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Because it's still a few months before the year really ends, there's also room for what used to be called "B-movies" but are now called "lower-budget Summer movies crowded out of the actual Summer." Did you make a Summer Action Flick but your lead star is Jason Statham or Milla Jovovich as opposed to Nicholas Cage or Angelina Jolie? Well, welcome to Fall. By the same token, it's also the presumed roost for "Summer-ish" big movies that look just offbeat or unusual enough to be mistaken for arthouse fare. This year's model is Tarsem Singh's (supposedly ridiculously violent) Olympian God-War opus Immortals,set to bow on 11/11/11 (no, gamers, the rest of the world will not be shutting down to help you celebrate Skyrim.)
Oh, and lest we forget, Fall includes Halloween Month (previously known as "October"), which means that a handful of lucky horror films get to escape the straight-to-DVD ghetto for a shot at the big time (especially now that the Saw series is no longer hogging the month). This is followed by Thanksgiving in November, which used to be the last day anyone wanted to release a movie because it was assumed that everyone would be busy with their families, but is now a coveted spot because someone in Hollywood figured out that by the time evening rolls around and the plates are all scraped clean a substantial number of people are now looking for something to do away from their families (or, failing that, something to send the still-energetic children off to while the grownups work through their turkey comas).
In Hollywood, Winter is treated as "grownup Summer" - this is when the blockbusters aimed at audiences who aren't exclusively physically or psychologically 13 ("based on the graphic novel" becomes "based on the Oprah Book Club bestseller") are expected to come out.
In recent years, the same "what to do after family time" effect that's taken hold of Thanksgiving has also taken care of "The Christmas Season," leading to a singularly strange grouping of releases wherein only two kinds of movies seem to come out around the 25th of December: The one big movie expected to be the "Christmas Blockbuster," and a bunch of blockbuster-"esque" movies that are presumed to be bombs-waiting-to-happen being summarily dumped in the void.
It's too early for the bigger blockbusters, way too early for prestige pictures and not even snowy enough for a holiday hit. So what do you do?
If you're Hollywood, you just keep moving the start date for Summer further and further back - though Spring does seem to be a burgeoning field for the release of mid-level family films, no doubt on the assumption that they'll then be on DVD just in time for mid-summer family car trips.
Those are your Movie Seasons. If nothing else, it's almost humbling to note that even one of the most high-tech of entertainment businesses are still beholden to something as basic as weather.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.