Return to Table of Contents


Updated 18 July 1999
Copyright 1996,1997,1998,1999 by Magic Dragon Multimedia.
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.
May be posted electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its entirety, and without charge.
Just over 621 Kilobytes of text, BE PATIENT: loads slowly through slow modem




My Competitors: other websites of film lists

X-Rated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Videos

Sci-Fi Attacks on Los Angeles

Site of the week: " features the world's best information about the hobby of collecting production used Hollywood memorabilia from sci-fi, fantasy, horror and all other genres. also features information about custom fabricators.which can make just about anything from replica batmobiles to costumes based on anime and manga characters. features an index to a variety of other collecting fields as well. If time allows perhaps consider taking a look at Also covers Sci-fi/Horror Costume Collecting, Anime Site link.

TIME TRAVEL: List of 65 movies about time travel, last updated 19 July 1996
ALIENS: list of 31 movies/TV movies with Aliens, last updated 19 July 1996
NEW: ALIENS on-line book of the year: Me Human, You Alien: How to Talk to an Extraterrestrial
Domestic Market Share of U.S. Distributors
SF Films of 1890-1910: List, links to reviews SF Films of 1910-1920: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1920s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1930s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1940s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1950s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1960s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1970s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1980s: List, links to reviews SF Films of the 1990s: List, links to reviews

SEND YOUR INFORMATION/URL/LINK to THE ULTIMATE SCIENCE FICTION WEB GUIDE. We will review your information and add it to this list if appropriate.


The Absent-Minded Professor/Flubber Alien Resurrection An American Werewolf in Paris Anaconda Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery Batman & Robin James Bond 18: Tomorrow Never Dies Contact Crash Dante's Peak Devil's Advocate Event Horizon Fairy Tale: A True Story (Illumination) The Fifth Element Gattaca George of the Jungle Godzilla Hercules Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves Illumination (Fairy Tale: A True Story) Kull the Conquerer L5: First City in Space A Life Less Ordinary The Lost World: Jurassic Park Men In Black Mimic Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation The Postman Rocket Man The Saint Scream and Scream 2 The Sixth Man Smila's Sense of Snow Space Truckers (Star Truckers) Spawn Starship Troopers Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition Turbo: A New Power Rangers Adventure Volcano Warriors of Virtue Wishmaster Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


17 June 1997: ZEMECKIS BACK TO THE FUTURE IN CONTACT WITH DREAMWORKS DreamWorks SKG rebounded from its foolish refusal to interview Your Humble Webmaster for a job, last week, by announcing a dramatic production deal today with Robert Zemeckis' new company ImageMovers. Robert Zemeckis has made films grossing over $2,000,000,000 worldwide, including upcoming Contact, the "Back to the Future" trilogy, and Oscar-winning "Forrest Gump." ImageMovers is run by Zemeckis, his long-term partner Steve Starkey, and talent-agent-turned player Jack Rapke. This was widely seen as enhancing the prospects for 3-year-old DreamWorks SKG, founded by director Steven Spielberg, studio survivor Jeffrey Katzenberg, and music/entertainment kingpin David Geffen. Spielberg is seen as the mentor of Zemeckis, since Zemeckis' award-winning USC student film. DreamWorks SKG will release its first features this fall: non-genre films "The Peacemakers (George Clooney of Batman & Robin and Nicole Kidman), "Amistad" (directed by Spielberg, about an 1839 slave mutiny), and "Mousehunt" (Nathan Lane). ImageMovers films will be financed by and distributed by DreamWorks SKG domestically, with Universal handling video and international distribution. However, the deal is not exclusive, so Robert Zemeckis can still direct for other studios. Since he often takes a year off between films, and is not attached to any movie packages at present, it might not be until 1999 that a Zemeckis/Dreamworks film is in production. Starkey has been associated with Zemeckis since he was Associate Producer on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (directed by Zemeckis). Jack Rapke was a top agent who bolted from CAA (Creative Artists Agency) a few weeks ago, where his blue-chip clients included Zemeckis and Ron Howard ("Apollo 13"). Also hired into ImageMovers leadership is Jennifer Perini, VP of Production for Warner Bros. What Your Humble Webmaster, and you (my reader-with-flawless-taste) hope for is that the Robert Zemeckis/Steven Spielberg team will create some of the greatest Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror films ever made, in the very early 21st Century. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents
14 June 1997: JAPANESE OPENING OF "SCREAM" DELAYED BY REAL-LIFE BEHEADING The Japanese 50-screen opening of "Scream" was set for 14 June 1997, but was delayed because an 11-year-old boy in Kobe had his head cut off by a murderer, and it was felt that "Scream", with its depiction of a serial murder of California high school students, might be in bad taste. Business is business, however, and the nation-wide Japanese opening is being rescheduled. Scream 2 set to open 19 December 1997. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents

The Absent-Minded Professor [Flubber]

Title: might also be released as "Flubber" Story: Bouncy comedy about a scientist who doesn't know that he's funny, does know that he has a great invention, and is more worried about getting funding than he is about winning tenure Studio: Walt Disney Pictures presents a Great Oaks production Based on: this is a remake of the 1961 Fred MacMurray film about the wacky genius who invented Flubber, but did you know that the original film was based on a genuine person? THE REAL "ABSENT-MINDED PROFESSOR" DIES Director: Les Mayfield (1994 remake of "Miracle on 34th Street"; "Encino Man") Writers: Samuel W. Taylor & Bill Walsh (the pair who wrote the 1961 screenplay) Screenplay: John Hughes, Bill Walsh Producers: John Hughes, Ricardo Mestres Executive Producer: David Nicksay Cinematography: Dean Cundey Editors: Harvey Rosenstock, Michael A. Stevenson Starring: Professor Phillip "Ned" Brainard -- Robin Williams see my essay on "Mork & Mindy" in my Ultimate SF TV site TELEVISION: list of 250+ links, last updated 31 Dec 1996 Sara Jean Reynolds -- Marcia Gay Harden Chester Hoenicker/Alonzo Hawk -- Raymond J. Barry Smith -- Clancy Brown Betsy -- Marcia Gay Harden Wesson -- Ted Levine ("Silence of the Lambs", "Mad City") Werner (Medfield Player #12) -- Kevin Lowe ??? -- Edie McClurg Wilson Croft -- Christopher McDonald Upset Rutland fan -- Scott Trimble Biff Hawk -- Wil Wheaton Weebo (voice) -- Jodi Benson Production Design: Andrew McAlpine Art Director: James E. Tocci Special Effects: Don Bies (puppeteer), Phil Bray (still photographer), Jessi Chan (visual effects supervisor), David Wainstain (special visual effects) The miniature set of the town was 50 feet by 50 feet, with most model houses 2 feet high and equipped with picket fence, barbecue, and basketball hoop Costumes: April Ferry Music: Danny Elfman Budget: $75,000,000 [according to June 1997 press release] Anti-Gravity Opening: 26 November 1997 official "Flubber" web site Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes Box Office: "Flubber" flew to #1 as a big hit for Disney during the long (5-day) Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It grossed a remarkable $35,800,000 in the debut weekend, the 4th best Thanksgiving opening in U.S. history, for a $35,900,000 cumulative gross on 2,641 screens (a bouncy $13,590 average). This put it well ahead of the strongly opening Alien Resurrection. Robin William's star status was renewed, after the inconsistent results of his previous three films: MGM/UA's "The Birdcage" which grossed $124,100,000 domestically, his previous Disney comedy "Jack" (vaguely science-fictional at times) which pulled in $58,600,000 domestically, and the definite flop of Warner Bros.' "Father's Day" at $28,500,000. What will he do next? In Week #2, "Flubber" stuck at #1, with a 58% diminished but still respectable 3-day weekend gross of $11,300,000 on 2,653 screens ($4,257 average) for a cumulative gross of an even $50,000,000. It was still grossing twice as much as #2 Alien Resurrection. In Week #3, "Flubber" was squeezed out of #1 ratings by the astonishing superhit debut of Scream 2. At #2, it was still ahead of #3 Universal's family comedy "For Richer, For Poorer" debut, #4 Fox's family comedy debut "Home Alone 3", and DreamWork's first live-action feature debut #5 "Amistad." So "Flubber" was still America's first choice among a strong crop of family comedies. With a 40% drop to $6,800,000 weekend gross, on 2,679 screens ($2,530 average), "Flubber" had a cumulative gross of $58,700,000. In Week #4, "Flubber" dropped another 37% to $4,300,000 3-day weekend gross, on 2,612 screens ($1,638 average) for a cumulative gross of $64,300,000. It ranked just below the DreamWorks' comedy "Mouse Hunt" and just above Fox's family comedy in its 2nd week "Home Alone 3." In Week #5, "Flubber" bounced 26% upwards to $5,400,000 weekend gross, on 2,008 screens (levitating up to a $2,643 average) for a cumulative gross of $73,100,000. It ranked just below the Hollywood debut of "American Werewolf in Paris" and just above the sad flop debut of Warner Bros. The Postman which the studio had hoped would save the year for them and instead cut deeply into profits. Reviews: Paul Wunder, WBAI Radio, New York City: "Outrageously funny!" Brian Sebastian, Movie Reviews and More: "It's the best Robin Williams film since 'Mrs. Doubtfire.'" Louis B. Hobson, Calgary Sun: "'Flubber' is a knee-slapping, rib-tickling, side-splitting, gut-busting laugh-a-thon!" John Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 26 Nov 97: "With all the resilience, elasticity and recoil of Robin Williams' career, 'Flubber' bounces into theatres today to begin the holiday marketing march." "In remaking 1961's 'The Absent-Minded Professor,' which starred Fred MacMurray as the creator of flying rubber, producer-screenwriter John Hughes and Co. have chosen to change the title to something more commercially viable than 'Disorganized, Middle-Aged Science Teacher.' And they've made a few other changes, too. Professor Phillip Brainard (Williams), a kind of Wallace sans Gromit, has been given an airborne computer pal named Weebo.... Flubber itself has been given an actual personality, somewhere between primordial ooze and Chris Farley. And MacMurray's old jalopy has been replaced by a 1963 T-Bird, which is very nice and able to fly." "Otherwise, this is your basic audience-friendly comedy with a crisis--the immanent closing of Medfield College. And a couple of thugs, Smith and Wesson.... And their boss, the college-foreclosing Chester Hoenicker.... There are two love triangles. One among Phillip, Sara and Wilson Croft... who wants to steal Phillip's invention and his fiancee and who gets her to wager herself on the results of the big basketball game." "[Marcia Gay] Harden and [Christopher] McDonald are good, Ted Levine is very good (he was the killer in 'Silence of the Lambs' and the police chief in 'Mad City'). But amid all the Professor Irwin Corey-inspired double-talk about what makes Flubber Flubber, the bigger mystery is what Robin Williams contributes to all of this.... there's a bit too much emotional distress in 'Flubber' and not quite enough of the energetic slapstick that takes place at the big basketball game, which Phillip fixes with Flubber (yes, kids, he's cheating!) or the abuse that Smith and Wesson take via the bowling ball and the golf ball that begin bouncing at the beginning of the film and return to Earth periodically with hilarious timing and accuracy. Director Les Mayfield... has his moments, of course, but what ultimately was needed in the case of 'Flubber' was a movie with more bounce and less talk." Terry Morgan, Pasadena Weekly, 28 Nov 1997: "Professor Phillip Brainard (Robin Williams) is brilliant, but so absent-minded he's forgotten to attend his own wedding to Sara Jean Reynolds twice. He's intending not to do so a third time when he accidently creates flubber, a sort of flying rubber that also appears to have a mind of its own. Having blown his last chance with his fiancee, Brainard wants to show her the wondrous qualities of his invention, but others... want to steal it for themselves." "Williams is fine as the forgetful professor, but truly secondary to special effects, which are essentially the raison d'etre of this film. In fact, he is upstaged by one particular effect, and flying robot called Weebo... that surprisingly ends up as the movie's most memorable character. Harden also does good work providing an emotional reality to ground the story's flights of fancy. The film moves pleasantly along at a brisk clip, but the script... is fairly standard of its genre. The effects, however, from Weebo to some marvelous sequences with the flying car, from flubber to a recurring sight gag involving the continual trajectory of two bouncing balls, are terrific. I enjoyed this film more than I expected to, and the kids in the audience I saw it with were literally screaming with laughter." "'Flubber' is that rarity, a fun film for the whole family." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Alien Resurrection

