Is it little wonder Doctor Who used to keep a 500 Year Diary in his pocket?
That little leather-bound, time-worn trinket is about to become a sign of the times.
As the demand for your time and wallet grows, and the number of blockbusters and franchises hoping to carve off a slice of both increases, we’ve all just been sent the world’s biggest “save the date”.
Hollywood studio Disney has dropped release dates for its key upcoming titles through to 2020.
Where will you be on May 24, 2019? Disney is hoping you will be watching the final chapter of their multi-decade epic, Star Wars, Episode 9.
And on July 19, 2019? The Lion King, the as-yet-unfilmed live-action version. Hands up if you didn’t even know they were going to make a live-action version?
And November 27, 2019? Mark your diary in big blue texta and an Olaf smiley face for the most anticipated animated sequel in recent memory, Frozen 2.
There’s a stack more – a film version of Jack and the Beanstalk, a Toy Story 4, news that the planned fifth Indiana Jones movie has been delayed a year until 2020 and much more – but the point has been made, very loudly.
Of course this is not the first time this has happened.
All of the Hollywood studios – though mostly those with big franchises – tend to throw out longer range release date lists from time to time.
And several years ago both Disney and Warner Bros pushed out Marvel and DC Comics release date lists that took those brands through to 2020.
In many respects that was a land grab: Marvel’s Avengers, Iron Man, Thor and others compete very directly against DC’s Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Justice League for cinema dollars.
What we’ve seen today is at its simplest that land grab once more, but with feeling.
It seems ironic that as major studios shrink the total number of films they release and the box office revenue totals go up that anyone could even imagine the market was tightening.
But as non-cinema alternatives, such as streaming platforms (Netflix, Stan, Amazon Video and others) and one-demand media stores such as iTunes creep into consumer activity, the pressure has never been greater to get a hook into your spend.
And yet that alone is not the whole strategy.
There is a need to stabilise the investment market – either the sharemarket, in the case of some studios, or the stakeholders themselves – with a loud declaration to the market that everything is going to plan.
As recently as a decade ago, franchise titles such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Avengers or Superman and Batman, were a part of each studios output, but they did not represent the whole slate. Far from it in fact.
But as the landscape has shifted, the Netflix-powered trend which has effectively killed the little-ticket Hollywood studio film, has left the big studios with big franchises dominating their entire balance sheet.
It has never been truer to say that the rise and fall of a studios fortunes rests solely on the shoulders of a superhero, or indeed a Jedi knight.
Which is why you have seen in the last decade an asset-acqusition push, particularly from Disney, in order to shore up each studios longer-range fortunes.
In owning both Marvel and Lucasfilm (which makes Star Wars), for example, Disney allows each to have fallow years lest the creative farmland they have laid out around them is rendered barren within a decade.
And for brands such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, much like Marvel and DC Comics, there is also a need to allay the uncertainties of fans.
In decades gone by the studios simply bumbled from time to time. For every Empire Strikes Back and Last Crusade there is a Star Wars Holiday Special and a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The fan economy is now so huge, and so powerful, that studios need to quell the fickle emotions of fans – either that the films are on track, or indeed that the content of them is on-brand – lest a burst of unrest rattle the larger audience.
Nothing could kill Superman and Batman more effectively, for example, than a sense in the audience that Warner Bros’ management of the brand, and the stories which spring from it, had lost focus or was off its mark.
In comparison, kryptonite seems positively passe.