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Are U.S. filmgoers ditching the dreck?

Now here’s a trend we can get behind: Mainstream movie audiences are increasingly turning their backs on cleverly marketed but shoddily made movies in favor of higher quality films.

Citing disappointing box-office results from middle-brow movies on which the big studios had pinned blockbuster hopes – remakes like THE WOLFMAN and THE A-TEAM, star vehicles like KILLERS with Ashton Kutcher and THE TOURIST with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, and sequels like SEX AND THE CITY 2 – and the surprising success of more complicated pictures like INCEPTION and THE SOCIAL NETWORK – the New York Times’ Brooks Barnes asserts that “studios are finally and fully conceding that moviegoers, armed with Facebook and other networking tools and concerned about escalating ticket prices, are holding them to higher standards. The product has to be good.”

Sure, there are exceptions, Barnes allows, but “the message that the year sent about quality and originality is real enough that studios are tweaking their operating strategies.” For example, Sony Pictures Entertainment “is trying to bet more heavily on new directors with quirkier sensibilities,” writes Barnes, noting that the next SPIDER-MAN movie will be helmed by Marc Webb, the director behind the indie hit (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

“We think the future is about filmmakers with original voices,” Sony co-chairwoman Amy Pascal tells the Times. “Original is good, and good is commercial.”

That sounds like good news for both new cinematic voices trying to reach a wider audiences and audiences who are sick of being fed dreck at the multiplex.

Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.