Story: Winona Ryder joins Sigourney Weaver against a pack of interstellar smugglers; a Ripley clone is targeted by an assassin (Winona Ryder) before they become allies; the real enemy is a Queen Alien -- a breeder, on a spaceship due to automatically return to Earth... Studio: 20th Century Fox presents a Brandywine Production Based on: the first 3 Alien films, and characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shosett Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet ("City of Lost Children") and Mark Caro Writer: Joss Whedon Producers: Bill Badalato, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill Cinematography: Darius Khondji Editor: Herve Schneid Starring: Ellen Ripley (clone of) -- Sigourney Weaver ("Alien", "Aliens", "Alien 3", "The Year of Living Dangerously", "Ghostbuster", "Ghostbuster 2", "Working Girl", "Dave", "Gorillas in the Mist") Annalee Call -- Winona Ryder ("Beetlejuice", "Little Women", "Reality Bites", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", "The Age of Innocence", "The Crucible", "Heathers") (she was a great fan of "Invaders from Mars", "Farenheit 451", and "Alien") (her real name is Winona Laura Horowitz) (she was born 29 October 1971 in Winona, Minnesota; her godfather was LSD guru Timothy Leary) Dr. Gediman -- Brad Dourif Johner -- Ron Perlman Elgyn -- Michael Wincott General Perez -- Dan Hedaya Vriess -- Dominique Pinon Dr. Wren -- J. E. Freeman Distephano -- Raymond Cruz Hilliard -- Kim Flowers Christie -- Gary Dourdan Purvis -- Leland Orser Special Effects: Duboi/Blue Sky Studios Special Effects Coordinator: Eric Allard Special Effects Producer: Bruce Devan Visual Effects Supervisors: Erik Henry, Pitof Alien Effects Designed and Created By: Alex Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. Production Design: Nigel Phelps Costume Design: Bob Ringwood Music: John C. Frizzell Web: Aliens: The Web Site info and music from all three (so far) Aliens films, from biology to bureaucracy. Some good stuff on this 4th film (Alien Resurrection). This site endorsed by Sigourney Weaver. Opening: 26 November 1997 (originally scheduled for 25 July) Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes Box Office: $45,500,000 domestic + $53,400,000 overseas = $98,900,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "Alien Resurrection" opened with a strong #2 rating, by grossing $25,800,000 during the long 5-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, on 2,415 screens ($10,679 average). By way of comparison, the 2nd film in the series ("Aliens") opened with $10,100,000 on the regular weekend of 18 July 1986, and "Alien 3" debuted with $23,100,000 over the 4-day Memorial Day weekend of 1992. "Alien Resurrection" was outranked only by the surprise #1 debut of The Absent-Minded Professor/Flubber and ranked comfortably above the #3 film: Fox's animated "Anastasia" in its 3rd week (and from some bizarro alternate universe in which all the problems of Russia were caused by Rasputin, with no mention whatever of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Bolsheviks, or communism). Is Fox ashamed of Capitalism, or what? In week #2, "Alien Resurrection" stayed at #2, just below "Flubber", and just ahead of the 3rd week of Paramount's "John Grisham's The Rainmaker." This week, "Alien Resurrection" had a 3-day gross down 60% to $6,700,000 on 2,449 screens ($2,720 average) for a cumulative gross of $36,200,000. "Alien Resurrection" plummeted 51% to a #3 week 3-day gross of $3,300,000 on 2,326 screens ($1,401 average) for a #7 ranking and a cumulative gross of $41,500,000. It now ranked just below the 4th week of Paramount's "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" and just above Fox's "Anastasia" in that animation's 5th week. By week #4, "Alien Resurrection" had slipped off the top 10 domestic box office list, and I'll add weekly and cumulative rankings and grosses at some future time. Reviews: Leah Rozen, People Magazine: "'Alien Resurrection' rocks! An operatic, juiced-up marvel that pulses with energy." Dennis Cunningham, WCBS-TV: "A startling blast of thrills, action, and sheer stimulating imagination." Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "A visual marvel!" Terry Morgan, Pasadena Weekly, 28 Nov 1997: "There's little more frustrating to a film critic or even a film lover than see a project with all of the elements for success proceed to fail miserably. It's one thing to see a movie where obviously nobody involved had a clue, much less any ambition towards excellence.... If, however, high expectations are exceeded, it's likely you have a classic on your hands. This was the case with the first two films of the Alien series: one a masterpiece of sci-fi horror, the other one a primer on topnotch action and suspense. 'Alien 3' was a fatal misstep, literally killing off its protagonist, and likely the series as well. Now we have 'Alien Resurrection' here to revive the franchise. Depending on how you look at the glass half full/half empty equation, this movie is either the third best or second worst of the series." "Some time after her suicide, Ripley... has been brought back to life via cloning. This was done specifically to harvest the embryonic alien queen embedded within her, so military scientist [Dr.] Wren can utilize the knowledge. Also on board the research ship are a crew of smugglers including the mysterious Call... When all hell breaks loose, as it inevitably does in dealing with the clever aliens, Call and her shipmates must fight for their lives alongside Ripley. Ripley, however, is not the same woman she once was. now possessing a mental and a genetic kinship with the alien queen. When Call needs to trust her the most, it is not at all certain that she can." "One of the most frustrating things in this movie is that Weaver's new Ripley is actually set up as a pretty intriguing character, but then the fact of her alien kinship is left unaccountably by the wayside halfway through the picture. Why even bring it up if you're not going to do anything with it? Weaver has sly fun with the initial mystery, but she is betrayed by the script. Ryder is seriously underutilized as Call, whose one dramatic plot point is rather silly. The one person who comes out of this well is Ron Perlman, whose energetically abusive performance as one of the smugglers recalls the similarly great Bill Paxton in Aliens, a high compliment. "Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet brings little of the visual creativity he has displayed in earlier films, surely the one thing he was brought onboard to provide. The script by Joss Whedon starts out promising enough but slowly goes nowhere, descending to a conclusion that drew laughs from the audience I saw the film with. Most damning is the utter lack of suspense; the film is largely devoid of scare value. This Resurrection, sadly, doesn't take. Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 26 Nov 1997: "If you need to read a review to decide if you want to see 'Alien Resurrection,' you absolutely shouldn't be going.... [the series has] devolved into something that's strictly for hard-core horror junkies who can't get enough of slime, gore and repulsion.... state-of-the-art repulsion... new levels of disgust are reached and surpassed.... French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, whose fascination with highly stylized grotesquerie and pretentious dead-end weirdness was last on display in the unfortunate 'City of Lost Children'".... Cinematographer Darius Khondji's visual style, grandly described in the press kit as 'signature chiaroscuro lighting and muted colors' looks as if it were shot under the sickly fluorescent lighting of a decrepit hospital emergency ward." "One reason 'Alien Resurrection' places so much emphasis on the stomach-turning is that only so much can be done with these films in terms of plot. In fact Ellen Ripley... neatly summarizes what's to come, when she says of the monster, 'She'll breed, you'll die, everyone will die.'" "Yes, Ripley is back, more or less. Dead herself for 200 years, she's been cloned from a drop of her blood (ain't technology grand?)... with one of those unspeakable aliens growing inside her." "All this takes place on the Auriga, a renegade space laboratory under the command of Gen Perez (Dan Hedaya at his most Nixonian). Having missed the previous films, the general's obnoxious minions are under the illusion that the aliens can be made practical use of. 'The potential for this species,' one of them smugly says, 'goes way beyond urban pacification.' You don't say." "Though she's done this three times before, Weaver is actually the best thing in the new 'Alien.' Playing someone dead seems to have liberated the actress in unexpected ways, and her Ripley, fortified with superhuman strength and skills this time around, has enough confidence and panache to amuse and entertain." "Winona Ryder,... attracted to this role apparently because she's a serious sci-fi fan..., mostly looks lost in the film's overstylized environment...." "Simple as all this is in outline, the film's plot still contains a number of too-tricky twists that are explained so fast (it is an emergency, after all) that no one but buffs will be able to figure out what is happening. As an example of the mindless pursuit of misguided self-interest, 'Alien Resurrection' is not much different from the deluded scientists it so archly mocks." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

An American Werewolf in Paris

Story: "Things are about to get a little hairy..." Studio: Hollywood Pictures / Cornerstone Pictures / J&M Entertainment Based On: a character created by John Landis in "An American Werewolf in London" Executive Producer: Anthony Waller Producer: Richard Claus Co-Producer: Alexander Buchman Screenplay: Tim Burns & Tom Stern, Anthony Waller Director: Anthony Waller Cinematographer: Egon Werdin Editor: Peter R. Adam Starring: Werewolf Gal -- Julie Delpy American -- Tom Everett Scott ??? -- Vince Vieluf ??? -- Paul Buckman ??? -- Julie Bowen ??? -- Pierre Cosso ??? -- Tom Novembre ??? -- Terry L'Hermitte Music: Wilbert Hirsch Visual Effects: Santa Barbara Studios Production Designer: Mattgias Kammermeier Opening: 25 December 1997 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Amazon expedition by film-crew turns weird as obsessive loner seeks a mythical giant snake creature Studio: Columbia Pictures presents a CL Cinema Line Films Corporation production (Hollywood "power lawyer" Jake Bloom negotiated the 3-year 1st-look contract between Columbia and Cinema Line, which resulted in "Anaconda" and has now expired) Based on: very loosely on "The Feathered Serpent" by D.H. Lawrence, rumor goes Executive Producer: Susan Ruskin (veteran producer, worked closely with Gene Wilder, found script and bought it for Cinema Line in late 1993). Producers: Verna Harrah, Leonard Rabinowitz, Carole Little (Carol Little runs a $200 million Los Angeles-based fashion empire, and it's now chic for fashion moguls to dabble in movies, as with Isaac Mizrahi in "Unzipped." Leonard Rabinowitz is the ex-husband of Carol Little, and Verna Harrah was Leonard's girlfriend. Sounds like a movie right there!) (Verna Harrah says "I'm a big fan of 'Alien' and science fiction movies" so watch for more sci-fi from CL Cinema Line Films Corporation, of which Little & Rabinowitz now own only 5%. Little prefers small arty films such as "Lone Star" and "Sling Blade.") Director: Luis Llosa ("Fire in the Amazon", "The Specialist") Editor: Michael R. Miller, A.C.E. Production Designer: Kirk M. Petruccelli Art Director: Barry Chusid Director of Photography: Bill Butler, ASC Co-producer: Beau Marks Writers: Hans Bauer and Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr. Starring: Paul Sarone, the snake hunter -- John Voight John Voight gets mixed reviews. Some say that he's absurdly over the top, hamming it up mercilously, but others say that his intensity makes the movie memorable, and is one of his best performances ever. Danny Rich, the side-kick -- Ice Cube Some reviewers are glad that Ice Cube survives, because "he carries the movie... if Ice Cube wan't in it, you'd be cheering the snake" and others say that he was well cast, with his tough-guy sneer and heart of gold make him someone to root for. Terri Flores, documentary director -- Jennifer Lopez Jennifer Lopez is hot, hot, hot right now. The bubbly New Yorker was the heart and soul of "Selena", winning rave reviews, and worth every penny of her $1,000,000. In 1996 she was radiant in "Jack" and in "Blood and Wine." Look for Jennifer Lopez as an Apache Indian in Oliver Stone's forthcoming "U-Turn", starring with Sean Penn and Nick Nolte. Jennifer Lopez plays a brave, physical woman in "Anaconda", about which role she says "that's one of the reasons I took [the part]. I was offered another movie at the same time. It was like 'Am I going to be the woman between two men again, or am I going to be a strong woman character who's a hero of an action movie... I wanted to have control." She admits that "Anaconda" is unintentionally funny, but says "I laughed at it. I think it's hysterical. I mean, what else do you want when you go into a movie? You want to moved emotionally... whether you laugh or you cry... I'm lucky, my movies this year do that." Dr. Stephen Cale, anthropologist -- Eric Stolz Critics complain that the talented Eric Stolz is almost wasted in "Anaconda", being disabled and literally sleeping through most of the film, waking up just in time for heroics. Co-star Jennifer Lopez says "after Eric Stolz is taken out of the loop, there [Terri Flores] is, left with the ball in her hand." Warren Westridge, the narrator -- Jonathan Hyde Gary Dixon, the sound mixer -- Owen Wilson ("Bottle Rocket") Kari Kuhrer, the production manager -- Denise Kaberg Vincent Castellanos -- ??? Special Effects: Walter Conti did 40-foot Animatronic snake; Sony Pictures' Imagworks' John Nelson did digital graphics; waterfall scene where snake captures prey in mid-air is amazing FX magic. No question: this film LOOKS great due to special effects far superior to the script. Music: Randy Edelman Soundtrack: Edel America Records Costume Supervisor: Kathy Monderine Rated PG-13 Opening: 18 April 1997 Review: This film shot to #1 in box office grosses, with $16,500,000 in ticket sales on the opening weekend, thereby displacing Jim Carey's "Liar, Liar", which makes my nasty review, below, look pretty foolish. Based on this success, Carole Little and Leonard Rabinowitz are developing new projects through "St. Tropez Films" and sold most of CL Cinema Line Films Corporation to Verna Harrah (widow of gambling casino mogul William F. Harrah). Leonard Rabinowitz and Verna Harrah lived together for 5 years, until December 1996, during which time they bought the original "Anaconda" script from Hans Bauer, went through several rewrites with Jim Cash & Jack Epps, Jr., shot on location in Brazil for 16 weeks (and in the L.A. Arboretum in Arcadia, California). Meanwhile, Carole Little and Leonard Rabinowitz were still married, but their divorce should be final in July 1997, which took off some pressure and made them even better business partners. Isn't Hollywood weird? In the second weekend, box office was $12,000,000 for a 2-week total of $32,700,000, still at #1 above "Liar Liar" and proving that "The snake has legs" (sorry). "Anaconda" was blasted out of #1 in the third week by Volcano, slipping to #3 with $7,300,000 right behind the debut of "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion." In its fourth week, "Anaconda" was #6, grossing $5,000,000 for a four-week total of $49,800,000. In Anaconda's week 5 The Fifth Element opened at #1 with $17,000,000 on opening weekend, at 2,500 screens for an average of $6,813, ranking above the opening of "Father's Day" with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and above the 2nd week of "Breakdown." Next in line was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at #4, Volcano at #5, and Anaconda squeezed in at #8. Anaconda had now cumulatively grossed $53,100,000 with $2,700,000 on this 5th weekend at 2,302 screens for an average of $1,158. Anaconda was right above The Saintat #9 in its 6th week at 1,730 screens for an average of $903, and with a $54,800,000 gross. As of 20 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., Anaconda ranked 10th, with a 3-day weekend gross of $2,200,000 for a total so far of $56,000,000 and was on 2,032 screens for $1,093 average -- not bad for the 6th week in release. By the weekend of 27-29 June 1997, "Anaconda" had slithered to #20 in the box office list, with a slender $200,000 gross on 200 screens ($1,028 average) for a cumulative gross of $61,600,000 in its 12th week. That put it just below "Gross Pointe Blank" in the ratings. For week #14, including the weekend of 11-13 July 1997, "Anaconda" bit back, rising to #17 with $400,000 weekend gross on 551 screens ($804 average) and a cumulative gross of $63,300,000. It ranked just below Paramount's "Breakdown" and just above Touchstone's "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." REVIEWS: Roger Ebert: "Two Thumbs Up! This movie is fun." Thelma Adams, New York Post: "A creepy, crawly guilty pleasure!" Ron Brewington, American Urban Radio Network: "Utterly breathtaking! Great special effects!" R.A., New Times, Los Angeles, 1-7 May 97: "Paraguayans and documentary filmmakers should rise up in protest.... the movie is so unrelentingly idiotic and suspenseless, from the cheesy composite snake to Voight's triple-decker-ham-sandwich performance, that the hissing is likely to come from the audience, not the screen." Susan Granger, SSG Syndicate: "The best creepy, crawly creature film in years!" Anne Brodie, CFTO-TV: "Thrills, chills, squirms and screams... what fun!" But Your Humble Webmaster Says: Excessive, unintentionally funny, scenes intended to be frightening are merely gross (i.e. regurgitated human). Cinematography self aware (camera shot from inside snake's mouth). John Voigt is over the top as Paraguayan snake hunter Paul Sarone, who is caught up in Dr. Steven Cales's (Eric Stoltz) quest for "the Shirishama" -- "the elusive people of the mist." Terri Flores, a documentary director (Jennifer Lopez) wants to capture the Shirishama on film. Kari Kuhrer, production manager (Denise Kaberg) wants to capture a man with her low-cut blouses and miniskirts. And speaking of capturing, snake-obsessed Paul Sarone (John Voight) explains that the Anaconda wants to capture prey: "It holds you tighter than your true love, and you get the privilege of hearing your bones break before the power of their embrace causes your veins to explode." Dr. Stephen Cale passively hides in his tent, John Voigt sneers, leers, snarls, and chews the scenery, muttering classic lines in a pseudo-Paraguayan accent: "Don't make me out a monster, I didn't eat the captain." Director Luis Lopez said in a preview screening, according to Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan, "This film was supposed to be my big break and it turned out to be a big disaster." "L.A. Entertainment's" Eric Layton says "bogged down by a sophomoric script and situations so absurd, you've got to laugh... this film slithers perilously close to ... parody." The snake is 40 feet long. The film seems much longer. Anaconda @ movieweb Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Story: Spoof about swinging 1960's undercover agent who tracks his nemesis Dr.Evil into the late 1990's. The science fiction part of the plot is that Dr.Evil has been both cryogenically frozen and shot into space, and Austin Powers is also cryopreserved to follow his nemesis. Austin Powers official web site very clever web site spoofs the 1960's -- "The Groovy Years" -- with Op Art, Andy Warhol styling, psychedelia, and animation of those silly dance crazes Studio: New Line Cinema presents in association with Capella International/ KC Medien a Moving Pictures/Eric's Boy production Based on: sort of "I Spy" and "The Man From Uncle" meets "The Time Machine" during "30 Something", with a parody-of-a-parody of the Matt Helm and Our Man Flint flicks. Executive Producers: Eric McLeod, Claire Rudnick Polstein Producers: Suzanne Todd, Demi Moore, Jennifer Todd, Mike Meyers Director: Jay Roach Writer: Mike Meyers Editor: Debra Neil-Fisher Starring: Austin Powers -- Mike Meyers Dr.Evil -- also Mike Meyers Vanessa Kensington -- Elizabeth Hurley Basil Exposition -- Michael York Number Two -- Robert Wagner ??? -- Ron Lowe ??? -- Carrie Fisher Mrs. Kensington -- Mimi Rogers Scott Evil -- Set Green Alotta Fagina -- ?? Special Effects: ??? Production Design: Cynthia Charette Director of Photography: Peter Deming Casting: John Papsidera Costumes: Deena Appel Music: George S. Clinton Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes Opening: 1 May 1997 Box Office: "Austin Powers" opened at #2, with $10,000,000 on its opening weekend. In its 2nd week The Fifth Element opened at #1 with $17,000,000 on opening weekend, at 2,500 screens for an average of $6,813, ranking above the opening of "Father's Day" with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and above the 2nd week of "Breakdown." Next in line was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at #4, with $7,100,000 for the weekend, at 2,1877 screens for an average of $3,230 and a cumulative gross of $19,500,000. Volcano kept smoking at #5, and Anaconda squeezed in at #8. Anaconda had now cumulatively grossed $53,100,000 with $2,700,000 on this 5th weekend at 2,302 screens for an average of $1,158. Anaconda was right above The Saintat #9 in its 6th week at 1,730 screens for an average of $903, and with a $54,800,000 gross. As of 20 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "Austin Powers" ranked 4th (just above Volcano), with a 3-day weekend gross of $5,800,000 for a total so far of $27,500,000 and was on 2,187 screens for $2,672 average -- very good for the 3rd week in release. As of 28 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "Austin Powers" hung on at #4, (well below the megablockbuster The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and the opening week of #2's "Addicted to Love", and just below the 3rd week of The Fifth Element), with a 3-day weekend gross of $5,600,000 for a total so far of $35,100,000 and was on 2,187 screens for $2,578 average -- good for the 4th week in release, especially against the super dinosaurs. In week #5 of release, "Austin Powers" ranked 7th (just below Paramount's "Breakdown" and just above Universal's "Liar Liar") with weekend gross of $3,200,000 on 2,118 screens ($1,499 average) for a cumulative gross of $39,300,000. Week #6 missing from database; will attempt to reconstruct. In week #7 of release, "Austin Powers" rebounded to 5th (just below Warner Bros.'s "Addicted to Love" and just above Disney's "Gone Fishin'") with weekend gross of $2,100,000 on 1,540 screens ($1,359 average) for a cumulative gross of $46,000,000. The rebound might be due to the tepid #1 opening of Fox's "Speed 2." As it entered week #8 of release, "Austin Powers" retreated to 6th (just below Fox's "Speed 2" in a pallid 2nd week, but pulled ahead of Warner Bros.'s "Addicted to Love" and stayed above Disney's "Gone Fishin'") with weekend gross of $1,300,000 on 1,329 screens ($960 average) for a cumulative gross of $48,500,000. The slip from 5th to 6th was due to the simultaneous openings of Batman & Robin and TriStar's "My Best Friend's Wedding" at #1 and #2. In week 9, "Austin Powers" hung out at #10, with 3-day weekend gross of $671,100 on 993 screens for an average of $676 and cumulative gross of an even $50,000,000. It ranked just below the 15th week of Universal's "Liar Liar" and just above the 3rd week of "Ulee's Gold" and the 5th week of "Gone Fishin'." By week #11, "Austin Powers" was off the top-10 list, and ranked at #15, with weekend gross of $500,000 on 772 screens ($653 average) and cumulative gross of $51,900,000. It ranked just below Orion's "Ulee's Gold" and just above Paramount's "Breakdown." Reviews: John Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 97 says: "Poor Mike Meyers. Didn't anyone ever tell him that you can't spoof camp?... the satire's long been exhausted... The gag? Upon thawing, both characters [played by Myers] are so out of touch with '90s mores and crime that the result is a comedy of errors. Errors, yes. Comedy, we're not so sure.... the material satirized [James Bond, "The Avenger", "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.] was a good deal more self-aware and therefore hipper than anything Meyers has cooked up.... Along the way, male-anatomy jokes are beaten into the ground with an insistence that's mortifying.... pointless... a movie whose sense of humor is aimed at those far too young to get the big joke, and all but guaranteed to turn off those who do." Leah Rozen, People Magazine: "Effervescent and dead-on funny!" Joanna Langfield, The Movie Minute: "Mike Meyers is a comic genius!" Dianne Kaminsky, CBS-TV, Houston: "Brilliantly funny! The funniest movie since 'Airplane'!" Paul Wunder, WBAI Radio: An hour and a half of non-stop laughter!" Leo Quinones, KIIS-FM, Los Angeles: "Austin Powers is devastatingly hip! Peace, love. 'Austin Powers,' baby!" Joel Siegel, Good Morning America: "'Austin Powers' is a very, very funny movie!" Janet Maslin, The New York Times: "'Hip! Funny! 'Austin's' hard to resist!" Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC-TV News: "Mike Meyers is hilarious!" Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "'Austin Powers' is as witty a creation as the blissed-out Wayne Campbell!" Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "A funny movie that only gets funnier!" Siskel & Ebert: "Two thumbs up!" Peter Rainer, New Times, Los Angeles, 1-7 May 97: "It's no secret--Austin Powers is one swingin' mess. If you're hankering to see a movie that sends up swinging '60s London and Carnaby Street and vintage James Bond movies, don't bother to check out Austin Powers.... [which], God forbid, may be a 'personal' film. Or it may be just another stop on Myers's weird-foreigner hit parade--an accented goof to place beside such "Saturday Night Live' creations as Dieter, the host of the German avant-garde show 'Sprockets', and Stewart, the kilted proprietor of the All Things Scottish boutique.... Rip Van Winkle scenario doesn't really hold up because Myers [and]... Roach don't seem to have much sense of the present.... Elizabeth Hurley and Robert Wagner and Michael York stand around looking waxen and clueless...." Jane Horowitz, Los Angeles Times: "Spiffy spoof." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Batman & Robin

Story: The Dynamic Duo, joined by Batgirl, battle Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy Studio: Warner Bros. Based on: Batman characters created by Bob Kane and published by DC Comics see my essay on "Batman" in my Ultimate SF TV site TELEVISION: list of 350+ links, last updated 31 Dec 1996 and see: The Batman - Batfan Page a site dedicated to the 1960's Batman series with history, trivia, villains and heroes (by David W Sutton, Affordable Locksmith). Also, there was a 1949 movie called "Batman and Robin" (reissued in 1986 as "An Evening with Batman and Robin"). The 1949 Columbia film was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett, and starred Robert Lowrey as Bruce Wayne/Batman, John Duncan as Dick Grayson/Robin, Jane Adams as Vicki Vale, Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon, and an uncredited Eric Wilston as the butler Alfred. The 1949 film was written by Bob Kane (creator of comic books Batman character), George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland, and Royal K. Cole. Executive Producers: Benjamin Melinker and Michael E. Uslan Producer: Peter MacGregor-Scott Director: Joel Schumacher Editor: Dennis Virkler, A.C.E. Director of Photography: Stephen Goldblatt, A.S.C. Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman (and uncredited Christopher McQuarrie) Novelizations: Warner Books and Little Brown Starring: Bruce Wayne/Batman -- George Cloony ("E.R.") Dick Grayson/Robin -- Chris O'Donnell Barbara Wilson/Batgirl -- Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless") Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze -- Arnold Schwarzenegger (recovered from elective heart surgery) Poison Ivy -- Uma Thurman ("Pulp Fiction") Alfred Pennyworth -- Michael Gough Commissioner Gordon -- Pat Hingle Julie Madison -- Elle Macpherson Dr. Jason Woodrue -- John Glover Bane -- Jeep Swenson Mrs. B. Haven -- Vivica A. Fox Nora Fries -- Vendela Kirsebom Banker -- Coolio Gossip Gerty -- Elizabeth Sanders Special Effects: John Dykstra, A.S.C., Matt Sweeny Stunts: skating, hockey, skyboarding Production Designer: Barbara Ling ("Batman Forever") created new Bat-vehicles, redesigned Wayne Manor, Gotham City's museum and observatory, headquarters for Mr.Freeze and Poison Ivy Music: Elliott Goldenthal Soundtrack Album: Warner Sunset Records, featuring music by The Smashing Pumpkins, Jewel, R. Kelly, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, R.E.M. Costumes: Arnold Schwarzenegger's Mr. Freeze incorporated 2,500 "grain of wheat" lightbulbs strung together with wires, making to the total costume weight over 50 pounds. His "leisure wear" of furry slippers and robe (decorated with rhinestone-eyed polar bears) weighed over 45 pounds. Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy costume is a magenta gorilla suit stitched together from 448 Santa Claus wigs and beards with black tips and roots. Budget: $175,000,000 Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes Web: Batman and Robin posters this web site has graphical "teasers" from storyboard, trailer, set photos, and posters. It leads you through four different web pages, one each for Batman, Robin, Mr.Freeze, and Poison Ivy. Opening: 20 June 1997 Box Office: $107,300,000 domestic + $126,400,000 overseas = $233,700,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "Batman and Robin" enjoyed the 7th highest non-holiday 3-day opening ever, with a powerful $42,900,00 weekend gross on 2,934 screens, for a per-screen average of $14,612. This put it at roughly double the gross of TriStar's "My Best Friend's Wedding", which had the hottest opening gross of any romantic comedy at $21,700,000. Disney/Touchstone's "ConAir" slipped to #3. Warner Bros. executives were shocked when "Batman and Robin" plummeted to #3 in the 2nd weekend, grossing $15,700,000 on 2,942 screens for a diminished $5,349 average. The cumulative gross was $75,200,000 as the Dynamic Duo was beaten by the opening of Paramount's "Face/Off" and by the resurgent Hercules. "Batman and Robin" barely edged out Sony/TriStar's surprisingly successful "My Best Friend's Wedding" which grossed $15,000,000 in its 2nd weekend for a cumulative gross of $49,200,000. "Batman and Robin" was not helped much by Disney/Touchstone's "Con Air" dropping dramatically to #5 in its 4th week week $5,900,000 gross and cumulative $78,500,000. The 3rd week provided a further 29% drop in "Batman and Robin" gross, with $11,200,000 for the weekend ($3,816 per screen) and a cumulative gross of $90,700,000. At #5, it was ranked just below "My Best Friend's Wedding" (down only 3% in its 3rd week) and just above the debut of the Fox comedy "Out to Sea." In Week #4, "Batman and Robin" dropped another 49% to 7th place, with weekend gross of $4,100,000 on 2,701 screens ($1,513 average), cumulatively raking in $98,800,000. It ranked just below the 2nd week of Fox's "Out to Sea", and just above the 6th week of "Con Air." Much of this slippage can be ascribed to the powerhouse pair on top of the market: Men In Black in its second week at #1, and Contact opening at #2. The science fiction audience is spread thin this summer! "Batman and Robin" slid further to #10 in week #5. The weekend gross was $1,800,000 on 1,916 screens (a diminished $929 average) for cumulative gross of $102,800,000. Warner Bros. execs boasted about breaking the $100,000,000 barrier in just 5 weeks, but their boasts sounded hollow -- some experts said that this would kill the Btamna franchise. To the contrary, rumors flew hot and heavy about who would star in the next Batman film, with Madonna's name being frequently mentioned. Reviews: Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 20 June 1997: "The strutting bully that was the Batman franchise is no more. 'Batman and Robin' ... preens and blusters, but there's no knockout punch... so overloaded with hardware and stunts, it's a relief to have it over... lives and dies by the aesthetic of excess, the familiar idea that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. You may admire its surface, but it's far too slick for even a toehold's worth of connection.... has the eerie feeling of having no beginning, no middle, and no end. Watching it is like stumbling into the world's longest coming attractions trailer, or a product reel for a special effects house... the family values 'Batman'... While 'Batman and Robin' is not lacking in events, its crises are invariably bogus... indifferently acted.... If all else fails, and it invariably does, it is possible to admire the scenery in 'Batman and Robin.' Really.... a massive Gotham City that never fails to intrigue the eye... all that money can buy... it's a shame that money can't buy even more." Bill Klein, NBC-TV: "The Best 'Batman' ever! More action! More special effects! More humor! More everything!" Liz Smith, L.A. Times Syndicate: "The Best of the 'Batman' movies. The summer's super treat. An enviable supercast of charismatic actors. A heck of a good time." Bonnie Churchill, National News Syndicate: "The Best 'Batman' ever! Joel Shumacher has pulled out all the stops. Action films don't get better than this." Ron Brewington, American Urban Radio Networks: "The summer hit! Sensational entertainment! Non-stop, kick-butt action." Bobby Wygant, NBC-TV: "The most spectacular 'Batman' ever!" Jules Peimer, WKDM Radio: "Hop in the Batmobile for the thrill of your life. A sure-fire hit. A sizzling blockbuster." Don Stotter, Entertainment Time-Out and Network One: "Spectacular. Tops any 'Batman' ever!" Patty Spitler, CBS-TV: "This Batman' is the best bang for your buck! Non-stop, over-the-top action." Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC-TV: "The special effects are astonishing! A blockbuster. Astonishing. Oscar-calibre special effects."" Joy Browne, WOR Radio (New York): "My favorite 'Batman' so far! It's funny, sexy and delightful!" Peter Rainer, New Times (Los Angeles), 19-25 June 1997: "Bring earplugs to 'Batman and Robin.' A pair of noseplugs wouldn't hurt either.... one long head-splitting exercise in clueless cacophony... the real bad guy is Mr.Sound.... 'Batman and Robin' features George Clooney as Batman, who's a staunch and square-jawed as the Jerry Robinson/Bill Finger Batman of the 1950s comics -- or Adam West. Clooney doesn't go in for a lot of heavy brooding like his predecessors, particularly Michael Keaton; Clooney's Bruce Wayne isn't tortured any longer, just a little annoyed.... Any display of bona fide human emotion in this enterprise is quickly quashed by the din.... The opening credits give us full frontal body armor and codpieces, and, in a touching display of gallantry on the part of the filmmakers, Batman's and Robin's bodysuit nipples are far more pronounced than Batgirl's. [Mr.] Freeze's get-up is the one original touch in the movie; he's like a cross between a steroid-pumped Tin Man and Brigitte Helm from Fritz lang's Metropolis.... [no] penchant for satire, or humor above the level of an Afterschool Special. But [Poison Ivy by Uma] Thurman has her moments, especially when she's blowing pink love dust at her victims; she's like a rain-forest Mae West. She's the only actor in this film who seems to know what to do with a laugh line....The people who made this movie -- which, as always, is set up for a sequel -- will be laughing all the way to the bank. Tom Shales: "The goal of 'Batman and Robin' is to beat you as senseless as it is... numbing... no glee or excitement... dark... so dark, you wonder if billionaire Bruce Wayne didn't pay his electric bill... everything and nothing is happening up there on the screen... a lover's quarrel... codpieces big enough for a whole school of cod... [Batgirl] serves no function, and isn't believable anyway... Mr.Freeze ... seems to have a good time ... carefully monosyllabic ... this movie isn't worth stealing, but two women steal it anyway... [Alicia Silverstone is] saucy and spunky... Alfred contributes to a subplot... the very disease that took Mr.Freeze's wife's life... an attempt to control death itself, duhhh, right ... Clockwork Orange crowd... many parts of Gotham City look like Dresden after the war... an 800 ton gorilla... proposed titles for the next film in the series, 'Batman Gets Killed' or 'Batman Comes Out' or 'Batman meets Godzilla, and Godzilla wins." Joel Siegel, Good Morning America: "A lot of fun." Michael Medved, New York Post: "Dazzling. Breathtaking." Jack Matthews, Newsday: "The most stunning picture out there." Janet Maslin, The New York Times: "Big. Bold. Lavish." Gene Siskel: "Dazzling. Action-filled. High-powered." Jim Ferguson, Prevue: "Wonderful fun. An exciting adventure." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

