Confused Americans Seek Steady No. 1 At Box Office

In This Section

Vol 39 Issue 31

News Anchor Wonders Where All These Great Stories Come From

SALT LAKE CITY, UT—Midway through a story about new evidence in an unsolved area homicide, KTVX news anchor John Reesen wondered aloud where all the great stories come from. "Yet another gripping investigative report, right here on KTVX," said Reesen, during Tuesday's News At Ten. "Wow. Who comes up with this news?" Reesen posed a similar question to weatherman Gary Yount, wondering who could possibly know all that science stuff.

Republicans Introduce Economic Equality Bill For Fun Of Shooting It Down

WASHINGTON, DC—Republicans in the House of Representatives proposed H.R. 2093: the Economic Equality Initiative, with the express purpose of shooting it down "just for kicks" Tuesday. "H.R. 2093 will level the economic playing field, spreading the wealth among the rich and poor," said Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX), visibly fighting back snickers. "We must pass this bill to stop the fat cats from getting fatter while the average Joe struggles to make ends meet. Also, I'm the Queen of Bavaria." Following 10 minutes of uproarious laughter, the congressmen stepped out of the chamber to smoke cigars lit with a bill that would allocate $115 million to clean up hazardous waste sites.

Avid Fisherman Forever Ruins Fishing For Son

MANKATO, MN—Thanks to his nitpicking, impatience, and insistence on absolute silence in the boat, avid angler Don Gillespie, 41, forever ruined fishing for his 10-year-old son Douglas Tuesday. "No, no, no—you're casting all wrong," said a visibly seething Gillespie after Douglas' line landed a mere three feet from the stern of the rowboat. "Forget it! Just let me do it, and I'll hand you the rod afterward." Douglas was further put off fishing when his father threw back the only fish the boy caught all day because it was not big enough.

Last Great Party Of Life To Result In First Child

LAKE CHARLES, LA—Unbeknownst to him, 27-year-old Ron DuPree attended the last great party of his life Saturday, as a 3 a.m. coupling with girlfriend Tamara Harris will result in a child nine months from now. "That was the best party ever," DuPree said to friends on Monday, oblivious to the seed of life now growing in his soon-to-be-wife's womb. "I was so wasted! God, Tamara and I have to start getting out on the weekends again." In addition to enjoying his last great party, DuPree will also soon bid farewell to liquor, cigarettes, and most of his current friendships.

Hussein Family Can't Bear To Throw Out Uday's Favorite Nutsack Shocker

AWJA, IRAQ—Relatives, sorting through boxes at Uday Hussein's home Tuesday, couldn't bear to discard one of the deceased tyrant's favorite torture devices. "Oh, how Uday loved his electric nutsack shocker," said Uday's uncle Karim Suleiman al-Majid, as he sifted through a box of clamps, cables, saws, and 8-volt batteries. "And here's that trusty little knife he would use to dig eyeballs out of their sockets." Al-Majid said he is sure that Uday would have wanted his favorite cousin Nawaf to have the roll of flensing wire.

This Job Isn't Nearly As Exciting As The DeVry Institute Led Me To Believe

When I was 18 or so, I used to watch Ricki Lake on Channel 9 every afternoon. During the commercial breaks, I always saw ads for the DeVry Institute Of Technology. One ad featured a group of mostly male students eagerly crowded around a single computer in a fluorescent-lit classroom, on the fast track to earning their degrees. Another ad showed a recent DeVry graduate striding into a windowless block of an office building like he had the world by the tail. Everyone looked ready to dive into a high-paying career, and I wanted that for myself. I was hypnotized by the fast-growing field of technology. But now, 12 years later, I'm stuck in a job that's not nearly as exciting as the one the DeVry commercials led me to expect.
End Of Section
  • More News
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Technology

Technology Unfortunately Allows Distant Friends To Reconnect

WAYNE, PA—Providing them the tools necessary to bridge a gap that both individuals say they were more than willing to maintain indefinitely, sources confirmed Monday that the advent of modern technology has unfortunately allowed distant friends Mere...

