Hot Button Archive for November, 1997

Things That Resonated

It’s time to give thanks to the things that really hit my hot button in 1997.
Boogie Nights and L.A. Confidential, the two best studio releases to date in 1997.
Warner Bros., for putting the Batman franchise on hold before “Batman 4″ ended up set in San Francisco starring Rip Taylor and Matthew McConaughey as supervillains Bald Guy and Overhyped.
Jennifer Love Hewitt’s push-up bra. This girl is brimming over with talent!
The return of greasy popcorn. I hope those nutrition guys never investigate coffee cake.
Only one Billy Crystal movie in 1997.
The summer troika of My Best Friend’s Wedding, Face/Off and Contact (despite Matthew McConaughey), for making Jurassic Park: The Lost World just a bad memory.
Roman Polanski and Luc Besson, keeping the world safe for cradle robbers everywhere.
Speed 2 for assuring that Jason Patric will never be described as Brandoesque again.
Universal, for getting their crappy volcano movie (Dante’s Peak) out before Fox got their crappy volcano movie (Volcano) out.
The Star Wars re-issue for proving once again that it ain’t the effects, it’s the icons.
James Brolin, for marrying Babs, so I can finally stop making alimony payments.
Harvey and Bob Weinstein, for keeping the film business interesting.
Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayak, for bringing women with shape back to the movies.
Mel Gibson‘s fans, for smacking me into submission.
Siskel’s hair and Ebert’s waist. They make me look good.
And you, my readers. You make it all worthwhile. Happy Thanksgiving.
What do you have to be thankful for … other than The Hot Button? E-mail me and let me know.

Thanksgiving Weekend

Last Thanksgiving, 101 Dalmations won the five-day weekend with $33.5 million. I expect Alien: Resurrection to blow that number out of the water with over $45 million to win the Turkey Day Parade. Combine that with my predicted $20 million take for Anastasia‘s second weekend (for third place) and you’ll find Fox dancing in a pool of acid saliva. Of course, their steaming cheer won’t worry Disney, who are looking at a $35 million long weekend for Flubber, with Robin Williams bouncing into second place.
The rest of the Top Ten is all repeat business. Remember that these are five-day estimates. Look for Mortal Kombat: Annihilation to be one of the few films to drop in overall gross despite the additional two days ($16 million for fourth). The Rainmaker should do well, with positive, though not overwhelming buzz, acquiting itself to the tune of $13 million and fifth place. The Jackal looks to be another flick eaten by an Alien, losing a million to shoot at a $8 million weekend for sixth. The Little Mermaid should swim to another $7 million in its final weekend of competition, dropping to seventh. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil may be doing great per-screen, but it won’t be adding screens, so $7 million for eighth is about a much as Clint can make. And look for Bean to take ninth with about $5 million.
And now for those of you who are taking the weekend off from school, a math problem. If Starship Trooper has dropped 50 percent every week since its release, but the five-day weekend should increase box office by about 60 percent, then how much will Starship Troopers gross? Tah dah! Four million dollars for tenth place, rounding out the Top Ten in its final appearance. Enjoy the movies, everyone!
E-mail your predictions to me early so I can have some crow to go with my turkey on Thanksgiving night.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett

My favorite Hollywood couple has gone ahead an killed the wabbit. Jada Pinkett will be doing the heavy lifting and Will Smith will be handing out cigars for the next seven or eight months before the birth of a bouncing baby. News of their impending nuptials took Hollywood by surprise November 13th, as the couple has made their feeling that paperwork was a low priority in their personal bliss well known. So, it’s no surprise that they found their motivation when the tab turned pink. Or was that blue?
In other mating news, New York’s tabloids are reporting that Val Kilmer is sniffing around Mira Sorvino as they shoot their new project, Sight Unseen. It’s about a man (Kilmer) whose world changes when his sight is restored after being blind his entire life. Mira is the love interest. Hmmm, a woman who’s deciding between Quentin Tarantino and Val Kilmer. And he’s the character that was previously blind? Maybe Mira is just trying to make Paulie a grandparent. The last co-star to reportedly do the Winnebago Mambo with Val, the married Elizabeth Shue, got preggers shortly after finishing The Saint. And before that, it was Bat-rumors about Nicole Kidman, who shortly thereafter got a baby delivered Fed Ex. Wouldn’t a baby Tarantino be fun? “You think I’m full of s***? You must think so, cause you’re changing my diaper!”
TriStar has picked up Providence from 21-year-old writer Josh Schwartz. The film is described by The Hollywood Reporter as “the story of two high schoolers who fall in love during their senior year but tragically realize that they are going to part when they leave for different colleges.” Other hot new and original projects soon expected to hit the studios: From 73-year-old Jack Wacky, Relief, the story of two seniors who discover bran and tragically realize they are out of toilet paper. From 44-year-old Gina Fallone, Bankrupt, the story of a couple who have to pay for their children’s college education and tragically realize that it’s really expensive. And finally, Worthless, the story of studio executives who tragically realize they’ve run out of good ideas.
This week, Box Office Preview will run on Wednesday due to the long weekend. So e-mail your predictions to me early so I can have some crow to go with my turkey on Thanksgiving night.

