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the take

Paul Dergarabedian Must Be Stopped

Paul Dergarabedian in 2006's This Film Is Not Yet Rated.Courtesy of IFC Films

As the long hot summer continues, entertainment news outlets find themselves more and more desperate for ways to describe the box-office performance of the big summer movies. After all, how many times can you write, "Harry Potter was magic at the box office" before your will to live evaporates?

That's where Paul Dergarabedian comes in. Dergarabedian, who worked for box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations for fourteen years before starting his own company, Media by Numbers, in December, is the media's go-to guy for insipid quotes about the box office. Today, for example, he weighs in for the AP's benefit with a scintillating analysis of Wednesday's record-breaking Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix take: "In terms of box office, the law of diminishing returns does not apply to Harry Potter."

Paul Dergarabedian has the easiest job in the world. His job is to take box-office numbers and say something lame about them. That's why today we're launching our Summer 2007 Paul Dergarabedian Watch.

Every time a news organization uses this zero-content quote machine in place of actual box-office analysis, we'll point it out. Every time Paul says something particularly stupid, we'll call attention to it. We're doing this in hopes of forcing entertainment writers to find a new way to fill their boilerplate Hollywood stories — and in hopes that future generations might never be forced to read quotes like these, just some of the Greatest Hits of Paul Dergarabedian:

On King Kong's first-day take: "It's just the beginning. To me, it's just the start of something." [E! Online]

On Alien vs. Predator: "If you're a fan of the Alien movies, you want to see this movie. If you're a fan of Predator, you want to see this movie." [Hollywood.com]

On Hitch: "Clearly, Will Smith is the man." [BBC]

On Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: "These numbers tell us that people love to see these Pirates movies." [AP]

You can help! Send your Paul D. sightings to vulture@nymag.com. Together, we can make a difference.