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Hollywood bets on familiar reboots and female-centric summer movies

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Summer film season is upon us, a crucial time for movie studios to draw big audiences. So far this season, ticket sales are below expectations, but a possible game-changer opens today, the sequel "Jurassic World."

    Jeffrey Brown reports on why Hollywood is betting more heavily on the blockbuster strategy.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Mad Max: Fury Road, "And "Furious 7."

  • ACTOR:

    Lock it up.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In theaters near you this summer, Hollywood is heating up, and looking for a hero, a familiar hero, to entertain the masses, and boost its own bottom line.

    Film critic Mike Sargent of Pacifica Radio:

  • MIKE SARGENT, Pacifica Radio:

    You're seeing a lot of sequels, reboots, reimaginings, things that have some sort of following.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    An emphasis, that is, on films Hollywood and we, the consumers, already know, or at least knew, a remake of an old '80s film, like "Poltergeist," or a riff on a once-popular TV series like "Entourage."

  • ACTOR:

    Like I told you 15 years ago, the next level is coming.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Sargent calls these popcorn movies.

  • MIKE SARGENT:

    I think the audience for a popcorn movie is an audience that wants to go into to — in the heat of summer, go into an air conditioner and kind of check out.

    You're going because you're either visiting characters you know before, in the case of something like "Entourage," "Mission: Impossible 5," where you know it's going to be fun. You know it's not about anything. There's no message. There's no exploration of the human condition, but you're just going to forget your troubles.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And superheroes remain all the rage. Studios have announced plans to release nearly 30 more superhero films between this summer and 2020.

  • MIKE SARGENT:

    Superheroes essentially are the Greek gods of today. Back in ancient times, they retold stories about gods and the things that they did, and Hercules and things, all these superhuman things.

    And I think that's what comic books are today. Even if you never read "Iron Man" or a number of the characters that you hear about, you know who they are. They are part of the iconography of America.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    While avoiding risks on the unfamiliar, studios are spending and hoping to net lots of money.

    Paul Dergarabedian analyzes movie trends for Rentrak, a global media measurement company serving the entertainment industry.

  • PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, Rentrak:

    On average, they're spending $75 million to $100 million and often more on a big summer tentpole movie. You add to that $50 million at least in marketing costs, and suddenly you have to create films that are guarantee a big return, not just in North America, but around the world.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    He says summer represents 40 percent of the total year revenues for studios, but the definition of summer has changed.

  • PAUL DERGARABEDIAN:

    It used to be that summer movie season officially started on Memorial weekend and played through Labor Day. That's moved up officially to the first weekend in May. And, of course, we saw "Avengers: Age of Ultron" this year kicking off the summer, last year, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," the year before that, "Iron Man 3," all that first weekend in May.

    So the summer movie season is definitely widening, at least in the psyche or emotionally or in the perception of Hollywood.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Industry watchers also see more films aimed at the growing market of young girls and women, films like "Pitch Perfect 2," yes, another sequel, "Hot Pursuit" and "Spy."

  • PAUL DERGARABEDIAN:

    It used to always be that the 18-to-24-year-old male was the bread and butter of the box office. And now we have seen women are really powering a tremendous amount of box office.

  • DANA STEVENS, Slate:

    A good trend that is happening this summer is that we're seeing more female-centric big movies, not just women's movies or things that are marketed to a female or date market.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Slate movie critic Dana Stevens:

  • DANA STEVENS:

    Movies like "Spy" with Melissa McCarthy in the starring role as kind of this James Bond parody, a female spy, or "Inside Out," the Pixar movie that — which will have a female heroine. And the concept is that all of her emotions become human — become characters in her head. So, her rage, her love, her sadness all become personified.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    So many big films, and many that will bomb, or at least perform below expectations.

  • ACTOR:

    Don't thank me yet.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    One of those, so far at least, the Disney film "Tomorrowland," featuring huge robots and George Clooney. Its poor opening on Memorial Day Weekend raised some early summer alarms throughout the industry.

    The next big test comes this weekend, with the release of "Jurassic World," the fourth in that sci-fi franchise. With no other blockbuster openings competing with it, analysts have predicted the film could earn more than $100 million in its first three days.

    Film critics, of course, focus on quality more than box office, and Dana Stevens reminds us that big doesn't have to mean bad.

  • DANA STEVENS:

    Well, I'm hoping "Jurassic World" will be on the craft side, and it will be sort of true to the Spielberg vision of the original movie.

  • COLIN TREVORROW, Director:

    And action!

  • DANA STEVENS:

    They did choose a young director, Colin Trevorrow, to direct "Jurassic World," who has very few film credits to his name, but he is an exciting a creative young director. And the idea of giving it to someone who's not — who's not sort of a studio familiar, but somebody who's from the indie world and from the outside, makes me think that that one might have some real spirit.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And for those who want smaller, more, well, human stories, I asked film critics Stevens and Sargent for recommendations.

  • DANA STEVENS:

    It's called "Results." It's this smallish-scale movie that's set in Texas. It's directed by a young director, youngish, named Andrew Bujalski, who's been making interesting movies for years that not enough people go to see.

  • MIKE SARGENT:

    There are two films in terms of festival darlings that stand out for me, and they don't always. One is a film called "Dope," which is — it's just amazing. It's just a film that reminds you, for me, of why I love, and another film called "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl."

  • ACTRESS:

    Rachel Gushner has been diagnosed with leukemia.

  • ACTOR:

    That sucks.

  • ACTRESS:

    It sucks.

  • MIKE SARGENT:

    That's another great film. Again, it's young filmmakers with something they have to say, saying a lot.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    One last summertime thought: Even with all the talk of technology changing our viewing habits, people do still go to the movie theater.

  • PAUL DERGARABEDIAN:

    The movie is singular in it its experience. You can't really have that kind of experience anywhere else. We had television come in the late '50s, the home video revolution in the early '80s, the home theater revolution in the '90s, and now this on-demand, if you will, revolution in the 2000s. And the movie theater experience continues to be, I think, the premier experience.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And coming to a theater near you later this month, the original summer blockbuster, "Jaws."

  • ROY SCHEIDER, Actor:

    You're going to need a bigger boat.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Being re-released to mark its 40th anniversary.

    And if that makes you feel old, go jump in the ocean.

    For the PBS NewsHour, I'm Jeffrey Brown.

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