James Bond 18: Tomorrow Never Dies

Story: 007 keeps having adventures and romances, this time with the star of Lois & Clark, who plays the wife of a powerful and deadly media mogul with ties to the secret past of James Bond Studio: United Artists / Danjaq Productions / Eon Based on: the immortal creation of Ian Fleming's novels, James Bond, 007 Director: Roger Spottiswoode Producer: Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli Line Producer: Anthony Wayne Screenplay: Bruce Feirstein Editors: Michel Arcand, Dominique Fortin Starring: James Bond, 007 -- Pierce Brosnan (007 in "GoldenEye"; TV's "Remington Steele", "The Mirror Has Two Faces", "Mars Attacks!", "Dante's Peak", "The Deceivers", The Fourth Protocol", "Mr.Johnson", "Death Train", "The Lawnmower Man", "Mrs.Doubtfire, "Love Affair") [Bond Girl, Villain's Wife] -- Teri Hatcher ("Lois & Clark") Jack Wade -- Joe Don Baker Miss Moneypenny -- Samantha Bond "M" -- Judi Dench "Q" -- Desmond Llewelyn Stamper (Henchman) -- Gotz Otto Elliott Carver (The Villain) -- Jonathan Pryce Wai Lin -- Michelle Yeoh Henry Gupta -- Ricky Jay Robinson -- Colin Salmon Admiral Roebuck -- Geoffrey Palmer Minister of Defense -- Julian Fellowes General Bukharin -- Terence Rigby PR Lady -- Daphne Deckers Dr. Kaufman -- Vincent Schiavelli Dr. Dave Greenwalt -- Colin Stinton Master Sergeant 3 -- Al Matthews Stealth Boat Captain -- Mark Spalding HMS Chester: Captain -- Bruce Alexander HMS Chester: Firing Officer -- Anthony Green HMS Devonshire: Commander Richard Dey -- Christopher Bowen HMS Devonshire: Lieutenant Commander Peter Hume -- Andrew Hawkins HMS Devonshire: Lieutenant Commander -- Dominic Shaun HMS Devonshire: Yeoman -- Julian Rhind-Tutt HMS Devonshire: Leading Seaman -- Gerard Butler HMS Devonshire: Sonar -- Adam Barker HMS Bedford: Admiral Kelly -- Michael Byrne HMS Bedford: Captain -- Pip Torens HMS Bedford: Air Warfare Officer -- Hugh Bonneville HMS Bedford: Principal Warfare Officer -- Jason Watkins HMS Bedford: Yeoman -- Eoin McCarthy First Sea Lord -- David Ashton Staff Officer 1 -- William Scott-Masson Staff Officer 2 -- Laura Brattan Nadia Cameron -- Beth Davidson Liza Ross -- Mary Golson Jeff Hobbs -- Hugo Napier Philip Jones -- Rolf Saxon MIG Pilot -- Vincent Wang General Chang -- Philip Kwok ??? -- Cecile Thomsen Special Effects: Cinesite (Europe) Ltd., The Computer Film Company, Rushes, The Frame Store Special Effects: John Richardson (supervisor), Chris Corbould Production Design: Allan Cameron Music: David Arnold, Frank Denson Costume Design: Lindy Hemming Title Song: Sheryl Crow Gossip: 5 years ago Pierce Brosnan's wife Cassie died of ovarian cancer, now he is married to Keely Shaye-Smith (reporter on TV's "Unsolved Mysteries") and have just had their first child together (Dylan Thomas Brosnan), Pierce's 4th (including the 2 of Cassie's whom he adopted). Pierce is busy producing "The Nephew", a low-budget drama set in Ireland (with his partner Bill St.Clar), using his own $5,200,000. He'll star in James Bond 19 (still untitled) with Hong Kong actress Michelle Khan as female lead. Lawsuits: there's a big legal tangle over exactly who has the right to make new James Bond films. There are two contenders, and the messy story will be explained here Real Soon Now... Opening: 19 December 1997 Box Office: "Tomorrow Never Dies" had a thrilling debut week, opening at #2, with a 3-day weekend gross of $25,100,000 on 2,807 screens ($8,957 average). It had opened about a week earlier in Great Britain and other overseas countries, and had grossed a hefty $61,000,000 worldwide by Tuesday 23 December 1997. It karate chopped the amazing Scream 2 down to #3, and was barely edged out of place by the #1 debut of Paramount/Fox's "Titanic" (which grossed $28,600,000 on 2,674 screens during the same 3-day weekend). In Week #2, "Tomorrow Never Dies" held on to #2 ranking, down 19% to a 3-day weekend gross of $20,500,000 on 2,807 screens ($7,296 average). Again, it was below "Titanic" (which grossed $35,500,000 in its 2nd week), and this time was about $8,000,000 above the #3 debut of the Sony/TriStar comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt: "As Good As It Gets" Week #3: to be done In Week #4, "Tomorrow Never Dies" to #5 ranking, down 45% to a 3-day weekend gross of $7,500,000 on 2,807 screens ($2,683 average). It ranked below the #3 week of New Line's political comedy "Wag the Dog", and well above the #6 DreamWorks live-action "Mouse Hunt" in that film's 4th week. The domestic cumulative gross now stood at $103,400,000 and the worldwide gross at $241,000,000. Reviews: {to be done} Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Astronomer picks up radio signal from extraterrestrial civilization, and experts use it to build a warp-drive spaceship to the core of the galaxy Studio: Warner Bros. presents a Southside Amusement Company production Based on: novel "Contact" by CARL SAGAN (with Ann Druyan now co-credited for the Story) Executive Producers: Joan Bradshaw and Lynda Obst Producer: Steve Starkey (teamed with Robert Zemeckis on "Forrest Gump) Co-Producers: Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Screenplay: James V. Hart, Michael Goldenberg Director: Robert Zemeckis ("Back to the Future", "Forrest Gump", "Romancing the Stone", Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "Death Becomes Her") Cinematography: Don Burgess, A.S.C. Editor: Arthur Schmidt Producer: Lynda Obst [In 1980 Lynda Obst was the development executive who bought the story from Carl Sagan, on a contract to PolyGram Pictures under Peter Guber. She, Sagan, and his wife Ann Druyan developed the story into a 113-page treatment. Guber turned into a producer and took the project to Warner Bros. where he was busy developing several scripts that remained in "development hell." The Guber took over Sony Pictures Entertainment and naturally attempted to carry "Contact" with him, but Warner Bros. would not let go of it, and handed it to Lynda as producer. In 1991 Warner Bros. "greenlighted" the movie, and invested in five rewrites of the screenplay. Now, at last, we'll see the results of this 17 years of development.] Starring: Ellie Arroway (discoverer of ET) -- Jodie Foster White House Assistant Chief of Staff -- Angela Bassett ("Waiting to Exhale", "Strange Days") Palmer Joss (spiritual advisor to the President, in love with Jodie Foster's character) -- Matthew McConaughey National Security Advisor Michael Kitz -- James Woods Dr. David Drumlin -- Tom Skerrit S. R. Hadden -- John Hurt Richard Rank -- Rob Lowe Ted Arroway -- David Morse Kent Cullers (Kent Clark?) -- William Fichtner Rachel Constantine -- Angela Bassett U.S. President -- Sidney Poitier Ellie Arroway's Lawyer -- William Aylward Young Ellie Arroway -- Jena Malone Fisher -- Geoffrey Blake Vernon -- Sami Chester Davio -- Timothy McNeil Cantina Woman -- Laura Elena Surillo Minister -- Henry Strozier Hadden Suit -- Michael Chaban Willie - Max Martini Larry King -- Larry King Ian Broderick -- Thomas Garner KOB-TV Reporter -- Conroy Chino Jeremy Roth -- Dan Gifford Senator Valencia -- Vance Valencia Donna J. Kelley -- Donna J. Kelley Leon Harris -- Leon Harris Claire Shipman -- Claire Shipman Middle Eastern Anchor -- Behrooz Afrakhan Japanese Anchor -- Saemi Nakamura Latina Anchor -- Maria Celeste Arraras Tabitha Soren -- Tabitha Soren Geraldo Rivera -- Geraldo Rivera British Anchor -- Ian Whitcomb Jay Leno -- Jay Leno Natalie Allen -- Natalie Allen Robert D. Novak -- Robert D. Novak Geraldine Ferraro -- Geraldine Ferraro Ann Druyan -- Ann Druyan Richard Rank -- Rob Lowe Tech -- Mak Takano Joseph -- Jake Busey Kathleen Kennedy -- Kathleen Kennedy Decryption Hacker -- Michael Albala Major Demo -- Leo Lee Chairman of Joint Chiefs -- William Jordan Joint Chief -- David St.James Jill Dougherty -- Jill Dougherty Drumlin Aide -- Haynes Brooke John Holliman -- John Holliman Bobbie Battista -- Bobbie Battista Dee Dee Myers -- Dee Dee Myers Bryant Gumbel -- Bryant Gumbel Linden Soles -- Linden Soles Major Russell -- Steven Ford Major Russell's Son -- Alexander Zemeckis Major Russell's Daughter -- Janie Peterson French Committee Member -- Philippe Bergeron Doctor Patel -- Jennifer Balgobin British Committee Member -- Anthony Fife Hamilton NASA Public Relations -- Rebecca T. Beucler NASA Technician -- Marc Macaulay Voice of NASA -- Pamela Wilsey ??? -- Eamonn Hunt Special Effects: ??? Steve Starkey told the L.A. Times "I don't think we're going to be classified as science fiction as such. This story feels like real drama--it's set in 1997-- so when it starts drifting into uncharted territory, you don't know when that happens. We don't start the movie with a gigantic spaceship going overhead and a man in a black suit." Music: Alan Silvestri Soundtrack: Warner Bros. Records, CDs, and Tapes Production Design: Ed Verreaux Location: The Very Large Array network of radio telescopes operated in Socorro, New Mexico, by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory Budget: $90,000,000 Opening: 11 July 1997 Web: Contact: the Movie official site Box Office: "Contact" opened at a remarkably strong #2, beaten only by the super-smash Men In Black in that other alien flick's 2nd week. The serious science fiction drama of "Contact", as opposed to the sophisticated spoof of "Men in Black", grossed $20,600,000 for the weekend on 1,923 screens for a solid $10,705 average (the best per-screen gross of any film this week). It has almost twice the gross of the #3 film, Paramount's "Face/Off" in its 3rd week. The high public interest in the Pathfinder/Sojourner unmanned Mars mission may have helped. Co-author Ann Druyan made numerous TV appearances, ably speaking for her late husband Carl Sagan. Ann Druyan spoke at the Planetary Society's "PlanetFest '97" in Pasadena, where thousands of people joined scientists, astronauts, and science fiction authors for a look at the incoming Mars pictures. Your Humble Webmaster actually declined a chance for a free screening of "Contact" before its official opening, due to schedule pressure. And I hate to miss a screening. My review will have to appear here later this month. In Week #2, "Contact" was edged out of 2nd place by the debut of George of the Jungle. "Contact" grossed $16,100,000 for the weekend ($400,000 less than the Walt Disney apeman spoof) on 2,194 screens (a strong $7,345 average) for a cumulative 2-week gross of $47,400,000. In Week #3, "Contact" descended to 4th place, still below week #2 of George of the Jungle. "Contact" grossed $9,700,000 for the weekend on 2,314 screens ($4,194 average) for a cumulative 3-week gross of $65,000,000. The slip from #3 to #4 can surely be ascribed to the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which opened at #1 with $37,100,000 to become the top non-holiday opening this year and the all-time hottest opening between 4th of July and Labor Day. "Contact" ranked just above the inane Paramount debut of "Good Burger." In its 4th week, "Contact" slid to #6, just below the $7,800,000 debut of Fox's "Picture Perfect" (which was fine with Fox, who'd only spent $18,000,000 on the picture). "Contact" ranked just above the Walt Disney kid-and-dog flick "Air Bud" which opened with a disappointing $4,700,000 in 7th place. I think it good news that people would rather see extraterrestrial contact than a dog playing basketball. {week 5 missing from database, will reconstruct later} The 5th science fiction film in the top-10, Warner Bros.' Contact, slipped to 9th in its 6th week. More precisely, "Contact" slipped 36% from week #5 to week #6, with 3-day weekend gross of $2,900,000 on 1,451 screens ($1,980 average) and a respectable 6-week cumulative gross of $88,600,000. This put it well below the 1-2-3 triple blockbusters of Miramax's "Cop Land" debut with a stellar cast headed by Sly Stallone, the 4th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One", and the 2nd week of Warner Bros.' Mel Gibson vehicle "Conspiracy Theory." Thus, Event Horizon was the leader of the 4-5-6-7 sci-fi quad with #5 New Line's Spawnin its 3rd week, #6 Disney's George of the Jungle in its 5th week, and #7 Sony/Columbia's Men In Black in its 7th week. "Contact" ranked just below Fox's "Picture Perfect" and just above Gramercy's "How to Be a Player." Once "Contact" slipped off the top 10, its run was by no means over. For example, after 13 weeks in release (the weekend of 3-5 October 1997) "Contact" grossed $800,000 in a 3-day weekend on 896 screens ($888 average) for a cumulative gross of $99,000,000. Although the ranking had dwindled to #12, the film was ready to crack the $100,000,000 blockbuster level by mid-October -- good news for the future of genuine Science Fiction in the movies. Web: CARL SAGAN Eulogy by his foremost protege Contact--the Movie official web site Lawsuits: This film is now tied up in a lawsuit between producer/director Francis Ford Coppola and the estate of Carl Sagan. Coppola claims that Sagan contracted with him to do a TV miniseries of "Contact" and that the movie infringes this deal. Mrs.Sagan counterclaims that Coppola waited until after Carl Sagan died to launch this lawsuit, because Carl would have denied the deal. Feelings run hot on both sides of this argument. Fans just want to see the movie, which promises a new level of special effects, astronomical concepts, and space-time travel based on equations from Caltech's Black Holes and Spacewarp expert professor Kip Thorne and his graduate students. Reviews: Arch Campbell, WRC-TV, Washington, DC: "One of the best movies of the decade." Gene Shalit, Today: "The season's first superb major motion picture. Jodie Foster gives it everything she's got--which is plenty. 'Contact' is gripping and stunning." Siskel & Ebert: "Two thumbs up!" Pat Collins, WWOR-TV: "Remarkable. Thoughtful. Wonderful. Another Oscar for Jodie Foster." Susan Granger, SSG Syndicate: "'Contact' is dazzling and utterly amazing! Zemeckis' visionary film combines the science-fiction of 'Close Encounters' with the humanity of 'Forrest Gump.' You must see 'Contact'!" Terry Morgan, Pasadena Weekly , 18 July 1997: "Science fiction is an odd genre. This is not to talk about the bug-eyed monsters or zap guns or alien landscapes; science fiction is a weird genre because while masquerading as the future it is always a story about now. On some level the sci-fi story will always be the projection of the author's fears or desires, the future as utopia or dystopia It's a genre entirely dependent on time. The wild futuristic concerns of Jules Verne are today anachronisms, today's 'Apollo 13' would have seemed thoroughly unbelievable 40 years ago. What is interesting about the new film 'Contact' is that it delves behind the core of all science fiction, from the existential question of 'is anything out there?' to the spiritual question of 'why are we alone?'" "Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) is listening for answers. Alone most of her adult life, through her work as a radio astronomer she is searching for meaning that has otherwise eluded her. This changes one day when she does indeed find something, a coded message from deep space, the first contact from an alien intelligence. Decoded, the message turns out to be schematics to build a ship, a vehicle that will apparently take one person to meet the aliens. Ellie would seem to be the obvious choice but she has plenty of governmental opposition. Even if she does go, the retrieving of the answers she's always been searching for may cost her her life." "Foster is well cast as the determined but only human Arroway, her performance detailing the cost of pursuing any big dream. Matthew McConaughey fares less favorably as her ex-lover/media guru, his character essentially there only to move the plot forward at one or two points, more of a thematic idea than a role. Tom Skerritt is hissably fine as Arroway's egotistical boss, and John Hurt is wonderfully deranged as her megarich business sponsor." "Director Robert Zemeckis is to be commended for attempting such an original piece of work, a story about the first contact that is more about the desire for there to be extraterrestrial life (or God) than about the consequences of meeting it. Similarly, Carl Sagan whose book this is based on, and the screenwriters James V. Hart and Michael Goldenberg, deserve kudos. Therein lies the problem with 'Contact', however. As happy as I was to watch the political machinations surrounding such an event, and as excited as I was to listen to the theological discourse (intelligent fare in a Hollywood movie), I was genuinely let down when the contact is finally made. The way it occurs makes a certain amount of sense and plays into the film's finale, but after a long debate on faith vs. science, I wanted a payoff, and in this movie the conclusion is deliberately weak. On some level this is admirable, rigorously maintaining the sense of reality, but on a movie-going level I was disappointed. 'Contact' works as smart drama, but as sci-fi it ultimately fails to deliver." Peter Rainer, New Times (Los Angeles), 10-16 July 1997, p.26: "A lot of ink has been shed in the press lately about the 'seriousness' of ['Contact'].... 'Forrest Gump made Zemeckis a guru; now he's being primed as a philosopher king. Is it rude to suggest that the high-mindedness of 'Contact'--the deepthink about science and religion and the soullessness of modern society--isn't on a much more elevated plane than most science-fantasy books and movies?" "Just about every piece of sci-fi has its mite of 'meaning.' In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find a sci-fi movie--even 'Attack of thre Crab Monsters'--that doesn't work in the Is God Out There? angle. 'Contact' is being applauded because is presumes to rise above its origins, when its origins are all-of-a-piece with its pretension." "And 'Contact' sure is pretentious. It doesn't deliver on the deepthink, and it lacks the charge of good, honest pulp. It's schlock without the schlock.... It's too chunky with data, and it barely registers a romance...." "With his principled scepticism and his genius for popularizing science, [Carl] Sagan certainly was a force for good in the world, but--bless his heart--he wasn't much of a pulpster or sentimentalist... his characters were mouthpieces in the maelstrom... what still comes through in the book is the spiritedness of the scientist's quest... we can still respond to Sagan's ecstatic commingling with the universe." "But [the filmmakers] are gassy with uplift. They provide the sob-sister sentimentalities and sermonettes that Sagan was too smart, or too clueless, to include.... [they] don't build on the intelligence in the book; they tenderize it. 'Contact' is a movie about intelligence that doesn't credit the audience with having much of it...creaky prologue... soggy psychologizing..." "Ellie's counterpart, in one of the weirdest roles in recent movies, is ... Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) [who] shows up looking shaggy and hip--less Billy Graham than Bruce Springsteen.... If the filmmakers had any sense of fun, they would have had Ellie the Unbeliever cry out 'Oh. God!' in the throes of passion [when Joss gets lucky on his first date with Ellie]." "What would any of us really do if we were contacted by extraterrestrials? It's a large question. 'Contact' brings it back down to Earth with a thud by undercutting the awe with blather from government agency types {to be done}" Bernard Weinraub, New York Times, 6 July 1997, p. H9: "Robert Zemeckis is scared. Not scared simply because his new film, 'Contact,' is appearing in the most crowded summer season in movie history. he's especially scared because it's a $90 million studio film that was made for -- pardon the expression -- grown-ups, a film that confronts the tensions between science and religion, intellect and faith." "There's not a dinosaur in sight." "'There are no villains in black hats, no car crashes and explosions, no gunfire,' Mr.Zemeckis said... 'It's got some big special effects, but... the pressure is on me because I feel responsible for the possibility that if this film doesn't work, it'll be harder for the next guy to make a film about SOMETHING...' His most notable successes... are stamped by an unusual blend of comedy, special effects and fantasy, but all have an underlying seriousness. And even his mishaps, like 'Death Becomes Her,' a surprisingly sour comedy, have displayed a sense of invention rare in mainstream Hollywood movies." "If any director could be expected to make a hit fantasy-drama that revolves around difficult ideas--at the same time saving a project that had been on the drawing boards for almost 20 years-- it's Mr.Zemeckis. Still, he and his producers are anxious." "'This film does not underestimate the American public,' said Lynda Obst... 'If we're right, it's fantastic. And if we're not, well, it'll make moviegoing just a bit more dreary.'" The movie centers on the astronomer Ellie Arroway [Jodie Foster] whose life has been dedicated to proving the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life." "One morning, amid the huge listening dishes... Arroway has her belief vindicated when she receives a message from a distant star.... In the international frenzy that follows, Arroway fights the whims of bureaucracy to maintain control of her communications with the alien civilization. But beyond this, she seeks to square her commitment to science, which has been all-consuming, with her dawning awareness of theological concerns...." "'Hopefully, the movie provokes us to ask the questions that Carl [Sagan] asked all his life about our place in the universe,' said Ms.Obst. 'Is there intelligent design to the universe? Are we alone? If we are alone, what does that mean, and if we're not what does it mean.'" "Such questions are generally not the sort raised by Hollywood movies these days, and underlying that fact is a large practical question: can a lavish film be about intellectual issues but also have enough drama to lure big audiences?" "'The hope is, there's enough spectacle that people will feel entertained and be able to enjoy the intellectual side of the film,' said [producer] Steve Starkey... 'Bob [Zemeckis] always likes quoting [Francois] Truffaut that good cinema is a blend of truth and spectacle. That's what, we hope, embodies 'Contact.'" On-Line Audience Raves (these and more on the website listed above): Daniel Alonso, Miami FL: "I was totally amazed and overjoyed after seeing this movie. Thank you for making a movie that I could recommend to anyone to see." Mimi, Lansing MI: "A few hours ago I saw 'Contact.' I saw the movie with my kids, 10 and 12 years old. We all loved it. This was a magnificent film." Gary Greene, Woodinville WA: "Not since '2001: A Space Odyssey' have I been impressed and moved by a motion picture! Congratulations on a masterpiece of filmmaking." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Death and Sex are surrealistically connected by automobile accidents Studio: Fine Line Based on: J. G. Ballard's novelette, considered unfilmable by many experts Executive Producers: Robert Lantos, Jeremy Thomas Co-Executive Producers: Chris Auty, Andras Hamori, Producer: David Cronenberg Co-Producers: Stephane Reichel, Marilyn Stonehouse Director: David Cronenberg Assistant Director: David Webb Writer: David Cronenberg Cinematographer: Peter Suschitzky Editor: Ronald Sanders Starring: James Ballard -- James Spader, in black leather (car interior in "warm leatherette") Catherine (Mrs. James Ballard) -- Deborah Kara Unger Dr. Helen Remington -- Holly Hunter Gabrielle -- Rosanna Arquette Vaughan -- Elias Koteas Jackie Kennedy -- Christine Carmichael Colin Seagrave -- Peter MacNeill Vera Seagrave -- Cheryl Swarts Airport Hooker -- Yolande Julian Salesman -- Judah Katz Tatooist -- Nicky Guadagni A. D. -- Ronn Sarosiak Grip -- Boyd Banks Man in Hanger -- Markus Parilo Camera Girl -- Alice Poon Trask -- John Stoneham, Jr. Auto Wreck Salesman (voice) -- David Cronenberg (uncredited) Production Design: Carol Spier Costume Design: Denise Cronenberg Special Effects Coordinator: Michael Kavanaugh Music: Howard Shore (orchestration, conductor) Location: Toronto (although the setting was London in the book) Opening: Spring 1997 REVIEWS: Highly mixed reviews, due to sexually explicit, techno-sadomasochistic nature. Details: Manhola Dargis, L.A. Weekly, 21-27 March 1997: "Perhaps the most sexless movie ever made about sex, death and cars. Set in an antiseptic metropolis in the near future, it's a dreamy, droning story about a handful of car crash survivors who come together again and again--automotively, habitually, orgasmically--in order to retrieve the erotic charge of their crackups, ecstatic fusions of steel and skin, fuel and blood.... meant to explore the death of feeling in the modern world with clinical, stomach-churning accounts of abraded, layed, and violated flesh.... Cronenberg's version of "Crash" by contrast [with Ballard's text] is a model of aesthetic humility... an aggressively unerotic choreography of deviant sex and bad driving... a fugue of mood and meaning... disaffected in a late 20th century kind of way... a flatline of a movie... chock- full of bravura set-pieces--Cronenberg has invented a memorable prosthesis for James' gnarled leg, along with a wonderful scene that re-creates James Dean's fatal smash-up as the ultimate in performance art--but he's taken a gravely literal, at times absurd approach to Ballard's concept of the loss of affect. All the actors... deliver their lines in groggy monotones and move as if swimming through aspic.... For all the director's visual flair, his trademark flashes of gallows humor and his few good moments (Rosanna Arquette's Gabrielle, a minor character in the book, is one of the movie's perverse triumphs), there's never a sense that he's made 'Crash' fully his own.... That doesn't take away the real shock of the movie.... The problem is, there's nothing BUT shock... no anguish, revulsion, heat or transcendence... No wonder his characters look so bummed--like us, they're suffering from post-ironic burnout." M.S., New Times, Los Angeles, 1-7 May 97: "Cult auteur David Cronenberg crashes and burns--his talent, that is--in this vain attempt at a techno-age 'Persona'.... It follows a demented explorer named Vaughan... into an insane new world where twisted metal, curvy skin, automotive oil, and bodily fluids merge into a carnal cocktail.... Cronenberg settles for putting this vision on-screen... with an analytic coolness and simplicity. It's a rank miscalculation." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Dante's Peak

