What’s Playing This Summer?

WHAT does the arrival of summer mean to you? If there is a change to warmer weather, summer may be a call to the pleasant outdoors​—perhaps to enjoy outings at the beach or a park.

Those in the film industry, however, are counting on millions of people to spend a good number of summertime hours indoors at the movies. There are at least 35,000 movie screens in the United States alone, and in recent years about 40 percent of box-office profits in that country have been generated during the summer season. * “It’s like what Christmas is to the retail industry,” says Heidi Parker of Movieline magazine.

This was not always so. Summer used to be sluggish for U.S. theaters, forcing many of them to limit their schedule or close for the season. But by the mid-1970’s, air-conditioned theaters were luring millions indoors to escape the heat. Children, out of school, were an untapped market that did not escape the notice of moviemakers. Before long, the summer blockbuster emerged. * It changed the way films are made and marketed, as we shall see.

[Footnotes]

^ par. 3 In the United States, the summer movie season begins in May and continues into September.

^ par. 4 Traditionally, the term “blockbuster” has been applied to films that earn $100 million or more. However, the label is sometimes used more loosely to describe any hit film, regardless of how much it takes in at the box office.