Thursday, March 12, 2009


Another term that has become a buzzword because of unjustified use is ‘blockbuster,’ when referring to a movie (as opposed to the older, more literal meaning of an enormous bomb that can destroy a block of buildings).

A movie becomes a blockbuster when it is hugely popular and, therefore, profitable. With increasing regularity, however, many media sources refer to movies as ‘blockbusters’ when they haven’t even opened yet!

On March 12, 2009, for example, the website IGN previewed upcoming movies with a piece titled ‘Hot New Blockbuster Trailers,’ while the Press Association reported on actor Mickey Rourke’s involvement in Iron Man 2—which is planned for release in mid-2010—by saying he has been “linked to the blockbuster for some time.”

When movies yet to be released are referred to as blockbusters, the term loses all meaning, as it no longer measures any particular quality or quantity. It is a case of optimistic but utterly empty hype—Hollywood studios understandably want every movie they release to become a blockbuster, but until they find a surefire formula for success, that isn’t going to happen.

1 comment:

  1. You're right on the money with this post, Pete. I often refer to these movies as 'blockblusters', since a lot of their success at the box office gets determined well in advance by the marketing end of the Hollywood shit machine.

    It's only when Hollywood gets it wrong - when a movie not intended to be a blockbuster becomes one (e.g. the original Star Wars, Pulp Fiction) or one intended to be one isn't (e.g. Waterworld) - that it takes any notice of its fatuous use of the term.