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IT’S ONLY MY OPINION - One digusted movie goer to another

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. Let me see, by a show of hands, how many of you took the bird out of the freezer a few days ago because you remembered that a frozen turkey needs a couple of days to defrost? Hmmm. Most of you. That’s good. A message to the rest of you — a frozen 18-pound turkey cannot be defrosted in two hours. Turkey chow mein eaten from those little white boxes is not so terrible. Save the bird for Christmas — Only please remember to remove it from the freezer about December 21.

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A recent letter to the editor published in this newspaper from “Disgusted Former Movie Goer” chastised Hollywood for producing movies that are “disgusting, immoral with promiscuous sex, homosexuality, vulgarity and bad taste.”

The letter writer went on to say, “This is turning people away from movies ….I am sure that this is being reflected in loss of revenue at the box office.”

While I do know that there are some who agree with those thoughts, much of America does not. Hollywood knows that sex and violence sell, and they bring as many people to the movies as does great acting and G-rated flicks. Ten years ago, the top-grossing film was “Saving Private Ryan,” rated R for “intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence and for language.” Total box office receipts — $216 million. Number two that year at $201 million was “Armageddon,” PG-13 for “sci-fi disaster action, sensuality and language.” And number three, at $177 million, was “There’s Something About Mary,” rated R for “strong sexual content and language.”

That’s not to say that G-rated family flicks don’t make a lot of money. Many of them earned just as much and even more. But let’s fast-forward to 2008 and see what brought in the big bucks this year. Number three, at $317 million — “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” rated PG-13 for “adventure violence and scary images.” Number two, at $318 million — “Iron Man” rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence and brief suggestive content.” And the top-grossing movie of this year — drum roll, please — “The Dark Knight” which brought in $527 million. No. That’s not a misprint. I know that it’s hard to believe, but we paid more than half a Billion — that’s Billion with a capital B — dollars to see a Batman movie rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and some menace.” There’s that word ‘violence’ again. Of course, we know that the price of tickets has increased, but they didn’t double. Number one this year grossed two-and-a-half times the number one of ten years ago.

The total gross in 1998 was under seven billion. The total gross this year for the first nine months plus is about eight billion. The average price ten years ago was $4.69. The average ticket price today nationally is $7.08.

You might want to know that the numbers I just gave you are domestic only. The worldwide numbers, while much greater, are proportionally about the same.

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My job as a Grandpa is to spoil the little guys rotten. We were visiting way out in Suffolk County and with a little twisting of my arm we took them to the Stony Brook AMC to see the new “Madagascar” flick. Two senior tickets at $9.50 each - $19. Three children’s admissions at $7.50 each -- $22.50. Three chicken tenders combos at $13.75 -- $41.25. One popcorn combo - $11.50. Smiles on their faces — priceless. For all the rest — there’s MasterCard.

To Mr. (or is it Mrs.?) “Disgusted Former Movie Goer” — I am STANGERSHBEIN@BELLSOUTH.NET telling you that violence and sex may not keep folks away from the movies, but numbers like $94.25 for 129 minutes just might.

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