erik lundegaard

Thursday July 16, 2009

Goldstein's Posse Loses Its Mojo

Patrick Goldstein, over at The Los Angeles Times, begins today’s blog with a callback to his summer movie posse of six random, L.A. teenagers, who, in early May, gave their thoughts on the trailers and the prospects of some of the big summer movies. I was expecting such a callback. I assumed it would be a mea culpa. It’s not. It’s merely a lead-in to another story. It’s used to demonstrate the concern the powers-that-be have for teenage opinion.

I still want the culpa. Here’s Goldstein explaining the point of his posse:

I'd happily put the Posse's picks up against any Entertainment Weekly summer movie box-office prediction. The Top 5 picks from last year's Posse were: “Pineapple Express,” “The Dark Knight,” “Hancock,” “Iron Man” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” — all five were big hits. Their Bottom 5 films included “Love Guru” and “Speed Racer,” so I'd say they were pretty in touch with the summer movie zeitgeist.

 So what did this year’s posse think of the big coming films? This is their final tally, with 60 being top score for a film:

1. “Terminator Salvation”  53
2.  “Public Enemies” 50
3. “Inglourious Basterds” 49
4. “Year One” 47
5.  “Star Trek” 46
6. “Funny People” 45
7. “The Taking of Pelham 123”  44
8. “Bruno” 43
9. “The Ugly Truth” 42
10.  “Land of the Lost” 38
11.  “Night at the Museum 2” 33
12. “I Love You, Beth Cooper” 32
13. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”  29
14.  “Drag Me to Hell” 27

 First, it’s odd that “Up” and “The Hangover” aren’t even on it. Particularly “Up.”

That said, among its top five picks, you have one overperformer (“Star Trek”: $252 million), one underperformer (“Terminator”: $123 million), one about-right–for-a-Michael-Mann film (“Public Enemies”: $70 million), one bomb (“Year One”: $41 million), and a film that opens in August. Not stellar.

Among the bottom five picks, meanwhile, you have, yes, two bombs (“I Love You, Beth Cooper”: $6 million: and “Land of the Lost”: $48 million), and two underperformers (“Drag Me to Hell”: $41 million; and “Night at the Museum 2”: $170 million—versus the $250 million the first film made), but also, ahem, the biggest movie of the year, freakin’ “Transformers 2,” about which the posse not only gave their second-worst score but was blistering and dismissive:

Ben: “I can't say this got my hopes up. It's just a lot of explosions.”

Molly: “And they only said five words in the whole trailer. I'm sure all those special effects were hard to do, but if you haven't seen the first movie, I'm not sure you'd even understand what was going on. And most of what was going on sure didn't look that good.”

Jasmine: “I wasn't sure I even knew what the movie was about until halfway through the trailer, and I probably know more than most people, since I have a little brother who's into Transformers. I think he'd be a lot more interested in the movie than me. It just felt pretty senseless.”

What does this mean? Either the summer movie posse, like most focus groups, ain’t worth much, or our popular movies have gotten too dumb even for teenagers. Whichever, Goldstein still owes us his mea culpa.

Of course it’s nothing like the mea culpa Michael Bay and fans of “Transformers 2” owe us.

Posted at 01:15 PM on Thursday July 16, 2009 in category Movies  
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