Hot Button Archive for October, 1997

BOO-gie Nights is Here!

(Happy Halloween, kids!) Go now, before you get distracted by Starship Troopers and The Little Mermaid, ’cause it’s gonna happen. I wish that I could say that Paul Thomas Anderson‘s feel-good, feel-all epic will take Number One with $20 million, but $10 – $11 million seems a lot more likely. (We’ll have to wait for Tarantino’s Jackie Brown to get a $20 million weekend out of a ’70s flick).
The rest of the line-up should be pretty familiar by now, despite two other wide openings. IKWYDLS (I’m tired of all those words!), the summer slasher, should pass the $40 million mark with another $8.75 million this weekend. Al & Keanu look to scare up another $7.66 million in The Devil’s Advocate. Last week, there was a $5 million gap between Devil’s second place showing and Kiss The Girls’s third place finish. This week, it should be about $4.3 million, with Morgan Freeman kissing $3.34 million for fifth, leaving a gaping hole for Paramount’s grossly undersold Switchback to take fourth place with around $5 million.
All the talk about China may hurt Seven Years in Tibet by way of saturation, but look for a sixth place finish with a 30 percent drop-off to about $3.3 million. Richard Gere should be back-to-back with Brad with Red Corner, which is good for copy and bad for business. It’s an oppressive seventh place open with about $3 million. Gattaca stays flat-aca with a 35 percent drop to about $2.8 million for eighth. Fairy Tale tails off 30 percent to $2.5 million for ninth . And In & Out is in one last time with $2.1 million, pushing the $60 million mark overall.
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Countdown to Boogie Nights Minus 1

Boogie Nights is ready to bring porn to a cable network near you. New Line is shopping a late-night series that would bring the antics of Dirk, Amber, Rollergirl and Buck into your house every week. HBO was the first cable net to produce original sitcoms with “Dream On,” the show that had almost every gorgeous up-and-coming actress in Hollywood sleeping with a short, average-looking book editor within 10 minutes of meeting him. In Boogie Nights: The Slut-Com, it won’t take 10 minutes. Watch Dirk as he measures his new apartment in the nude! Will Amber ever get her hair really clean? See Rollergirl face off against Suzanne Somers in a Thighmaster competition! Watch Buck read and use multi-syllabic words! (Someone has to be politically correct!)
Boogie Nights burnt up the box office charts in limited release last weekend, but from every second week, a pattern emerges. In Los Angeles, the film was dropping quickly in the big multi-plexes, while still growing in the smaller venues. Of course, even while dropping, the numbers were pretty damned good. In New York, there wasn’t much change on the Westside and downtown, but there was a drop on the Eastside. This is the first indication that Boogie Nights may have a hard time with the mainstream in the long run. But in the short run, it still looks solid as a… well, just solid.
Boogie Nights doesn’t have the exclusive on bare bodies. The Full Monty passed Four Weddings and a Funeral this weekend as the most popular British film ever in the U.K. It took Monty just eight weeks to pass the $45 million that Weddings took 22 weeks to acquire. The Pantless Ones have taken just over $25 million here in the US. But England’s dance with flesh is far from over. The Spice Girls movie, Spice World, is due on U.K. screens before the end of the year. It’s enough to make you drink warm beer.
Tomorrow, Boogie Nights leads the weekend preview . Meanwhile, check out the disco dancing on Rough Cut weekly.
Email is fun. And this week I tell you why I love L.A. Let me count the ways on The Whole Pictures in one!

