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Listless in Hollywood

22 Dec, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

It didn't really occur to me until now, but here's one more indication of how bad this year's theatrical slate was: Christmas lists.

Normally each year I get a raft of requests from family members, especially my young adult niece and nephew. This year, there were very few titles that interested them. My niece's list includes 25 titles. Six of them were released this year and, with the exception of Mr. & Mrs, Smith and Wedding Crashers, they are all far down the list.

Other family members also requested catalog fill-ins almost exclusively. Requests for new releases just weren't there.

I consider that a striking indicator of just how bad the movies were this year. I can be something of a curmudgeon about movies. I hate cheesy remakes and most of the movie versions of TV shows, which was enough to keep me out of lines at theaters or DVD stores this year. I also felt little need to update an online rental queue, because there were no new movies I was just burning to see.

Obviously, it's not just me. The box office take this year is solidly down and DVD sales are flat.

The ray of hope for the DVD part of the industry is that if the movies get better, sales and rentals should pick up. The viewing conditions have not degraded significantly at home so people who would not go to theaters might still go back to DVD shops.

The bad news: there are still a lot of what look like losers in production for theatrical. The Poseidon Adventure was a stupid, maudlin movie the first time and I have no reason to hope it will be better as a remake. The first Fast and the Furious movie was no great shakes — in fact it was Point Break on wheels. The second deteriorated and I doubt anyone will give a flip about The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Happy New Year. I hope.

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