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No Rhyme, No Season

9 May, 2003 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Each year the seasons get longer. I'm not talking about the seasons of the year, but the seasons in Hollywood.

The Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer movie season, even though it's in May. For the last few years, however, even that hasn't been enough -- the “summer” season has been quietly stretching and expanding, and now it's been pulled back all the way to the first weekend in May, when X-Men 2 became the first of the so-called summer blockbusters to go wide.

By the time The Matrix Reloaded opens May 15, the “summer” will be well underway, at least in Hollywood. And I haven't even filled the propane tank for my annual Memorial Day weekend barbecue!

We're seeing the same expansion in home video. Years ago, when sellthrough was in its infancy, studios rallied around Thanksgiving as the traditional start of the holiday selling season.

In the late 1990s, anything released in the fourth quarter was considered part of the “holiday” slate.

Last year, Monsters, Inc. came out September 17 -- heck, officially still summer -- and officially kicked off the holiday selling season.

This year, the season starts August 26, with The Lord of the Rings II: Twin Towers.

My question is this: Where -- or, more correctly, when -- will all this end? Will the summer movie season keep getting pushed back, a week or two at a time, until it backs in Christmas?

And will the holiday selling season for video one day begin the day the school bells ring in the start of another summer?

If that's the case, I figure by 2010 we should be back on track. Although by then, it probably won't matter. To paraphrase an old Chicago song, “Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?”

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