Sandra Bullock summer superstar, or: deja vu all over again

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sandrabullockIt’s a lesson that Hollywood relearns almost every summer.

Namely: Give women and older audiences something — or someone — they might want to see during the summer movie season, and they will turn out in force.

Last week, industry folks were startled when the latest, mindless action flick, “White House Down,” flopped at the box office, while the Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy comedy “The Heat” made a bundle in its first three days in release.

“White House Down” is an unusually stupid movie — and one that makes rather disgusting use of post-9/11 themes — but it might have failed even if it was better, because the summer slate is so jammed up with male-oriented action fare.

Even teen boys (and those who share their taste) might be feeling action movie fatigue.

While I was on vacation last week, I saw “White House Down” and “World War Z” and they are both so generic that they have virtually evaporated from my memory.

Each had absurdly hide body counts, reinforcing the Hollywood message that death is cheap again (millions die in “WWZ” and tens of thousands in “Man of Steel” and “Star Trek Into Darkness,” but we’re not meant to care about the bloodless PG-13 carnage since it all involves nameless extras).

sandrabullock2The makers of “WWZ” and “White House Down” appear to believe that the spectre of the world ending is not enough jeopardy for a thriller now, so Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum have to juggle saving their kids with stopping a fast-approaching apocalypse.

Action movies and sci-fi and 3-D cartoons are endlessly replicated, so why couldn’t the same thing be done with movies starring women?

The rom-com was burned out due to over-production a few years ago, but “The Heat” demonstrates that there are other uses that stars like Bullock and McCarthy can be put to. If the upcoming action comedy “Red 2” is a hit, it might be due as much to the funny trailers featuring Helen Mirren and Mary Louise Parker as the presence of the male stars in the movie.

After the blockbuster grosses scored in recent summers by “The Proposal,” “Eat Pray Love,” the two “Sex and the City” films and “Bridesmaids” why is it still “surprising” that “The Heat” made twice as much money last weekend as “White House Down”?

Joe Meyers

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