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Do audiences still love superhero movies?

Steve Chiotakis Jul 22, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Captain America will be fighting the Nazis on the big screen starting today.

And the Captain joins the X-Men, the Green Lantern and Thor in a summer season full of crime-fighters in capes.But the superhero movie may have lost it’s luster.These movies all cost hundreds of million to produce, and pretty much broke even worldwide.

Daniel Frankel writes about the too-many-men-in-tights phenomenon for And he joins us now in studio. Hi Daniel.

Daniel Frankel: Hi.

Chiotakis: Why aren’t superhero flicks working out at the box office?

Frankel: It’s sort of a grand experiment this year. They’re trying to take so-called second-tier superhero franchises — stuff like Thor that’s not Superman or Batman or Spiderman — and they’re trying to turn those characters into multi-film franchises that’ll gross $1 billion each. And so far, the results have been mixed, and even kind of dour.

Chiotakis: Is this an economic thing or are people just burned out from superheroes, do you think?

Frankel: Well, there has been one after another. I mean, this year, you had Thor, X-Men: First Class — these are sort of event movies. It’s tough in the summer season anyway. You’ve got Pirates of the Caribbean, and you’ve got Harry Potter. ‘Oh! I’ve got to see Captain America this weekend!’ The slate is always crowded, and then when you start mixing too many films in the same genre, I think there is an impact there.

Chiotakis: 3-D, I know, a lot of people say that 3-D is kind of fizzling. Do you think that has something to do with it?

Frankel: Internationally, 3-D has been very successful. In the United States, audiences have been a little dissonant toward it — not just with superhero movies, but in general. Then again, when you have a film like Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the reviews of the 3-D aesthetic were pretty good, and the uptake was a little higher. So I think that’s still being sorted out; I think there’s still too much bad 3-D mixed in with the good 3-D to say that it’s going to tank or not tank.

Chiotakis: It’s kind of deluded?

Frankel: Yeah. Filmmakers are still figuring out how to use it; audiences are still figuring out whether they like it or not.

Chiotakis: I know there are cycles — in not only Hollywood, but in pretty much everything. In 10 or 15 years, do you think the superhero genre will come back?

Frankel: That brand of narrative — the hero — is not going away. And I think the core properties that we all love — Superman, Batman, Spiderman — there’ll always be a place for them. The question is, can you make the Green Blizzard — can you turn something you’ve never heard of into a global box office success? I think to some extent, the jury’s still out on that one.

Chiotakis: Daniel Frankel writes about the film business over at Daniel, thanks.

Frankel: Thank you.

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