Officially, the season of summer doesn't begin for another two weeks, but for the movie business, summer 2008 started back on May 2, with the release of Iron Man. Though it seemed like an early enough start, some exhibitors would like it to begin even earlier, like in April. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, John Fithian, who heads the National Association of Theatre Owners (the largest trade group for cinema operators), and Mike Campbell (no relation), who runs Regal Entertainment (the largest cinema chain in the U.S.), discuss the benefits of having tentpole (aka blockbuster) movies released all year long rather than in just the summer and winter holiday seasons and ask that Hollywood at least consider bumping up some major releases to April rather than the busy month of May.

The argument for limiting tentpoles to the summer has always been that it's a time when kids are out from school. But as Fithian points out, most kids are still in school through May, when the biggest blockbusters are released. And movies like Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still made a lot of money anyway. In fact, aside from whatever tentpole is scheduled for July 4th weekend, the movies released in May are often the biggest moneymakers of the year. At least for Hollywood. But according to Fithian, theater owners actually lost a lot of money in May because of how many tentpoles are released so closely together. Campbell adds that overall box office gross would be up significantly if major releases were more evenly spread out. Certainly moviegoers would appreciate having more blockbusters and/or better movies released in months like January and September, as well as other months often considered "dumping grounds" for movies that shouldn't have even been made. Other interesting bits that came up during the interview include both Fithian and Campbell's preference for more family-friendly films of any genre. Though this shouldn't be surprising, it is worth noting that Fithian also championed the removal of the NC-17 stigma only a year ago. Now he's claiming that he doesn't understand why Hollywood would bother with "Quentin Tarantino" kinds of movies when family films are more lucrative (especially for theaters, which make a lot of dough off candy craving kids). Both men are also in agreement that Hollywood shouldn't put too many eggs in the 3-D basket, because, as Campbell notes, not everyone is an advocate and many moviegoers would still prefer to have a 2-D option.

For more on the current state of the theater business, including discussion of the recession, over-screening and other stuff that only I might find interesting, check out the full interview here.