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By Doug Brunell | August 18, 2005

I keep reading about this box office slump that has been plaguing American theatres. I have to admit that every article I breeze through brings a smile to my face. I figure that anything to come from this has to be good, though I’m not sure just how good it will be.

People are going to the movies less these days. One of the reasons for this could be the fact that most of the films coming out suck. Plain and simple. There aren’t many good mainstream films out there to grab the doltish audience’s attention. Most of what you got to choose from this year were sequels, remakes of old television shows and movies, or book and comic book adaptations. Oh yeah, and Must Love Dogs. If Hollywood doesn’t see how that could become taxing after about six months, then the studios deserve to lose money to video games and poker.

The best thing that could come of this would be a revamp of how studios approach movies. If the studio system works like any other big corporation that puts out entertainment (or “art,” as they like to call it), the coke heads in charge will realize they can get a little creative in order to win back the people or at least get a new demographic. We could start seeing more movies that wouldn’t have been made five years ago because they were too edgy or weird. That’s a good thing because we don’t need another version of The Island.

Of course, the exact opposite could happen and the studios will be so frozen with fear that creativity is not an option. The house band will continue to play the same song as the ship sinks, and I can definitely see that happening because the movies Hollywood is making now, like “Fantastic Four,” are drawing idiots to the theatre. (You know how I know they are idiots? They say things like, “The Fantastic Four just looked bad, but I had to see it.”) The studios will figure that money guaranteed, no matter how small, is better than money possible, no matter how big.

Independent film fans may be in for a pleasant surprise, but I somehow doubt it. I think the most we’ll get is a front row seat to the slow, cancerous demise of Hollywood. We’ve seen the beginning coughs. Hopefully we’ll get to see it put into the ground. The problem is what comes next. Will it be “The Dukes of Hazard 4” or a plethora of indies that appeal to a wide variety of tastes? Will foreign films make more of a presence at your local mall (something that is already starting to happen), or will we be watching the anniversary release of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”? (“They’re even smaller in this remastered classic!”)

Hollywood’s death may be the indie film’s time to shine, or it could be a messy, brutal affair attended to only by h***y teens and people looking to get lost for ninety minutes. I’m hoping it gives the indies a chance, but I remain fearful. Hollywood is adverse to change … even when it would save the studios’ collective skin. The problem is simple: If Hollywood doesn’t take more chances with the films its studios release, 2006 is going to make 2005 look like a banner year. 2007? Life support will be too kind.

Take the chance, boys. Anything else is suicide.

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