First Quarter Film Stinkers 

Throwing tomatoes at these is a waste of good tomatoes

I think I've discovered where the creeps who laid waste to our economy are hiding out: They're running the major movie studios. I'm certain of it. The same bone headed logic that threw good money after bad risks in subprime mortgages is eerily similar to the big money thrown after subprime movies that are dumped into cineplexes between January and March.

Some entertainment "insiders" argue that big, quality releases should be held back until Memorial Day, kicking off the summer blockbuster season. But a closer look at the numbers indicates that neither history nor logic can justify a box office model that purposely packs a full 25 percent of its calendar with high-priced trash.

1. History. There is an assumption that any "serious" contender for a Best Picture Oscar should be released in the final quarter of the year. Nonsense. Good is good. Great is great. For exhibit A, I give you this list of films released in a first quarter: Cabaret (February), Casablanca (January), Cinderella (March), Dr. Strangelove (January), Fargo (March), The Godfather (March), Gone with the Wind (January), The Hunt for Red October (March), MASH (January), The Silence of the Lambs (February), The Sound of Music (March), Taxi Driver (February). The list includes action, comedy, drama, musicals ... you name it. They've all succeeded big in the winter months.

But a quick look at the big January to March releases of the last 10 years is pretty depressing: 27 Dresses, The Bounty Hunter, Bride Wars, My Bloody Valentine and, of course, that classic gem Paul Blart, Mall Cop.

2. Logic. According to, in the last decade there were more than 130 major studio releases during the early months of each year. Almost all of the films were either disliked or dismissed by critics. Audiences didn't feel much love either. Only three pulled in more than $100 million at the box office: Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Green Hornet (2011) and The Passion of the Christ (2004). Adjusted for inflation, Alice wasn't so wonderful, and the Hornet didn't pull down that much green.

What really defies logic is that lately, these stinkeroos came in the wake of three solid months of quality. The end of 2010 saw Black Swan, The Fighter, The King's Speech and True Grit embraced by audiences and critics alike. Appetites were whetted, but a buffet of junk food followed.

Why would any business build up expectations from a customer base and then proceed to purposely lower the quality of its product? Year to date, the national box office take is down a whopping 22 percent from this time a year ago and lower than any year in nearly a decade. Yet the high-priced crapfest continues. Memo to Hollywood: snap out of it. Your current economic model is unsustainable and don't even think about a bailout.

Now Playing

Alice in Wonderland, The Fighter, The Green Hornet, and The King's Speech (R) are not showing in any theaters in the area.

Alice in Wonderland
Rated PG · 109 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: Tim Burton
Writer: Lewis Carroll and Linda Woolverton
Producer: Richard D. Zanuck, Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd
Cast: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Michael Sheen, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Barbara Windsor
The Green Hornet
Rated PG-13 · 108 min. · 2011
Official Site:
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Fran Striker and George W. Trendle
Producer: Neal H. Moritz
Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Edward James Olmos, David Harbour, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Edward Furlong, Chad Coleman and Robert Clotworthy
The King's Speech (R)
Rated R · 111 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: Tom Hooper
Writer: David Seidler
Cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall, Michael Gambon, Geoffrey Rush, Jennifer Ehle, Derek Jacobi, Max Callum and James Currie
The Fighter
Rated R · 114 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: David O. Russell
Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson
Producer: Dorothy Aufiero, David Hoberman and Ryan Kavanaugh
Cast: Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Robert Wahlberg, Dendrie Taylor, Jack McGee, Jenna Lamia, Salvatore Santone and Chanty Sok
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