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Summer of Box-Office Apathy
by Christopher Stone

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Match-Flickers nailed Crowe's ROBIN as unfit, unfocused and uninspired.

Match-Flickers nailed Crowe's ROBIN as unfit, unfocused and uninspired.
One definition of apathy is: the absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement.

Almost two months into what is supposed to be the box-office's busiest and most exciting season, the motion picture business is awash with mediocre product, devastating reviews, and apathy from Match-Flickers of all ages.

2010 has become our Box-Office Summer of Discontent. Some hardcore movie lovers have already decided that staying home with the High Def TV and air-conditioning is preferable to a trip to the box-office.

Are the motion picture studios allowing their marketing departments, and not their creative talent, to green-light the motion pictures that get made? Thus far, successful creative choices are scant at the multiplex; by and large, the product reflects laziness and greed, mostly devoid of innovation and originality. And the audience is listening and viewing through apathetic ears and 3D bespeckaled eyes.

Summer got off to a mixed, if early, start on Friday, May 7, with the highly anticipated IRON MAN 2. On the one hand, the
Did these Babes bring down the World Trade Center?

Did these Babes bring down the World Trade Center?
sequel reached the $300 million mark eight days sooner than its progenitor. On the other hand, virtually no one thinks the sequel is anywhere near as good as the original.

Let's face it: When ROBIN HOOD arrived on May 14, audiences and critics concurred that the third reteaming of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott was definitely not the charm. Critics complained that Crowe looked bored and bloated. Viewers complained that the epic told no story; beyond that, it offered no fresh insights into the characters. Match-Flickers didn't burn a lot of pricey fuel to attend opening weekend. The box-office for the rogue of Sherwood Forest stalled at $100 million, and when Match-Flickers think of ROBIN HOOD fondly, most of them are thinking of other movie versions, even the TV series, but not the current lush budget rendition.

SHREK FOREVER AFTER has strong, green box-office legs. But when it arrived on May 21, everyone agreed that, like ROBIN HOOD, it didn't go anywhere new; there were no "Gee Whiz!" moments, no innovations, or epiphanies for the
Critics scored Jake's Abs 10, the movie, 3.

Critics scored Jake's Abs 10, the movie, 3.
franchise. Others said it wasn't worth its high 3D ticket price.

Then there was the Memorial Day Weekend, traditionally one of the box-office's biggest bangs. The first press screenings had barely ended when critics began penning such savage reviews of SEX AND THE CITY 2 that Match-Flickers might think the reviewers had found a link between Carrie Bradshaw and the 9/11 attacks on the city in which she and her libidinous gal pals had sex.

As for the holiday weekend's other major box-office entry, PRINCE OF PERSIA, the press praised Jake Gyllenhaal's steely abs and lustrous locks, but, mostly, they found this big-budget flick as forgettable as the video game upon which it was based. Both major Memorial Weekend releases did big, if not record , business, but, when the holiday weekend was in the rear-view mirror, Match-Flickers, young and mature, were left with unanswered questions.

Why did the box-office have its worst Memorial Day Weekend in almost a decade? In truth, why is the Summer Box-Office down almost $150 million from the
MARMADUKE not much bite at the box-office!

MARMADUKE not much bite at the box-office!
same time last year? Where is the quality? This time, last year, we had THE HURT LOCKER, STAR TREK and UP, all hailed for their excellence.

If you love great movies, you can't help but ask, "Is Hollywood asleep at the wheel?" "Has the industry finally hit rock bottom?"

Americans are calling the current crop of summer flicks: "Creatively unnecessary." They claim, "They don't even tell stories." All-in-all, the USA is declaring, "TV is better than movies!"

Even the so-called "popcorn" flicks, IRON MAN 2 and PRINCE OF PERSIA haven't "popped" as big, or bigger, than expected. KILLERS failed to slay us, and MARMADUKE's box-office bark was not biting.

It's beginning to look a lot as though the Academy may be compelled to return to nominating five best pictures this year - and not ten.

Of course, TOY STORY 3 has been garnering the best reviews of the year. Audiences are eating it up and spreading the word. But one artistic and audience mega-hit isn't enough to end this season of Box-Office apathy.

But it's a good start..

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Mike Thomas
Jun 25, 2010 12:28 AM
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Hollywood is getting lazy and scared. If it's new, cutting edge, and exciting, then it's RED-lighted and will never see the dark of a theater. Dazzling special effects and 3D have become so commonplace, it's no longer an audience draw.

What we as an audience wants is something we haven't seen before. And I don't mean another alien race, or another 3D extravaganza. We have 60", high-def, seven-channel Dolby sound, and very soon, 3D. And like you said, why fight the traffic, pay for parking, mortgage your house for a bag of popcorn when you can sit in your easy chair or couch, and enjoy a hoagie and a beer. And like me, if you want to get wasted watching a delightfully crummy movie, you don't have to worry about a DUI.

Show me something new; show me something different and I'll plunk down $18.50 ($30 if I go for the popcorn).

You're saying what we all want to say, man!

Jul 21, 2010 9:19 AM
[X] delete
During periods of economic stress and anxiety the movies have been there for us, helping us disappear into Never-NeverLand and for 2 hours forgetaboutit. I'm finding current "escapist" films just plain stupid and the principals just in there for the $$$. Good column, Christopher. Keep 'em coming.

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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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