Anastasia at the Box Office

While Fox was busy worrying about big, bad Disney blowing down their Anastasia, they got kicked in the side of the head by Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, easily the worst film in the Top Ten, but powerful enough to drag in $17.5 million in business to take first place (Brady Rainey was the only reader to have MK:A on top, but he missed most of the rest). Anastasia opened nicely, with $15 million for second, but next week the big guns come out and hell hath no fury like a Flubber scorned. Francis Ford Coppola’s name was probably at least as important as John Grisham’s in opening The Rainmaker to the tune of $11 million for third.
The Jackal held up almost exactly as expected ($9 million for fourth), but was upstaged by the new product, as was The Little Mermaid, who got her tail kicked, dropping 34 percent to $5.8 million to swim into fifth place. Midnight in the Garden of Good And Evil did well considering the small release Warner Bros gave it, averaging over $6,300 on each of its 824 screens for a $5.2 million total and sixth place. Starship Droopers fell 50 percent again, bugging out with just $5 million and a seventh place finish. The Man Who Knew Too Little was a little smarter than expected, dropping just 33 percent in a strongly competitive marketplace, adding $3 million to the pot. Finally, IKWYDLS knows box office, making its last appearance in the Top Ten with $2.8 million for tenth after a glorious $60 million-plus run.
Want to see how my predictions faired?
This week, Box Office Preview will run on Wednesday due to the long weekend. So e-mail your predictions to me early so I can have some crow to go with my turkey on Thanksgiving night.

Kate Winslet Took Ill Before Premiere

Kate Winslet took ill just before attending the London premiere of James Cameron‘s Titanic. This time it wasn’t drugged chowder, but apparently a stomach flu she caught on location in Morocco. Cameron got 20th Century Fox to hire 700 doctors, flown in from across the globe and costumed in 19th Century costumes, to hold the bucket while Ms. Winslet vomited. Meanwhile, a crew of 2,000 workers built a replica of a 1926 London hospital Mr. Cameron once saw in a book. The only studio comment was from Paramount, laughing, “Screw Fox! It didn’t cost us anything! So, is it time to make another Chris Farley movie yet?”
Fugitive producer Arnold Koppelson has bought “Jenny Hanniver,” a thriller about two cryptozoologists — scientists who search for new species — who find a new monstrous creature and a woman who has a symbiotic relationship with it. Early reports that Roseanne will be the woman with Tom Arnold as the creature are false, though Warren Beatty is willing to play the creature opposite Annette Bening if the creature turns out to be a 38-year-old stud seen only in soft focus.
And you thought a live-action movie about “Bullwinkle” cartoon villains Boris and Natasha was a bad idea? At least they were humans who spoke. Next up is Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy. You know, those two kinda crow things, one black and one white, who keep blowing each other up, never saying a word. Expect the movie to have almost nothing to do with the comic, except for the idea of competing spies. Then, there’s the new DreamWorks project. Imagine Toy Story, but where only the toys are computer animated and everything else is real. That’s pretty much the gimmick in Small Soldiers … Wait a minute! Whatever happened to “don’t ask, don’t tell?” The weekend is here. Will Monday prove yesterday’s predictions were right?
Actors aren’t the only Hollywooders who deviously deal. What film industry folk deserve to go to hell? E-mail in your suggestions — your silence helps no one.

