AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Why aren’t people rushing to the movies in droves? While Hollywood madly polls potential movie-goers and scratches its collective head (fixated on marketing strategy) trying to answer that question, the reasons seem obvious – to me, anyway. But, then, my brain was formed during a prolific period of amazing filmmaking, when Hollywood took chances. I grew up in the late 1960s and 1970s watching films like “Easy Rider,” “The Graduate,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Annie Hall,” “American Graffiti” and on and on. I became spoiled. I expected, more often than not, a positive and memorable experience at the movie theater. Only later, when I was old enough to rent my first apartment and make my own moronic choices, did I realize the consequences of paying for an amazingly bad movie. Though I should have taken a cue from the title, I handed over my last few dollars for a ticket to see “Howard the Duck.” Yes, that’s right, I spent the money I could have used to buy a week’s worth of canned soups and corn flakes on “Howard the Duck.” The pain lingers to this day. I still can’t hear that movie title without feeling the pain of hunger stabbing my stomach. A reasonable person would have learned after seeing “Howard the Duck” to choose films more wisely. Unfortunately, it took many years of bad movies for me to finally become discerning. Until recently, I’ve foolishly paid rising box office prices and rented DVDs, prompted by an idealistic hope that the next film will be like the ones I grew up seeing, the kind of film I’d be willing to starve to see. Now I’d rather clean out my refrigerator than watch most of what Hollywood’s been producing lately. I finally got tired of having to practically mortgage my house to afford movie tickets, popcorn and soda. And if the film is bad, which happens too often, I’ve not only wasted my money, but also my time – about two hours, counting the previews. If I add up all the time I’ve spent in lousy movies, it would probably total weeks – months, actually. Just thinking about that gets me angry. Though I believe movies should provoke emotions, I don’t think they should cause anger for having seen them. But how should I react after I’ve paid my money and my time without receiving a benefit? It seems the Hollywood-audience relationship has become dysfunctional. We in the audience give and give, and Hollywood takes us for granted. While I hand the industry the last remaining dollars in my bank account, Hollywood gives me remakes of bad sitcoms. Or plots so formulaic I can figure out the ending during the first scene. I’m not psychic. I’ve just seen the same three or four stories repackaged over and over again. In recent years, I’ve had the misfortune of seeing so many bad films that I even considered making a movie myself. But then I came to my senses when I realized I don’t have a different, interesting and well-thought-out concept. I just wish Kevin Spacey could have been as thoughtful before deciding that “Beyond the Sea,” his Bobby Darin biopic, was a good idea. Fortunately, I rented that one. But, oh, the regret that washes over me when I realize what I could have done with those hours. I could have scrubbed the inside of my refrigerator vegetable bins. But no, those hours are gone. And, yes, I realize I could have turned off the DVD player, but, as I mentioned, I always have hope. Maybe, I think to myself, the next scene will be better, and, then, maybe the ending will redeem the entire film. As an optimist, I want to believe Hollywood will stop catering to 14-year-old boys, stop treating moviegoers as if we’re stupid, stop polling audiences and start taking chances again. And then, maybe, we movie lovers will consider spending our hard-earned money and our valuable time. But until that day comes, I’ll leave you with a quote from the movie “Network,” made in 1976, which I believe really says it best: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Now I’m off to clean out my vegetable bins. !ital!Michele Gardiner is a freelance writer in Winnetka.