Finally, a box office story with a non-whiny, perceptively critical angle: "The gaps between [the box office returns of] '05 and 2004 are evidence of a fundamental shift in the way Americans consume movies," writes Gabriel Snyder in Variety. Essentially, Snyder argues, audiences are showing moviemakers that there's no longer any such thing as a "safe bet". If a film like Passion of the Christ can skew an entire year's box office record, propelled almost entirely by non-regular moviegoers, yet even the final Star Wars film can't manage more than a couple of weeks in the number one slot, it's all a sign that "blockbusters can materialize out of nowhere, [and] sometimes "sure things" fail to click." So what do studios do? Well, for one thing, they can stop complaining about year-to-year grosses; Snyder points out that when you launch a film like Monster-in-Law exactly one year after the opening of a film like Troy, even if the girl-skewing romantic comedy does better than expected (and it did), it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict that the middle-brow action epic is going to set a gross mark that is hard for a much smaller film to exceed. But, on the whole, "though on percentage terms the summer looks like it's very soft, the difference is fairly small in blockbuster terms."
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