Film Review The Legend of Tarzan

This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows, from left, Samuel L. Jackson, Margot Robbie and Alexander Skarsgard in a scene from "The Legend of Tarzan."

Associated Press

Not so long ago, crowds were seemingly going against the verbal and written beatings critics were giving “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and giving the movie a $166 million opening. It is so far the second highest opening weekend of the year after “Captain America: Civil War,” and eighth overall.

The film also, however, had significant drops every weekend it was in theaters. “Batman v Superman” dropped nearly 70 percent its second weekend, another 54 percent its third weekend and 61 percent its fourth weekend in theaters. Though there was not a lot of competition in the box office after its late March opening, it was only making $9 million its fourth weekend in theaters.

Compare that to “Captain America: Civil War,” which suffered a less severe drop its second weekend and was still making $15 million at the box office its fourth weekend in theaters, despite facing stiffer competition from the likes of “X-Men: Apocalypse” and other summer movies in May.

The speculation with this scenario is that the name brand of the DC flick drew the crowds, but the quality couldn’t bring them back for multiple viewings. “Batman v Superman” had been panned by critics, while “Civil War” was embraced.

And given that many summer movies are not hitting well with critics, some believe the 15 percent drop in the summer box office compared to last year is an indication that audiences are actually listening.

I’m a firm believer that critics can make the difference for independent films. Who would have seen Blake Lively fight a shark in “The Shallows” this past weekend, if not for the seemingly out-of-nowhere interest from critics who claimed it the best shark movie since “Jaws?” It earned a very unexpected $16 million at the box office – a surprise especially since “Independence Day: Resurgence” did well under expectations the same weekend.

Likewise, “Free State of Jones” could have been a hit for its potential Oscar look, but that was up until critics panned it for being as interesting as a high school educational history video.

However, there isn’t a track record of critics affecting big blockbuster movies – just look at the “Transformers” series, for example. I think the issue here is that this summer is filled with one type of movie that isn’t appealing to audiences: sequels no one wanted.

No one was really looking for another “Independence Day” 20 years after the original, and it likely didn’t help that Will Smith didn’t want to be involved in it, either.

Similarly, no one wanted “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Now You See Me 2” or “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.” And some movies simply didn’t do well enough to earn their 2016 sequels – “Neighbors 2,” “London Has Fallen,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” and “The Divergent Series: Allegiant.”

It will be no one’s surprise if “The Legend of Tarzan” follows the same path this weekend, considering the almost zero interest audiences have for the character.

Technically, “Finding Dory” also fits into this list since there weren’t many people asking for a sequel to the beloved “Finding Nemo.” And I suppose this is where some believe the critics come in.

“Finding Dory” went over well with critics, and maybe those reviews were what was needed to tip the balance in favor of seeing it (though children’s movies rarely need the encouragement).

I think it’s Hollywood studios’ decisions to make uninteresting sequels that have the summer movie season bombing more than other factors like critical favor or Disney/Marvel loyalty.

A successful brand name can be a start, but it won’t necessarily win over audiences. If this summer is any indication, “Ghostbusters” may have even more challenges its opening weekend.

What do you think is causing the lack of interest in summer movies? Leave your thoughts in the comment section or email me at ncreason@cumberlink.com.

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