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You know what would be nice? Not knowing what movies were scheduled for three years from now. Am I really alone in thinking that there’s something depressing about things being planned that far in advance?
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not necessarily one for thinking ahead if it can possibly be avoided (Well, apart from when it is food-related; for some reason, I can think very far in advance when it comes to meals. For example, I am already planning tomorrow’s breakfast as I type these words, and man, will it be tasty), but that’s not what’s behind my reluctance to embrace the news that release dates have been penciled in for Amazing Spider-Man 2 (May 2nd, 2014, and yes, that’s a sequel for a movie that won’t even be released until next summer), Catching Fire (November 22nd, 2013; it’s the second Hunger Games movie, and again, the first one isn’t out until March next year), as well as Disney’s three dates for mystery movies (May 16th 2014 and June 27th, 2014 – both of which are for Marvel movies – as well as May 30th, 2014, for some unnamed Pixar movie) in addition to another untitled movie (October 4th, 2013, but this one at least has a director attached: Henry Selick) and The Odd Life of Timothy Green‘s August 15th, 2012 date announcement. I mean, sure: There’s something to be said for thinking ahead, but… announcing release dates more than two years in advance for movies that don’t even have titles yet? It’s not just me that thinks that you can plan a little too far in advance, right?
Of course, these aren’t final release dates. Such dates change all the time, even up to the very month of release, which kind of makes these announcements pointless. Well, even more pointless than they already are, considering the Disney news is essentially “We’re making some movies! They’ll come out years from now!” What’s crazy – well, crazier than announcing a sequel to a movie that is itself almost a year away from release, and in no way guaranteed to be successful enough to warrant a sequel (Hey, remember all that talk about The Golden Compass being the first movie in a trilogy? Exactly) – is that these movies don’t exist yet. In fact, it’s fair to assume that these movies don’t exist in any form other than intent at this point. There’s probably not a script for Amazing Spider-Man 2 and, while whatever mystery Marvel projects are being worked on for release three years from now (Most likely choosing between Runaways, Ant-Man or Doctor Strange) probably has a script in existence, it’s not a final draft, ready to shoot… because there hasn’t been a choice of director yet to help make that decision.
So what’s the point of talking about these dates, for what are essentially vaporware projects? To get some buzz going, probably. It’s this weird cultural thing that’s happened, the need to have expectation and people taking sides over whether they’re fans or not ahead of time; Spoiler thinking taken to a stupid degree. By announcing a Marvel project, but not saying which one, Disney and Marvel get fans speculating and taking about how exciting it is and how well everything is planned and that translates into positive PR in the lull between Captain America‘s release and next summer’s Avengers. By talking about Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony implies a vote of confidence in just how awesome Amazing Spider-Man 1 is going to be, and makes fans even more anxious to see Andrew Garfield hope that no-one’s going to throw Emma Stone off a bridge.
But it’s just exhausting. When we started getting trailers for movies that are a year away, it felt like we were overstretching our anticipation muscles, and now this is just… weird, and uncomfortable, and unnecessary. Pushing this kind of thinking is cynical and defensive. Why can’t we just be left to live in the now, and appreciate what we can actually see and (hypothetically) enjoy today? Are studios really that uncomfortable with their own work? And if that’s the case, surely the solution is to make better movies than try and get people excited for things they’ll have to wait even longer to see?