Ryan Gilbey on film

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The Independent Online
As if you hadn't guessed already, it's now official. Independence Day has repeated its Stateside success over here and has notched up the UK's biggest weekend opening ever. You want the facts? pounds 6,824,163, including previews, in 434 cinemas. That's 40 per cent up on Jurassic Park's record (pounds 4,875,137). And way ahead of Batman Forever (pounds 4,714,153) and Mission: Impossible (pounds 4,161,780). And there are probably a million other records just waiting to be compiled for that forthcoming gold-embossed video boxed set with matching Independence Day mouthwash and flossing set. Aren't you just thrilled to bits? Mike Archibald, the chief booker for Odeon Cinemas UK, certainly is. "The figures speak for themselves," he says in a press release, "queues all around the cinemas, this is the blockbuster of the decade." And Bill Weir, the manager of the Odeon Leicester Square is equally chuffed: "These are the longest queues I have seen in the West End, with people camping out for tickets for the opening day."

But then people will do anything won't they? People will put Bryan Adams at number one for 16 weeks. People will erect tents on pavements ready for the sales to start. People will do Mexican waves for heaven's sake. People are not to be trusted. This is not to damn Independence Day, which has had critical as well as public approbation. Or to complain that those people with their windcheaters and groundsheets in Leicester Square were necessarily dim. It's just to say that Christmas and summer can leave you positively concussed. It's the silly season, when profit subsumes all else and we are expected to bow at the altar of saturation advertising. The figures speak for themselves all right: they trumpet what's really important to the people in power, loud and clear.