Make good films and they will come

THE GRIPE

Forget fluctuating box office numbers. Quality movies will always draw audiences.

The Gripe

April 14, 2006|By CHRIS KALTENBACH | CHRIS KALTENBACH,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Ice Age: The Meltdown last week became the first movie released in 2006 to bring in more than $100 million at the U.S. box office, with a total take of $114.6 million. This time last year, three movies had broken the $100 million mark: Hitch ($173.7 million), Robots ($111 million) and The Punisher ($100.6 million).

Horrors! Certainly, this spells doom for the American motion picture industry.

But wait a minute. Total box office receipts are up 2.3 percent over last year, from $2.24 billion to $2.31 billion. And the take, compared to last year, has gone up for three consecutive weeks. Hooray! Certainly, this is a sign that things are looking up!

Then again, maybe the truth is that numbers fluctuate, that trends come and go, and that people will still go to the movies, provided Hollywood gives them a good reason to bother.

Although Ice Age: The Meltdown's numbers were higher than expected, no one should have been all that surprised. It's a fun movie, one appropriate for the whole family, and it's a sequel to a movie that not only made a lot of money itself ($176.4 million in the United States), but sold about a scazillion DVDs. Quality family movies, especially animated, have always done well. Parents like to take their kids to the movies.

All this talk about declining box office, all this concentration on whether receipts are down a percentage point, has obscured a basic truth of American moviegoing: Give the public a quality film, especially one with the marketing apparatus of a major studio behind it, and people will flock to see it.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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