The NYTimes boldly goes where Edwin Pereyra has already been

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Reuben, Aug 31, 2001.

  1. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    The lead feature in the Weekend section of today's New York Times is a long piece by Stephen Holden entitled "Where Film Succeeds and Human Emotion Reigns". It's all about the alternatives to this summer's big-budget disappointments. According to Holden (and it's hard to disagree), if you want to find genuine drama and human emotion, you go either to premium cable (HBO and Showtime) or to the kind of films that Edwin has so carefully tracked in his 2001 Alternative, Art, Foreign and Independent Films thread.
    The article's list of current recommended films is as follows:
    Hedwig and the Angry Inch
    Sexy Beast
    Lisa Picard Is Famous
    Ghost World
    The Deep End
    The Closet
    The Others
    Maybe, Baby
    The premium cable shows mentioned (after the requisite reference to The Sopranos) are:
    Six Feet Under
    Sex and the City
    Queer as Folk
    Further Tales of the City
    Dinner with Friends
    I was pleased to see the inclusion of Dinner with Friends, HBO's filmed version of David Margulies' Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, which Holden says may have been "the summer's best new American movie". Stocked with top Hollywood talent (directed by Norman Jewison; photographed by Coen Bros. regular Roger Deakins; starring Andie McDowell, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette), the film captured the essence of the hit play's merciless examination of the relationships among four married friends. It's a work in exquisite miniature that, on the stage, prompted audiences to wonder just how well they know the people they think they're closest to. The film admirably preserves the play's intricate choreography among the four leads, and the acting is superb.
  2. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    First Entertainment Weekly. Now its The New York Times. Now where are those royalties?! [​IMG]
    Seriously, though, this has been the #1 complaint here by some of the members about this year’s summer blockbuster films.
    Joe Morgenstern sums up this year’s summer moviegoing season in today’s The Wall Street Journal:
  3. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

    Feb 9, 1999
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    I posted the same article earlier. Unfortunately,nobody read it. The thread title (based on the article title) didn't catch on. I'm devastated and, well, the adminstrator can delete my post. [​IMG]
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Edwin, I read Morgenstern, but I usually don't take him seriously. I think his biggest contribution to the cinema experience was persuading his wife (Piper Laurie) to return to the screen for De Palma's Carrie -- and it's been downhill ever since. [​IMG]
    Despite all the complaints this summer, I don't feel like I've been suffering through a drought of stimulating filmed entertainment. I suppose I shouldn't discount the advantage of living in a town that offers ready access to all the "smaller" releases we've been discussing in your ever-expanding thread. But I also think that Stephen Holden is onto something when he talks about the way that premium cable programming has helped fill some of the gap left by Hollywood -- and HBO and Showtime are much more readily available nationwide than many of the arthouse films. Anyone who participated in the weekly threads in the TV forum during the run of HBO's Six Feet Under knows what deep chords that series struck. You will not find better writing and acting on any movie screen in America.
  5. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    You know what we should do, seriously? We should go back and analyze several previous summers to see if this one is really the bottom of the pit.
    Personally I found last year to be much more dreadful with only Gladiator delivering at all.
    I know Apes split everyone, but I loved it. Same with AI. So at least there were some big money efforts that some people LOVED even though others hated them. Several summers have involved pictures that couldn't even get that 50/50 love/hate split.
    Heck, we also got JP3 (which I thought was better than LW at least, good fun) and Jay & Bob. And I really didn't see how Legally Blond was any lesser of a film than something like My Cousin Vinny, which is remembered fondly. And Rat Race seemed to deliver maybe more than was expected.
    Is it possible that even we, the critical viewers, have succumbed to H'wood hype? Do we now thrash about at each summer season, longing for the "good" summers past, forgetting that really they haven't changed much?
    Or am I forgetting just how good summers used to be.? Seriously.
  6. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

    Aug 6, 2000
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  7. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