Countdown to Boogie Nights Day 2

Boogie Nights makes porn stars look far too pathetic according to ’70s artistes du penetration Bobby Astyr and Candida Royalle, as quoted in the New York Daily News. However, they say, the slick producers, bad dialogue and poor production values are right on target. So, the 19-year-old from Iowa who’s getting paid $1,000 by a guy with leather pants and a gold chain to have sex with three men while saying “Oh baby!” six or seven hundred times in front of cheap wood paneling isn’t pathetic. The lighting of the scene is what’s pathetic. OK. Warning: Objectification may appear closer in real life than in the rear-view mirror.
Boogie Nights star Mark Wahlberg’s price is going up. Way up. Sources say Wahlberg will pull down almost $2 million to team up with Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-Fat (star of The Killer and the upcoming The Replacement Killers) in The Corrupter, for Boogie studio New Line Cinema. In the thriller, Walberg plays the good-guy partner to Chow’s rogue cop. Then the two have sex on screen with a family of … Oops. Wrong movie.
Boogie Nights’ home studio, New Line, also has the next Mike Figgis movie, One Night Stand, coming to screens soon. At the recent junket for the film, Stand star Wesley Snipes edged around some inside info without giving too much away. First, he made funny noises while talking about his upcoming Blade, which he produced and stars in, which those of us in the room assumed were sounds of excitement. Little did we know that the night before, Snipes had suffered through a disastrous screening of the film, as related by a screening attendee who wrote into the Ain’t It Cool Web site. Then, he said that the film he’d really like to do is the Miles Davis story. Two days later, producer Marvin Worth (Malcolm X, Lenny) announces that he’s acquired the rights to make Davis’ life story for Sony. I wonder who’ll be playing Miles. Hmmm.
Tomorrow, Boogie Nights TV. Talk about your prime time!
Connect with email, read The Whole Picture, or carve a pumpkin. It’s up to you!

Countdown to Boogie Nights Day 3

Boogie fever is catching on other film sets. At least according to Netizens. While the mainstream media may sit back and wait for a final print of John McNaughton‘s new movie, Wild Things, the twin terrors of the URLs, Matt Drudge and Harry Knowles are already all over it. The news? Kevin Bacon shows his penis! Drudge ran a story, giving his column inches exclusively to Bacon’s column inches, quoting a Variety source making the industry connection to Boogie Nights and saying “Does (Bacon) really want to draw comparisons between his and Dirk Diggler’s ? …”
Knowles and one of his test screening sneakers offer a fuller view of Wild Things, which got a thumbs down. “First off, let me put to rest the question which most of you male types will be dying to know: NEVE IS NOT NAKED IN THIS FILM.” Pretty much my priority in every film. My new book, “Who’s NOT Naked!” will soon be available in bookstores everywhere. Knowles’ mole continues, “Words fail me for what we see next. Through the steam, we see a naked body from behind. Yes folks, that’s right, it’s Bacon doing his token, Hollywood, ‘bare-ass’ shot. But does it end there? No, I’m sorry to say, not when you are Kevin Bacon, executive producer of Wild Things. Kevin has seen Boogie Nights and he knows how to create a ‘buzz’ about his film. He turns toward the camera a la Dirk Diggler revealing, to a shocked audience, his manhood. Unlike Dirk, this shot was all Kevin. The horror, the horror…”
This is not why the studios test screen movies. But according to Boogie Nights director, Paul Thomas Anderson, they shouldn’t be testing at all. “Test screenings are the most asinine, ridiculous thing that ever happened to movies. That’s a grand, sweeping comment, but it’s true. It’s fucking ridiculous. On Boogie Nights, I went, but I didn’t get anything out of it. Test screenings are a fucking waste of time and massive amounts of money. They cost a lot of money. And it’s not a test because it doesn’t hold up to any scientific standards. People don’t get to see movies for free. They pay $7.50 to see a movie. People know what they are going to see when they go see a movie, so the process of recruiting is totally biased from the get go. People will easily walk out if they don’t pay $7.50 for something. If people think they are coming to see a sort of raucous exposé of the porn industry, they are probably gong to be disappointed. If they don’t know that it’s two hours and 37 minutes long, they are going to fucking be bored. They are going to say, ‘I have dinner plans.'”
Tommorrow, Is It Real? Or Is It Boogie Nights?
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Can You Hear the Distant Thunder of the Big Fall movies?

