HOLLYWOOD, June 25 (UPI) -- Summer is officially ushered in by the summer solstice on or about June 22 when in the northern hemisphere the days and nights are of equal length.
But an equally reliable indication that summertime is upon us is when the silly season reaches its zenith in the land of the palm, the fruit and the nut: Hollywood.
A sure sign that school is out, that temperatures will rise, wild fires will scorch the West and show biz will stun the world with new movies to reap the harvest of school kids and teenagers with too much time on their hands.
Most indicative of all is the content of new movies released for patrons age 9 to 29 who find themselves without homework hanging over their heads and TV reduced to reruns.
The top 10 box-office films currently in release reflect the time of year as surely as 90-degree temperatures and the hum of air-conditioners.
This week Time magazine's cover story helped create a rush to see the latest Tom Cruise vehicle, "Minority Report," a futuristic picture much like the eerie "Blade Runner" of 1982, which starred Harrison Ford.
Directed by Ridley Scott, "Blade Runner" provided audiences with a view of 2001 Los Angeles beset by androids. It has become a cult classic.
Fortunately, L.A. has not been overrun by genuine androids as yet, but the century is still young.
An equally grim fate awaits "Minority Report" which stars Cruise, the world's box-office champion, and was directed an even bigger star: Steven Spielberg. Like Ford in "Blade Runner," Cruise plays a cop running from the bad guys, but Cruise's adversaries are human, not androids.
Moreover, special effects and digitized scenes have improved vastly in the 20 years separating these two films, which makes "Minority Report" somewhat more fascinating than "Blade Runner," but equally morose.
Cruise is victimized by fellow cops who can catch future criminals before they actually commit the crime.
Nevertheless, "Minority Report" leads all current movies at the box office, having earned $35.8 million in its first three days on 3,000 screens.
Need further proof that summer is here?
No. 2 in the ratings is Disney's new hot-weather animated film titled "Lilo & Stitch," which probably has studio founder Walt Disney twirling in his grave.
"Lilo & Stitch" is funny and will appeal to kiddies raised on TV's "Roadrunner" and "Flintstone" cartoons in the Saturday morning ghetto.
Lilo is a five-year-old Hawaiian orphan who longs for a dog of her own. At the pound she finds Stitch, an extraterrestrial creature with Don Rickles' disposition and a face that would stop a clock. Disney's magicians provide the laughs and a heart-wrenching story that, of course, comes to a happy and ditsy conclusion for all.
In true summer tradition, this animated feature ran rampant at the box office: No. 2 with a take of $35.2 million, also on 3,000 screens.
Still hanging on from their spring releases are "Spider-Man" in No. 10 with a 10-week box-office gross of $390.3 million, along with No. 9, "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones," with an eight-week gross of $279.8 million.
The box-office figures suggest there is no further need to ask why Hollywood makes so many films for kids, teenagers and stunted adults.
In-between these four youth-oriented pictures Hollywood has thrown mature audiences a few bones to keep them from gnarling up into grotesque TV fixtures.
Women are still appreciating "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," a reunion story of women who bonded as young people and never entirely lost touch.
Now in its third week, "Ya-Ya Sisterhood" has collected an unspectacular total of $46.7 million.
Adult males can console themselves with "The Bourne Identity," a film version of Robert Ludlum's novel.
Starring Matt Damon as a hired assassin suffering from amnesia and pursued by deadly killers, "The Bourne Identity" is No. 4 after two weeks in 2,643 theaters where it has grossed $54.3 million.
Another animated comedy based in the old Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning kiddie ghetto, "Scooby-Doo," No. 3, with $100.3 million in the tills after two weeks.
No. 5 "The Sum of All Fears" with $97.2 million in four weeks.
Then a couple of losers: "Juwanna Mann," No. 8, and "Windtalkers," No. 6 with little appeal to any particular demographic group.
But there are still other daffy Hollywood peregrinations to alert the unwary that summer is indeed upon us.
Chief among them is the breathtaking announcement from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce that Jim Henson's Kermit the Frog, infamous ringleader of The Muppets, will be honored with his footprints in the forecourt of Mann's Chinese Theater, a shrine of Tinseltown's most beloved stars.
Is this a testimonial for frog legs or what?