This summer has the potential to be a blockbuster at the box office. Not necessarily because the movies will be so very good, or that we will finally find out what happened to those star-crossed lovers in "Before Sunrise." Instead, the reason for all that traffic at your local superfaplex is due to the promotion of the films inside. TV and magazine ads have been screeching at us for months about this or that tentpole franchise sequel, the one that will come and save us all from our June or July doldrums.
Don't get me wrong. I love me a good slab of butter with my popcorn. I've already lined up to participate in the celebration of "Iron Man 3" and the umpteenth iteration of "The Great Gatsby." I have watched as my family's thirty-ish dollars adds to the opening weekend take. I'm reminded of David Letterman's admonition before "Stupid Pet Tricks": "Ladies and gentlemen, this is only an exhibition. This is not a competition. Please, no wagering." And still I feel compelled to root for this or that movie to succeed or fail, as if I had some stake in the success or failure of any of these bits of celluloid. Or digitally projected 3D entertainments. In IMAX and 7.1 Dolby.
I could blame Steven Spielberg. "Jaws" made summer blockbusters as important a seasonal sign as the first snow of winter or the first manager fired in Major League Baseball. Way back in 1975, it really helped that, aside from a gigantic budget for its day, it was a great movie. It also sold a lot of tickets after that first weekend because families weren't home waiting for the newest releases on Netflix. Of course, on the opposite side of the ledger, ticket prices have gone up since I spent the summer of 1977 confirming my geek credentials by going to see "Star Wars" every other weekend.
Or I could once again surrender to the sound and fury that is the summer blockbuster. I can also hope that Shane Black or Baz Luhrman don't end up issuing apologies for their work a decade down the road. Like Michael Bay did for "Armageddon." That's okay, Michael. Even The Great And Powerful Oz makes mistakes.