They’re getting closer. But in the meantime, Sony’s giving us Gattaca and I Know What You Did Last Summer instead of Starship Troopers. Fox is giving us A Life Less Ordinary instead of Alien Resurrection. And Disney is staying out of the fray altogether until it’s ready to smash the animated classic/Robin Williams 2X4 over the head of Fox’s Anastasia.
Gattaca should open on top of the box office crowd with around $12 million. Sony is marketing as fast as they can, but the weird title and soft reviews are keeping the buzz from exploding. Seems like Sony sated a chunk of Gattaca’s audience last weekend with its other genre movie, I Know What You Did Last Summer, which should take the standard 35 percent drop to $10.3 million for second place. The Devil’s Advocate should retain its “Number One Devil As Lawyer Movie In America” title with a 30 perecent drop to $8.5 million. Then, there’s a huge holdover drop, down to a likely third week showdown between Kiss the Girls and Seven Years In Tibet for fifth and sixth at around $4.2 million. Sneaking into that gap, A Life Less Ordinary should fall in love with fourth spot with around $6 million.
Fairy Tale: A True Story is a hard sell in a weak kids market, seamlessly opening in the now-gone Rocketman’s seventh slot with $3 million. In & Out is heading toward the latter with about $2.6 million for eighth place. Over the lips and through the gums, look out cable, here comes Soul Food — ninth with $2 million. And rounding out the top 10, one must acknowledge Bean, the Rowan Atkinson comedy that’s already broken the $100 million mark in foreign release and domestically has only opened in Canada — yes, Canada is part of the domestic box office — to the tune of more than $2 million.
Finally, Boogie Nights expands to 50 screens and should pull in a little over $1.25 million before opening wide on Halloween. That’s quite a costume, Marky Mark!
What are you planning to wear for Halloween? Actually, I don’t care, but if you have something to say, email me.

Sondra Locke Finally Settles Lawsuit

Sondra Locke‘s finally settled her lawsuit against Warner Bros. that claimed the studio bilked her out of a three-picture deal because of former beau, Clint Eastwood‘s influence rather than because of the uniquely worthless Ratboy, the first film in the deal. So what does she do? A nasty tell-all book! Oooooh! Just check out these amazing morsels! Eastwood didn’t know who Barbara Walters was! Oooh! Aaah! Clint liked the much-younger Locke to call him Daddy! Oooh! Aaah! Eastwood started whispering after noticing that it worked for Marilyn Monroe! Who the hell is she kidding?! O.J. spent two years on trial for murder, Chrisitian Slater‘s biting the women that Marv Albert is missing, Robert Downey Jr. is waking up in Baby Bear’s bed and the President of The United States is releasing information about his penis in press conferences! If Clint didn’t have sex with Burt Reynolds and that stupid orangutan while holding up a 7-11 with a bazooka, who’s going to notice?!
Starship Troopers‘ star-on-the-rise, Casper Van Dien, is about to go native as Tarzan for Warner Bros. Tarzan Jungle Warrior. Van Dien follows superstars Christopher Lambert and Miles O’Keefe in the role. Did I say superstars? I meant guys who clean bars.
Jon Peters, who has produced a grand total of zero hits since Batman and he and his partner Peter Guber teamed up to lose billions for Sony, has decided repetition is the most likely formula for hitmaking. First, he set up the feature version of The Wild Wild West starring Will Smith. Then there’s Superman Reborn, except with a wild-eyed lunatic (Nicolas Cage) as the Man Of Steel. Now he’s ready to move on from old TV shows and comic books to classic films with The Trail, a remake of the 1956 John Ford classic, The Searchers, except it’s set in space! What’s next? A remake of Peters’ Bonfire of the Vanities with funny jokes and a comprehensible plot?
Do you have any bad ideas for worse remakes? Email me.

Robert Downey, Jr. in Rehab

You’ve been arrested for sleeping in your neighbor’s bed because you were so high you returned home to the wrong house. You’ve been arrested, high and drunk, with a loaded weapon in your glove compartment and cocaine and heroin in your pocket. You got special dispensation to take a week-long holiday from your rehab program to host Saturday Night Live, where you used to work high every week. Despite some difficulties with completion insurance and the fact that you’ve yet to prove that you can draw a dime of box office, your movie career is stronger than ever. What would you do? What would you do? If you were Robert Downey Jr., you’d do some more illegal narcotics. And if you were Judge Lawrence Mira of Malibu, you would revoke Downey’s probation — well, eventually — and let the poor boy finish his movie first. It’s good to be a star.
Mercury Effect is the latest spec script purchase for Warner Bros. The story, in which the FBI investigates some really smart animals who are eventually connected to the monkey sent into space in the Mercury 6 program 35 years ago, was pitched as Jumanji meets Men in Black (sounds more like a Planet of The Apes sequel). Was it coincidental that the executive who agreed to the $450,000 pricetag is exactly 35 years old and has hairy knuckles? You decide!
L.A. Confidential’s resident hunk, Russell Crowe, will follow in the footsteps of mega-superstar Emilio Estevez by playing a hockey-playing sheriff of a small Alaskan town who leads the local hockey team against the NHL’s New York Rangers in an untitled movie written by TV-kingpin and Michelle Pfieffer spouse David E. Kelley. Titles already passed on include The Mighty *ucks!, The Flighty Schmucks and Sports Underdog Movie Number 1273.
Have a better title? Email me.

