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MediaCircus' Winners & Sinners: August 2001

Special Feature by Anthony Leong © Copyright 2001

Artwork courtesy of

Penelope Cruz and Nicolas Cage of Captain Corelli's Mandolin

With Labor Day weekend having come and gone, the summer moviegoing season has officially wrapped up for another year. For the studios, the summer has been a mixed bag. Though the summer moviegoing season roared out of the gate in May with "The Mummy Returns", box office returns started to show signs of softening during the month of July. In addition, very few pictures have been able to keep their hold on audiences for more than a weekend, which has resulted in a number of major disappointments at the box office, such as "Pearl Harbor" (a $140 million production that has yet to cross the $200 million mark domestically), "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within", and "A.I. Artificial Intelligence".

However, by the end of August, the movie business seemed a little less gloomy, thanks to a 27% uplift in box office receipts over the previous year. With $543 million in August admissions, ACNeilsen EDI estimates that the 2001 summer box office is on track to reach a grand total of $2.93 billion, which is about 10% higher than last year and 5% over the record set in 1999. However, once ticket price increases are factored into the equation, the total number of admissions is much less impressive. Though the estimated 518 million movie tickets sold this summer is a modest increase over last year's 492 million admissions, it is still a far cry from the record 550 million ticket purchases of 1999. But compared to how the rest of the sluggish economy is faring these days, studios and exhibitors should be quite happy with these modest numbers.

Nicole Kidman in The Others

Though the numbers in the month of August may have been good enough to lift the pall hanging over the industry, qualitatively speaking, the selection of films was abysmal, with only a handful of films actually worth watching:

Unfortunately, when the list of winners is short, it usually means that the list of sinners is long:

Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy in American Pie 2

With the advent of fall and the return to school in September, moviegoers can look forward to (hopefully) an end to megaplex mediocrity as the studios begin releasing their more upscale fare in the build-up to the upcoming Oscar season. Looking ahead into the coming month, viewing choices include the combination of Hong Kong-style martial arts action with the literary legacy of Alexandre Dumas in "The Musketeer", Denzel Washington in hard-boiled cop thriller "Training Day", the latest Steven King film adaptation "Hearts in Atlantis", Mariah Carey's delayed film debut in "Glitter", and Mark Wahlberg in "Rock Star". Until next time...

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