Wanna know why movies suck today? Well, audiences just gave Hollywood $40 million beautiful reasons why. That’s right. Over the 1 April weekend (and we wish it were all a prank), supposedly fed up film fans, lovers of legitimate cinema and smart, satisfying movies, made Hop the number one box office draw. Argue all they may about appeasing their wee ones, or seeing something innocuous and cute this close to Easter. No matter the message or motivation, people sent Tinseltown an important mandate, at least in their eyes. Clearly, they want more of Hop, and less of anything else. Also-openers Insidious and Source Code—two much better movies—opened to a combined total $10 million less than this ridiculous rabbit test.
Taking a step back, for a moment, there is a real rationale for the otherwise unreasonable returns. Parents have long since given up on guiding their children in the proper direction, and instead respond like Pavlov’s pooch whenever something comes along that can silence the brat for a good 80 to 90 minutes. There’s no questioning the content or creativity—if it looks adorable and more or less inoffensive, it’s on everyone’s Saturday shopping agenda. Look at the average suburban DVD shelf and see the proof. If Mom or Dad can con an older kid into gathering up the neighborhood brood, plunking down the reduced priced tickets, and experiencing a bit of offspring-less freedom for a small smattering of the weekend, they will line up in droves/drones. Quality is of little or no concern. Word of mouth is often a legitimate litmus test (right, Mars Needs Moms???), but for the most part, almost anything will suffice.