Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cheap Movie Index suggests economy is sour

Forget all those government studies that detail the ups and downs of the economy. I’ve come up with a new measure and, unfortunately, things aren’t looking great.

For lack of any other name, we’ll be calling this report Nor’s "Cheap Movie Index" (CMI) and the numbers seem to be moving in the wrong direction. The metrics involved are pretty straight forward. We pick a mediocre film at our neighborhood dollar theater, count the number of seats in the auditorium and divide by the number of people in attendance. The higher the number, the better the economy, the lower the number … well, you get the idea.

The reasoning is simple. A full house at the dollar theater means consumers are holding tight to their hard-earned cash. Empty seats, meanwhile, suggest someone, somewhere has found a job, gotten a raise or won the weekend football pool.

Recently, the lovely Miss Wendy and I put the CMI to the test, and attended an early evening showing of “Grown Ups,” the latest Adam Sandler flick that safely falls within the parameters of mediocrity.

The movie, also starring Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, finds the guys getting back together for a weekend of laughs when their childhood basketball coach hears the final buzzer of, uh, life. There are all the usual hilarious antics that you’ll find in most of Sandler’s films – farting, peeing, and jokes about boobs. But, well, everything works out really swell in the end – for everyone – and there are even fireworks.

But I digress. Early on, 15 or so minutes before the film began, it seemed the economy had made some sort of amazing comeback. The 200 seats in the house were only half full, meaning the day’s CMI was an astonishing 2 – that would be really good.

But then the bus arrived and over the next ten minutes, people were rushing into the theater like it was opening night for "Casablanca", "Gone with the Wind" and "Citizen Kane". By the time the lights dimmed, as far as I could tell every seat in the place was taken and there were even a few poor schmucks standing in the aisles.

When I managed to work out the figures – let me see, that would be 200, divided by 200 – I realized the CMI was at 1 and the U.S. economy remains in the toilet.

But there’s hope. Next week, our local cheapie theater is reaching back into its vault of golden goodies and plans a double bill of Jennifer Lopez’s and Ben Affleck’s star turn, “Gigli”, and Tom Green’s memorable “Freddy Got Fingered”. Even if the economy remains in the crapper, I’m thinking the CMI might soar to 200!

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