particularly well.

But The Green Hornet seems like a different kind of step forward. Not only is it 3D, but it's a superhero movie. And not even a superhero movie like Kick-Ass, which had little previous name recognition. No, most of us had at least heard of The Green Hornet, if only because we'd confused it with The Green Lantern. Just wait for that character's upcoming 3D incarnation this summer, arriving on a more traditional release date for such a film: June 17th.

I don't have a lot more to say about The Green Hornet, except that my initial disinterest has now evolved into moderate anticipation. I'm not likely to see it for a couple weeks, since I'm still focused on catching a couple more 2010 films in the theater before they leave. But I'm a lot likelier to prioritize a theatrical screening than I was a few months ago. Of course, the reviews could certainly dampen my enthusiasm if they're negative.

One thing I do want to comment on is this poster I chose above. It's pretty abstract, but with a clear view of it you can certainly tell what's going on.

A clear view of this image is not what's provided on the south face of a building on the 405 freeway, which I see as I'm driving north on my way home from work. (I thought I had a picture of it, but I see that the picture I tried to take on my phone was obstructed by one of those structures that holds the signs out over the highway). For a month now, I've been trying to puzzle out what the image was -- it just looked like a bunch of murky shapes, especially since the exterior of the building has an uneven surface, with raised edges running vertically down the side, which only serve to further obscure and distort the image. In fact, you would scarcely know it was even a Green Hornet poster if the east face of the same building didn't have the clearer ad featuring their car busting through a wall.

Maybe they chose that wall with the ridges because of its third dimension.


Daddy Geek Boy said...

If you look back, January has slowly been a successful month for movies (especially MLK weekend) for number of years now. It's been a hidden secret for some studios that is now being discovered by the masses.

Interesting thing to note about this flick, conceived in 3D, but not shot in 3D. It was converted. From what I'm hearing, it's one of the most successful conversions yet.

Don Handsome said...

You neglected to mention that Green Hornet’s director is Michel Gondry. That alone is enough to make me want to see this film – though I’m sure that the reviews won’t support this desire.

Initially, I was very turned off by the delayed release date – delayed from June and then July of last year (which would have placed it within the summer sweet spot you mentioned) – especially with the claims that they were delaying it to allow time for the conversion to 3D. Good to hear that maybe this is a good conversion. I remain skeptical, but I’m still planning on seeing it next week or so.

Vancetastic said...

Good point about the delays, Don. And given a lot of the bad buzz, some of which recently turned good, that explains it's release in January rather than the summer as it was originally intended. The studio wasn't putting it in January as a tentpole, but rather, dumping it there.

However, you're also right about Michel Gondry. However, I will no longer trust the man's judgments implicitly after Be Kind Rewind, so I'll take a wait and see approach.

DGB, you are also correct about the MLK weekend and its recent history of big business. That said, you still don't want to put one of the best releases on your schedule there.