Twilight Phenomenon Pales in Comparison to Patch Adams Mania

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While entertainment journalists traditionally use the last week of December as a time to look back wistfully on the year that was, New York Times entertainment writer Michael Cieply chose to go grinchy and summed up this year a bit differently. Rather than counting down his favorite films or performances of the year in typically boring top-ten fashion, instead he decided to frame 2008 as the year in which media hype (driven largely by Internet wags) outweighed the public's actual appetite for so-called cultural phenomena. So you thought that Twilight was, like, the biggest thing since Gossip Girl? Wrong-o! If you reference Box Office Mojo's altogether sobering chart for all-time box office adjusted for ticket-price inflation, you'll find that it was less popular than Robin Williams's thoroughly maligned 1996 film, Patch Adams. Remember when everyone couldn't stop talking about Sex and the City? Turns out that Carrie Bradshaw and her posse of Cosmo-sipping fortysomethings couldn't hold a candle to the menopausal fiftysomethings that populated the First Wives Club.

Even The Dark Knight, which is edging its way toward Titanic's spot as the No. 1 grossing film in box-office history (domestically speaking), seems to be a bit overrated when viewed through a wider historical lens. After all, who would've thought that Heath Ledger's Joker would still be trailing Jar Jar Binks by nearly $70 million? But just when you thought that Cieply was through harshing your post-holiday buzz, he goes back to the Twilight well once more, citing another stat that shows that Twilight was as popular on a percentage basis as Congo was with American audiences in 1995. Gosh, who knew that Laura Linney and Dylan Walsh were the original Bella and Edward?

Blockbuster Openings, Lackluster Box Office [NYT]