It's Time for Anastasia to Put Up or Shut Up

All the whining about Disney means nothing. This weekend is wide open without another truly major release in it’s way. Next week, Alien Ressurection and Flubber blow, bite and bounce into theaters. So, this is it! That said, I think that Fox’s animated Meg Ryan will do about what last year’s real Meg release, Courage Under Fire did: $14 million for first place. Last week, the big dropper was Starship Troopers with a 55 percent plunge. This week, The Jackal should combine bad word-of-mouth with an R-rating to lose 40 percent and fall to a $9.1 million second place finish. And despite all better judgment, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation should open in third with about $9 million.
My Butt-Biter-Of-The-Week could be The Rainmaker, which I’m projecting at $7 million in fourth, even though it could do much worse. I love Coppola and even I’m not that anxious to see it. The second and last week of The Little Mermaid should survive Anastasia to the tune of a 30 percent drop into fifth with $6.9 million. The fall of Starship Troopers should slow to about 35 percent with $6.5 million for sixth.
The last of our newbies is Clint Eastwood‘s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which may suffer the same box office fate as L.A. Confidential, though the buzz isn’t as good. Warner Bros. choice to start with 800 screens should limit the box office to a seventh place finish with about $5.6 million or worse. Bean isn’t exactly the cultural phenomena here that it’s been overseas, but it should pass the $40 million mark with another $5.3 million for eighth. And in ninth and tenth, the evil twins of fall, The Devil’s Advocate and I Know What You Did Last Summer, should both hover around the $2.5 million mark.
Master Wok has already sent in his box office take. He likes Anastasia, Mortal Kombat and The Jackal to lead things. E-mail me your predictions now!

Upcoming Projects

Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski have segued from writing The People vs. Larry Flynt to producing The Truth About Sex, the life story of sex study pioneer Alfred Kinsey, with writer/director Michael Davis at the helm. The duo have resisted a title change to a variant of the title of their last movie in release, That Darn Cat.
Premiere reports that Princess Diana was planning to star opposite Kevin Costner in a sequel to The Bodyguard. The story ideas included the Costner and Diana characters falling in love. I can’t come up with anything to say about this idea that doesn’t involve the phrase “car wreck,” so you’ll just have the take the story on face value.
Saul Zaentz, producer of last year’s Oscar-winning The English Patient and the last producer in Hollywood to actually retain ownership of his soul, appeared in Australia a few days ago and said: “Studios are interested in money, but they think they are creative, that is the problem. Almost all their creativity goes into guessing trends because they love numbers, they love natural disasters and aliens, invasions.” I couldn’t have said it better myself, Saul.
Participate in The Hot Button! What show business-type or specific individual do you think is ready for a one-way trip to Hades? E-mail your candidates and the reasons. The best entry will win their very own slot on The Hot Button.

Behind the Scenes

DreamWorks is prepping Hell Bent, an effects comedy about a tobacco executive whose primary responsibility is selling cigarettes to kids. When his disgusted wife pushes him out of his window to his death, hell is the next stop and he, of course, fits right in. You all have read Rough Cut Daily’s Pact With The Devil. Well, here’s your chance. What show business people — star, executive or job title — do you think are one window push away from running the city that never extinguishes? E-mail me your candidates and the reasons. The best entrant will win their very own slot on The Hot Button.
The Jackal may have been number one at the box office this week, but the road was as twisted off-screen as on. You may remember the controversy over the original title, “The Day of the Jackal,” which was meant by Universal to make the new version seem like a remake of the 1973 classic directed by Fred Zinnemann. Fred objected strenuously after reading the screenplay by Kevin JarrŽ. At the time, producer Jim Jacks defended the changes in the screenplay as part of the artistic genius of JarrŽ, the writer of Tombstone and Glory. “Why the IRA character?” I asked. “Kevin’s Irish,” was Jack’s response. “Why a Richard Gere-type rather than the frumpy government guy?” “Kevin thought The Jackal was so charismatic that we needed someone equally as charismatic.” Cut to the release of the movie. Universal settles with Zinnemann, who sadly passes away before the movie is done. It’s called The Jackal. And as far as Kevin JarrŽ? His name is nowhere near the credits, displaced by Chuck Pfarrer, the genius who brought us Hard Target, Barb Wire and Navy S.E.A.L.S. Fickle business, huh?
Sony chief John Calley is prepping the studios first Bond movie for 1999. MGM is suing. Which company is going to get the Goldfinger? Who knows? Sony’s already snuck around MGM and snagged the prize. Now MGM has Sony in the war room, threatening its life. Soon, Sony will be hung over a tank of sharks, hog-tied to Sharon Stone in a string bikini. That watch you’re wearing had better be more than a standard issue Rolex, Mr. Calley.
Anything on that movie mind of yours? E-mail me your thoughts.

Projects, We Have Projects

Island Pictures is developing Trophy Boys based on a New York magazine story about gay men who look for sugar daddies in Hollywood. “What we have in mind is the gay version of How to Marry a Millionaire,” Island Pictures president, Mark Burg, told Variety. The film’s producer, Howard Rosenman, also has an HBO series in development called “Lesbian Woman Seeks Gay Man for Marriage of Convenience.” And keep an eye out for the gay western musical, “Is That A Shotgun In Your Saddle Or Are You Just Glad To See Me?”
Another comic book is headed to the big screen. Mark Canton, the man who bought Men In Black for Sony, has purchased the rights to “House of Secrets,” a DC/Vertigo comic about a house haunted by a ghost jury that puts people on trial for the secrets they’ve kept throughout their lives. Up first is Canton, who’ll be tried for managing to keep the secret of his genius under wraps throughout his Sony tenure. Only after he left last January did Sony become the most successful studio of 1997 on the strength of his line-up.
Finally, Warner Bros. has bit into Andy Kurtzman and Eliot Wald’s screenplay, Teething, about a couple who adopts a vampire. It’s no wonder that Warner Bros. is willing to bank on the writing duo. After all, they came up with Down Periscope and Camp Nowhere, two titles that fit the box office returns. No truth to the rumors that Fox is already planning a series based on the movie to co-star Louise Woodward.
Anything on that movie mind of yours? E-mail me your thoughts.

Jackal Opens at Number One

Got a lot of challenges to my box office prognostication throne this week, but all things considered, I don’t think anyone knocked me off the hill. Aaron Simpson did predict that The Jackal would be the top picture, but he got sucked into The Hollywood Reporter’s vortex of over-expectation, guessing at a $23 million opening. Jackal ended up taking first with just $15.6 million, much closer to my $14 million guess. Starship Troopers dropped off the face of the earth, losing 55 percent in week two to take second with $10.2 million. In third, The Little Mermaid did as Master Wok predicted, taking in $10.2 million. Marc Andreyko‘s prediction that Mermaid would come in first was under the sea.
The middle of the chart held no surprises with Bean coming fourth with $8 million. The Man Who Knew Too Little did too little business: just $4.7 million for fifth. The Horror Movie Formerly Known As “From The Makers Of Scream” (IKWYDLS) continued at a normal pace, slicing another $4.1 million off the box office pig for sixth. The Devil’s Advocate did $3.6 million for seventh. And Red Corner, about China and not a neighborhood in hell, grabbed $2.6 million for eighth.
My first surprise was that Mad City dropped so rapidly — more than 50 percent to disappear from the Top Ten in just its second week. Boogie Nights took ninth with a 33 percent drop to $2.6 million. And Eve’s Bayou, the little movie that could, stayed in the picture with $2.5 million for tenth.
One of the most contested of my predictions, a weak opening for One Night Stand, came true. The film ended up with just over 400 screens and not the 800 originally reported, probably due to multi-plexes finding room for Starship Troopers and three big new films. Soft reviews would seem likely to make this poor showing a trend for ONS’s future. New Line must be hoping that Mortal Kombat: Annihilation opens big, because if they thought the reviews for ONS were bad, just wait for these!
Any box office questions? E-mail them to me.

Sony Takes the BO Lead

Sony Pictures (a.k.a. Columbia/Tri-Star) has broken the box office, passing the previous record of $1.2 billion in domestic grosses for one year. The studio hit the record high six weeks earlier in the year than the previous record-holder, Disney, leading the box office pack for the first time in over 25 years. How’d they do it? Bugs! Men In Black‘s aliens were pretty buglike. Julia Roberts went buggy in My Best Friend’s Wedding. And Starship Troopers proves that bugs and tight pants mix just fine. Just one fly in Sony’s ointment. The run of hits is the product of the past administration and the deja-vu will continue until next Memorial Day Weekend’s release of Godzilla. Well, at least next year’s monster is a reptile. Thank goodness for evolution.
Former b.o. king, Walt Disney Studios, is going through its next evolution. Studio chief Joe Roth says that the studio will cut back to 22 releases next year after putting 40 flicks in theaters this year. By 1999, he says Disney will release only 15 films. As Roth told The Hollywood Reporter, “You have to make your shots count.” All of this would seem to make a lot of sense since no matter how cheaply you make a film, releasing the film costs at least $20 million and close to $40 million on average these days. This year, that’s about $1.2 Billion (with a capital “B”) out of Disney’s pocket before you even pay for the movies! If they cut 25 films from the schedule, saving $800 million, even missing one Men In Black-size hit and a few other moderate hits would leave the studio in better financial shape than they’re in now.
Finally, studio-moguls-to-be, Charlie Sheen and Bret Michaels, have started production on No Code of Conduct, their latest venture as Sheen/Michaels Productions (The first was a cheesecake calendar). Michaels will direct the film that he and Charlie wrote, with Charlie acting his butt off as a former vice cop. How original! One novel thing. The boys will be served legal papers in a few days that claim they refused to make good on their oral contract with Alexander Tabrizi and Anthony Esposito, a couple of producers who helped initiate the project on this, their maiden voyage.
Anything on your mind? Don’t be shy, e-mail me.

Predicting the Box Office Gets Tough

This weekend is the hardest I’ve had to predict in quite a long time. Why? Big stars, low want-to-see. The Jackal features Bruce Willis and Richard Gere, but there’s less buzz around than in a decaf latte. Disney hasn’t had big results from its re-releases since they became so video friendly, but The Little Mermaid may be special. Or not. And Bill Murray is far from a guaranteed opener in a film that isn’t as easily defined as his last hit, Groundhog Day.
So here’s my take. Starship Troopers drops just 20 percent to $17.6 million, taking first for a second week. The Jackal opens with a nice, but not overwhelming $14 million for second. The Little Mermaid surfs to a third place finish with about $12 million. Bean flatulates to the tune of $9.6 million, dropping 25 percent for fourth. Bill Murray’s The Man Who Knew Too Little will stay undercover with a soft $8.5 million for fifth.
The Second Five should all be repeat visitors, with New Line’s One Night Stand opening at only 700 screens. I Know What You Did Last Summer slices another $4.2 million — a 35 percent drop — for sixth. Also dropping about 35 percent should be The Devil’s Advocate ($3.3 million for seventh) and Red Corner ($3.2 million in eighth). Mad City should make its second and last Top Ten appearance in ninth with a 25 percent drop to $3.5 million. And Hot Button fave Boogie Nights should dance into 10th with a 20 percent drop to $3.1 million. Trailing closely should be surprise hit Eve’s Bayou with about $2.6 million.
And make sure to go to the movies this weekend, because the holiday onslaught will start burying you next week with Clint Eastwood’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Anastasia, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Francis Ford Coppola’s Grisham entry, The Rainmaker. And your Thanksgiving plans will probably include Flubber or Alien Resurrection or both.
Don’t think I’ve pegged this weekend’s results? Let’s see your Top Ten. If you beat me you will … “Win David Poland’s Money!” Well, no, but I might tell our readers about it.

Retro Thursday

With all the talk about Martin Scorsese prepping a Rat Pack movie — a kind of sequel, combining Casino and Kundun — now HBO is talking about their own flick, looking at The Chairman of The Board (Frank), The Drunk (Dean) and The One-Eyed Wonder (Sammy) starring Aidan Quinn, Chaz Palminteri and Don Cheadle, babe. Only problem is that they’re giving the helm to solid-producer-turned-hack-director Rob Cohen, who brought consecutive disasters Dragonheart and Daylight to the big screen. And keep an eye out for Rob’s girlfriend, Dina Meyer, hot off of Starship Troopers, probably playing Ava Gardner. Ring a ding ding.
James Ellroy is moving out of the ’50s and into the ’90s. His original script, The Night Watchman, is almost ready at Warner Bros. Set in “a post-O.J. Los Angeles,” it’s another take on cops and robbers with David Fincher taking on directing chores.
“SWAT”! It’s back! Twice! Universal is setting up its own story about the birth of L.A.’s Special Weapons and Tactics force following hard on the heels of TriStar’s version of the classic ’70s TV series. TriStar’s been trying to get Oliver Stone to helm their version, so maybe the Universal competition will create enough paranoia to make it interesting enough for him to take on. Even better, Ollie — the project was set up by former Tri-Star execs who are now at the U. And it turns out that the SWAT team killed Lincoln. And Kennedy. And Elvis. And George Burns.
E-mail makes the button hotter.

Projects of Love – Tarantino, Sorvino

Quentin Tarantino is producing a series or “re-quels” to From Dusk Til Dawn involving a world of vampires. One of them is set in South Africa, where the production crew is now accused of leaving a trail of evil, spreading fake blood over rocks and destroying the local flora. In defense, line producer Michael Murphey claims that all the crew did was cover graffiti to make the cave look more natural. You got it wrong, Mikey. Graffiti is only indigenous to urban America and South Africans are used to real blood on their local rocks. At least they were until Apartheid ended.
QT’s squeeze, the mighty Mira Sorvino has joined the $3 million club. After opening two consecutive unimpressive films, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion and Mimic, to the tune of around $7.5 million each, Sorvino has signed to appear opposite Val Kilmer in MGM’s Sight Unseen about a man who risks it all to regain his sight. Mira is his girlfriend. First the bug movies are back, now the return of the “Love Story” genre. And Kilmer is fast running out of women quirky enough to play his love interests. Elizabeth Shue, now Mira. Who’s left? If you have an idea about who can keep up with Val’s quirks, e-mail me.
Finally, a stupid movie idea I can get behind! DreamWorks has kicked in about $3 million to buy Dale Launer‘s spec script, Bad Dog. It’s a comedic werewolf flick about a psychiatrist who finds out the hard way that his full moon-fearing patient isn’t really crazy after all. Launer is the scribe behind My Cousin Vinny, Love Potion No. 9, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Blind Date and Ruthless People. Not a real stinker in the group. This should be as fun as American Werewolf in Paris will be forgettable.
Anything on your mind? Don’t be shy, e-mail me.

Projects of Love

First up, Demi Moore is about ready to play a marriage counsellor in her 30s who has lost her faith in love before replying to a personal ad and falling for a 20-something black man in Human Seeking Same. Naked in movies. Check. Marry that Die Hard guy. Check. Pregnant and Naked on Vanity Fair. Check. Implants bigger than my head. Check. French kiss Ellen DeGeneres in public. Check. Read about the Michael Douglas rule. Check. Do it with a much younger black man on screen. Check. Anyone have an idea what’s next? E-mail me.
Next, the balding and talented Kevin Costner is about to be pursued by a female journalist who instantly falls in love with him and his sensitivity after she reads his love letters to his wife. Message In A Bottle sounds a lot like Sleepless In Seattle with a Coke instead of a radio, and a beach instead of the Empire State Building. So what do you want to bet that Kevin’s co-star is more than a decade younger than him? Ahhhhh. It’s a suckers bet, huh?
Finally, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s first romantic lead has vanished. The Muscle-Head From Brussels appeared in 1985’s short film Monaco Forever, playing a mysterious man who picks up the hitchhiking hero of the film and makes a lightening-fast move for his crotch. Jean-Claude, we hardly knew you! J-C said, “Van Dammit!” when Jay Leno planned on surprising him with a clip on “The Tonight Show,” canceling his appearance. Now someone has stolen the only print of the film and the negative has mysteriously disappeared as well. This could be self-serving hype by the filmmaker trying to sell some tape. Or a Van Damme conspiracy. But do you really think Jean-Claude is smart enough to conspire to do much more than separate the two sides of an Oreo cookie? Didn’t think so.
Anything on your mind? Don’t be shy, e-mail me

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas