The most profitable summer in moviegoing history is over, and nearly every film in the marketplace is beginning to suffer. In fact, things are dismal nearly all the way across the board: while "E.T." and "An Officer and a Gentleman" are still doing respectable business, the two major films that opened a week ago saw only modest paydays. The war epic "Inchon," which became controversial when its Unification Church backing was disclosed, opened to dismal business, while Alan Parker's dark rock musical, "Pink Floyd The Wall," did slightly better. And even those two films outdistanced the rest of the competition; "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" and the budget thriller "Incubus" scraped by, but nothing else even saw its take reach six figures.
Cheer up, though -- it could be worse. At least the United States is coming off a record-breaking summer; in Great Britain, business is terrible and there was no summer boom to improve the overall picture. In Britain, in fact, the first six months of 1982 saw total film attendance drop by 40 percent, to the point where Motion Picture Association of America president Jack Valenti, visiting that country, pronounced its movie industry "fatally wounded." Why? "It's a real enigma," said Valenti, but one reason is clear enough: piracy. "E.T." for example, isn't due to open overseas until Christmas--but Englishmen who really want to see it shouldn't have much trouble getting a hold of one of the thousands of pirated copies that are already making the rounds. Another of Valenti's pet projects, by the way, has gone down to defeat: the levy on blank videotapes and videotaping equipment that he's been lobbying for has been taken off the agenda by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. For the forseeable future, then, film studios won't be receiving any money for the films they've been claiming are illicitly copied by videocassette owners.