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Return of the Blockbusters
Hollywood's most anticipated pre-pandemic blockbusters are starting to release
In February of last year, Hollywood power couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were heavily promoting their much anticipated sequel to the 2018 post-apocolyptic thriller, A Quiet Place. The film was set to be released internationally the following month, with the world premier taking place in New York City on March 8th. Krasinski and Blunt were all over social media hyping a charity contest whose lucky winners would join them as part of the theater audience that night.
But things didn’t go quite as planned. A real-life global crisis named COVID-19 arrived in the United States, changing life for just about everyone… including film distributors and theater owners who’d suddenly found themselves without an audience.
In addition to the human toll, lots of businesses struggled to adapt to the pandemic. The entertainment industry was hit particularly hard. Stage and set lights remained off for weeks that turned into months, and there were many completed and nearly completed films that Hollywood wasn’t sure what to do with. Decisions were eventually made to release a number of them on streaming and other digital services. But the hopeful blockbusters — the most anticipated big-budget films for which producers expected a serious return on investment — were shelved indefinitely. The plan was to wait until theaters not only reopened, but audiences were ready and willing to fill them.
Psychologically, I’m not sure we’re quite there in many parts of the country. Nonetheless, the gate has been opened. A Quiet Place: Part II came out a week and a half ago, and next month, we’ll get Marvel’s Black Widow.
MGM and United Artists are playing things extra safe with the next James Bond film, No Time to Die. It was originally slated for a November 2019 release, but after three date changes, we’ll (hopefully) be getting it this October (amounting to an almost two-year delay). Soon after, Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters. My wife’s pretty pumped for that one. Me, not so much.
Personally, I don’t get nearly as excited about blockbusters as I did when I was a kid, but they do tend to be films that everyone in my family can watch together without protest. That alone brings some appeal.
Case in point, my family and I saw A Quiet Place: Part II yesterday. The film was preceded by a clip of Krasinski (who wrote and directed the movie) thanking audiences for coming out and watching it in the environment he intended them to (I suspect we’ll see similar displays of gratitude by filmmakers moving forward). Last I checked, the film had grossed $138 million worldwide, and had the biggest opening of any film since the pandemic started. That’s good news, though I’m sure it’s well short of pre-pandemic expectations.
As for the movie itself, it was pretty good and certainly entertaining. I wouldn’t call it “great” (the story was a bit shallower than I was expecting), but the beginning is especially strong, and Cillian Murphy was an excellent addition to the cast (as he is to any cast). It was definitely the highest quality film, from a production standpoint, that I’ve seen in well over a year. It was also the first time my kids had been to a theater in probably a year and a half, so they enjoyed getting back to that experience.
All in all, I’d recommend the movie.
Black Widow is next on the list. We’ve missed seeing the Marvel Universe on the big screen.
Is there a blockbuster movie you’re looking forward to this year? If so, which one?
Of Possible Interest
I wrote a column last week for Bernard Goldberg’s website where I talk about something called ranked choice voting. It’s a ranking method for elections that has been used a fair amount in other countries, but not so much here in the United States.
I’ve become sold on it, and in my piece, I explain why I think both major political parties should adopt it for their future primaries (including presidential primaries).
Just to give you a heads up, it’s a political piece that does take some shots at both sides. If you decide to read it, let me know what you think.
Obligatory Dog Shot
Hear no evil.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the 90’s rock band, Sugartooth, and it was actually the group’s former members, Josh and Marc, who clued me into this week’s featured album: “You Come and Go Like a Pop Song” by the alternative rock band, The Bicycle Thief. In fact, the two actually produced the 1999 album, along with writing and performing songs on it. Just last year, it was released for the fist time on vinyl.
It’s a really great collection of music. Some may know the band’s front-man Bob Forrest, a drug-addiction recovery advocate and counselor, from his appearances on Celebrity Rehab. His soulful, gritty vocals on the album (which Forrest says is ultimately about redemption) are what particularly stand out. “Hurt” is probably my favorite track.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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