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Premature Exaggeration

By Scott Smith in Arts & Entertainment on May 13, 2005 4:06PM

Media commentators have been falling all over themselves 2005_05_13_toilet.jpgto proclaim that Hollywood’s in big trouble due to a six percent decline in overall box office receipts when compared with last year’s take. Some have even gone so far as to say that the “summer box office season” has gone into a slump thanks to last week’s underperforming Kingdom of Heaven. Wha? Since when does summer start in the beginning of May? Chicagoist is old-school and believes that the summer movie season starts Memorial Day Weekend unless there’s a Star Wars movie coming out in which case that 800 pound gorilla gets to rewrite the rules however it likes. But even so, are things really that bad?

Variety breaks it down for us (click through the ad to read the story) and dismisses with the conventional wisdom by pointing out to two crucial factors that make this year different from last: Mel Gibson didn’t release Passion of the Christ II: Return of the King and fewer films this year have been in wide release. Last year’s Passion accounted for 14% of the spring and winter receipts and only 39 films have opened on 1000 screens or more this year (compared to 52 last year). Also, those films that did see wide release this year did far better than those from last year (Connie and Carla, anyone?). So fret not for Hollywood but if you’re really concerned, you could always bring a couple friends with you to see Monster-In-Law this weekend.

What? Not interested? Then consider two alternative options: the Future Filmmakers Festival tonight at Columbia College and “Who Wants Shorts, Shorts?” at Chicago Filmmakers on Saturday.

Brought to you by the folks who run the Chicago International Film Fest, the Future Filmmakers fest starts tonight at 4 PM because college kids can skip class. You can see the full list of (free!) films here but if you’re stuck at work today then check out their feature presentation, Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. Starting in 1982, three Mississippi teenagers set out to make a shot-for-shot remake of Raiders. Seven years and only $5000 later, they finished it. Makes Gus Van Sant’s version of Psycho even less impressive, huh? The film starts at 8:30 at Columbia's Film Row Cinema and tickets are $10-$20 (relax, it's a fundraiser). We think the cheaper price is for students with ID but calls to the Columbia offices went unanswered.

2005_05_13_shorts.gifAlso, the last Chicago Filmmakers presentation in the Dyke Delicious Series before their big Pride Kickoff is this Saturday. “Who Wants Short, Shorts?” is a group of local, national, and international “lesbian pleasing” short films (their words, not ours) that will screen at 6 PM and 9 PM with a social hour starting at 8 PM. In addition, there’ll be a short shorts contest. We imagine that’ll be lesbian pleasing, too.