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So, Fantastic Four‘s estimated $56 million opening means the box office was up about 2 percent over the same weekend last year. Can everyone please stop whining now about the purported slump? I’ve been arguing for weeks that the main reason this spring’s tally hasn’t exceeded last spring’s is that there was a fluke movie in 2004 called The Passion of the Christ that played to an audience that otherwise stays away from movie theaters.

Now comes an argument that the so-called slump results from the notion that, not only has Hollywood failed to capitalize on Mel Gibson’s success by making movies that play to the faithful, but also that the current crop of would-be blockbusters is too left-wing to appeal to red-state viewers.

Actress-screenwriter Govinda Murty writes that the screenwriters of the new Star Wars and War of the Worlds movies have alienated their audiences by suggesting that their films are implicit critiques of America’s actions in Iraq. Um, last time I checked, both of those movies were big hits. Besides, the war in Iraq is pretty unpopular these days. Murty is right that Hollywood could do a better job of catering to the all-but-untapped Passion audience, but if people are staying away from the multiplex these days, is it because the movies are too P.C. or because, until this weekend, no 2005 movies featured Jessica Alba (above) in a spandex jumpsuit?

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