In a piece reminiscent of literary critic AS Byatt's scathing 2003 rebuke of adult Harry Potter fans, Hollywood Reporter writer Martin Grove claims moviegoers opt for more escapist films in troubled times:
Today's support for escapist films isn't anything new. Since Hollywood's earliest days, movies have benefited from being able to provide the public with a way to lose its troubles for a few hours and at a relatively modest cost compared to other forms of entertainment.
It's a key reason for the success of such summer-to-date hits as ... Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If the trend toward escapist fare continues, it could impact negatively on Friday's much hyped arrival of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.
Even President Bush, who is the subject of Moore's film, would prefer to watch a cartoon. According to White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett:
"I can speak for myself and I can speak for the President, and I can assure you that neither of us have seen ['Fahrenheit']. We don't have a lot of free time these days and when we do have free time to see a good fiction movie, we'll pick 'Shrek' or some other enjoy[able] feature like that.
Grove says he expects the trend to continue well past the November elections and into 2005, as people aim to "tune out" the endless stream of information coming into their televisions and inboxes.
The only thing that could derail the public's escapist mindset? World peace could break out.