Binge And Purge at the B.O.

Moviegoing zigzagged sharply in '91 as Hollywood waited out the recession by talking cheap and spending big

Movie moguls may see themselves as top-scale versions of the Robin Williams character in Hook: middle-aged execs who are Peter Pans at heart. But these days, they must feel more like Steve Martin in Father of the Bride: footing the bill for an endearing ritual whose costs have spun out of control. There's just one difference. The moguls want everyone to come to the reception.

Last year not enough did. Most people waited for the home video version. While Americans rented 4.1 billion cassettes (an all-time high), they bought just under 1 billion tickets (the lowest in 15 years). Audiences ventured...

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