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Now in our seventh calendar year!
PCR # 334  (Vol. 7, No. 33)  This edition is for the week of August 14--20, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
Summer '06 in Review

Michael A. Smith

theater seats

The Tampa Film Review for August  by Nolan B. Canova
Summer '06 in Review  by Mike Smith
Las Vegas....Small Markets....Hollywood East  by Mark Terry
Mike Douglas is Gone....VHS Grindhouse....By George -- He's a Dustman!...New York Dolls Back in the News....Screem Magazine Review (#12)  by Andy Lalino
Seen the King Lately?...Movie News....Passing On....My Favorite Films, Part 33: "Blazing Saddles"  by Mike Smith
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As the summer movie season slithers to a close this week with "Snakes on a Plane," it's time to take a look at the past few months and see if the cry that Hollywood is dead is indeed true.

I've learned to shrug off the protests of movie studios who preach gloom and doom every time a movie doesn't have a $50 million opening weekend. It's almost like the studio heads suffer from short term amnesia. They never can recall the variables that effect the way movies perform. They never take into account that films like "The Passion of the Christ" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," which were thought to be duds (especially "Passion," which Mel Gibson produced himself), made almost $500 million between them in the US alone. So the next year, when the box office is down at the same time as last year, they fall over themselves with facts and figures that show people don't go to movies anymore. And then they use this information to scale back their companies, telling Joe Filmmaker that he's losing his job because John Q. Public would rather sit home and watch a DVD. How sad.

30 years ago, my favorite film, "Jaws," opened on 409 screens and, in its first month, made an almost unheard of $69 million. And that's at an average price of $2.00 a ticket. "Jaws" went on to gross $260 million in the US. A month ago, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men's Chest" made almost half that amount in less then a week! As I write this, "Pirates" has earned almost $360 million in the US, making it the seventh most popular film of all time. OF ALL TIME. Which should make the people at the Walt Disney company, who released the film, overjoyed. Add to that figure another $235 million dollars, which Disney's release, "Cars," earned, and you'd expect Walt himself to make an appearance at the next stockholder's meeting. Yet, in light of this income, Disney laid off hundreds of employees this year, citing poor performing films. Last December, Disney released both "Chicken Little" and "The Chronicles of Narnia," hauling in a pretty impressive $425 million between them. This year they also released "Glory Road" and "The Shaggy Dog," both of which performed well. For the holidays they have "The Santa Clause 3," which should also be an excuse to print money. Of course, they also are scheduled to release Mel Gibson's directorial follow up to "The Passion," entitled "Apocalypto." A film performed entirely in Mayan is a hard enough sell, but Gibson's recent legal troubles may doom the film before it even hits the screen. But wouldn't you think that with almost $1 billion dollars in the past year would make the mouse house happy?

And I'm not just picking on Disney. Last year "King Kong" pulled in over $200 million. And was considered a failure. Failures this year include "Mission: Impossible 3" ($133 million) and "Superman Returns" ($186 million). Even with a large budget, I can't understand how a film that makes $100 is considered a failure. In 1979 you could have counted the number of films that made $100 at the box office on one hand: "Jaws," "Star Wars," "The Godfather," "Grease" and, if you take into account its many reissues since 1939, "Gone With The Wind." This year there were at least ten: "POTC," "Cars," "X-men 3," "The DaVinci Code," "Ice Age 2," "Superman Returns," "Over the Hedge," "Mission: Impossible 3," "Click" and "The Break Up." And I expect "Talladega Nights" to hit the magic number this weekend. Eleven films in eight months when there were only FIVE in the first seventy years. And the studios are crying the blues? Maybe they should do what they did in the "old days." Maybe they should make films to tell a story, to inspire, to educate. Not so they can tie in with Walmart or McDonalds. To paraphrase the "voice" in "Field of Dreams" (which only made a disappointing $64 million), "if you make them good, they will come."

This week's movie review of "Summer '06 in Review" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.