8 Reasons 'Super 8' Is Not Your Typical Summer Blockbuster

Sci-fi thriller lacks what other big movies have, which could make it a success.

June 9, 2011, 6:01 PM

June 10, 2011— -- With the summer blockbuster lineup bogged down with prequels and sequels, a typical slasher movie here and predictable romantic comedy there, one film that's generating buzz above the rest is the mysterious "Super 8."

The movie, which premieres today, carries a hefty load of talent behind the scenes. "Super 8" is directed by J.J. Abrams, the creator of the wildly successful TV series "Lost" and "Alias," and produced by Steven Spielberg, who, it goes without saying, is a blockbuster movie expert.

"For me, this is the movie to look out for," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Hollywood.com Box Office. "This is like the second coming of "E.T." and "Close Encounters" all in one package; with all that great J.J. Abrams visual style. So look out for 'Super 8'"

To drum up interest, Paramount Pictures announced on its Twitter feed this week that it was hosting advance screenings of "Super 8" in 250 theaters across the country Thursday night and encouraged participants to tweet about the film.

If you were not one of the lucky ones to see the film, rest assured, we have the top 8 reasons why "Super 8" is not like other summer blockbusters.

Watch David Wright's full report on "Nightline" HERE.

1. "Super 8" Has an Original Plot

The movie is not based on a true story, a book, a comic, a TV show, a ripoff of a previous blockbuster or, in the case of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, a theme park ride.

Set in 1979, "Super 8" is about a group of kids who are playing with Super 8 film when their cameras just happen to capture a train derailment in their Ohio town and "something" escaping from one of the cargo holds. The train was loaded down with top-secret materials from a closed down section of Area 51, headed for a secure facility.

Creepy. And intriguing.

2. Much of "Super 8" Plot Has Been Kept a Secret

Paramount Pictures released few details about "Super 8" prior to screenings. The marketing campaign for the movie has pretty much focused exclusively on the big names behind-the-scenes.

"When you put a J.J. Abrams and a Steven Spielberg with the movie, it enables people to feel more confidently about spending their money on that particular film," Dergarabedian said.

3. "Super 8" Has No Stars

One of the surprising things about "Super 8" is that it has no big blockbuster stars coming out of the woodwork. Don't expect Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford to jump out of the shadows and save the world.

The main characters are all child actors, think "Goonies" shoved into a sci-fi thriller.

4. "Super 8" Is Not a Sequel (or a Prequel)

It's the summer of sequels with "Cars 2," "Kung Fu Panda 2," "Hangover 2," "Transformers 3," "Final Destination 5" and, of course, "Pirates of the Caribbean 4."

"[The audience is] afraid to reach into that pocket for an unknown quantity so they know Jack Sparrow is in this movie," Dergarabedian said. "They're going to reach for their 12 bucks, maybe $15, whatever it is. You can't blame this all on Hollywood."

And who could forget "Harry Potter" 7B -- "Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows: Part II," which Dergarabedian is predicting will be the big one this summer.

"I think 'Harry Potter' because it's the end of an era," he said. "It's the highest grossing franchise of all time.

"By the time they're finished with "Deadly Hallows: Part II," this franchise will be at over $7 billion worldwide theatrical only. I'm not talking about video sales, book sales, magic wand sales, any of that."

But "Super 8" does face some stiff competition this weekend, going up against "X-Men: First Class," the prequel to the "X-Men" series, which has already generated much enthusiasm.

5. "Super 8" Is Not About a Comic Book Hero

After the enormous success of "Batman," "Spiderman" and "Iron Man," it seems as though Hollywood is itching to cash in on superheroes, even the C-listers.

This summer's premiers include "Thor," "Captain America: The First Avenger," "The Green Lantern" and, of course, "X-Men: First Class."

6. "Super 8" Is Not an Animated Feature

Both "Cars" and "Kung Fu Panda" are trying to keep riding the wave of animated feature success with their previously mentioned sequels. The same case was for last summer's hugely profitable "Toy Story 3."

7. "Super 8" Is Not a Remake

"Conan the Barbarian," set to release this August, is not only a remake of the wildly popular 1986 original with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's being remade in 3-D.

8. "Super 8" Is Not in 3-D

Last summer, the gimmick of 3-D, led by "Avatar" and "Alice in Wonderland," helped push profits up because movie theaters can charge higher ticket prices for them, even while audience attendance was down.

"Last summer was the highest grossing summer of all time, with $4.35 billion in revenue," Dergarabedian said. "That's good news, right? Bad news, it was the lowest attended summer since 1997."

Now it seems as though everyone wants to jump on the 3-D bandwagon. There are no less than 15 movies coming out this summer with 3-D features.

For one, "The Smurfs" are back, but they have taken their adorable 2-D blue faces into the wacky 3-D realm. Judging from the trailer, they are sassier, quirkier and "smurf-ier" than ever before, whatever that means.

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