For Hollywood, it's the summer of the Part Threes!
Leading off is "Spider-Man 3," which will surely weave its web around moviegoers' dollars this weekend. Hot on Spidey's heels is band of big-money buccaneers who will try to loot the box office with "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" only three weeks later.
And these are only two of the likely blockbusters hitting theaters in a season packed claustrophobically tight with big franchise sequels — including four other "threepeat" films: "Shrek the Third" (May 18), "Ocean's Thirteen" (June 8), "The Bourne Ultimatum" (Aug. 3) and "Rush Hour 3" (Aug. 10) — the second installment of which had the highest opening comedy weekend box office gross (on a non-holiday) in history.
"It's a circus out there, a slate so full that Hollywood has never seen its like before," said Jeff Bock, analyst for box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. "Most analysts predict this will be the biggest summer on record, and this enormous '07 slate could set a new standard."
Also cashing in on kid-power, the tousle-haired, bespectacled boy wizard's return in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (July 13) will seek to conjure moviegoers' money into Warner Bros.' coffers.
With the fifth "Potter" movie's release date craftily timed just one week before the wildly anticipated July 21 release of author J.K. Rowling's seventh and final book in her series about Hogwarts school for young wizards, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the new film threatens to work some serious midsummer magic.
And to satisfy audiences' desire for technological terror, Universal's "Transformers" (July 4), directed by Michael Bay and produced by Steven Spielberg, hits theaters on what will be a key five-day Independence Day weekend for many Americans.
One of this summer's few non-sequels, "Transformers" draws its inspiration from the beloved children's toys of the 1980s and the Saturday morning cartoon show based upon them — which also spawned a kid-friendly cartoon movie version in 1986.
"Bay and Spielberg, that's a blockbuster team that knows how to wow an audience. Who knows, this film might be the one to overwhelm all of the part threes," said Christopher Sharrett, a professor of communications and film studies at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.
"It's original and plays into the pop culture of several generations — with the toys and an interesting live-action portrayal of the '80s animated show. This might be the movie that has the cachet of the summer."
"The sheer number of high-profile films is astounding, the studios just have to hope audiences will be able to absorb this many and not have sequelitis," Bock said.
Some critics say the "Summer of the Part Threes" puts the ball in the audience's court to say "no more" to so many sequels and push for a little originality out of Tinseltown.
"This summer there's just so much coming out, you have to be excited," Hancock said. "With 'Transformers' you have the nostalgia factor, and with 'Spider-Man' the last movie was 10 times better than the first one, and there's three new villains and of course I'm a really big nerd too — so I'm really excited."
This is going to be an awesome summer for movie-goers! The movie I'm most looking forward to is "Transformers," followed closely by "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (a wonderful book, btw). I'm really looking forward to the new Harry Potter book: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."
The other movies in the line-up look pretty good, but I think I can wait for the DVDs.
We did go see "Next" this past weekend, and I must say that it kicked ass! I liked the concept, and the plot twists. When the movie ended, the whole theater was in shock... but I guess you'll have to see it to know why!