It's the Los Angeles Times' turn to sit in the box-office-slump hand-wringing circle, and this week they're bringing one new (well, maybe not "new", but seldom discussed) platter to the party: us! John Horn and Rachel Abramowitz point out that even if a studio dumps kabillions on marketing to get the easily-led flock into the theaters, "bad buzz ... can now be passed with viral speed on the Internet."

So essentially, you little scamps start running your mouths (er, fingers), and no matter how much a pre-ordained blockbuster makes on Friday night, you (and me, we, us) have the ability to throw a wrench in first-weekend grosses. After that, it's all over. The article quotes Lucy Fisher, who produced Bewitched: "Now at midnight on Friday evening, you're dead or alive. However long it took to make the movie, by Friday night, except for Academy[-Award-type] movies, your fate gets cast."

Horn and Abramowitz conclude with an ominous bit of gloom-mongering: War of the Worlds may be the summer box office's last, great hope, but still, "it would need to be almost a Titanic-size hit to make up the lost ground." Is it a surprise, then, that they're doing virtually zero pre-screening?