Time was, the summer movie season — when blocks got busted and Oscar contenders got out of the way — began Memorial Day weekend and had shot its wad by mid-July. Once in a while you’d get a great late-summer picture, like The Fugitive, released Aug. 6, 1993 (and nominated for Best Picture, come to that.) But generally the big action pictures, which gradually gave way to the superhero flicks, needed six or seven weeks before kids got marched back into school so studios could benefit from repeat business.
In the 21st century, the summer movie season advanced to the first weekend in May, a date that in recent years has belonged to Marvel Comics adaptations, whether they’re made by Marvel Studios, like The Avengers, or by other studios, like the Spider-Man pictures (both the Raimis and the Webbs) from Sony, or the X-Men series, from Fox.
Nowadays, of course, the cinema calendar is a lawless Thunderdome: Liam Neeson starts kicking ass in January, and Bond flicks and Hunger Games adaptations come out in November.
Anyway. I filed my rundown of the 10 summer movies I was most anticipating to my editor at The Village Voice before I’d seen any of them. I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past last night, and I’ve no regrets about including it on the list. I left Life Itself, Steve James’s documentary about Roger Ebert, off just because it’s a documentary. I’m very curious about Ari Folman’s The Congress and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or whatever that one’s called, too.