    Jan 13, 1999
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    Like Seth, I'm not entirely convinced that summers are getting worse. However, a disturbing trend is that the box office seems to have swayed in the direction of bad films; the dreck is alarmingly popular. As crappy (and as identical) as you can make 'em, the audiences will pour in to see them. Contrary to the popular theory that people just want to turn off their brain for a couple of hours, it almost seems as if people vehemently object to anything that doesn't offer that promise. They don't want to turn off their brain for some films, but for ALL of them.
    It's funny that in 2000, a film like You Can Count on Me plugs away for 6 months in limited release and earns $9M, while only 20 years ago a film like Ordinary People is a big hit (I realize I'm not talking about summer films anymore, but the same principle applies).
    Real honesty and human emotion seem now to inspire boredom and unintentional laughter from audiences. I'm not sure when this happened, but all of us have been to a movie where someone, or even loads of people, took it upon themselves to break any awkward silences with peels of laughter or other inappropriate behaviour. Magnolia, Bringing Out the Dead, Eyes Wide Shut - all of audiences I saw these films with exhibited such behaviour. Even Apocalype Now Redux and a showing about 2 or 3 years ago of The Godfather (ironic since it's mentioned in the article) were subject to it. In The Godfather, people hooted and cheered like they were on a roller coaster during Sonny's bloody demise.
    So, I'm not really sure if films have gotten worse, or if the audiences have just gotten worse and have chosen to champion the most easily digestible films available to them, meaning more of those films are being greenlighted. If that's the case, what came first, the dumb movie, or the dumb audience? Did Hollywood create its ADD affected audience, or are they just selling to it? I mean there are still good films being made, they're just hard to find, and the masses don't seem to want to see them.
  8. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    quote: So, I'm not really sure if films have gotten worse, or if the audiences have just gotten worse and have chosen to champion the most easily digestible films available to them, meaning more of those films are being greenlighted. [/quote]
    Okay, I'll provide the data and you guys do the analysis. From The Box Office Guru, here are the top summer grossing films from 1998-2000 and 1991-1994:
    quote: 2000:
    1 Mission: Impossible 2
    2 Gladiator
    3 The Perfect Storm
    4 X-Men
    5 Scary Movie
    6 What Lies Beneath
    7 Dinosaur
    8 Nutty Professor II
    9 Big Momma's House
    10 The Patriot
    11 Chicken Run
    12 Gone in 60 Seconds
    13 Space Cowboys
    14 Me, Myself, and Irene
    15 Hollow Man
    1 Star Wars Episode I
    2 The Sixth Sense
    3 Austin Powers 2
    4 Tarzan
    5 Big Daddy
    6 The Mummy
    7 Runaway Bride
    8 The Blair Witch Project
    9 Notting Hill
    10 Wild Wild West
    11 The General's Daughter
    12 American Pie
    13 Inspector Gadget
    14 The Haunting
    15 Bowfinger
    1 Armageddon
    2 Saving Private Ryan
    3 There's Something About Mary
    4 Doctor Dolittle
    5 Deep Impact
    6 Godzilla
    7 Lethal Weapon 4
    8 The Truman Show
    9 Mulan
    10 The Mask of
    11 The X Files
    12 The Horse Whisperer
    13 Six Days, Seven Nights
    14 Blade
    15 Ever After
    1 Terminator 2 : Judgment
    2 Robin Hood : Prince of Thieves
    3 City Slickers
    4 Naked Gun 2 1/2
    5 Backdraft
    6 Hot Shots
    7 101 Dalmatians
    8 Boyz N the Hood
    9 Doc Hollywood
    10 Rocketeer, The
    11 Thelma & Louise
    12 Regarding Henry
    13 Point Break
    14 Dead Again
    15 Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey
    1 Batman
    2 Lethal Weapon 3
    3 Sister Act
    4 League of Their Own, A
    5 Unforgiven
    6 Patriot Games
    7 Boomerang
    8 Far and Away
    9 Honey, I Blew Up The Kid
    10 Housesitter
    11 Death Becomes Her
    12 Unlawful Entry
    13 Alien 3
    14 Single White Female
    15 Mo' Money
    1 Jurassic Park
    2 Fugitive, The
    3 Firm, The
    4 Sleepless In Seattle
    5 In The Line Of Fire
    6 Cliffhanger
    7 Free Willy
    8 Rising Sun
    9 Rookie Of The Year
    10 Dennis The Menace
    11 Last Action Hero
    12 Made In America
    13 Snow White & The Seven Dwarves
    14 Hocus Pocus
    15 What's Love Got To Do With It
    1 Forrest Gump
    2 Lion King, The
    3 True Lies
    4 Flintstones, The
    5 Clear and Present Danger
    6 Speed
    7 Mask, The
    8 Maverick
    9 Client, The
    10 Wolf
    11 Little Rascals,
    12 Natural Born Killers
    13 Angels In The Outfield
    14 City Slickers II
    15 Beverly Hills Cop 3[/quote]
    [Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on September 01, 2001 at 05:47 PM]
  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    And this summer's list, for comparative purposes:
    1 Shrek
    2 Mummy Returns
    3 Pearl Harbor
    4 Rush Hour 2
    5 Jurassic Park III
    6 Planet of the Apes
    7 Hannibal
    8 Fast and the Furious
    9 Tomb Raider
    10 American Pie 2
    11 Spy Kids
    12 Doctor Dolittle 2
    13 Cats & Dogs
    14 Save the Last Dance
    15 America's Sweethearts
  10. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

