You’re probably wondering how this all began. Maybe not, I don’t know. That’s fine, go see how much John likes Jack Black right now. But if you’re curious, here’s how Cinema 52 came into the world.

I guess the real beginning is January 1st, 2011. I was bogged down by joke upon joke about New Year’s resolutions and how nobody sticks to them. I had never attempted one before, so here’s what I came up with: for the entire year of 2011, 90% of my movie-watching would be films I hadn’t seen yet. As of this writing, I’m winning. 192 flicks, 19 of them repeat viewings. But that’s a story for another time.

As my friends followed my progress, speculation began on what next year’s feat might be. The best idea finally hit me when I read a blog entry that presented the “fact” that watching Top Gun every week improves your health.

And I have no idea which blog it was.*

I want to take a moment to really focus on my embarrassment here. Somebody out there is the entire reason we’re doing this project, and I may never find him or her ever again. You, brilliant-idea-haver, are probably working tirelessly on another great article about the history of film, knowing not that four people are taking a year of their lives to rigorously test your witty aside. Believe me, I have tried to find you again. I have googled every permutation of “Top Gun,” “week,” and “health” I can think of. Honestly, I spent two days on this. I had a computer oops between the time I read your piece and the time we began work on this experiment, so I had no internet history to look through. I must find you, credit you, praise you like I should.

Wherever you are, I thank you. We thank you.

So, I read this joke, on some article that only briefly was about Top Gun, and said, “Hey, now that’s the opposite of last year. And it’s almost like science. Why, my favorite kind of science is Almost Science! Like Mythbusters! This could be the ticket!” And so it was decided: I will watch Top Gun every week for a year and see how it affects my health, my mood, my general state of being.

And that’s… mostly how it happened. The rest of the story is jealousy.

As I often do, I was talking about my new goal way too loudly in the presence of friends. Friends who can’t just say, “Hey, nice idea, I’ll leave you to it!” (Though I know what that’s like, Person Who Wrote That Original Joke.) So then my friend John wanted to come along for the ride. I had no problem with this; he had allowed me to come along for his ride of seeing all the Oscar nominees, a gesture that helped me greatly with my resolution. So why not? But he mentioned wanting to watch Dan Aykroyd’s questionably brilliant Nothing But Trouble every week for a year, and I didn’t think this worked with the experiment. He should be required to watch Top Gun as well. (Full Disclosure: I had not yet seen Nothing But Trouble. Now that I have, that is definitely 2013′s experiment.) My friends Ty and Nancy joined this debate. Arguments began over needing a control for the experiment, but this is Fun Fake Science, so the goal morphed into its final state.

Pick a movie that you don’t love, but you don’t hate; watch it every week for a year and see how it changes you.

For now, I’ll leave aside the intense speculation as to how each film will transform each person, but here’s what we arrived at.

Bill gets Top Gun. I found the joke, I saw the potential, I test the original.

John gets High Fidelity. Oddly enough, it’s one of Ty’s favorites. But John just thinks it’s okay.

Ty gets The Truman Show. Basically, I wanted to see if it would make him paranoid.

Nancy… oh, Nancy. So Nancy picked The Shining, then admitted she was cheating a bit because it’s one of her favorite movies. That’s why Nancy gets Spider-Man 3. However, she hates it less than most, making it a viable candidate.

So, an interesting batch of films for an interesting batch of people. We go from 1986 to 2007. Only one is R-rated. Only one is a sequel. Only one is based on a novel. One has become a psychiatric diagnosis. One has a franchise reboot coming out in 2012. One has a rumored sequel coming out in 2012. Only one has won an Oscar (for best original song). Our soundtracks range from Philip Glass to Kenny Loggins to Katrina & The Waves. None are on either version of the AFI 100 list.

Well, there it is. Why we’re here, and hopefully why you’re here. Whether you love films, bad science, or strangers typing about stuff on the internet, welcome to Cinema 52. Enjoy.


*Update: It’s been found! Read all about it!