Margaret Hair: Blockbuster or bust

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

— With only 10 screens and 10,000 people, it would be silly to expect Steamboat Springs to get first cut on new movies.

And it's not surprising that the only guaranteed opening weekend releases are the ones from the biggest studios, with the most prints and a lock on box office numbers.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't hope for more, and it certainly doesn't mean that movies like "Good Luck Chuck" (starring Dane Cook, and vulgar) or "The Game Plan" (which might sell to families, but only because there aren't any other options) are worth the $9 admission price.

On the surface, these movies are making massive amounts of money - much more than they deserve - riding the top of the box office charts because they are released to upwards of 2,500 theaters.

They generally get strong opening weekend numbers, based on the amount of trailers, advertising and screen placement they can afford.

And they generally tank not too long after, once whoever is going to see it has. They won't be going back, and the film won't be gaining buzz, because everyone has had the chance to figure out it's not worth the time.

That's all business, and that's all fine. Theaters and studios have to make dollars to stay afloat.

The hope then is that our two theaters, and the larger companies that own them, can see the big duds when they happen and shift them out for smaller releases that have met better responses from audiences and critics - the kinds of movies that don't need those TV spots of people being interviewed about how awesome it was afterward.

Looking at the showtimes for this weekend, you can see that shift, at least a little. At Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas, "Good Luck Chuck" has been scaled back to fewer times, sharing a screen with "The Brave One."

And I'd like to think a movie I've really wanted to see - "In the Valley of Elah," which started small and has picked up steam for being as powerful as its director's last effort ("Crash") without being as preachy - edged out "Resident Evil: Extinction."

Chief Plaza Theater dropped "Shoot 'Em Up" - which had been out for weeks before making it here, was declared one of the worst movies of the year and has absolutely nothing to do with Carmike Cinemas' family-friendly philosophy - after a minimal engagement.

Good and good.

That's not meant to sound snobby, and I get that this town can't have first dibs on all artsy, independent releases as they come out.

I've never been much of a film reviewer, and most of my clips in that category are of panning reviews for winners like "Turistas," "The Santa Clause 3," "Fast Food Nation," "Stomp the Yard," "The Celestine Prophecy," "Curse of the Golden Flower" and whatever else no other reviewer would want.

But the sooner "Into the Wild" and "Eastern Promises" make it here, the happier I'll be. And it feels like they should be on the way sooner rather than later.

Demographically and economically, the movie-going population of this town doesn't function like most places about the same size. So even if Steamboat Springs is a small market, it should eventually see some decent movies.

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