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In a rare marketing ploy, the No. 2 U.S. movie theater chain, AMC Entertainment, is offering a money-back guarantee for boxing picture “Cinderella Man,” hoping to boost interest in the struggling film amid a record box-office slump.

Advertisements offering on-the-spot refunds to AMC patrons unhappy with the film began running June 24 in newspapers and on the exhibitor’s Web site (www.amctheatres.com), AMC spokeswoman Pam Blase said Tuesday.

The ads, welcomed by the film’s distributor, Universal Pictures, say in part: “AMC believes Cinderella Man is one of the finest motion pictures of the year!”

Okay. We could have done without that concluding exclamation point.

This isn’t to say that Cinderella Man isn’t a good movie. I really don’t know; I haven’t seen it. I think that Ron Howard is a competent though style-less director, Russell Crowe is an above-average actor, and Renée Zellweger*…well, I don’t know anyone who has ever gone to a movie specifically because she was in it. But Cinderella Man (horrible title and all) was released at the wrong time and marketed poorly. Big serious humanistic dramas belong in the late fall when they’re all rolled out for Academy consideration. Nobody wants to see a movie about the Depression at a time when all of the other movies have exploding shit in them (see Michael Bay’s next opus crappus). And if I really wanted to see a movie about the Depression I would watch Steven Soderbergh’s minor masterpiece King of the Hill… except for the fact that it is inexplicably not available on DVD.

Now that is wrong.

*Bonus Renée Zellweger antipathy note: she is currently slated to play Janis Joplin in Piece of My Heart. You may now commence getting your hate on….

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