Week in and week out, Projector exposes the often-bitter truth about Hollywood. On one point, though, he must back the industry line with gusto. Call Projector creaky, but nothing matches the moviegoing experience or offers a better entertainment value. Consider:
* Since Projector lined up with a horde of other freckly nerds for the original "Star Wars" in 1977, when the average U.S. movie ticket cost $2.23, the price of admission has climbed less than the rate of inflation. That same ticket, in today's dollars, would cost $7.86 -- or well above the latest norm of $6.88. These averages include rural theaters and matinee, senior and child discounts; in L.A., the price of movies, like almost everything else, runs higher.
* Contrary to the whiny drumbeat of the nostalgia crowd, the product is as good as ever, especially for those who look beyond the top of the box-office charts. Projector's recent favorites include "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Juno" and "The Bank Job."
* Theater owners have crowed for years about what a bargain movies are compared with such events as concerts, which in 2007 commanded $62.07 for the average ticket, and baseball games, which went for $22.77. This spring the exhibitors' trade group, the National Assn. of Theatre Owners, calculated that watching films also costs less per minute than laser tag and bowling -- even if fans don't get the opportunity to rent those cool shoes.
Best of all, Friedman doesn't just take NATO's word for it. He takes the Times' money and actually checks it out.
The price of fun
On a recent date night, a couple spent $31.25 at the movies -- excluding baby-sitting and other costs. How does that compare with other entertainment options?
* Baseball game at Dodger Stadium: Two infield reserve tickets, plus online "convenience charges," parking, hot dogs and sodas. Tab: $100.50
* Laser tag at Ultrazone in Sherman Oaks: Two $23 "unlimited game" packages on a Friday night, plus pregame Red Bulls. Tab: $50.78
* Marty & Elayne at the Dresden restaurant in Los Feliz: Dinner for two (pepper steaks with Caesar salad or French onion soup), followed by cocktails (Blood and Sands) at the piano lounge, with tax and tips. Tab: $111.94
* Paint ball at Warped Paintball Park in Castaic: Two basic packages on a weekend afternoon, including goggles, compressed air and Tippman 98 semiautomatic paint ball guns. Tab: $90
Read it all. The man loves him some movies and turns in a fun and funny article.