Saturday, January 5, 2013

Anniversaries missed

When we talk about missed anniversaries, we tend to think of clueless husbands who can't remember the day they got married, and therefore suffer sleepless nights on the couch as their wives stew over their neglectfulness, until they inevitably win their redemption through some grand gesture, because their wives obviously aren't going to stay mad at them forever. (Run-on sentence intentional.)

But when it comes to movies, you can miss an anniversary not by letting it pass unnoticed, but by acknowledging it too soon. In this case, you "miss" it like you would miss a target.

As is the case with Texas Chainsaw 3D, releasing today, 39 years after the release of Tobe Hooper's original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Why not just wait one more year and make it 40?

The answer: They want their cash grab, and they want it now.

Even considering these base motivations, I'd argue that you should just wait a year. You're still going to make the same amount of money in 2014 as you would in 2013, perhaps a little bit more due to increased ticket prices (which would probably cancel out increases in production costs). You're still going to find 3D about as popular as it is today. But you've got one thing going for you that you don't have in 2013: There may be some people out there who will find this cash grab slightly more legitimate because it comes on the 40th anniversary of the original movie.

Strangely, this series has a history of consummating prematurely. The first reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was ten years ago in 2003 -- a year shy of the original's 30th anniversary. 

Look, you get an opportunity every five years to line up with some kind of anniversary. It needn't be something significant like the 25th or the 50th. The 15th or 35th will do in a pinch. Anyway, something to latch on to that seems to give the film an extra reason for being rebooted/re-released/unleashed on the world again in some form or another.

I understand not shooting for the anniversary if you are right in the middle of the five-year increments -- or will be once you finish the movie. If someone had thought up a 3D version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (because it obviously took a brilliant mind to devise such high art) in 2010, clearly you don't want to wait another four years before capitalizing on your sublime inspiration. But if you're only going to be one year away? Just sit on it for six months, and then start principal photography. 

I should say that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is not the only film series to blatantly miss an obvious anniversary date, and perhaps not even the most egregious example in the year 2013. Oz: The Great and Powerful, due out in March, will be coming out one year shy of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. Just one year. Didn't anyone, anywhere, think of this? The 75th anniversary is also a pretty big deal, because at this point you can no longer get away with acknowledging anniversaries in increments of five years. No one talks about the 55th anniversary of something, or the 70th anniversary of something. That 75th anniversary would have been big.

Would have been.

I guess I have to admit that these things are imperfect. With both, or really all three, of the movies I've mentioned above, any delay in the production could have pushed the movie to that anniversary year. Perhaps they figured that they'd either go early, a pragmatic idea in any business venture, or experience delays and end up lining up with the anniversary, like they'd meant it all along. The worst would be to shoot for the anniversary year, but botch it and come out a year late.

Or most likely, they just didn't care about such things.

The only reason I care about such things, other than a general interest in numerology and a perverse desire to attach relevance to the financially-driven decision to reboot a movie series, is that there have been some examples of incomparable fortuitousness as it relates to the timing of these reboots/re-releases.

Let's take last year's 3D re-release of Titanic. Its release date was doubly fortuitous. Not only was it the centennial anniversary of the doomed ship's sinking, but it was also the 15-year anniversary of the film's initial release. And those anniversaries were even in a position to align in the first place because the movie came out 85 years after the ship sank.

Eighty-five is nobody's idea of some milestone anniversary, but it'll do in a pinch.

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