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The Box-Office & The Oscars Need Life Support!
by Christopher Stone

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NUMBER FOUR not cool or romantic enough for Match-Flickers.

NUMBER FOUR not cool or romantic enough for Match-Flickers.
Disappointing. Lackluster. Uninspiring. Take your pick. Any, or all, of the above accurately describe the 2011 Box-Office, now in its third anemic month. Boring. Predictable. Painful. Again, take your pick. Any, and all, of the aforementioned adjectives sum up the 2011Oscar broadcast.

At the box-office, Presidents Day Weekend went south a dismal 28% over the same holiday weekend last year. And it wasn't because we were all home watching the Libyan protests. Quite simply, product continued its uninspiring 2011 course. UNKNOWN was savaged by the critics, but won top holiday weekend honors, only because Match-Flickers were largely indifferent to the alternatives. Exit polls indicate that franchise wannabe, I AM NUMBER FOUR wasn't "cool" enough for the guys, nor was it romantic enough for the girls. Thus, the supernatural tale landed in a box-office limbo, taking third place behind holdover GNOMEO AND JULIET.

If the 2011 Box-Office needs an infusion of wildly exciting product, then,
The F-Word unheard around the world.

The F-Word unheard around the world.
last Sunday's Oscar broadcast needed much more than the respectful facelift the producers ordered.

For years, Oscar's ratings numbers have dropped, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, along with ABC-TV, have done their level best to launch the broadcast's numbers back into the Nielsen stratosphere. Toward that end, we now get ten, and not five, Best Picture nominees. The Academy's thinking is that an expanded Best Picture nominees list makes room for a few popular favorites, in addition to the critical darlings. That's supposed to pull in the masses who saw TOY STORY 3, but wouldn't be caught dead in the same auditorium with BLACK SWAN or THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Last Sunday, Oscar's so-called facelift plunged the broadcast's entertainment value to its lowest ebb.

The pairing of Anne Hathaway and James Franco as co-hosts marked the first time in the history of the broadcasts that a male-female hosting duo has ever shared the same stage. Previous male-female hosting occurred
Franco & Hathaway 127 HOURS of boredom.

Franco & Hathaway 127 HOURS of boredom.
only on bi-coastal Oscar shows, where the male-female co-hosts were separated by a continent.

In comparison, Franco and Hathaway seemed worlds, and not a continent, apart. The pairing of Franco and Hathaway was supposed to make the show "hip and edgy;" it was intended to bring millions of young Match-Flickers to ABC-TV's viewing audience.

Instead, the young-stars fell flat, with one astringent critic putting it this way, "I've watched Activia commercials that were more entertaining." Pretty much everyone pegged the show as dull, predictable and overlong, with James Franco looking bored and distracted. After the broadcast, Franco skipped his own party – how blasé - and flew back to Harvard. THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER called Franco's hosting "127 hours of boredom."

Despite many costume changes, mugging, camping and vamping, Anne Hathaway received mostly "thumbs down," too.

As for suspense; there was none. The winners were pat and predictable; everyone who had been favored to win,
What's Next for Oscar?

What's Next for Oscar?
won. There wasn't one major surprise or upset. I'll take that back. There was one surprise. No one expected Best Supporting Actress winner, Melissa Leo, to utter the F word during her acceptance speech. It was bleeped, thus neutralizing the evening's sole surprise.

Compared to Franco and Hathaway, the Golden Globes' controversial host, Ricky Gervaise, looked like Billy Crystal at the top of his Oscar game.

At home, my guests and I were partying too hard to notice that the 83rd Annual Academy Awards was stupefyingly boring, a snore fest, start to finish.

But the A.C. Nielsen Company noticed, and so did most viewers. Oscar's audience was down seven percent from last year.

The seven percent plunge mirrored the Oscar Weekend Box-office. It was down seven percent from the same weekend last year. GNOMEO AND JULIET, a Valentine's holdover, became the Number 1 Attraction in America. Two new, if not fresh, box-office entries, HALL PASS and DRIVE ANGRY, came in second and ninth respectively.

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Mike Thomas
Mar 4, 2011 1:15 AM
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Somehow, I'm getting the feeling that Hollywood is "holding out," waiting for the big-budget blockbuster coming out this summer.

It's like Winter '10 and Spring '11 was Carrot Top, vamping despite popular request, while we're waiting for AC/DC.

Mar 4, 2011 8:35 AM
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Everything Nicholas Cage does looks the same. Gnomeo & Juliet was a delight.

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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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