22 May 2007 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

What's so special about May?

Of course, it's the grande dame of film festivals, the Festival de Cannes, which has been held in May for the past 60 years. But Thomas Mallory's hoary observation about the "lusty month of May" also applies to the global boxoffice, with summer tentpoles now staking out their day-and-date claims to the month with unprecedented gusto.

Internationally, the May syndrome received a major lift early this month when Sony Pictures' Spider-Man 3 set all-time international opening records of $176.6 million for a conventional weekend opening and $231 million for a six-day blast.

DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's animated sequel Shrek the Third got off the ground in four international markets this past weekend. Then, on Wednesday, Disney/BVI's third film in the Pirates franchise, "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," lifts off in France and explodes around the globe by the end of next week.

Even before Spidey 3 ratified that May is a hot month for tentpoles as well as maypoles, the major studios penciled in or locked in no less than six potential blockbusters for May 2008. Dibs on overseas dates, tentative or firmed, have been taken by Paramount for Iron Man, May 2; 20th Century Fox, The Day the Earth Stood Still, May 9; Warner Bros. Pictures, Speed Racer, also May 9; Disney/BVI, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, May 16; Paramount, the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise, May 22; and Fox, Starship Dave, May 30.

And May hopes have extended to 2009, as well. Two studios have eyes on May 22, 2009, with Fox pitching James Cameron's Avatar and Paramount with Monsters vs. Aliens.

Many believe the flowers-after-showers month first came into global prominence with Universal's initial The Mummy in May 1999. It was a time when the overseas market was just starting to take hold as a viable summer outlet as new air-conditioned multiplexes began to proliferate.

"It is the start of the U.S. summer," Paramount Pictures International president Andrew Cripps said. "And as such, day-and-date tentpoles need to go into that period to maximize worldwide boxoffice and to certainly get out in key markets before piracy eats away at revenue potential and to tie into certain holiday times."

David Kornblum, vp international sales and distribution at Buena Vista International, is of the school that believes that giant hit movies put global audiences in the mood for more of the same.

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