Fall flicks faltering as release dates near

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AUTUMN OUTLOOK: Hollywood studios need to scare up some better box office results this time of year -- as current fall revenue numbers are flagging. But four fall movies -- "Bedazzled," "The Contender," "The Ladies Man," as well as "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" -- are looking thin with an expected $30 million in box office revenue each over four weeks in release.

There's worse news. Generally, HSX movies climb in value in the weeks leading up to their debut. But all four of these films seem to be dropping. Perhaps the biggest name on the list, "Blair Witch 2," which was building nicely in early September, has since dropped into mid-H$30 level. Last week Artisan Entertainment announced a major marketing initiative, a three-day live Webcast.

Two moderate-size stars, Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, seemingly aren't lending any sparkle to "Bedazzled," a remake of 1967 movie in which the devil, played by Ms. Hurley, gives Ms. Fraser seven wishes in return for his soul. In "The Contender," Joan Allen plays a potential vice president who has her reputation tarnished, and the movie seems to be dull as well, according to HSX pricing. Helen Hunt, however, seems to be polishing her reputation, with her H$ price at its all-time high in the wake of two big starring movies to be released, "Pay It Forward" and "Dr. T & the Women." Finally, "Saturday Night Live" regular Tim Meadows gets to broaden his swinging, somewhat-stuck-in-the-70s character Leon Phelps, in "Ladies Man." But it's getting low ratings from HSX.

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