    Jan 13, 1999
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    I have a tattered paperback book that I picked up at a yard sale for .25, called The Encyclopediaof Movie Awards by Michael Gebert. It was published in 1994, and contains box office top 10 lists, along with other notables for pretty much every year they've tabulated such data. Have a look at some of these to see how moviegoing tastes have changed over an entire generation (as opposed to a decade):
    1. Thunderball
    2. Dr. Zhivago
    3. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
    4. That Darn Cat
    5. The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming
    6. Lt. Robinson Crusoe, USN
    7. The Silencers
    8. Torn Curtain
    9. Our Man Flint
    10. A Patch of Blue
    1. The Dirty Dozen
    2. You Only Live Twice
    3. Casino Royale
    4. A Man For All Seasons
    5. Thorougly Modern Millie
    6. Barefoot in the Park
    7. Georgy Girl
    8. To Sir With Love
    9. Grand Prix
    10. Hombre
    1. The Graduate
    2. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
    3. Gone With the Wind (70mm re-issue)
    4. Bonnie and Clyde
    5. Valley of the Dolls
    6. The Odd Couple
    7. Planet of the Apes
    8. Rosemary's Baby
    9. The Jungle Book
    10. Yours, Mine and Ours
    1. The Love Bug
    2. Funny Girl
    3. Bullitt
    4. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
    5. Romeo and Juliet
    6. True Grit
    7. Midnight Cowboy
    8. Oliver!
    8. Goodbye, Columbus (tie)
    10. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
    1. Airport
    2. M*A*S*H
    3. Patton
    4. Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
    5. Woodstock
    6. Hello, Dolly!
    7. Cactus Flower
    8. Catch-22
    9. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    10. The Reivers
    1. Love Story
    2. Little Big Man
    3. Summer of '42
    4. Ryan's Daughter
    5. The Owl & The Pussycat
    6. The Aristocats
    7. Carnal Knowledge
    8. Willard
    9. The Andromeda Strain
    10. The Big Joke
    1. The Godfather
    2. Fiddler on the Roof
    3. Diamonds are Forever
    4. What's Up Doc?
    5. Dirty Harry
    6. The Last Picture Show
    7. A Clockwork Orange
    8. Cabaret
    9. The Hospital
    10. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
    1. The Poseiden Adventure
    2. Deliverance
    3. The Getaway
    4. Live and Let Die
    5. Paper Moon
    6. Last Tango in Paris
    7. The Sound of Music (reissue)
    8. Jesus Christ Superstar
    9. The World's Greatest Athlete
    10. American Graffiti
    1. The Sting
    2. The Exorcist
    3. Papillon
    4. Magnum Force
    5. Herbie Rides Again
    6. Blazing Saddles
    7. The Trial of Billy Jack
    8. The Great Gatsby
    9. Serpico
    10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (reissue)
    1. Jaws
    2. The Towering Inferno
    3. Benji
    4. Young Frankenstein
    5. The Godfather, Part II
    6. Shampoo
    7. Funny Lady
    8. Murder on the Orient Express
    9. Return of the Pink Panther
    10. Tommy
    1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
    2. All The President's Men
    3. The Omen
    4. Bad News Bears
    5. Silent Movie
    6. Midway
    7. Dog Day Afternoon
    8. Murder by Death
    9. Jaws (re-issue)
    10. Blazing Saddles (re-issue)
    So, what to make of this? I dunno. It's clear that big splashy action films have always had a place in Hollywood; hence the success of the Bond franchise, and the Irwin Allen pictures. But at the same time, a previous generation of moviegoers made big, big hits of many literate films, and seemed to have a special place for adaptations of plays. Maybe the New York influence was stronger then than the "middle America" influence is today. There are a lot of films from this period that would languish in art house obscurity today, but made a big splash then, films like 'A Man for All Seasons,' Zefferelli's 'Romeo and Juliet,' etc. Even films like 'The Last Picture Show' and 'Carnal Knowledge' are hard to imagine as hits in today's climate. And 'Fiddler on the Roof' being the #2 movie, behind only 'The Godfather?' Fuggetaboutit.
  11. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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    Yeah, I don't quite think it's a change in the blockbuster.
    You have to consider the change in 2 things: home video and profit division with the multiplexes.
    Home Video - we can note the common occurrence of reissues being high on the (older) lists. Imagine that today. Will Apoc Now Redux make the top 10-15 in profits this year?? Doubtful. Hell, we couldn't even get 2001 on a major re-release in 2001.
    This might also tell us something else...there are some films that people no longer feel compelled to go see at the theater, but instead being willing to let the film come to them (via home video). Smaller, intimate films are one of those.
    Instead, people now view the theater as the "event" method of viewing films versus home video viewing. When the average viewer decides to go out now, they usually want something MORE than they can get on video.
    I'm not saying a film fan feels this way. We understand the not-so-subtle difference between HT and the theater.
