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Yes, it's the summer movie season, and like most summers, there are plenty of movies to see, including a few sequels.
Unfortunately, also just like most summers, there are some really tired and unappealing offerings in the theaters.
I was high on the new release 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. It looked like a sure thing... and then the movie season started. But before we get into that, let's have a look at some of the other contenders in this summer's movie mix.
- 2009 Tampa Bay Rays - currently ranked 4th in the AL East box office. Has a chance to put on a summer surge and move up a few spots, though.
- 2009 Boston Red Sox - This franchise is on it's 5th sequel, and has hit the top of the money list twice. It came close to the top spot last year, but fell to a somewhat disappointing 3rd on the list.
- 2009 New York Yankees - Almost not worthy of making mention, but since this franchise always stirs the pot, I'll dash off a few words about it. Since finishing 2nd in the AL East box office in 2007, and falling off the list following the release of that year's surprise hit the Cleveland Indians last year's Yankees opus floundered to a not-really-even-that-close 3rd place in 2008.
You can always count on silly and unwanted drama when talking about the Yankees. Studio heads made the questionable - and in hindsight BAD (although many critics, including yours truly questioned this decision the second it was made) - decision to replace Oscar (R)-winning director Joe Torre with the unproven and volatile Joe Girardi.
Let's just say that the jury is still out, but it looks like the 2009 Yankees will be a make-or-break outing for Mr. Girardi. My money is on the Yankees making yet another directorial change in 2010. Unless Girardi is replaced before the 2009 sequel's run is even completed - a very likely possibility. He's over budget, and behind schedule. And the money men are not known for their patience... or judgment.
- 2009 Phillies - Where to begin? Some sequels just suck. This one looks to be the most disappointing of all. They stink on ice in home theaters and can eke out a good performance the further they are away from tinseltown. Sure, the original had all the right elements - timely performances, career making effort and just the right amount of luck.
But this film has been out for over two months now, and except for a strong showing the week of the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets releases about two weeks ago, this sad sequel has been on autopilot... and all the instruments are dead.
There are plot holes you could drive a truck through, there are few compelling characters besides Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez and they can't seem to draw at the box office with any consistency. Add in the .217 lead off weekend that started in Rollinsville and the 86 strikeout fiasco in Howard County and you've got a flop in the making.
Is there hope for the 2009 Phillies sequel? Many experts (not yours truly) didn't think this film would even compete for 2nd place in the NL East box office. But this plucky film has managed to hang in there, holding on to a slim lead over the aforementioned Mets, who have put together an equally inept film.
Like the Phillies, The Mets flick consistently fails to capitalize on opportunities. For three weekends, the Phillies couldn't buy a win. They lost money and moviegoers to the Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. It wasn't even close.
But the Mets, looking like they are headed for a third consecutive poor showing (how did the first sequel get a green light, let alone this one?), were only able to scratch out modest wins while the Phillies floundered in pathetically spectacular fashion.
Back to the Phillies now. It would be refreshing to see some fundamental changes made to the marketing efforts of the Phillies. PR Manager Charlie Manuel has stuck with the same tired formula through thick and thin. Even tonight, leaving the plan intact, to the tune of 0-5, in effect dropping the weekly take to .214. It almost seems like they are TRYING to lose money.
Going with the guy who brung ya is noble, and justifiable when that guy wins an Oscar (R) and gives you great returns like .296, 30 and 94 in the start of the lineup. But when it dips to .277, 11 and 59, and then plummets to the putrid levels that have been on display thus far... it's time to seriously consider a change. Maybe shake up the lineup a bit. Move some folks around.
As badly as the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies have played, it's still tops in the NL East box office. But it's way past time to stop remembering how great the 2008 film was and focus on the 2009 edition.
It's not too late. All of these films are still competing for the moviegoers dollars and the coveted Oscar (R). It's anyone's game. If the Phillies can get their crap together, they have a very good chance of making a run at the type of earnings they had last year. Imagine that, a sequel worth seeing. Two thumbs up.