Don't start running the credits for the neighborhood cineplex just yet. After avoiding movie theatres in legions last year, U.S. moviegoers may be reconsidering the wisdom of ending their long relationship with the big screen. National figures are pointing to a slight uptick in both box office revenue and attendance this summer, much of it attributable to last week's record-breaking opening weekend for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Dead Man's Chest, which hauled in $135.6 million.
Through the first 26 weeks of 2006, domestic box-office revenue was up over the same period last year by almost 5 percent, to $4.6 billion — though that's partly a result of recently inflated ticket prices. According to the tracking company Exhibitor Relations, movie attendance among Americans was up nearly 3 percent this year. And with help from Pirates
, for the eighth running weekend, total ticket sales in the U.S. sped past last year's gloomy results.Regardless of what the numbers do, we have a feeling nothing's gonna change much for Tinseltown's fortunes until it solves a few outsized problems: yammering audiences taking cellphone calls throughout films, outrageous ticket prices, 20 minutes of television commercials before each movie, and, of course, a proliferation of utter drek on the screens themselves. —Patrick Sharbaugh
This weekend marks one year since the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge officially opened to the public. It also offers men the chance to watch some rawkin' explosions on TV while your girlfriend swoons over her new, sensitive, public television-watching guy.
To celebrate the new bridge's anniversary, SCETV is airing a series of programs documenting the construction of the new bridge and the demolition of the old. The series kicked off last Sunday with a pair of programs about the rise and fall of the original spans, featuring ample footage of the structures going kablooey. This Sunday, July 16, at 4 p.m., SCETV presents New Cooper River Bridge Updates
, about the amazing engineering behind the construction of the massive span. It all concludes at 5:30 p.m. with Arthur Ravenel Bridge: A Bridge to the Future
, an in-depth look at the completed bridge, including footage of the harbor-shaking fireworks display from last July 17, when some $300,000 worth of explosives were detonated from the span. Take that, Jerry Bruckheimer! —Steven Zimmerman