Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Douglas Adams Doesn't Panic

by William S. Kowinski

Pretty much as expected, on its second weekend The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy feature dropped from #1 to #3 in U.S. box office, behind Paris Hilton's R rated "House of Wax" (talk about typecasting) and the opening of Ridley Scott's "Kingdom of Heaven." However, total attendance was weak, the 11th straight week of decline.

But the feature film business is changing quickly, and longevity on DVD is slowly becoming more important than big box office in the theatres, though that opening weekend remains the Holy Grail, with or without Monty Python. Just as I predicted a fall-off in theatres, I'll predict a long and prosperous future for Hitchhiker on DVD. The question will be whether there's enough interest for sequels, and I expect there will be. The economics of moviemaking are also shifting, with cheaper visual effects, so as long as you don't have a lot of high priced stars, you can afford to aim for the DVD market. I expect audiences are already getting bored with clashes of huge digital armies, so good acting, good stories and good filmmaking will also determine long-term success. I haven't seen Hitchhiker again since my first look last weekend, but I'll bet there's more to appreciate on multiple viewings. I'll see it again just for the dolphins.

This week I'd like to concentrate on Douglas Adams and the array of influences that came together in his stories. Much of the biographical information comes from "'>Hitchhiker: A Biography of Douglas Adams"'> by M.J. Simpson (Justin Charles & Co., Boston, 2003).

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