Alvin and the Chipmunks is most definitely NOT Oscar material. But unlike many higher-brow, bigger budget films,it's still packin' them in at theaters across the country.
The same can be said for National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Enchanted, and any number of family-friendly movies playing right now at a theater near you. And It doesn't take an MBA or a marketing degree to spot the trend here.
After years of producing gorey movies like Saw I, II and III, and IIII, epics like 300 or Beowulf, or gross-out "comedies" like Jackass 2 and Beerfest --- Hollywood is finally starting to realize that it has been turning its back on a lucrative audience that's willing, even eager, to plunk down $12 a ticket to see something on the big screen.
That's right --- Hollywood is finally focusing on families.
In fact, it's entirely possible that seven PG-rated movies could end up among the top 20 grossing films of 2007, which as SFChronicle Pop Culture Critic Peter Hartlaub points out, could be the first time that's happened since Ronald Reagan left office back in 1989.
Jim Steyer of Common Sense Media tells the Chron that he believes Hollywood might actually be listening to parents, who have been venting loudly online for years about the lack of quality children's movies. I have a bit more cynical view of why producers are making more PG movies: they're making money - lots of it!
Shrek 3, Hairspray and Enchanted - all big hits in my house this year - exceeded expectations at the box office with boffo grosses you can check out at BoxOfficeMojo.com. The smaller budget Bridge to Terabithia and The Game Plan, though not big winners, each grossed more than $80 million a piece. And according to the Chron, "the highest-profile PG-rated flop this year was the big-budget summer film "Evan Almighty," which still grossed more than $100 million in the United States."
Since my kids were born, about the only time we could count on finding a movie fit for the whole family was during the holidays. And while this holiday season was no exception...it seems the family-friendly movies currently in the Hollywood pipeline may actually allow people like us to go to a movie when it's NOT a holiday.
In the coming months, movies like The Spiderwick Chronicles, Where the Wild Things Are, the Narnia sequel Prince Caspian, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and live action versions of Speed Racer and Horton Hears a Who. And although I don't know what rating the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will end up with....you can bet the theater will be filled with families.
Where families go, money follows. Other businesses and industries have known this for years. It's nice Hollywood finally noticed. Now - how about some decent network TV shows for families - in prime time!
BTW: four last words for the week: change - Iowa - voter turnout. It's going to be a fascinating and wild ride to November. I'm looking forward in taking part in the process!