Me like going to the pictures!!

This year, there’ll be fewer sequels at the movie theater
LOS ANGELES ó They may be the bane of critics and a common complaint of moviegoers, but sequels have kept the film industry afloat for years.
So what happens when studios give people something original?
Hollywood is about to find out. This year, only 16 sequels are slated for the big screen, according to Nielsen EDI. Since 2003, the average has been 25.
“It’s surprising to see how few are coming,” says Disney distribution chief Chuck Viane. “It will be interesting to see how creativity sells.”
Five of the six biggest movies of last year were sequels, helping propel 2007 to about $9.6 billion at the box office, a record ó though attendance remained flat from last year, according to Media By Numbers.
Still, it was a weak year for movies not based on toys or cartoons. Among the small-studio films, only No Country for Old Men took in more than $40 million, though Juno probably will cross that mark. It has earned $31 million and is still expanding.
Not that Hollywood has lost its love for series and spinoffs. This year still has plenty of high-profile franchise wannabes and sequels, from Jan. 25’s Rambo to May 2’s Iron Man to May 22’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
“You’re trying to think a year and a half or two years ahead when you start a movie,” says Rob Moore, president of worldwide marketing and distribution for Paramount Pictures. “And I don’t know what fewer sequels will do. But there are some things you can do to get people into a moviegoing rhythm.”
Here are a few:
ïBigger-budget movies. Despite ballooning production costs and spiraling star salaries, most studios believe bigger is better. “We’ll continue making big-budget movies, investing in big stars, big effects,” says Jeff Goldstein of Warner Bros. “You have to give people things that home theater systems can’t give audiences.”
ïMore gimmicks. From better seats to 3-D glasses to the next generation of computer animation, studios and theaters are emptying their bag of tricks: About 80% of the nation’s theaters have gone to stadium seating. U2 has a 3-D movie due Jan. 25, and next year’s Final Destination 4 hopes to make you think the blood really is oozing on the screen. Hollywood is hoping James Cameron’s computer-generated epic Avatar gets older moviegoers back into the seats. “The technology is getting so advanced,” Viane says. “You’ve got to use everything you’ve got to compete.”
ïHappier movies. “There have got to be more uplifting movies than these overly violent movies,” says Harvey Weinstein, whose feel-good The Great Debaters is getting a heavy Oscar push. “People want movies that aren’t just reflections of our times.”