What to play

Some people don’t read movie reviews for the simple reason that if you read enough of them you’re bound to disagree profoundly on a number of choices. Freddy Got Fingered probably got the worst reviews of any movie ever made in the last 10 years, but I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. The Chronicles of Riddick was dismissed as a fair to middling sci-fi flick, but now it’s widely being hailed as one of the greatest movies of the genre. Most of the major critics liked Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith , but it left me as wooden as George Lucas’s ear for dialogue.

Rather than trusting a single review, I’ve been a fan of Rotten Tomatoes ( ), which takes all the reviews for a movie (three and a half stars out of five, four reels out of four, two thumbs up) and comes up with an aggregate score on the Tomatometer of 100. Any movie with a score of 60 per cent and above is considered "fresh", and anything below is considered "rotten".

Even this system fails from time to time ( Freddy Got Fingered got a 10 per cent rating from an aggregate of 91 reviews), which proves once again that beauty is still in the eye of the beholder.

Still, when there are 10 new movies out one week and you don’t know where to invest your $12.50, sometimes a good review is all you have to go by.

That is, if you still go to movies at all.

Hollywood is reeling from a recent slump, with summer box office receipts dropping to a 20-year low. Movie revenues were down around seven per cent compared to 2004, while the number of people going to movies was down about 10 per cent. Things have recovered since Labour Day, but right now studios are scratching their heads trying to figure out why fewer people are going to the movies.

One seldom stated reason is that many would-be viewers are choosing to stay at home and play video games. As Hollywood’s revenues are shrinking, video game revenues continue to climb. They’re in a bit of a lull right now as gamers save up for PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Revolution, but revenues are still rivaling Hollywood. By 2009, the global video game industry is expected to be worth $55 billion a year, with continued double-digit growth. At the same time the global film industry has sales of $21.4 billion with far more modest predictions for growth.

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