    I also think BLOCKBUSTER has more to do with this than just home video. When VHS rental was just starting people still lived in the "go to the movies" paradigm. By the time the late 80's/early 90's rolled in and BBuster became the McDonald's of home video, it suddenly became the "new thing" to go get videos on a FRI night.
    That definately replaced the night at the theater.
    And that relagated films to an "only for a special reason" status for the common man.
    Front-end loading: Ask a theater owner if they would rather have a CTHD grind it out for 3 months or a JP3 make 90% of it's money in 3 weeks, and they will tell you they desperately want the grinder.
    This has come up before around here and I think many of us realize that there seems to be quite a lot to the idea that studios might be TRYING for those "quick strike" films. They maximize the studio profit.
    Have you guys watched the trailers on your older films? I'm sure many of you have. Clearly even the marketing has changed for films. It amazes me how diverse even the common format (critic approval, audiance approval, etc) trailers used to be. Now we have that one guy doing all the voice overs it seems like, and even when others do it the trailers still follow a template of wording that sounds something like a form letter for trailers.
    That tells me that the studios now view their product differently, that they have different intentions with their marketing strategy.
    So I think these 2 factors are creating an environment hostile to intimate pictures and word-of-mouth films. I remember Officer and a Gentleman playing for months at the theater when I was a kid. Deer Hunter too. That's because it was the ONLY PROFIT CENTER the studios had for a film.
    Now when we get a grinder it's due to some special circumstancs usually - Blair Witch (underground promo), CTHD (foreign film that surprised the studio).
    Instead of having to rely on less and less profitable (PCT wise) weeks at the theater, the studio can make the one thing an audiance will come to the theater to see - the blockbuster event pix - load up on early profits. Then pull it quickly and ship it off to video.
    Why would they WANT to make a grinder? Where is the money in it for them?
    To me, that's the problem. If you don't put a carrot out there for the producers, they just won't put the money/marketing into films like that.
    Maybe if you could restructure the profit division to pay off a better PCT based on the film running longer, which is to say that you take the total profits made and give a flat PCT of those to the studio based on how long the film can stay afloat. 5 weeks - 40% 8 weeks - 70%, etc. "Afloat" could be defined by a PCT of total possible audiance falling below a certain agreed upon level.
    Now I know the theater guys are saying that this would never happen. However, with the failing theater chains and with the subsequent monopolizing of those same chains (bought up cheap on the failure buy), the climate is becoming conducive to a paradigm shift for studio/theater profits. It sure isn't working for theaters the way it is currently.
    And longer runs would delay the video release and force more of the audiance to seek the film in the theater to avoid that much longer wait.
    That pushes you back to a world in which a film that can play long is your "winner", which in turn creates a studio demand for such films.
    I can't really see another way out of it.
    And I guess it means that I think it's not really the studios nor the audiances fault, but simply this new film environment. I love HT, but I also worry that it is slowly shifting the public's view of what film is.
    Already we have plenty of people who think film is best viewed alone, which I certainly couldn't disagree with more. I think the bonding of the audiance while watching a film is one of the best effects of film as an art.
    BTW, while I think the list Mitty put up varies quite a bit from the "modern" lists, I don't see much difference between 1990 and 2000 era tastes.
  12. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    quote: I don't see much difference between 1990 and 2000 era tastes.[/quote]
    I do. Let me remind you again that the lists I posted are strictly movies released in the summer while those posted by Mitty, I believe, were on a year-long basis.
    While a John Singleton film such as Boyz 'N The Hood would make it on the Top 10 for a summer release back in 1991, his current effort, Baby Boy, which is equally as thought provoking as his first film, would be nowhere even near the Top 10.
    While there are some sequels as big blockbusters in the early 1990's along with some big action adventure films, the latter are mostly films with broad appeal. In addition, there are some serious films released in the summer of the early 1990's clearly not just geared towards teenagers and also got some recognition, thereby providing a really good mix of summer films.
    Where are the Unforgivens, Clear and Present Dangers, True Lies, Forrest Gumps, The Firms, A League Of Their Owns and City Slickers in this year's top 10 summer films?
    [Edited last by Edwin Pereyra on September 03, 2001 at 01:58 AM]
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