Spring

Confused Americans Seek Steady No. 1 At Box Office

LOS ANGELES—Unsettled by U.S. military action abroad and economic struggles at home, Americans say they are desperate for the stability of an unchanging number-one movie at the box office.

Confused Americans

"Although several summer blockbusters had successful opening weekends, only Finding Nemo has held the top slot for more than a week or two," said Andrew Kohler, chairman of the Citizens for Consistent Cinema (CCC). "This has caused unease and confusion for millions of Americans."

"With a new top movie every week, the average American can neither keep up nor move on," Kohler continued. "In times of national and international turmoil, we need a summer smash to calm our nerves. Unfortunately, few of the summer's major releases have had box-office staying-power."

The Matrix Reloaded and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, two highly anticipated sequels, both opened at number one, only to fall from the top slot the very next week. Kohler said this typifies the uncertainty at the box office this summer.

"After suffering a long spring of one-weekend hits, the nation was waiting for a single movie to emerge from the pack and take the lead," Kohler said. "That movie never came. Not Hulk or T3, and certainly not The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen."

According to Kohler, no movie has topped the chart for more than four weeks since Sept. 11, but in the last six months, even three-week reigns have been infrequent. The high rate of turnover at the box office has resulted in what Kohler terms "pop-culture vertigo."

"Not one of these movies has had any major impact on the national consciousness," Kohler said. "Yes, many people saw Bad Boys II. But who saw it twice? Who is quoting lines from it? Who is planning a Halloween costume based on one of its characters?"

In contrast, Kohler points to previous summers, when movies like Batman, Independence Day, and Star Wars: Episode I united us as a people.

"When Jurassic Park came out, everyone at work was talking about it, all the talk shows were doing skits about it, and the tie-in products were everywhere," Kohler said. "It wasn't a good movie, but it was a huge movie. We knew who we were and what we had to do: We had to see Jurassic Park."

Omaha elementary-school teacher Janice Daly fondly recalled the comfort reliable box-office charts gave her in 1998.

"Clinton was embroiled in scandals, the terrorists had attacked American military sites, and we were bombing suspected al Qaeda camps in Sudan," Daly said. "But every weekend, I could open up the paper and see Titanic sitting right there at number one. We had something we could all believe in as Americans. In my time of need, that movie never let me down."

Few moviegoers have found such solace on the big screen this year.

"I was excited when Anger Management was number one for two weeks," said Richard Jackson, a master carpenter unemployed since February. "Then, along came Identity and knocked it off. The very next week, X2: X-Men United opened and knocked out Identity. Doesn't Hollywood know that the people of this country need some stability in our lives?"

Oliver Reynolds, an 18-year-old Pizza Hut deliveryman, was particularly stricken by the summer's jumble of one-week wonders.

"I was counting the days until The Matrix Reloaded's opening night," Reynolds said. "After my folks split up, I needed something steady to rely on. After more than a year of hype, I thought it'd rule theaters for months. I thought my friends and I would go, like, 10 times."

"We all know how that ended," he added.

Some experts say the trend may have lasting effects.

"If no film manages to dramatically outdraw its competition before the end of summer, our national identity will be called into question," said Dr. Alison Weisgall, sociologist and author of Hollywood Heartbreak: A Nation Abandoned By Its Entertainment Industry. "If the world's dominant superpower can't produce a reliable, record-breaking hit at the box office, then what is it? And, by extension, who are we?"

But Weisgall said she sees no steady box-office front-runner in sight.

"With the next Harry Potter movie not slated until next summer, 2003 is shaping up to be the most chaotic box-office year of the new millennium," Weisgall said. "Unless America finds the anchor it so desperately needs in S.W.A.T. or Freddy Vs. Jason, I fear for us all."

Next Story

Onion Video

Watch More