Story: Small-town mayor and volcanologist warn about pending volcano eruption in Los Angeles Studio: Universal Pictures presents a Pacific Western production Executive Producer: Ilona Hertzberg Producers: Gale Anne Hurd & Joseph M. Singer Director: Roger Donaldson Writer: Leslie Bohem (and uncredited Allan Scott) Cinematography: Andrzej Bartkowiak Starring: Volcanologist Harry Dalton -- Pierce Brosnan Mayor Rachel Wando -- Linda Hamilton Paul Dreyfus -- Charles Hallahan Lauren Wando -- Jamie Renee Smith Graham Wando -- Jeremy Foley Ruth -- Elizabeth Hoffman Greg -- Grant Heslov Terry Furlong -- Kurt Trutner Nancy -- Arabella Field Stan -- Tzi Ma Les Worrell -- Brian Reddy Dr. Jane Fox -- Lee Garlington Sheriff Turner -- Bill Bolender Mary Kelly -- Carole Androsky Norman Gates -- Peter Jason Jack Collins -- Jeffrey L. Ward Elliott Blair -- Tim Haldeman Marianne -- Walker Brandt Warren Cluster -- Hansford Rowe Karen Narlington -- Susie Spear others {to be done} Special Digital Effects and Animation: Digital Domain ("Apollo 13") really cool 3-D by Dr. Ken Jones ("Terminator 3-D") Special Effects Coordinator: Roy Arbogast Music: John Frizzell Theme: James Newton Howard Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande CD & cassette Edited by: Conrad Buff A.C.E., Howard Smith A.C.E., Tina Hirsch A.C.E. Production Designer: Dennis Washington Costume Design: Isis Mussenden Director of Photography: Andrej Bartowiak A.S.C. Novelization: Berkley Books Opening: 7 February 1997 (maybe sliding to 7 March 1997) Dante's Peak website [watch out: the web site is very cool, but takes forever to download] Box Office: $67,200,000 domestic + $110,200,000 overseas = $177,400,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "Dante's Peak" was released two months before the other volcano flick of the season, Volcano. But Dante's Peak opened more strongly than the later rival, and captured $18,600,000 for the best February opening of any movie ever, beating "Volcano's" opening week of $14,700,000. "Dante's Peak" was also widely felt to have a better script and more scientific plausibility (often a plus for the hard-core science fiction audience). Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Deep Rising

