The US movie industry has been in a turmoil after two blockbuster flops this summer. While Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and It’s a Small World were expected box office hits, the respective studios were forced to release the movies in late December instead of early summer. Both films scored a disappointing second outing, setting up a domino effect of poor ticket sales for the rest of summer.
The first movie to be affected was Meet the Parents, which opened on Friday to very low expectations. The Universal Pictures release of the George Clooney directed film followed the same story as the original, with an all new family. With an ensemble cast including Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, and Edward Norton, Meet the Parents didn’t receive the positive reviews that Universal and Fox had hoped for, nor did it perform anywhere near expectations. The overall tone of the film was far from the squeaky clean family films of the past. Instead, Meet the Parents featured a series of oddball interactions between the narcissistic father and daughter. While some of the interactions were predictable, they were far more prevalent than in previous family films.
Then came It’s a Small World, a highly anticipated Chinese movie starring Angelina Jolie and Bill Murray that was widely expected to be one of the year’s biggest box office hits. The story of the pic centers on a Chinese girl (Jolie) who returns home to take care of her sick father ( Murray), only to find that the man has made many mysterious (and dangerous) enemies. Expecting the worst, the daughter sets out to learn just what the man is up to… What makes It’s a Small World a definite candidate for the best US movie of fall is that the lead character, the Chinese girl, is played by no less a star than Angelina Jolie.
While both films failed to achieve the mainstream appeal of some other major releases this past summer, they each did what it takes to at least earn a nomination. Both tethered and It’s a Small World easily work as legitimate dramas – the international backdrop provided by either film simply adds depth to the characters, the story and the overall concept of whatever locale was chosen. Neither are expected to draw massive ratings, nor are they likely to become box office successes. But both movies managed to find a number of viewers among those dedicated to horror film, and the results suggest that they have the potential to succeed on an even larger scale.
tethered, which came out in late June, is expected to debut in the next few weeks, while It’s a Small World looks to begin shooting in the coming months. No official announcements have been made about the sequel, but Variety reports that Disney and Fox are “actively looking” at a release date. Whether or not tethered and It’s a Small World make for the start of a lucrative franchise for Disney or if it’s just another entry in the annals of Universal Pictures’ horror film library is anyone’s guess.
It’s a small world, indeed. However, the success of It’s a Small World and Jordan Peele’s debut proves that horror films with strong international appeal are no longer destined to be forgotten. They’ve become a part of the mainstream entertainment landscape and, even with the critical raves, seem to have staying power. That spells good news for all involved: Moviegoers are likely to enjoy both It’s a Small World and tethered more than they’ll enjoy any other horror film this summer. The success of It’s a Small World may well herald the start of a golden age for Universal Pictures, which has the financial wherewithal to pursue a series of tentpole films for years to come.