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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Hey, where did all the movie fans go?

Considering how I feel about “Transformers: Age of Extinction” — or as we call it in my house, “Transformers: Interminable” — it should come as no surprise that I failed to recommend it. But my eyes did widen a bit when I read a post on Gawker reporting that this past July 4th weekend was one of the worst for moviegoing in decades.

Even Boxofficemojo.com called it a “very slow Fourth of July weekend,” the slowest since 1999.

A number of reasons were offered, among them the fact that the actual holiday fell on Friday — instead of, say, Thursday — which gave one less day for people to see movies. Also, the weather was pretty good across much of the country (especially in Spokane), which caused many people to seek the sunshine. Etc., etc.

But seriously? The openings — “Tammy” and “Deliver Us From Evil” — couldn't even muster enough box-office power to unseat the latest “Transformers” from the top spot. And Michael Bay's creation itself saw a 63 percent drop from its opening weekend.

So my theory? Hollywood didn't give us anything worth seeing. And who the hell wants to see “Transformers” twice?

Note: Answer to that last question? People in China.

According to Boxofficemojo, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” has earned more than $400 million worldwide, nearly $213 million of that coming from China. Chinese moviegoers ponied up some $51 million this past weekend. Question is: Why?

Well, ignore the obvious (that many young Chinese people with disposable incomes are enjoying prosperity by going to see the same mindless crap as U.S. teens and 20-somethings). Instead, credit Bay for setting much of the second half of his film in Beijing and Hong Kong, thus smarty catering to an Asian audience unused to seeing its big cities — even if they are being destroyed — portrayed in Hollywood blockbusters. He's only doing what other filmmakers (“Pacific Rim,” “Godzilla”) have attempted, but Bay seems to have done it better.

Welcome to globalization, folks.

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