Friday, June 25, 2004 Balance of box-office power Entertainment: "The battle lines are drawn. A nation's future is in play.

But this election year, those lines -- between Republicans and Democrats, Red State America and Blue State America -- are looking an awful lot like ticket lines at your neighborhood multiplex.

From the Oscar-winning documentary The Fog of War through the global-warming blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow, from The Hunting of the President to The Manchurian Candidate, the movies are getting on the ballot.

And let's not forget a certain Michael Moore movie you may have heard of. Fahrenheit 9/11 opens today.

'It's really unprecedented, having this many films that seem to be aimed at trying to sway voters,' says Eric Alt, film editor for Maxim magazine.

'You saw a lot of political content in the '60s, with Lyndon Johnson and Nixon taking shots in the movies of the era,' says Greg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter. 'But nothing like this year.'

Why? Polls say the public perceives its news sources -- newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet -- as ideologically driven. The shouting from both sides has drowned out regular discourse.

Still, all this Hollywood politicking could be for naught, says screenwriter David Coryell, visiting professor of film at Syracuse University.

"How many times can you really, absolutely say that a movie changed your life?" Coryell asks. "There aren't many. Anti-war films had an impact, once upon a time. But do they change people's minds?"

By Roger Moore
Sentinel Movie Critic

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