Written by Sarah

So much is happening this week. Big week. No need to get into it. There’s just a lot of stuff happening. And this week of Much Stuff Happening culminates with the official start of Summer Movie Season 2011. The last couple of weeks have seen the box office trend upwards after a really depressing start to 2011. This is my favorite recap of the box office suck that started off 2011—while studios blame people not going to the theater for whatever reason, the editor of Rotten Tomatoes says, no, it’s because you’re making really sh*t movies. Which I second—I’ve seen some really super terrible movies so far this year and until last weekend pretty much everything was underperforming and/or disappointing at the box office.

But then, on Easter weekend, people went to the movies. Though some movies, like Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family and Disney’s now-annual Earth Day documentary offering African Cats underperformed, the overall box office was up and beating projections. Lead by Rio, which held strong in week two, and a better-than-expected showing from Water for Elephants (which isn’t terrible), Easter weekend box office encouraged industry analysts. But then this weekend Fast Five had a gangbusters $83.6 million start and industry analysts died from excitement. Suddenly 2011 doesn’t look so bad.

Here’s the thing. 2011 never looked bad. Sure, the first quarter is pretty much a wash with a few decent movies surfacing amidst some really inexcusable dross, but if you take a look at the entire year’s slate, 2011 was never hopeless. There are four superhero movies this summer led by Thor, which is expected to deliver a huge opening weekend, and let’s face it, Captain America is going to attract more people than it would have as of, say, 24 hours ago. And let’s not forget the sequels—The Hangover Part II, Cars 2, and Kung Fu Panda 2 are all going to rake in the cash. Then, of course, you have the franchises—Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers and Twilight will all dump triple-digit figures to their studio’s coffers and Harry Potter 7-2 is going bring the rain to Warner Brothers.

2011 will generate more revenue than 2010 did, and though I’m willing to bet 2012 gets off to a rocky start, too, it will end up bringing in more than 2011 (fueled largely by The Dark Knight Rises). I said once that Hollywood needed to start managing their expectations, which they have begun to do. Now they need to gain a little long-term perspective and stop writing off an entire year based on the returns in a quarter that’s known for being weak anyway. Yes, theater attendance will continue to decline overall but people will still turn out for “event movies” like the summer programming. 2011 is going to be a big year at the movies and we’ve only just begun.

(Lainey: but, ugh. It also means we’re in for another Fast Five Stupid movie. Seriously - $83 million? WHO?!?)