    Feb 12, 1998
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    Edwin, something's wrong with that 2001 summer list. It includes Hannibal and Save the Last Dance, and those weren't summer films.
    The common thread of the films you've listed to which nothing this summer was comparable is their skew toward an adult audience. I don't think that's a coincidence.
    [Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 03, 2001 at 09:11 AM]
  14. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

    Oct 26, 1998
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    Yes, the 2001 list is a year-to-date list and the two movies you mentioned should be taken out to arrive at the summer list. My mistake. From there, it should be apples to apples.
  15. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

    Sep 18, 1998
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    Real Name:
    Jeff Adkins
  16. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

    Apr 10, 2000
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    It must be in the film critics handbook to summarize the summer movie season and try and put it in some historical perspective this weekend. One of the critics in the local did the same thing and came to pretty much the same conclusions.
    "That suits me down to the ground."
    [Edited last by Rob Willey on September 05, 2001 at 12:32 AM]
  17. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

    Jun 30, 1997
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  18. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

    Jun 27, 1999
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    I think to blame Midwest audiences isn't fair. What we get (and don't get) is often dictated by how those smaller films perform in New York and L.A. For example, Ang Lee's Ride with the Devil wasn't even going to play here because based on those two cities (and the critical reviews there), they didn't think it was worth taking wide. Six to seven months after it opened, the arthouse did pull it in for a week here. And this isn't exactly a market hurting for screens.
    Apocalypse Now Redux has yet to make it here and is still not on the schedule. I think it has to do with not many prints being available. (Why would anyone in the midwest care to see it anyways?) It's the studios' fault as much as anyone. They don't give audiences the opportunity to see some of those films.
    Also, studios seem less willing to give films time. Everything is geared around that first weekend--and the media's complicity in making a big deal of the box office numbers--and if a film doesn't achieve the desired take, whoosh, the marketing campaign disappears soon followed by the prints a few weeks later. I find it strange how movies have become like sports teams in that everybody wants to get behind the one that's #1. Shouldn't the "best reviewed film of the year" be a better indication of quality than the "box office champion"? Probably (although success and quality aren't mutually exclusive).
    I'm way off my point and don't know where I'm heading. So that's all for now...
    Read my reviews at
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  19. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    May 30, 2000
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    I think it's interesting that in the late 60's & early 70's, the studios were scrambling to find films that appealed to the younger generation, especially after Easy Rider was released. It seems like that generation of teenagers & young adults were more interested in films that seemed to go against the grain and traditional forms of genre filmmaking (which parallels the feelings of antiestablishment that was prevalent at the time). That is why the studios embraced so many younger directors and gave them a lot of carte blanche in the films they made.
    Today the studios are still trying to market their films to the younger generation but unfortunately, what the majority of the younger generation today wants to see, is not in line with the films that were being made in the early 70's.
    Thus we get lots of sequels, remakes and regurgitation while the thought provoking and challenging films barely make a blip at the box office. Films like MASH, A Clockwork Orange, Carnal Knowledge, The Hospital & Last Tango in Paris would die at the box office if they were made today.
    It's pretty sad although one good thing is that Summer Catch & American Outlaws bombed out so we don't have to worry about any future part 2's for those two "assaults on the notion that film is art" stinkers.
    [Edited last by Jay E on September 05, 2001 at 05:35 PM]
  20. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

    Nov 5, 1998
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