Don't Call Me John Travolta

No, it’s not a personal thing. It’s the title of a new film out of Singapore about a guy who wants a motorcycle that he can’t afford. Inevitably, he turns to polyester and floors with colored lights. Isn’t that what you’d do? Well, in Ah Hocks case, he is after $6,500 from the local dance contest. It’s kind of The Full Monty in Singapore instead of England: both countries are suffering financial troubles and both films have men looking for innovative financing. Will Ah Hock win the dance contest? Will he end up sad on the subway? Will Sylvester Stallone make him wear a headband in a sequel? Get out your Chinese-to-English dictionary and watch for the film sometime next year.
Mira Nair has had to cut her film, Kama Sutra, repeatedly in order to have it seen in her native India. The English-language version may or may not have finally opened in Bombay last Friday after six months of wrestling with censors over nudity. The Indian-language versions of the film (in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu) are still awaiting clearance. The problem? Nudity! Here’s a clue. It’s the Kama Sutra, guys! You wrote it! You sold it to the world! There’s stuff in there that can’t be accomplished by circus performers! Who has time to worry about nudity when they’re trying to do a half-gainer while tying their tongue into a bow? Making Kama Sutra without nudity would be like making Gone With The Wind without fire, Little Women without crinoline or The Bible without sheep. Can’t do it.
Sometimes, DeNiro isn’t enough. Out On My Feet lived up to its name on Friday by shutting down despite big-name Bobby D. and Boogie Nights sensation Mark Wahlberg. The boxing project had been running on fumes for weeks with paychecks for everyone from painters and set dressers to office staff going unsigned for about a month already. The culprit? Apparently, first-time producer David B. Pritchard who was “privately financing” the $9 million movie. That is, until his primary financier fell out. Hmmm. Better not write anymore about this if I want to keep my fingers.
Don’t hesitate to email for tips on the art of good lovin’ (no, not really!) or anything else that touches your hot button (yes, really).

Not Many Surprises at the Weekend Box Office

At least not for me. Despite the big names (Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves) and big publicity push, The Devil’s Advocate came in just an OK second, conjuring up $12.2 million. The good news is, it may be another Pacino scenery-chewing camp classic. The easy winner of the weekend was teen horror romp I Know What You Did Last Summer with a ripping $16.1 million. Despite a last-minute agreement by Sony not to abuse the “from the makers of Scream” tag, their marketing department grabbed teen attention with big ad buys and clever gimmick promos, like a two-minute “special preview” hosted by Sarah Michelle Gellar during last week’s episode of her WB series, “Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.” The only other wide release, Playing God, caught me once again overestimating the drawing power of non-movie star celebrities. Last week, it was Tupac. This week it’s Mr. Duchovny’s Doofus, which I predicted would reach fifth, but came in tenth with a weak $2 million.
The strength of the new product damaged the returning hits a little more than expected. Kiss The Girls ($7 million) and Seven Years in Tibet ($6.5 million) both dropped a little over 35 percent from last weekend. In & Out passed the $50 million mark in its fifth week, pulling in $3.9 million to become one of only two returnees in the Top 10 to drop less than 30 percent. Soul Food is now leftovers, dropping over 35 percent to $3.5 million for sixth place. Rocketman went according to plan, dropping to earth with $3 million on its way out of the Top 10. The Peacemaker is suffering nuclear fallout, dropping a substantial 44 percent to take eighth with $2.8 million. And in ninth, L.A. Confidential quietly dropped 27 percent, adding another $2.7 million to its haul.
In other box office news, the magnificent Boogie Nights, now in a 30-screen limited release in 13 cities, pulled in a throbbing $27,016 per screen over the weekend, compared to averages around $6000 a screen for this weekend’s top two hits. Boogie Nights won’t be in a theater near you, unless you are very lucky, until October 31. Hopefully, this won’t lead to flaccid box office the way it did for the also-excellent L.A. Confidential.
So, have you listened to my ringing endorsements? Have you seen L.A. Confidential yet? Email me and let me know what you think.

