Hot Button Archive for December, 1997

Larry, Spike and Woody

No Series For You! — This is a film column, but Larry David has a movie coming out soon, so I’m taking the liberty. Larry David co-created “Seinfeld” with Jerry. Larry is George. Kramer is Larry’s neighbor. (And Elaine is not — not — Carol Leifer, despite her publicist’s efforts to say she is.) The voice of the show is Larry’s, not Jerry’s. Unlike most sitcoms, “Seinfeld” wasn’t rewritten by committee. It was rewritten every week by Larry David. Without his steadying voice, it wandered. If Larry David had been there this season, I’ll bet that Jerry would have kept going. Anyway, we will have our first taste of post-“SeinfeldLarry David when his movie debut, Sour Grapes, hits theaters this spring.
Black Like Spike — While RC Daily slept, Spike Lee was out making a celebrity of himself, complaining about Jackie Brown and Amistad. Spike bitched that Tarantino’s Jackie Brown used the N word too often. Spike even accused QT of wanting to be “an honorary black man.” But Samuel L. Jackson, whose Ordell Robbie character is the main linguistic offender in the film, puts another slant on the epithet. “There’s something about saying “nigger,” as opposed to “niggeh” that’s like fingernails on a blackboard,” Jackson told me. “It becomes an epithet when you put the “e-r” on it and with “e-h” it can be a term of endearment, a descriptive, it can be all kinds of things.” As for Amistad, Spike trotted out the traditional “movie about black characters with white guys as heroes” beef and argues the point on “Nightline” with Amistad producer Debbie Allen. That issue is actually one of my pet peeves (don’t get me started on Glory) and I thought Spielberg did a decent job of keeping probable Academy Award winner Djimon Hunsou center stage.
When In Rome, Do Like Roman Does — Well, not Rome. Venice. Woody marries Soon-Yi. Yuck! At least Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Shue got paid to neck with the guy. It’s not clear whether Woody’s getting more grief for marrying the 27-year-old or from critics pretending to be Freud analyzing his new flick, Deconstructing Harry. Either way, the Wood Man is one genius I want to keep far, far away from my nieces.

Top Ten Movie News Stories of 1997

There was lots of movie news this year, but not much that will be remembered. Here are the 10, in inverse order, that I think will be.
10. Death — Death is always a major story. There were some big ones this year (in alphabetical order): Chris Farley, Samuel Fuller, Burgess Meredith, Robert Mitchum, Dawn Steel, Jimmy Stewart and Fred Zinnemann. And my father, Sidney. You’ll always be with us, whatever the format.
9. DreamWorks starts releasing movies — Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen cut the red tape and the result was The Peacemaker, Amistad and Mouse Hunt. Tough out there, huh boys?
8. Star Wars — The 20th anniversary release proved that the franchise is still the biggest with over $250 million for the trio in North America alone. Now Fox has the inside track on the prequel, due Memorial Day weekend, 1999. And though it’s a sure bet to gross well over $500 million, that’s nothing compared to the billions in merchandising. Start lining up now.
7. Disney vs. Fox’s Anastasia — Fox was the home of paranoia as Disney released the same seven-year-old re-release that they do in early November and the same new film that they do every Thanksgiving. With Anastasia doing just $50 million domestic, who won the war? Sony’s I Know What You Did Last Summer, which dominated the pre-Thanksgiving fall by giving audiences what they wanted instead of trying to fight an entrenched franchise.
6. The Return of Julia – Bankable women movie stars are almost as rare as producers who can balance their own checkbooks. The return of the redheaded, smiling, big-opening Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding is a triumph for the entire industry. You can never have enough major movie stars. Just don’t greenlight Mary Reilly 2 by mistake.
5. Black filmmakers — As the studios were getting out of the business of making relationship films with major white stars, young black filmmakers were filling the void. Ted Witcher‘s love jones, Kasi Lemmons’ Eve’s Bayou and George Tillman Jr.‘s Soul Food all made their mark at the box office with strong stories and compelling characters. Meanwhile, Set It Off director Gary Gray got a greenlight for The Negotiator, the first film ever directed by a black director with a budget over $40 million. It’s about time.
4. Titanic — The saga of the budget. The PCP-laced seafood chowder. The delay from the July release date. The bad press. The reports of a $300 million budget. Entertainment Weekly’s generous rewriting of history, reducing the film to an almost palatable $200 million. The mob at the Japanese opening. The success. What a story! And the eight or so Academy Award nods ain’t gonna hurt either.
3. Studios rebound critically/Indies subside — Last year, the Academy Awards were so independent that even the media couldn’t tell the nominated stars from their publicists. This year, the studios are back. Miramax will be pushing Good Will Hunting, but aside from that, expect a studio landslide of nominations. What happened? Better movies overall. And the more good movies, the more likely that the ones form the major studios will be recognized.
2. Warner Bros. in flux — After being the most stable studio in town for years, the WB has suddenly become The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. Batman and Robin, Fathers Day, Mad City and Steel all made my Ten Worst list (coming this weekend). And L.A. Confidential, the favorite for the Best Picture Oscar, underperformed badly. So who got fired? Marketing President Chris Pula, perhaps the savvyest guy around. Another dead messenger. Another screwed up studio.
1. Sony Succeeds — This was the biggest surprise of them all. Hit after hit after hit came from the failed tenure of former film chief Mark Canton. A record breaking $1.25 billion year with more than 20 percent of the domestic going into Sony pockets. And Godzilla is still awaiting its Memorial Day 1998 monster release. Last month, new movie chief John Calley announced a load of projects poised to get rolling, amongst the very first of his tenure. We’ll know if they worked sometime in 1999. Meanwhile, where’s Mark Canton? Heading back to the Warner Bros. fold. It’s a small world after all.

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All About Titanic

OK, today and tomorrow I’ll be catching up on the news of the biz before firing out my “Best Of” 1997. Wednesday will be The Ten Biggest Entertainment Stories of 97. Thursday will be my personal Top Ten. Friday, the Ten Movies That I Just Didn’t Get. And the weekend edition will offer up my Worst of 1997. Check it out.
The story at the box office is Titanic, Titanic, Titanic.The box office numbers are unbelievable. So much so that I don’t believe them. After opening last weekend, reporting that almost every seat was sold at most theaters, Titanic‘s three-day total for this weekend rose $7 million to $35.6 million. That’s a 25 percent rise in business. And I say “Bull****.” Maybe the holiday weekend could account for a 10 percent rise in the numbers (to $31.4 million), but a 25 percent rise would require an additional 1,000 screens or so. And I doubt that Titanic added that many screens in this crowded marketplace. Keep in mind that there’s almost nobody in Los Angeles this week — reporters or execs — to bitch and moan about these bizarre Titanic figures. And about Miramax’s revision of their Scream 2 opening figures (down by 15 percent) without anyone in the press noticing the “mistake” before it was announced. Another “mistake” wouldn’t be surprising.
Even if Titanic added 350 screens to reach 3,000 this weekend, the per screen average would be over $13,000. Do you know how many wide-release films, other than Titanic, did over $13,000 a screen on any weekend in 1997? Four: The Lost World, Men In Black, Batman and Robin and Star Wars. And all four did it in their first weekend, with at least 25 percent more showings over the three days. You know how many pulled it off in their second weekend? None. Excuse me. One. Titanic. If you believe that.
The funny thing is, I liked the movie as I watched it in the theater. I winced occasionally, but I enjoyed it. But actually thinking about the film after seeing it creates a kind of unavoidable contempt by way of familiarity. For a review that comes close to my complaints, check out the review from the always interesting Manohla Dargis. She and I don’t always agree, but this time we are in lockstep.

Sony May Have the Best Web site

Sony may have the best Web site of all the major studios. Well designed, a quick load and their individual sites are terrific. If you have a slow computer, watch out. Lots of neat Shockwave stuff. Starship Troopers and I know What You Did Last Summer are still worth checking out, even at this late date. And As Good As It Gets should offer at least a few Academy Award nominations.
The art vein of the company is still worth following. Sony Pictures Classics offers insight into Afterglow, a movie that no one in America has seen other than critics, but still won Julie Christie a Best Actress nod. And they archive all their movies, so you can look back at camp classics like Welcome To The Dollhouse or check out the last film from the director of Alien 4, The City Of Lost Children or even look into the best documentary of 1996, the brilliant Crumb .
Of course, what you really want to see is Godzilla. Yes, size does matter, And Centropolis, the production company of Dean Devil and Roland Emmerich (who last created ID4), has had a site up for a long time now. It’s worth the trip. As an aside, the boys offer The Godzilla Rumor Sheet, putting to bed once and for all that Jennifer Aniston is not in Godzilla, plus a lot more. Check it out.

Universal and A Few Indie Websites

Universal Pictures has an expansive site. It takes a month to load, but such is the life of the Web. You can check out their only major Oscar release, The Boxer before you have any chance to see it. But the most popular thing on the site is the retro-horror section, which brings back Universal’s horrific past (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, et al). But back to its horrific present. Take an early look at Blues Brothers 2000 or other coming attractions.
Universal recently purchased a piece of October Films. They are the people who brought us Oscar nominee Secrets & Lies last year. They have posters for you and a look at some interesting movies, though no nominations are expected this year, unless Robert Duvall‘s The Apostle (still without its own link) comes through with the Billy Bob Thornton vote.
As alternatives, check out some of the independent Web sites. Polygram became a hot indie with Four Wedding and A Funeral. They are still busy pushing Fargo, last year’s big critical hit. Castle Rock is the home of Rob Reiner, but these days Seinfeld takes precedence even over Rob. Not much there, but Coming Attractions includes — what else? — Seinfeld creator Larry David’s first movie, Sour Grapes, starring Steven Weber, the hubby of Rough Cut TV’s Juliette Hohnen. Last, but least, check out Trimark Picture’s site, which is still pushing Chairman of the Board, starring Carrot Top. But seriously folks, the company put out the wonderful Eve’s Bayou, probably by mistake.
E-mail your box office predictions. I’m back, live, on Monday and I’ll give credit where credit is due.

The Hallowed Halls of New Line Cinema

Some of my favorite movies of 1997 come from the hallowed halls of New Line Cinema. Boogie Nights and Wag The Dog are sure Oscar contenders. And for those of you who loved The Crow, Alex Proyas next film, Dark City, (just recently pushed back until February) is already on site. They also have a great page with info on movies that are now in production. But we know what you are waiting for — Lost In Space. The official site is already screaming and there’s a fun site from the fans with a countdown to release.
The art side of the company is Fine Line, the company that brought us such hits as The Player and Shine. This winter there’s the new Woody Allen flick and the latest from acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter.
Of course, the weird site of the day has to be, in the name of Boogie Nights, Craig Hosoda‘s The Bare Facts. You can find out all about naked people in movies. Mr. Hosada had made a career about telling you exactly where and when you can see Superstar Actress’ left breast for 3.7 seconds. Show business is a truly expansive field.
Rough Cut will be as happy as Dirk Diggler’s prom date if you vote for us for the Webbies.
Today’s the day to unwrap The Whole Picture‘s version of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas. E-mail works though the holidays. Try it. You’ll like it.

Movie Sites

Twentieth Century Fox produces some of the very best sites on the net for single movies. Alien: Resurrection may be a better site than it was a movie. Fox.com offers up all the Fox product, in theaters or on TV. But Fox has made the smart move of separating divisions on the net as well, so Fox Searchlight offers a very different experience than the main site.
Of course, the thing most of you will want to find at Fox these days is Star Wars info. It ain’t there. There’s not a deal for distribution of the prequels yet, so no site. You can check out the official site here, and there’s a terrific site from fan Chris Kivlehan called The Force. For regular prequel news, you can also check out Harry Knowles’ Ain’t It Cool News site Harry’s site is fun, but is also becoming a little less reliable every month as the studios attempt to co-opt him. But still worth the visit.
For some good trivia fun, check out Bezerk’s You Don’t Know Jack site. You need some juice on your computer. At least a 28.8 modem and a pentium will be needed to make it worth the trip. Downloading takes a while. But the result is amongst the most fluid experiences you’ll have with gaming on the net.

A Hot Button Holiday – Day 4

Warner Bros. is looking like a major Oscar player with all the critics awards for L.A. Confidential. If you go to their site, they’ll start you off with a trivia question and some ads before you jump into the main site. You can visit L.A. Confidential or The Postman. Or you can check out the last film from Turner Pictures, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington.
My nephew Charles, age 8, loves the WB kids site and the animation site. And he can’t get enough Batman, either the movie or the comic book).
Mel Gibson is a long-term Warner Bros. player. The site for Conspiracy Theory is still there. But if you want the hottest news on Mel, check out the wonderful page by Superfan, Lisa Hightower.
The story of Hanukkah, L.A. style. It’s the Whole Picture.
E-mail works though the holidays. Try it. You’ll like it.

It's Monday! If You Want the Box Office Figures, Try Yahoo

Next studio on our Hot Button Web tour is Disney. Ah, Disney! The sweet siren of kids entertainment. If you click here, you’ll find the whole parade of Disney kids stuff. But oddly enough, Eisner & Co. have ripped the adult movies off the site. And I don’t mean porno. I mean anything for anyone over 12. To find Disney’s other product, you have to go to movies.com, which would appear to be a site dedicated to Disney only, but with no name attached. The conspiracy continues! If you want to go international, sneak over to Disney’s international site where they are running a Starship Troopers contest right now. (Yes, it was a Sony movie in the U.S.)
Despite themselves, Disney has made one of the smartest investments in art films possible by buying Miramax. Great studio and great marketing. You’ll find the hits and Oscar contenders to be Jackie Brown and Good Will Hunting.
The freaky site of the day should tweak the nose of Disney even more than Mouse Hunt did last weekend. The Natalie Portman Countdown To Legality counts the moments — down to the second — to moment when Hollywood’s sexualization of a teen turns men from pedaphiliacs to stalkers.
E-mail works though the holidays. Try it. You’ll like it. The Whole Picture is all new for the holidays. But if you’re good boys and girls, you will unwrap each section as the appropriate holiday comes around. Too much Whole Picture at one sitting will rot your teeth.

Chris Farley is Dead

To say we saw it coming is to state the obvious. When we, as an audience, fall in love with the comedy of self-abuse, there is a reason. We see the pain in the eyes of the comic and our human instincts take over. It’s as fundamental as taking a lost puppy in from the cold. Friends who knew Farley before the fame tell stories of the self-destructive behavior of his early ’20s. But no one could save him. Not then. Not later, when the world was his friend. The movies included Beverly Hills Ninja, Black Sheep and Tommy Boy. He was always the butt of the joke. And his gentle nature made him the winner in the end. May it be so, wherever his soul is now. Chris Farley was 33.
WEEKEND PREVIEW
After Scream 2 broke December records by almost cracking the $40 million opening mark, what do you think Titanic and Bond will do for an encore? (Mouse Hunt is another, sadder story. Later.) Well, logic will tell you that all three can’t be huge. Big, but not huge. Despite buzz in town that Bond isn’t tracking well, my bet is that Tomorrow Never Dies will take first place with about $25 million. Scream 2 should drop by 50 percent to about $24.5 million. And Titanic should have the highest percentage of seats filled, but suffer from about 30 percent (or more) fewer shows per screen. Hard to imagine more than $20 million under those conditions.
Everything else should pale in comparison. Much like last weekend, but worse. Mouse Hunt should take fourth, beating out the fourth week of Flubber with about $6.5 million. Flubber in fifth with another 40 percent drop to $4.1 million. Amistad should drop to sixth ($3.7 million, off 20 percent), actually passing the two kids flicks that beat it last weekend. The kid flicks should drop about 40 percent each, with For Richer or Poorer (in seventh with $3.6 million) staying ahead of Home Alone 3 (in eighth with $3.1 million). The Rainmaker should start to disintegrate in week five, not only having to compete with the new wide release dramas, but also being inundated with big-ticket exclusive NY/LA releases looking for Oscar nods before opening wide in January. Expect a ninth place finish with a 50 percent drop to $1.7 million. And bringing up the rear, it’s Anastasia with a 45 percent drop to $1.7 million.
The Hot Button is going on Holiday hiatus starting tomorrow. But there will be new content every day, as usual. I know, because I already wrote it. For the weekend box office figures, try Yahoo on Sunday after 6 P.M. eastern. And as far as the Christmas Day releases, Jackie Brown, As Good As It Gets, Mr. Magoo, An American Werewolf in Paris and The Postman , I will now venture $17 million, $11 million, $5 million, $7 million and $12 million. Not necessarily in that order. (Just kidding) The Hot Button will be back with a brand new box office review by noon on December 29.
E-mail works though the holidays. Try it. You’ll like it.

New Heroes

OK, gang. Those of you collegiate types who want to make it big in Hollywood
have a couple of new heroes for whom to root. A student at , TriStarUSC, Josh
Schwartz
, just sold his autobiographical script, Providence,to
TriStar for over half a million bucks. And a senior at SMU named Bob Corbett
just optioned a story he wrote for the school newspaper for alow six-figure
payday. From the school newspaper! Turns out the guy stole a sorority
rush manual and published it in the paper and hilarity ensued. Which
goes to show, theft and sexism can still make you big bucks. What a country!
Speaking of theft, Steven Spielberg must be having a nightmare for every night
of Hanukkah this year. As a major hit maker, Spielberg is regularly sued
for plagiarism. It’s part of the price of success. As The Hot Button
has told you before, every major hit usually gets sued. After the success.
But two suits against Spielberg now have had unusual luck in getting
past the summary judgment stage. First, the Amistadcase. Now,
it’s Twister. You may think there was no real story there,just
special effects. But don’t tell that to Stephen Kessler, who
issuing Spielberg, the writers and the studios who made the flick for millions.
Don’t expect any suits over Mouse Hunt.
You won’t have to break the law to get your own piece of Jim Cameron‘sTitanic.
Just a full checking account. Twentieth Century Fox is selling stuff
from the movie via the The Whole Picture is all new for the holidays.
But if you’re good boys and girls, you will unwrap each section as the
appropriate holiday comes around. Too much Whole Picture at one sitting
will rot your teeth.
E-mail all through the holidays.
I haven’t got anything else to do.

The Dark Knight: The Musical

Variety reports that Warner Bros. is making plans to follow in Disney’s footsteps by bringing the Batman franchise to Broadway. That’s right, “The Dark Knight: The Musical” (It could be less painful than another Schumacher Batman sequel). I bet you want to sing already, huh? Songs include “My Dead Parents,” “Sorry ’bout the Acid, Joker,” the comedy number, “My Tights Are Too Darned Tight,” and the grand romantic ballad, “My Suit Is Happy To See You.”
The Arizona Republic talked to Tom Arnold, who spilled the beans about what’s next for James Cameron. According to Tom, it’s True Lies 2. Cameron is apparently ready to pay Fox back for their $200 million worth of faith in him and his vision for Titanic. Arnold starts his WB hiatus in February and he was just put on indefinite hold on Ridley Scott’s over-budget-before-pre-production, I Am Legend. And Cameron? He’d only have to take a break from the awards banquets at which he’ll soon be a regular. Look for the film in Christmas, 1998, assuming Tom is on target.
Whining was the art form of choice over the weekend. Kevin Costner was unhappy with press junket critics’ reaction to The Postman, his new writer/director/star turn. The reaction? Laughter. “That’s horrible!” squealed Kevin, “You guys (the media) keep spinning that way, and it’s wrong. You were wrong about Dances (With Wolves), you were wrong about Waterworld, and you’re wrong about this movie! It’s too bad that’s how it keeps going; that really pisses me off.” On the other hand, Christian Slater knows that he was wrong and that he needs help. He told reporters, “It doesn’t matter how famous you are … If your head is telling you you suck, all you ever want to do is try to escape from that. I’m just dealing with that now, and it’s tough.” Good luck, gentlemen. I’ll put a dime in your tin cups when I see you.
Any money for me? Throw something in my tin cup. Or just drop me a line to say hi.

The Men who Never Paid a Bill Without a Lawsuit Are Back in Business.

Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, former proprietors of the infamous Cannon Pictures, have talked a health club chain into financing a movie start-up to the tune of about $2 million. Gotta hand it to these guys. They obviously still can make their manure smell sweet to others. Cannon was one of the clearest examples of a company that was killed by the excess opportunity of the Reagan era. After hitting big with the Death Wish series and then turning Chuck Norris into an action hero, the company got big bucks in the junk-bond economy of the ’80s. Suddenly, they went from Norris and Bronson to Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway. A few years later they were bankrupt after spending millions on films they never made and making some quality films, including Barfly, that no one ever saw. At least in theaters. Welcome back, boys. And readers: If they try to hire you, get cash.
MGM‘s desperation to hang onto the Bond franchise for themselves and themselves alone was made plain as day last week when the company filed their intentions to take a $30 million writedown for this quarter on Red Corner, the Richard Gere political drama. There will be no writedowns in first quarter 1998 with Bond on the way to save the day. But MGM, already off the list of “real” major studios, is becoming more of a mini-major every day. And, although Lindsay Doran has great taste, expect the film projects, excepting Bond, to get smaller and smaller.
As if to prove that barbarism is still in vogue, a group of Iranian militants attacked theatergoers, including a disabled veteran, as they left a showing of Snowman, a film about a man so desperate to get out of the desert that he disguises himself as a woman with the hope of marrying an American man who can take him/her away. The thing is, the guy falls in love with an Iranian woman and stays put. He doesn’t even go the whole route (or is that the full monty?)! Another theater pulled the film under threats of fire bombing. Finally, a movie that really is responsible for community violence.
L.A. Confidential surely has secured an Oscars berth for Best Picture after winning multiple best picture awards by critics already.
Want to bank roll my new studio? E-mail me a dollar figure. Or just drop me a line to say hi.

More Than 39.2 Million Big Ones

That, my friends, is a lot of scratch. Does it make you want to Scream too? I mean, Scream 2. Thought so. And it’s a record for a December opening to boot. And under all that screaming, no one will hear the muffled cries of those who made For Richer Or Poorer ($6 million for third) and Home Alone 3 ($5.1 million for fourth), both of which marked new lows for Tim Allen and Home Alone opening weekends. Flubber dropped the expected 40 percent to add a second place winning $6.9 million to the coffers as it bounces towards a likely $75 million total.
Amistad, for which I predicted a big opening, was limited by being on only 322 screens. My bad. But in generating $4.6 million for fifth, it averaged $14,596 per screen which is tremendous. Yet, any regular Hot Button reader will immediately notice the phenomenon of Delayed Unveiling Hubris, or DUH for short. Films that are meant to make over $20 million total cannot — with very rare exceptions — do well with a platformed release. (Those opening in just L.A. and NYC for Oscar consideration only are a different story. More on that on Friday.) No one is going to want to see Amistad more in a few weeks than they do now. And the ongoing controversies surrounding the picture won’t help.
The second five was (he said, patting himself on the back) almost exactly as expected. John Grisham‘s The Rainmaker scored another $ 3.4 million for sixth. Alien: Resurrection continues its 50 percent off per week pace, clawing up $3.3 million for seventh. Anastasia continues to be a kind-hearted impostor with a 40 percent drop to $3.1 million for eighth. The Jackal rips off another $ 2.5 million for ninth. And last, but least, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, itself a victim of DUH, acquires $1.8 million.
Have you noticed any box office patterns like the DUH? Send ’em to me via e-mail.

Bond vs. Titanic

As Tomorrow Never Dies approaches (12/17), the battle for Bond heats up. Variety’s Michael Fleming is reporting buzz that Sony (the new franchisee) is looking to bring Sean Connery back to Bond again under the ID4/Godzilla team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. This isn’t just a slap for MGM/UA (the long term franchise holder), but for Fox, which is anxious to get the directing/producing duo back in the fold for the Independence Day sequel A.S.A.P., preferably in time for the summer of 2000 between Star Wars pictures. Meanwhile, someone overheard Pierce Brosnan asking Martin Scorsese to take the helm for a Bond. Bond goes to Brooklyn? Bond would never survive Joe Pesci as “Boombach. Vinny Boombach.” Pesci would never leave Bond to a tank full of sharks when he could just beat him to death with a baseball bat and take the Bond girl.
Mousehunt and Mr. Magoo must be tracking like two dead dogs. Disney reports that exhibitors are requesting a re-re-release of The Little Mermaid for mid-December. Just what America needs in a grotesquely overcrowded December marketplace. Ironically enough, December is actually worse than the summer rush, when studios will actually move of a competitive date. This week there are four major releases. Next week it’s Bond and Titanic. On Christmas Day there are five major releases. Can you say “massacre?”
Role-ing, Role-ing, Role-ing: People’s The Sexiest Man Alive for 1997 (George Clooney) drops the Wild Wild West and who do they go to? This year’s favorite closet-buster, Kevin Kline. And they couldn’t have made a better choice. Artemus Gordon was known for being clever, not pretty. And Kline is a world class actor capable of almost anything. Meanwhile, Bette Midler has dropped out of the Lisa Douglas role in the upcoming Green Acres just as Ben Stiller has come on board. The two moves may or may not be related. So, when this movie stiffs, will Stiller complain (as he did with The Cable Guy) that the media just doesn’t appreciate his dark vision of “Green Acres?” Here’s a hint, Ben. If Arnold dates a pig, people will like it. If Arnold dates a human, they won’t.
Lots of room for opinions with this week’s openings (read: David could really be wrong!) Join the growing crowd of box office guessers by e-mail.

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