Feature Blogs

Picking The Best Month To Go To The Movies

Created on Tuesday, 13 May 2003 21:00
Written by Matthew Toomey


Hey hey for another week. It’s such a lean season at the cinemas at the moment but it comes as no surprise given the time of year. I’ve hinted many times that there are good times to be going to the movies and bad times to be going to the movies. So I thought, why not document this as a guide to help others. The summary below looks at each month and what to expect if you’re heading to the theatre (with some interesting examples). Enjoy.



In the past, January has been a good month for movies but from 2004, it’ll be a great month. In the past, the Oscars have been held in the last week of March. From next year, they will be held in the last week in February. As the studios know, there’s no greater exposure than Oscar nominations. So in the two months leading up to these awards, all the “prestige” pictures will find there way into theatres. Thus, January is a great time to be heading to the cinemas. Examples in previous years include: 2003 – Chicago; 2002 – Mulholland Drive, In The Bedroom; 2001 – Cast Away, Shadow Of The Vampire; 2000 – The Cider House Rules, American Beauty, The Insider. This isn’t to say there isn’t a fair amount of January “junk”. There are a lot of silly light-hearted flicks that coincide with the summer season and most miss the mark.



It may be the shortest month on paper, but it’s the best month of the year hands down. This won’t change even with the Oscars being brought forward. In February, there is a guaranteed top-notch film every week and just looking at that line-up each year has me very excited. Examples include: 2003 – About Schmidt, Far From Heaven, Gangs Of New York, The Hours; 2002 – Black Hawk Down; 2001 – Requiem For A Dream, Chocolat, Almost Famous; 2000 – The Green Mile, Man On The Moon, The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999 – Shakespeare In Love, A Simple Plan, The Thin Red Line, Pleasantville, Bulworth. Not bad, huh?



March is bad news - a real dumping ground. After the Golden Globe and Oscars, all the nominated films are brought forward to January and February releases dates. Accordingly, all those films that were supposed to get noms but were shafted, often find themselves put back to March. That isn’t to say there aren’t a few hidden gems. But realistically, it can be a tiring month.



Probably my least favoured month because of Easter. Naturally, Easter is a time for having fun but why do we see so many highly dodgy comedies and family films littering the screen. It’s very frustrating. Examples of such crap? 2003 – Bringing Down The House, Anger Management, Fat Pizza, Shanghai Knights, Kangaroo Jack; 2002 – Showtime, Sorority Boys, Van Wilder, Crossroads, 40 Days & 40 Nights; 2001 – Crocodile Dundee In L.A., Say It Isn’t So, Tomcats; 2000 – The Whole Nine Yards, Me Myself I, 1999 – She’s All That, The Other Sister, Patch Adams.



May always seems to have a lot of small releases and not many big ones. This provides a mixture of both good and bad. The bad films are usually films that tanked in America and are just pushed into Australia theatres during the quiet May month to get them out of the way. The good films are usually independent films that see May as a quiet month and use the lack of blockbusters to queeze their great flicks into the marketplace. Examples of the good independent films are: 2002 – Waking Life, Storytelling, Sidewalks Of New York, 2001 – The Way Of The Gun, Series 7: The Contenders, 2000 – Pitch Black, 1999 – American History X, Celebrity.



June guarantees lots of excitement but whether it can be sustained varies from year to year. The reason? Blockbusters. Some years are better than others though. Yankee blockbusters are usually spread over late May to early July. So you’d have found action, action and more action watching… 2002 – Spider-Man, Minority Report, Scooby-Doo; 2001 – Pearl Harbor, Tomb Raider, Swordfish; 2000 – Mission: Impossible 2, Gone In 60 Seconds, The Perfect Storm; 1999 – The Phantom Menace, The Mummy



As I hinted at above, there’s a spill over in July of action releases. But with most of the big stuff featuring in June, July is usually one of the quietest months on the calendar. As the school holidays have passed, a lot of people don’t visit the cinemas and the quality and quantity of releases reflects this accordingly. For me, living in Brisbane, I see July as the month to get excited about the Brisbane International Film Festival. The program comes out in early July with the festival beginning in late July. With over 200 films on show at BIFF, what’s on at the regular multiplexes is well down in my list of priorities.



BIFF winds down and August somehow is a month for Australia features to get there chance in the spotlight. Many premiere at the country’s film festivals before going wide to the public in August. This also coincides with the deadline for the Australian Film Industry Awards which pops up in September. So what better time to get your film exposure leading up to these awards? Such Aussie releases in the past: 2002 – The Tracker, Australian Rules; 2001 – He Died With A Felafel In His Hand, The Bank; 2000 – Chopper, My Mother Frank, Angst; 1999 – Two Hands, Siam Sunset.



As discussed above, most of the Hollywood blockbusters come out here in between May and July but a couple are held over until the September school holidays each year for obvious reasons. I guess you could call September the month of the delayed blockbuster – it’s already done its huge run in the States and now after months of waiting, we see what all the fuss was about. Examples have included: 2002 – XXX, Goldmember, The Bourne Identity; 2001 – A.I., The Fast & The Furious, Rush Hour 2, 2000 – Big Momma’s House, Scary Movie; 1999 – Wild Wild West, Big Daddy, American Pie.



October is a sneakily good month. Now that the blockbusters are behind us, all the other stuff (which is usually better) storms back into cinemas. Also, with the award season soon approaching, some films go for a head start and try to sustain a long momentum. Did you see… 2002 – Road To Perdition, Bloody Sunday, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Pollock; 2001 – Lantana, Tigerland, Enigma; 2000 – Boiler Room, The Dish, Saving Grace; 1999 – October Sky, The Sixth Sense, Election, Run Lola Run.



Similar to October except there’s a hell of a lot more releases and I think this lessens the quality. Thinking deeply about it, you’d have to say it really is a disappointing month.



There are two parts to December. Everything leading up to December 26 is garbage. When people are busily doing all their Christmas shopping and other preparations, who’s got time to be going anyway? But from Boxing Day, it’s a different story. You’re likely to find more individual releases on Boxing Day than any other day in the year. Highlights from the past on this special day include… 2002 – The Two Towers, Adaptation, Bowling For Columbine; 2001 – The Fellowship Of The Ring, Amelie, The Man Who Wasn’t There; 2000 – Meet The Parents, O Brother Where Art Thou?, Dancer In The Dark, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; 1999 – Being John Malkovich, Snow Falling On Cedars. There’s no better day.