Jenny McCarthy and Crossover News

Jenny McCarthy and her boyfriend-manager Ray Manzella are squirming more than a buck naked blonde in a Playmate of The Year video these days. (Oh yeah, that was Jenny.) Now that Jenny’s sitcom is breaking the wrong kind of ratings records, they are setting their sights on feature films, which has set off my Hot Button. Running out of media tricks (two weeks ago it was Manzella fighting for Jenny’s equal opportunity to pass wind on network TV. Last week it was Jenny on every magazine cover proclaiming her new sophisticated self. Make up your mind, Ray!), they’ve dragged poor Dick Zanuck into their circus. “We are crazy about Jenny,” Zanuck was quoted as shouting to Variety. “She’s smart, funny, unaffected — and, needless to say, good-looking!” The only problem with this move is that Dick’s nose for talent is broken, as evidenced by a string of six straight flops, from Rush to Chain Reaction, since his Miss Daisy drove him to the Oscars in 1989. In actuality, I do think that Jenny has the star stuff, but she has to take a year or two off, find a boyfriend who doesn’t take a percentage of anything but her body, and then come back calmly. Calmly.
In other crossover news, “The Drew Carey Show” is going The Full Monty with male cast members stripping to “Free Ride” for an upcoming episode. With this homage and take-offs of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert under its belt (so to speak), plus a new dance number seemingly every fourth episode, Carey’s show is becoming the biggest purveyor of gag gimmicks since Ellen DeGeneres faked that whole lesbian thing. Oh? That was real? Ah. Then it’s just her new breasts.
Elisabeth Shue is in talks to play Molly, an autistic girl who becomes a genius after receiving radical medical treatment, much to the surprise of her caretaking brother. Sounds like Rain Man with breasts and a happy ending. (This is becoming a theme column!) In real life, of course, Shue is a radical who’s surprised people don’t think she’s a genius, taking care to let us know that medical treatment won’t help her acting-autistic brother, Andrew.
If anything hits your Hot Button, Email me and let me know.

Hollywood Makes Bizarre Bedfellows

As Miramax was busy suing Sony over their use of “from the creator of Scream” to sell I Know What You Did Last Summer, they were bidding to win the rights to make the tri-quel to The Terminator following T-2, one of Sony’s biggest hits ever. Speaking of hits, I expect the aforementioned next spoke on the Kevin Williamson Scream-cicle (really cycle, but it doesn’t sound as cool), to win the weekend, stealing The Devil’s Advocates soul. Both films could cross the $12 million barrier, though Last Summer could be the first really big opening of the fall and toy with the $20 million mark.
The only other wide opening is Fox Mulder in Playing God, which I see as the number five finisher with about $5 million. Outside of that, it should be a pretty standard weekend of slowly-dropping fortunes. In third place, look for Seven Years In Tibet to drop about 25 percent to $7.5 million after word gets out that Brad’s hair bleach is more consistent than his Germanic accent. Kiss The Girls should take its first deep cut (20 percent off for $7.2 million) opposite genre openings Devil and Summer
The Second Five should be headed up by In & Out, retaking a lead on Soul Food and passing the $50 million mark with a 30 percent drop to $3.8 million. Soul Food may be getting a little stale, taking sixth with a 35 percent drop to $3.65 million. Also taking the 35 percent hit, Dreamworks first effort, The Peacemaker is about ready to drop it’s load on Europe, shooting for seventh spot and another $3.4 million. Disney’s implosion-on-the-launch-pad, Rocketman, will do well to drop just 30 percent and take ninth with $3.1 million in just it’s second (and kid competition-free, I might add) weekend. In the 10 Spot, L.A. Confidential, making it’s likely last stand in the Top 10 with a 20 percent drop to $2.9 million. It’s been fun trying to get people to see you, boys. It’s hush, hush for now.
Last week, my predictions were challenged. Come on, I can take it! Email me!

Overseas Box Office

It’s not a joke about the French! The foreign (to America) box office has become equal to or greater in importance to the overall bottom line of the movie business. So, take a gander.
L.A. Confidential finally debuted in France and disappointed, managing no better than third place. The reason? The distributor waited too long to take full advantage of the great Cannes buzz. If you read The Hot Button regularly, you’ll know that it’s just another case of a foreign nation following in the footsteps of America. In poli-sci terms, it’s Mutual Assured Destruction of a very good film.
While we’re talking American bombs, Speed 2: Cruise Control looks like a $100 million-plus overseas hit, already grabbing $99.1 million. It’s especially popular in Thailand where actors with big square heads and no emotional range apparently draw a crowd.
It’s no surprise that Air Force One is taking off in Europe. But it might surprise you to know that, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Disney’s 1996 animated disappointment at the domestic box office, 1997’s soft-grossing Hercules is now expected to generate more than $200 million throughout the rest of the world. Something to keep in mind if Fox’s European-tinged Anastasia doesn’t light up the U.S. box office like a Christmas tree.
Finally, some numbers to gag on. Men in Black just passed $250 million overseas, pushing its worldwide figure to almost $500 million. The film is currently setting box office records in Croatia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic where men in black are more dangerous than Tommy Lee and Will could ever be.
Any Europeans out there? Email me!

Secret Agent Wednesday

The stories that Sony was in pursuit of the Bond franchise started last February. After a week or two of evasion, newly seated Sony Chief John Calley finally spoke to me about the situation and categorically denied that Sony was pursuing the Bond franchise. From all the tap dancing, it seemed that Calley had indeed been trying to leverage his relationship with Bond producer Barbara Broccoli (daughter of Cubby), with whom he had restarted the Bond engine at MGM/UA, the company he exited that is the long standing Bond rights holder. But the connection between Bond and UA was apparently too strong, legally or otherwise, to break. Story over.
But Calley was as smooth as Bond, stirred but not shaken, pursuing the back door entrance into Bondland, with producer Kevin McClory as the source of rights. McClory claims rights to the character based on his involvement in 1965’s Thunderball, which he produced and co-storied. In 1983, he delivered Bond to Warner Bros. with Never Say Never Again, which remade the Thunderball story and was the start (along with Time Bandits) of Sean Connery‘s career resurrection. Guess who was head of production at WB when that happened. Calley!
The brewing legal bloodbath, centered around McClory’s rights claim to the James Bond character, as opposed to his previous remaking of the one Bond property he had a hand in, should make December’s Bond release, Tomorrow Never Dies, look G-rated in comparison. MGM/UA is, as it has been for years, in serious financial straits and Bond is the one plum in their pudding. In the meantime, call Calley Little Jack Horner, sitting in his corner with Men In Black winning last summer’s box office race, Godzilla likely to win the summer of 1998 and an Astin Martin warming up in the garage.
And in the category of “more evasive, less important,” Disney-based Interscope Communications will bankroll twin brothers Josh and Jonas Pate’s third film, Earl Watt, to the tune of $50 million-plus. What’s it about? The secret agent brothers won’t say. Coyness from the twins whose first film was the direct-to-cable The Grave, described by TNT’s very own Joe Bob Briggs as “Eleven dead bodies. No breasts. Bloody rabbit’s foot. Pill poppin’. Embalming-table surgery. Aardvarking. Up-chucking. Baseball bat to the head. The old chained-to-the-floor-of-the-swamp-at-low-tide torture. Massive marijuana use. Multiple gravedigging. One brawl, with pitchfork. Finger rolls. Gratuitous Eric Roberts. Electric-chair fu.” I’ll tell you what, guys. Match the Coen brothers’ first film (Blood Simple) or The Wachowski brothers’ cherry-breaking Bound and you can be as mysterious as you want. In the meantime, you’re just pissing me off.
If I have the same effect on you, email me. And you were all right. I am 67 percent possessed.

Are You a Man-Hater or a Misogynist?

You have your choice with these two hot, hot, hot spec script purchases! You say it’s too good to be true? Well, bite into Dog Eat Dog, a romantic comedy about a woman who hires a trainer for her dog and (get this!) her boyfriend. Wacky! And it cost Disney only $250,000 against $500,000. (Do you know what they call a great development exec? A Golden Retriever! Wacka-wacka!) But what about the misogyny, you ask? It’s Sony, paying big bucks to Ben Ramsey and Michael McCant for their script, Waiting For That Bitch To Leave. I wonder why they changed the title to Natural Men. Must be the oppression of political correctness. Couldn’t be that the guys who wrote it would be seen as flaming a-holes just for plastering that title on the front page of a script, could it?
Looks like Tom and Nicole are finally set to make I Married A Witch at Sony. My personal experience, albeit limited, with the big, red Nicole, tells me that this shouldn’t be seen as a “rhymes with” title. But on titles alone, Tom’s second movie as producer, partnered with Paula Wagner, may fuel rumors that their marriage is a Mission: Impossible. Meow.
Renny Harlin is almost set for Deep Blue Sea, which Warner Bros has coined “Jurassic-shark.” Bio-medical engineers manipulate genetics to create a faster, smarter, more vicious shark so dumb rich guys can hunt them. And of course, it goes wrong. So wrong! (Look for the scene where the shark grows legs and walks past a video store with posters for Cutthroat Island in the window!) The film is racing with Disney’s Megalodon about prehistoric sharks. Is prehistory anything before 1977? That’s when Jaws came out. The more things change …
Email me. Talk to Uncle Dave and tell him how you feel.

