May 13 - The traditional Hollywood summer blockbuster season is getting a few weeks longer as studios look to extend the most lucrative time of the year in the face of a shorter box office cycle. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Captain America is throwing his shield and bringing in the global dough... Spider-Man is busy spinning his web to mediocre reviews... And Angelina Jolie is about to cast her spell in Maleficient. Big names and superheroes mean one thing: Hollywood summer blockbuster season - but wait - Memorial Day is still weeks away. Tinsel Town's most lucrative time of the year is starting earlier and earlier. One reason: studios are looking to make more money from digital rights during the lazy, hazy days of summer when moviegoers have more time on their hands after they leave the theater, says Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. SOUNDBITE: PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST, RENTRAK (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The earlier you can start the summer, then you get those movies out on all those digital platforms, home video and the like, as we head into the summer season, that enables the studios to get that product in the theater, then out on the digital platforms in a relatively quick amount of time." And that can mean big bucks in the after-market for a sequel like X-Men: Days of Future Past, which is actually following the more traditional schedule. Last year, the top eight sequels took in tens of millions of dollars in additional revenues from digital and home video sales in just two months time, according to RenTrak. That bodes well for other sequels later on the calendar such as Transformers: Age of Extinction, which is coming out closer to the July 4th holiday and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which hits the silver screen in Mid-July. But it's not all sequels this summer. For the first time in 16 years, Godzilla is making a comeback to the big screen, hoping to bring in monster-size dollars early at home and abroad, possibly making this the first $5 billion summer on record. SOUNDBITE: PAUL DERGARABEDIAN, SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST, RENTRAK (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It represents 40 percent of the total year box office. Last year we had a record $10.9 billion in revenue for the year. The summer represented over 40 percent of that. So it's a very key part of the robustness and the success of Hollywood." Early releases, however, can also bring other surprises. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 got knocked out the top spot in North America, not by a superhero but by a comedy: Neighbors, proving that there is room at the top of the box office for more than just men flying through the air in expensive tights.