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Elisabeth Rappe

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Elisabeth Rappe is a regular contributor to Film.com, CHUD, and The Spectator's arts blog. She spends her off-time with comic books, her pug, Elliot, video games, and Clint Eastwood movies.

And The Most Anticipated March Release Is….

March used to be such a dreary movie month, the dumping ground for stuff like Major PayneDante’s PeakDeath to Smoochy, The Core, and Basic Instinct 2.  There were hidden gems (there always are in these studio-didn’t-know-what-to-do-with-it movies like Zodiac) but by and large you were hard pressed to find something solid to watch.

That’s changed in just a handful of years.  You could say V for Vendetta played a little part in that – it was a highly anticipated adaptation, controversy or not – but its March date was accidental. (It was set to capitalize on the film’s legendary Gunpowder Plot motif, and be in theaters on November 5.) Still, it did well enough.

The real game changer was 300, which stormed into theaters in March and made buckets and buckets of money.  I’ve always thought this was an accident – 300 always had that whiff of “We don’t really know what to do with it!” – but it cemented the month as one that people will eagerly consume big budget blockbusters in.

Now, March functions as a proto-summer month.  A day will come when it actually kicks off the summer season, and we see blockbusters released in a deafening barrage from March to August. But for now, it’s an oddity, a weird moment of awesome amid weeks of dreary awful.

March 2012 is one of the biggest yet. (Not a surprise given the crowd summer – who wants to go up against The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises?)  You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d missed a month and it was May with stuff like The Hunger Games, John Carter21 Jump Street, The Lorax, Mirror Mirror, The Wrath of the Titans, The Raid, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, and Casa de Mi Padre. There’s a few oddballs on that list – ones seasoned moviegoers would raise an eyebrow at and say “Definitely dumped here! “ but for the most part, it’s solid.  Again, it’s like a proto-summer, a testing ground for what we might like to see a sequel to in 2015. Of all those movies, what’s got people the most excited?

Sadly for sci-fi pulp, it’s not John Carter. Every big movie website has its “Most Anticipated of March” poll running, and Carter consistently lags behind.  It’s in the top five, but it’s usually kicking around at number two or three.  This is echoed by my not-very-scientific-survey of Twitter on Facebook, where it definitely came in second in excited responses.

I suspect – or hope, because I dig Andrew Stanton and the weird world of Barsoom – that John Carter could be the big surprise of the month, and build on word of mouth to become the talk of the season. I hope so.  I’d like to see Disney succeed with a live action franchise that wasn’t built around Johnny Depp.  But it’s definitely off to a limp, allegedly because Disney is afraid of its product. They aren’t selling it confidently, and combined with its release date – March is still not a very aggressive month – it already is turning audiences away.  It’s an uphill battle for this film.

The winner of March 2012? The Hunger Games.

Yep. The title that elicited a “Huh?” or “Oh, that tween thing?” as of a year and a half ago is now the most anticipated release of March.  You might try to argue that the movie site polls are stuffed by those very tweens, but this was echoed by my own casual survey, where the respondents were largely grown males. (Come to think of it, I don’t think a single woman responded. Yikes. Ladies, where are you?)  This is the crowd you would generally find talking more about John Carter, which suggests The Hunger Games is becoming the crossover sell studios pray for.  Undoubtedly, this is going to echo in the box office.  Games is set to be huge.

Unless John Carter can upset in the arena, March belongs to Katniss Everdeen. And who knows?  If 300 turned March into a blockbuster month, maybe Katniss will turn it into girl power movie month. Wouldn’t that be something special?


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Tags: 21 jump street, Casa de mi Padre, John Carter, Mirror Mirror, The Hunger Games, The Lorax, The raid, The Wrath of the Titans, Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie