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High as a Flag on the Fourth of July
by Christopher Stone

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HANCOCK proves that not all superheros are mild-mannered

HANCOCK proves that not all superheros are mild-mannered
Box office Summer reaches a fever pitch over the July 4 Holiday Weekend, and industry expectations for stratospheric grosses are high as a flag on the Fourth of July.

During this most American of all holidays, you may be lighting 'crackers and Candles, attending beach, or family, parties, or you may trek to the box office to see one of the Holiday's fresh attractions.

HANCOCK (July 1): Will Smith makes his now obligatory July 4 box office appearance in this action-adventure opus. Directed by former actor, Peter Berg, HANCOCK is a Los Angeles superhero with too much 'tude and edge. All of that changes after he saves the life of a PR man, played by Jason Bateman. HANCOCK becomes less heroic, more human. Oscar-winning beauty, Charlize Theron is the intelligent eye-candy here.

Sony Classics' THE WACKNESS (July 3): offers R-rated retro comedy in the plight of a young drug peddler (Josh Peck) who's just trying to earn a dishonest living on the 1994 Streets of New York, after newly-inaugurated mayor Rudy Giuliani implements his anti-fun
Summer in the City is not fun in THE WACKNESS

Summer in the City is not fun in THE WACKNESS
initiatives against "crimes" such as recreational drugs and public drunkenness. Ben Kingsley plays the pusher's shrink. (They all have shrinks.) Mary Kate Olsen rounds out the cast in this bittersweet coming of age comedy.

Not everything opening this holiday weekend is for, or about, the younger Match-Flickers among us. DIMINISHED CAPACITY (July 4): would seem to target their grandparents. The quirky comedic IFC release has, at its hub, Uncle Rollie (Alan Alda) a geriatric Alzheimer's patient. Matthew Broderick is his nephew Cooper, himself mentally challenged. It's a case of the handicapable leading the handicapable when Cooper tries to talk Rollie into a nursing home.

No one expects DIMINISHED CAPACITY to match or exceed the grosses generated by Broderick's wife's summer offering SEX AND THE CITY. However, the offbeat comedy is expected to leave its audience feeling warm, fuzzy, and entertained.

And the hits just keep on coming: The summer box office fireworks don't end on the Fourth of July.

AUGUST (July 11): will come a
Pre-9/11 AUGUST is July movie subject

Pre-9/11 AUGUST is July movie subject
little early this year. Josh Hartnett, Adam Scott, David Bowie, and Rip Torn headline this hard-hitting drama about two brothers (Hartnett and Scott) fighting to keep their start-up business from crashing and burning on Wall Street, one month before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

MAMA MIA! (July 18): here we go again. After conquering theater audiences in more than 130 cities worldwide, this Abba-solutely irresistible romantic musical comedy comes to the big screen, starring Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Christine Baranski, and Colin Firth. The lighter than spun sugar story revolves around a bride-to-be who hasn't ever met her father. She invites three likely candidates to her wedding and all three show up. Hilarity and 22-Abba songs ensue. These can't-get-them-out-of your head ditties from the 70s' iconic group are MAMA MIA's true stars. Or, as The Hollywood Reporter reviewer put it, "MAMA MIA! is the most fun to be had at the movies this or any recent, summer."

Also on July 18, THE DARK KNIGHT gives Match-Flickers their first look at
MAMA MIA! There will be dancing in the streets and in theater aisles

MAMA MIA! There will be dancing in the streets and in theater aisles
Batman's latest escapades and their last fresh look at the gone-way-too-soon Heath Ledger. The late actor plays The Joker, but his final performance is no laughing matter. Be advised to stay in your seats as the End Credits roll for a posthumous tribute to the actor.

SUMMER BOX OFFICE WATCH: THE HULK only retained its INCREDIBLE Number One status for one week. Over the June 20-22 Weekend, GET SMART out-smarted the competition. The Steve Carell comedy slammed THE LOVE GURU to a not Nirvanic fourth place. PANDAMONIUM and THE INCREDIBLE HULK are still big, but GET SMART is in CONTROL in more ways than one.

I was among the millions who catapulted WALL *E to become the Number One Attraction in America, over the June 27-29 Weekend. Disney/Pixar's Jerry Herman Harmony and gem-shucking loving, square robot conquered June's last box office weekend with a $62.5 million haul. Angelina Jolie's WANTED came in second with a much better than expected $51 million first frame. Steve Carell's Maxwell was still a SMART third adding $20 million to CONTROL'S coffers.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.

Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns

Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.

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