Movies | by Shane “Block-Booster” Hnetka
The first trailer for Doctor Sleep — based on Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining — debuted recently and it surprisingly featured what appeared to be scenes from Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1980 adaptation. Well, not quite. Director Mike Flanagan, who made last year’s surprise horror hit TV show The Haunting of Hill House, says that the scenes in question are actually remakes. It’s still kind of cool to see iconic scenes like the elevator of blood in the new film.
Still, I kind of doubt Flanagan has crafted a movie that will be comparable to The Shining. I’m sure Flanagan is good filmmaker, but he’s no Kubrick.
For the last 44 years the summer season in North America hasn’t just been about holidays, beaches and sun. It’s also been about Hollywood-produced genre films trying to become mega-blockbusters.
The term “blockbuster” original came about during the 1940s to describe actual bombs that blew up entire blocks of buildings. It was around this time that the term also started describing movies. It was first used for war pictures, like 1943’s Bombardier with its tagline “The block-buster of all action-thrill-service shows!” After the war, the media started using the term to describe all big-budget movies that were epic in scope and had large box office returns, like Ben-Hur in 1959.
In 1975, everything changed when Steven Spielberg’s Jaws blew away the competition to become the first true blockbuster summer movie. When Star Wars opened two years later and did even bigger business, it changed pop culture forever.
Soon, all the studios were trying to create their own summer blockbusters.
In The Summertime
Despite Disney’s Avengers: Endgame making a ton of money, all you hear about this summer season is how everything is disappointing. Godzilla got bad reviews and disappointed at the box office. The latest Men in Black sequel disappointed. The list goes on. But there was a time when the summer blockbuster season wasn’t just sequels and remakes. There were original ideas along with all the sequels. In 1984, Ghostbusters and Gremlins debuted in June on the same day, and made almost the same opening day cash.
Money aside, summer blockbusters have always been about trying to create a fun escape for a couple of hours. And there’s nothing wrong with a well-made spectacle. The problems comes from the studios churning out mediocre, forgettable movies that aren’t worth anyone’s time or money. It amazes me how often this has been the case.
A bad movie can sometimes be enjoyed because it’s so bad. A mediocre movie is just pointless. Still, every year I get excited for summer and hope that at least a couple of films will be good.
And If I’m really lucky, maybe even original.
Shane Hnetka is a made-in-Saskatchewan film and comic book nerd. His column “Sunday Matinee” appears weekly on our blog.