NEW YORK – If you have ever wondered why so many superhero films come out in the summer then the secret film industry calendar could have the answers.
A comprehensive analysis going back to 1913 has found that Hollywood has been sticking to the same pattern of release dates for an entire century.
February is when films about the Nazis are released and summer is when you can expect to see secret agents and space on the silver screen.
Films about princesses come out in May, Autumn is the time of The Bible and the end of the year is reserved for darker themes like abortion.
TIME magazine gathered data on 8,298 movies on online film database IMDB that made at least £62,000 going back to 1913 to reveal the calendar.
It matched up keywords with the release month for each film and found that there were distinct seasons that have been operating for decades.
Hollywood has long used the colder months for more sobre themes – just before awards season – but the TIME analysis goes much further.
It found that January is the most depressing month when films about death, melancholy and the 19th century are most likely to come out.
Ben Hur came in at the start of the year in 1959 and featured Charleton Heston in the lead role where the body count includes Jesus and dozens of men in the brutal chariot racing scenes.
In January 1940 Gone with the Wind was released in which Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara endures repeated heartbreak during the American Civil War.
Come February Hollywood zeroes in on the Nazis with films like Cabaret, which is set in the Weimar Republic in Berlin in 1931.
But by April the mood has lightened and there are a glut of erotic and college films.
By May movies about the future dominate are a movies about princesses including Star Wars which ticks both boxes thanks to Princess Leia.
Summer is the time of the blockbuster, with June being when you are most likely to see super heroes on the screen.
Batman came out in June 1989 and more recently the latest Superman reboot, Man of Steel, was released in the same month last year.
Drug lords are one of the most popular themes in August where you will also most likely see an ensemble cast such as in the Wizard of Oz.
September is the month of stalking films like Fatal Attraction, which came out in 1987.
And as the weather gets cooler, the themes tend to get darker and keywords like ‘fear’ come up more often.
Films about blackmail have a tendency to come out in October as do horror movies such as Halloween, which came out on the 25th of the month in 1978.
The TIME analysis shows that December is deadly for main characters as that is when they are most likely to die – Titanic is a notable example.
In the Poseidon Adventure, which came out in December 1972, Gene Hackman’s Rev Frank Scott sacrifices himself so the other survivors can leave their stricken cruise liner.
December is also the season for epics such as Lord of the Rings and Avatar, TIME says.