What the f---, moviegoing public? Where were we? Universal Pictures, which has always seemed to be an inadvertent favorite of mine based on the number of their DVDs I find myself owning, had a blockbuster summer: Drag Me to Hell, Land of the Lost, Public Enemies, Brüno and Funny People, only without the blockbuster. Only one of those movies (Public Enemies) is going to cross the $100m mark domestically, and it's depressing. I'm chastising myself too; even I only saw three of the five movies I listed (I have yet to catch Public Enemies or Brüno -- but I will).
Last summer, Universal put out crap like The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and raked in $401.1 million dollars in worldwide grosses (before the movie probably racked up another $150m on DVD), and even earlier this year, people stuffed the studio's coffers with $342.9m for the fourth Fast and the Furious movie (although I admit, I did give it a mostly-positive review). So I'm baffled why people didn't show up for seemingly sure things like Brüno and Funny People. Sure, I guess Land of the Lost had mediocre trailers and genre fans and Raimi devotees are likely to get the most out of Drag Me to Hell, but I have a harder time understanding that no Borat fans wanted to check out Brüno and that Judd Apatow's name wasn't enough to lure audiences in to watch an Adam Sandler movie.
Regardless of the reason, the truth is depressing. The studio offered up one of the best summer lineups I can remember (usually there's at least one absolute dud, although perhaps that slot is reserved for Couples Retreat, which I bet is going to die a similar sad death at the box office), with the kind of material designed to appeal to both mainstream and specific audiences, and nobody saw it. I also expect Inglourious Basterds to underperform, which will not only screw Universal, but it will actually kill the Weinstein Company. If only the disgusting box office of Transformers: Rise of the Fallen could be chopped up and mailed to Universal, the world would be a better place. It can't, and I suppose I'll live, but the next person who complains that studios don't make any good movies is going to get smacked. Shame on you.
Just for the hell of it, here are the trailers for Universal's five summer releases and two upcoming releases. You can probably catch Land of the Lost and Drag Me to Hell at dollar theaters, while the other three are, as of this writing, ostensibly still playing at a theater near you. Awesomely, embedding is disabled on all of the trailers for the movies I could find. I guess disabling embedding is the new way of ruining YouTube. You know, studios, the solution is, get your own f---ing YouTube channel and allow only your own uploads of the trailer to exist, with embedding. That's how you win. This just makes me frustrated while I'm trying to promote your damn movies.
Drag Me to Hell | Land of the Lost | Public Enemies | Brüno | Funny People | Couples Retreat | Inglourious Basterds