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The photo above is for the concert movie One Direction: This is Us. It is a movie that comes out this weekend, and could well top the box office, because there’s slim pickings, and maybe tween and teenage girls want to see the film. It could happen. But mostly it’s because there’s not much else out there.

Sure, there’s the Ethan Hawke movie Getaway that’s also coming out, but there hasn’t been any canny marketing on that film, and it’s coming out on a bum weekend. There’s also a movie called Closed Circuit, and the expansion of The Grandmaster.

But summer is over and labor day weekend marks the start of school for many. What did we learn this summer?

  • Movies are getting louder and dumber: Well, this has been the case since time immemorial, but so many of the big event films of the summer weren’t that satisfying. Maybe no worse than any other year, but it seems the language of cinema is breaking down, and the backbones of films seem weaker than ever. Story and character seem less important than bombast.
  • If you’re going to be big and loud, hit theaters earlier than later: By July, we were seeing a string of bombs, while films that have come to be loathed, like Star Trek Into Darkness, or the troubled production of World War Z, they came out in May and June. It seems by July, the only film that had any staying power was Despicable Me 2. And though kids films can be considered event films (especially these days), most of the July and August films underperformed this year. Now if that’s because audiences got tired of paying premium prices for bad movies, well that could be an argument as well.
  • 3D is on the wane in America/3D is never going away: We saw many films sell more 2D tickets stateside than ever before. And studios may be looking at a film like The Lone Ranger, or Elysium and wondering if they wouldn’t have crossed the hundred million mark domestically if they had been post-converted. Since so many films benefit from the 3D boosted numbers overseas, it’s unlikely that things will change anytime soon.
  • Overseas are more important than domestic, now more than ever: Over the course of the last three or four years, it’s become impossible to ignore the impact of international numbers. That’s because films like The Smurfs 2 and Pacific Rim were not only saved by international, they became hits because of overseas numbers. Which means we may get sequels to domestic bombs simply because China loved it.

As for this weekend, who cares? The One Direction movie could make $15 Million, or it could go the Katy Perry route and make seven million. Lee Daniels’ The Butler should hold strong, but now is a good weekend to catch up with all the independent movies out right now.

What are you going to watch this weekend?