Tron vs. Swan: The Holiday Season Movie Conondrum

Posted on 17 December 2010 by Quaid

It’s the Holiday season, and we all know what that means.  Joy.  Shopping.  Good Cheer. Shopping.  Santa Claus and cookie baking.  Shopping.  And, of course, the holiday movie season.

The movie industry is a seasonal industry.  And while most big-budget, crowd-pleasing blockbusters are designed, planned, and marketed around a big summer release, there are those that fight the clutter of the warmer months and instead unveil their action-packed spectacle during the winter season.  Hey, the kids with Dad’s credit cards are out of school, and they’d love nothing more than to spend their unearned cash to talk through the latest and greatest Narnia or Harry Potter flick.  For studio executives, it’s a gold mine ripe for the taking (pardon the mixed metaphor).

But commercial profit isn’t, as we all know, the true meaning of Christmas.  No, the movie world also sees December as the best time of year to release an altogether different kind of movie: the “awards contender.”  Over the past few years, these critically acclaimed flicks have pushed their release dates further and further, hoping to find themselves clear in the academy voters’ minds when it comes time to hand out those naked gold statues.  In major markets, these movies are released in the beginning or middle of December.  But in smaller markets (like my joyous hometown of Louisville, Kentucky), these releases don’t happen until a week before Christmas…the exact same time as some of the most badass big-budget spectacles this side of Bollywood.

So what you end up with is the overlapping of two very defining, important movie release seasons: Awards season and the Holiday Movie season.  And that kind of blatant studio neglect leads to conundrums like the one I’m faced with this weekend.

This weekend, two movies come out.  I’ve looked forward to both of them for over a year.  I’ve followed their productions, listened to interviews and watched as information has leaked about each plot.  One of these movies is a huge-budget sci-fi action adventure romp.  The other is an intense and disturbing, intimate character study directed by one of the most talented filmmakers working today.

The former is Black Swan and the latter is, of course, Tron: Legacy.  Wait.  Strike that. Reverse it.

So as my friday night unceremoniously creeps closer, I have to choose between a movie I’m sure will make me think about, consider, and reaffirm my love for the craft of film, and another that will melt my brain with its visual flair and action-packed ‘splosion-y awesomeness.

On one hand, I know almost beyond a shadow of a doubt that Aronofsky’s Black Swan will be a significantly better movie.  In fact, if the critics are to be trusted (but who trusts them, right?) this one might be another “great” entry into the filmography of an already “great” filmmaker.

Plus it has Natalie Portman in her underwear.

Tron: Legacy, though, is guaranteed to be the more “fun” option of the two. It’s got awesome special effects and an amazingly visualized CG world brought to life in stunning, stirring, melt-your-face-off 3D.

Plus it has a hot chick in a rad skin-tight glowey outfit.

Of course, I will see both of these movies in theaters.  But only one gets the distinction of being an “opening night film.”  And while I’d like to think that I’m accomplished enough of a filmgoer to “let the best film win,” there is something to be said for the experience of seeing a big action movie on opening night with a crazy jazzed crowd of uber-geeks.  Tron: Legacy on opening night will be a once-in-a-lifetime event, whereas a viewing of Black Swan would be the same on opening night as any other night.

So the more base elements of my nature win: I will be seeing Tron: Legacy this evening.

Still, I hate the fact that Disney has forced me to disrespect my beloved Darren Aronofsky in such a way.  There is no reason for these movies to be premiering on the same day.  I think it’s time the “Oscar Season” clearly defines its release dates to stay the hell away from the pre-defined Holiday season.  So as to avoid embarrassing overlaps such as this one.

So…who’s with me?!?!

Ummm…anyone?  Well, I guess it’s just me.

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