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend

Kiss The Girls was the surprise of the weekend, holding onto the top spot with $11.1 million. Dropping just 16 percent is an extraordinary accomplishment for any wide release, much less a thriller. Then again, it’s clearly Adult Time at the box office, with Seven Years In Tibet (second place: $10 million), Soul Food (third: $5.4 million) and In & Out (fourth: $5.3 million) topping the chart. The only true kids’ film out there, Rocket Man, opened weakly, in sixth place with just $4.4 million.
Seven Years (Do you think it was Eight Years before Pitt got involved?) had a per-screen average of just $4,755, which doesn’t bode well for the future of Time Magazine’s Sexiest Film Alive. I’ve been touting Soul Food as a possible ethnic crossover film for weeks, but Fox has now decided to go the other way, launching a “You go, girl!” campaign, assuring that Soul Food will be a happy cable surprise to the bulk of white audiences. And In & Out will have to wait until next weekend to pass the magic (for the fall season, at least) $50 million mark.
Rounding out the Top 10 were: The Peacemaker in fifth with $5.2 million; L.A. Confidential dropping to seventh with $3.7; The Edge in eighth with $3.3; Most Wanted — my one dead-on estimate — grossing $3 for ninth spot; and Gang Related, proving to be the made-for-cable movie it was meant to be (and should have stayed, out of respect to Tupac), taking 10 with just $2.5 million.
Strong competition on the top of the charts this Friday, with The Devil’s Advocate and I Know What You Did Last Summer hitting tons of screens. More about that on Friday.
Reader RJW2000 emailed to challenge my box office predictions. His Top 5: Most Wanted ($10m), Soul Food ($6m), Kiss The Girls ($5m), L.A. Confidential ($3.5m) and Seven Years In Tibet ($2m), He added, “I bet a million dollars Seven Years does not come in first, let alone take in double digits!” You owe Morgan Freeman big time, since he saved you a million bucks. Keenen!
Don’t forget to email me when something hits your hot button.

Quote Unquotesee all »

What’s up with your people mover shot, where it seems like people are kind of floating along?
Oh, my signature shot? That’s just a new way for people to move! It’s really become my Alfred Hitchcock cameo. I did not invent that shot, but Ernest and I did it on the set of Mo Better Blues, when Shorty had to walk [through the park], and I thought, “Let’s try it.” But after that, we tried to have a reason for it. For example, that wonderful sequence in Malcolm X where you hear the great song, “A Change Is Gonna Come.” The final scene is like that, Malcolm floating along to his destiny. In 25th Hour, after Philip Seymour Hoffman has kissed Anna Paquin, we did a shot like that, and it shows his state of mind. In Inside Man, after Denzel thinks he’s witnessed the murder of a hostage, we did the floating shot there.

So you just like the way it looks?
Yeah!
~ Spike Lee To Matt Zoller Seitz

“I never accepted the term contrarian. I think that’s offensive, frankly. And my response to that is: if I’m a contrarian, what are other reviewers? What I strive to do is be a good critic, not somebody who simply accepts the product put in front of me. I guess it scares people to think that they don’t have any originality; that they don’t have the capacity to think for themselves.

“There’s a line a lot of reviewers use that I don’t like at all. They say ‘accept the film on its own terms.’ What that really means is, ‘accept the film as it is advertised.’ That’s got nothing to do with criticism. Nothing to do with having a response as a film watcher. A thinking person has to analyze what’s on screen, not simply rubber-stamp it or kowtow to marketing.”m

“To me, everything does have a political component and I think it’s an interesting way to look at art. It’s one way that makes film reviewing, I think, a politically relevant form of journalism. We do live in a political world, and we bring our political sense to the movies with us – unless you’re the kind of person who goes to the movies and shuts off the outside world. I’m not that kind of person.”
~ Armond White to Luke Buckmaster