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What's the matter with Hollywood – the product sucks

Hollywood insiders are hand-wringing about the poor box office totals of late. I suppose the last Star Wars installment, Revenge of the Sith, will bring a lot of folks into the theatres, but aside from that, I’d be worried too if I was a Hollywood mogul. It’s not DVDs or home theatres keeping people away. The movies SUCK, people. (NYT):

Now Hollywood is starting to get worried.

The poor box-office performance last weekend of the first major film of the summer, “Kingdom of Heaven,” released by 20th Century Fox, made for 11 weeks in a row of declining movie attendance and revenue compared with last year, adding up to the longest slump since 2000 and raising an uncomfortable question: Are people turning away from lackluster movies, or turning their backs on the whole business of going to theaters?

The historical epic about the Crusades, which stars Orlando Bloom and was directed by Ridley Scott, took in just $20 million at the domestic box office, a puny opening for a film that cost about $130 million to make and was supported by a major marketing push. The film was helped by a stronger performance abroad, where it took in $56 million in 93 territories.

Since 2002, attendance is down about 10 percent for the comparable period, to about 433.7 admissions from about 485 million. The decline has provoked speculation that a rising DVD market and the advent of more elaborate home entertainment centers, along with the shrinking window of time between a theatrical release and the appearance of the DVD, is causing moviegoers to stay home and wait for discs.

Still, some of Hollywood’s most seasoned executives insist that this year’s problem is a simpler one: The movies have not been good enough.

It’s obviously not just me; I think I only went to a handful of mainstream movies over last year or so. There was nothing compelling; the most interesting and enjoyable films I saw were at the Full Frame Documentary Festival and the NC Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Aside from that, off the top of my head I can think of these.

* Ray: Jamie Foxx was a revelation, the movie decent, not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination.

* The Incredibles and Shrek 2: both featured most excellent, genius work — I saw the Incredibles twice, because there was so much there to absorb on many levels. And I’m not a big animation buff.

* The Forgotten: OMG, this was a piece of sh*t. There was some serious, probably intentional, deceptive marketing for this movie. What was Julianne Moore doing slumming in this crappy flick? The first third was a psychodrama and it quickly devolved into a low-rent X-Files episode with people getting sucked into the sky by aliens.

* Sideways: Good writing and brain food. I wasn’t as taken by this film as many were. I’m not into the whole wine culture thing, so that metaphor grew stale after awhile, but the acting was stellar.

* Blade 3: Don’t blame me – my brother forced me to go see this over Christmas; he’s a fan of the comic book. Boy was it a lame film; and I’ve seen a lot of bad kung-fu Hong Kong flicks and action films, so I know B-A-D when I see it. This was so low-rent that it was embarrassing. Can Wesley Snipes find anything better to do? Sad.

* and of course, F9/11 and Control Room from last year as well. I didn’t get to Hotel Rwanda, but I’m going to get the DVD. Maybe I’m contributing to Hollywood’s downfall…

Look at this list of 2005 movies on IMDB. These are supposed to be the most popular of this year. Do you see quality on this list?

Question: have you also found that there’s just not enough good stuff out there to make you want to spend a small fortune to go to the movie theatre (tix here I think are up to $8.50). Some films you need to experience in the theatre (e.g. Star Wars)

On a related note, it’s increasingly an unpleasant experience to go to the movies, don’t you think? I don’t know what it is, but why can’t people just shut the f*ck up when the movie is playing? This must be a side effect of home theatres; people think they can sit and chat/behave as if they are in their living room.

When we went to see Ray, Kate and I had to endure this awful (way too old to be doing this – like 40s) man and woman crawling all over one another. Like fricking horny teenagers. They were miffed that people were pissed at their antics; cripe they weren’t even in the back row of the theatre, so everyone in stadium seating could see the sideshow.

Please people. Get a room. I didn’t pay eight bucks to see you hump one another.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding