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Michael Medved wonders whether Hollywood may begin ‘to rethink’

HOLLYWOOD (BP)–A looming strike by the Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild, coupled with an “avalanche of bad news” at the box office, may prompt some “thoughtful leaders” in Hollywood “to rethink their reliance on overpriced attempts to snatch the spotlight by insulting or assaulting the audience.”

Film critic Michael Medved, writing in USA Today March 20, noted that “despite disappointments” the film industry remains “a precious piece of our popular culture,” and “long suffering filmgoers” still nurse “the irrational hope” that the Hollywood “will some day reflect the diversity and fundamental decency of the public it serves.”

Top-grossing films such as “Hannibal” ultimately may do “long-term damage” to the movie industry, Medved wrote. “Many filmgoers may have been lured to the multiplex to see Hannibal, but then felt so grossed out that they swore they’d stay away from all movies for years. (I know; they write me and call my radio show.)”

The dark clouds on Hollywood’s horizon, Medved noted, also include:

— The closing of more than 1,000 screens across the United States and Canada during the past 12 months, “with continued closings estimated at the rate of 200 a month. Ten of the largest theater chains in the United States have filed for bankruptcy protection,” Medved wrote.

— A two-year decline in ticket sales — the first such two-year slide in a decade. Medved noted that sales “fell sharply” in 2000. “Only the inexorable rise in ticket prices — now at a staggering $10 for first-run movies in New York — keeps the ‘box-office totals’ artificially inflated,” Medved wrote.

This year’s Oscar nominees, to be named Sunday night, March 25, also “represent the weakest field in memory and a source of embarrassment for many movie insiders,” Medved lamented.

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