Given a theoretical choice between a sublime dinner of Herb-Roasted Amish Chicken with White Wine Jus, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Green Market Arugula and Parmigiano Bread Pudding at Manhattan’s Union Square Cafe and a steak and lobster meal at any evening-trade restaurant in the country, most Americans would choose the latter. Not because they have peon-level taste buds (although this could be argued) but because known quantities trump surprises every time.

By the same token, Fandango’s list of Most Anticipated Summer 2008 Movies (conducted on from 3.13 to 3.30) is made up of nothing but brand-name lazy-boy movies, 60% or 70% of which are almost sure to let moviegoers down in a big way, as in “back to the salt mines,” “I’ve seen this before,” “why do I subject myself to crap like this?,” “how far is the nearest tall building?,” etc. The news came in a press release e-mail without a link to a feature story on the Fandango website.
82% of respondents picked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — the summer’s most anticipated film. No surprise there. Honestly? This seems like the summer’s safest bet to me also, but with the timid hacksmanship and increasing predictability of director Steven Spielberg and those Hollywood-style cobwebs in that ancient-tomb-scene still, you can’t predict a moon landing with this one. It looks more like a moon orbit to me, and it could even be an Apollo 13 mission (turn around and head for home at mid-point due to lack of oxygen).
The Dark Knight was a somewhat distant second with 42% rating, followed by Iron Man (38%) and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (37%). Of these three, I’m guessing/presuming that Chris Nolan‘s Knight will be a high-quality wow, and that Iron Man (Jon Favreau directing, Robert Downey starring) is a reasonably safe bet. But I don’t know about another Narnia, frankly, especially with the word “Prince” in the title.

The fifth most anticipated film, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which got a 30% rating, will almost certainly smell. The sixth-place Get Smart (29%) might be okay, although the scripts haven’t indicated this. The seventh-place Incredible Hulk (22%) is certain to play better with the fans than the deeply despised Ang Lee version. The untitled X-Files sequel (20%), Speed Racer (19%) and Sex and the City (19%) came in eighth, ninth and tenth.
Not surprisingly, Sex and the City ranked highly on the women’s list but didn’t make the men’s list at all.