Action-packed thrillers: Hollywood’s winning formula for summer

June 1st, 2008 - 10:30 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Tom Cruise
By Sevanand Gaddala
Mumbai, June 1 (IANS) High-paced thrillers have become Hollywood’s staple summer diet. Continuing the trend, the Indiana Jones franchise has returned with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull”. Helmed by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg, the movie has done well abroad and is expected to do so in India too. Spielberg is considered the father of the summer blockbuster hits - beginning with his 1975 classic “Jaws”. Ever since the monstrous success of this movie, Hollywood has stuck to the formula to make a whole lot of money.

Just this year alone we have had “Iron Man”, “Speed Racer” and “Prince Caspian”. Many more are to follow.

The winning formula Hollywood adopts is pretty simple and straightforward. The movies are designed to thrill. They are not cerebral or conscience-pricking. They are basically children’s movies designed and sold for adults, built with the intent of attracting children and the child in the adult. They are clearly designed to appeal to all demographics.

Summer blockbusters are generally released from the end of May till mid-July if they want to maintain their winning streak for the length of the season.

Children are on holidays and parents need to keep them away from the heat and also get some time out for themselves. Since children and teens are more likely to watch a movie more than once, it makes perfect sense to build a summer movie around this demographic.

The movies are fast paced, loaded with special effects and the humour is lowbrow. The more recent “Rush Hour 2″, “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Shrek” are great examples.

Hollywood also does not like to take too many chances because movies are major investments. So they stick to all things safe and familiar.

In the past few years, the top grossers have all been sequels like “Shrek 3″, “Spider-Man 3″, and the Harry Potter and “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. If not sequels, then they have been movies based on TV shows like “The Simpsons” or remakes like “Planet of the Apes”.

Though Hollywood doesn’t have a star system like Bollywood, A-list actors are a potent part of the winning formula. The “Mission Impossible” series cruised on Tom Cruise’s box office drawing power. Oscar winners like Nicloas Cage add that sheen of credibility to flat fares like “National Treasure”.

But the biggest trend in more recent years of the summer blockbuster genre is comic book adaptations.

Almost every year for the past decade or so has featured a hit movie based on a comic book series. This year, we have already had “Iron Man”, based in the Marvel comic series.

Some icons like Indiana Jones and James Bond, who should have been dead and buried, find ways to breathe new life and recapture the magic that enthralled us initially.

Harrison Ford returns as the ageing star doing his own stunts and Daniel Craig injects a raw, gritty energy into the James Bond series. But even their movies are successful because in some ways they too follow the winning formula of the summer blockbuster.

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