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The ticket stubs were mailed to Hollywood with care

Published Oct. 8, 2005

Much as I disliked Twentieth Century Fox's cynical remake of Miracle on 34th Street _ graded "D-," if you recall _ I plunked down a few bucks for a ticket to the flick last Sunday.

Don't worry, it was the matinee bargain price. Furthermore, I didn't attend the screening. (Devotion to work goes only so far).

Yet I couldn't resist participating in Fox's desperate act of box office CPR for its film, which has been wheezing in the race for holiday movie dollars. Miracle on 34th Street's thudding debut two weeks ago prompted Fox chairman Peter Chernin and president Bill Mechanic to announce the first money-back guarantee ever offered by a major studio.

Anyone who purchased a ticket for this turkey over the Thanksgiving weekend, and didn't like the movie, can return the ticket stubs for a full refund _ an unorthodox ploy cloaked in the guise of Christmas spirit.

Apparently, Fox's offer didn't work on a record-breaking Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Nearly every movie in the top 10 increased its take from the previous week _ including a $10-million jump for a better Christmas movie, The Santa Clause, that vaulted it to No. 1 with $27.5-million. Miracle on 34th Street increased from a $2.8-million opening weekend to $5.2-million, but fell from eighth to 10th place overall.

A Fox spokesperson in Atlanta said Monday it will be several days before anybody knows how much of that $5.2-million will be refunded. My guess is: plenty, considering the film is a stiff, plus there are people who will enjoy it and ask for a refund anyway. I'll keep you posted about how long it takes to get a response (and my $3.75) from Fox.

By the way, my request was sent under a different name, to avoid any special treatment. An accompanying note politely informed Fox the movie had insulted the 1947 original and a refund is requested. If you viewed Miracle on 34th Street from Nov. 23-27 and wish to participate, send your ticket stubs and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Twentieth Century Fox, P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213; Attention: Miracle.

"GOOD COMPANY" REVISITS _ A unique moviegoing experience returns to the Beach Theater Jan. 27. Forum facilitator Marcia Davis has hosted these special screenings since 1992.

Cynthia Scott's film deals with a stranded busload of older women who share anecdotes and survival tips while revealing much about the feminine spirit. Strangers in Good Company will be shown at 1 p.m. on successive Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from Jan. 27 until Feb. 12. Ticket prices are $3.25 and $3 for seniors. Special showings for groups of 40 or more are available. Call 544-0125 for information.

STUNT-DOUBLE DEATH _ Stuntwoman Sonya Davis recently died in Los Angeles after she fell approximately 50 feet and missed a safety airbag during filming of Wes Craven's next horror movie Vampire in Brooklyn. Davis was performing the stunt in place of the film's star, St. Petersburg native Angela Bassett (What's Love Got to Do with It). An investigation is pending, so Paramount Studios isn't releasing any comment yet.

Davis suffered severe head and back injuries and spent two weeks in intensive care at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center before her death. According to a wire report, Bassett was not on the set when the accident occurred Nov. 3. Vampire in Brooklyn, co-starring Eddie Murphy, is slated for a summer 1995 release.

PLANET AND STARS _ Mark your calendars: the ultra-hip movie-themed restaurant Planet Hollywood celebrates the opening of its 18th location _ in Orlando _ Dec. 17. Co-owners Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Sylvester Stallone are among the celebrities expected to attend the gala, adjacent to Pleasure island at Walt Disney World Resort. Most of the event will take place outside Planet Hollywood, so the public can witness the ceremonies. Watch Weekend for more details as they become available.