Story: Not a good idea to hijack an abandoned pleasure boat in the South Seas unless your gang of jewell thieves enjoys being attacked by sea monsters working title (1996) was "Tentacles" Studio: Walt Disney Productions/Calamari Pictures/Hollywood Pictures Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures (USA), Tobis Filmkunst (Germany), Ascot Elite (Switzerland) Based on: ??? Screenplay: Stephen Sommers Director: Stephen Sommers Director of Photography: Howard Atherton Editors: Bob Ducsay, John Wright Executive Producer: Barry Bernardi Producers: John Baldecchi, Laurence Mark Associate Producer: Howard Ellis Starring: John Finnegan -- Treat Williams Trillian St.James -- Famke Janssen Simon Canton -- Anthony Heald Joey Pantuci -- Kevin J. O'Connor Hanover -- Wes Studi The Captain -- Derrick O'Connor Mulligan -- Jason Flemyng Vivo -- Djimon Hounsou Mason -- Clifton Powell Mamooli -- Cliff Curtis T-Ray Jones -- Trevor Goddard Leila -- Una Damon Billy -- Clint Curtis Production Design: Holger Gross Special Effects: Dream Quest Images, Industrial Light & Magic Creature Designer: Rob Bottin Visual Effects Coordinator: Costume Design: Joseph A. Porro Music: Jerry Goldsmith Runtime: 106 minutes Release: 30 January 1998 (Australia: 7 May 1998, Great Britain: 15 May 1998, Germany: 28 May 1998, France: 24 June 1998) Box Office: {To Be Done} Reviews: Robert Ebert, (c) Chicago Sun-Times -- "'Deep Rising' could also have been titled 'Eat the Titanic!' It's about a giant squid that attacks a luxurious cruise ship in the South China Sea. Like all movie monsters, it has perfect timing and always bursts into the frame just when the characters are least expecting it. And it has an unsavory way of dining. 'They eat you?' asks one of the survivors. 'No--they drink you.'" "The mechanics for a movie like this were well established in the 'Alien' pictures, and 'Deep Rising' clones the formula. Survivors are trapped inside giant vessel. Creature finds its way around air ducts and sewer pipes, popping out of shaft openings to gobble up minor characters (the first victim is sucked down the toilet). "D'ya think they have meetings in Hollywood to share the latest twists? I've been seeing the same gimmicks in a lot of different pictures. Evidence: No sooner does the snake in 'Anaconda' release a slimy survivor from its innards than the squid in 'Deep Rising' does the same thing. No sooner is there an indoor jetski chase in 'Hard Rain' than there's one in 'Deep Rising.' No sooner does a horrible monster crawl out of the air ducts in 'Alien Resurrection' than it does so in 'Deep Rising.' And last week I saw 'Phantoms,' which was sort of 'Deep Rising Meets Alien and Goes West.' In that one, the creature emerged from the depths of the Earth rather than the sea, but had the same nasty practice of living behind piles of undigested remains. "An effort has been made by Stephen Sommers, writer-director of 'Deep Rising,' to add humor to his story, although not even the presence of Leslie Nielsen could help this picture. The hero, Treat Williams, is a free-lance skipper of a power-cruiser who hires his craft out to a gang of vile and reprehensible bad guys, led by Wes Studi. They want to hijack a new casino ship on its maiden voyage. The owner of the ship (Anthony Heald) makes several speeches boasting about how stable it is; it can stay level even during a raging tempest. I wonder if those speeches were inserted after the filmmakers realized how phony their special effects look. Every time we see the ship, it's absolutely immobile in the midst of churning waves. "No matter; the creature attacks the ship, and by the time Williams delivers the pirates, it seems to be deserted. Except for the evil owner, of course, and a jewel thief (Famke Janssen) who was locked in the brig and survived the carnage. "This type of movie depends much upon the appearance of the monster, which has been designed by f/x wizard Rob Bottin ('John Carpenter's The Thing'). There is a vast evil squid head and lots of tentacles (which seem to have minds of their own, and lots of mouths with many teeth). So vicious is the squid, indeed, that only the cynical will ask how it can survive for long periods out of water, or how and why it emits its piercing howl, which goes reverberating through the air shafts. "There's comic relief from Williams' engine room man, Pantucci (Kevin J. O'Connor), who plays the Donald O'Connor role and is always wisecracking in the face of adversity. And Djimon Hounsou turns in an effective supporting performance as one of the more fanatical members of the pirate gang (he played Cinque in 'Amistad' and shows a powerful screen presence once again, although on the whole I'll bet he wishes the giant squid movie had come out before the Spielberg film). "Bemusing, how much money and effort go into the making of such a movie, and how little thought. It's months of hard work--for what? The movie is essentially an 'Alien' clone with a fresh paint job. You know something's wrong when a fearsome tentacle rears up out of the water and opens its mouth, and there are lots of little tentacles inside with their own ugly mouths, all filled with nasty teeth, and all you can think is, 'Been there, seen that.' Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Devil's Advocate

Story: Join "The Firm" and and fight for your Soul, in court if necessary Studio: New Regency/Warner Bros./Koppelson Entertainment Based on: novel by Andrew Neiderman, and also loosely on "The Devil and Samuel Webster", lots of nasty lawyer jokes Screenplay: Lawrence D. Cohen, Tony Gilroy, Robert Mark Kamen, Jonathan Lemkin Director: Taylor Hackford Director of Photography: Andrej Bartowiak A.S.C. Editor: William Henry Executive Producers: Erwin Stoff, Michael Tadross Producers: Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson Co-Producer: Stephen Brown Starring: young lawyer Kevin Lomax -- Keanu Reeves Senior Partner John Milton/Lucifer -- Al Pacino Mary Ann Lomax -- Charlize Theron Phillipe Moyez -- Delroy Lindo (uncredited) Alexander Cullen -- Craig T. Nelson Allessandra Cullen -- Monica Keena (uncredited) Eddie Barzoon -- Jeffrey Jones Mrs.Lomax -- Judith Ivey Leamon Heath -- Ruben Santiago-Hudson Christabella -- Connie Nielson Barbara -- Heather Matarazzo Pam Garrety -- Debra Monk Weaver -- Vyto Ruginis Melissa Black -- Laura Harrington Diana Barzoon -- Pamela Gray Gettys -- Christopher Bauer Don King -- Don King Alphonse D'Amato -- Alphonse D'Amato ??? -- George Wyner ??? -- Neal Jones Production Design: Bruno Rubeo Special Effects: Out of the Blue Visual Effects Visual Effects Coordinator: Carla Attanasio Costume Design: Judianna Makovsky Music: James Newton Howard Rumors: lots of problems with the film, including Keanu Reeves's southern accent Running Time: 144 minutes Box Office: "Devil's Advocate" opened very strongly at #2, just below the opening of Sony/Columbia's "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (a teen thriller with the second highest October opening ever, just behind the sci-fi "Stargate" which grossed $16,700,000 in its 1994 debut) and just above Paramount's "Kiss the Girls" (which had opened at #1 the week before). With $12,300,000 in the weekend, on 2,161 screens (a powerful $5,632 average) "Devil's Advocate" was expected to "have legs" and stay at #2 for a while. As predicted, "Devil's Advocate" held onto #2 in week #2, still sandwiched between "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and "Kiss the Girls." The $10,200,000 4-day gross on 2,351 screens ($4,347 average) for $26,600,000 cumulative gross meant only a 16% drop from opening week. By Week #3, "Devil's Advocate" was one step down from heaven, rated #3, having had $7,370,000 weekend gross on 2,404 screens ($3,065 average) for cumulative gross of $37,300,000. It was virtually tied with the #2 debut of the MGM anti-Chinese Richard Gere hit "Red Corner", and just below the wider-release porn-industry drama "Boogie Nights." Week #4 saw "Devil's Advocate" ranked #4, with $5,100,000 4-day weekend gross on 2,207 screens ($2,301 average) for $45,000,000 cumulative gross. After a 31% decline from the previous week's gross, "Devil's Advocate" ranked just below Sony/Columbia's savvy surprise teen hit "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (which has almost exactly kept pace with 'Devil's 'Advocate' after opening the same week), and just above MGM/UA's "Red Corner." "Devil's Advocate" was down to #7 in week #5, with 3-day gross of $3,500,000 on 2,016 screens ($1,737 average) and a devilishly big cumulative gross of $50,500,000. This ranked it just below Sony/Columbia's teen-smash "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in its 5th week and just above MGM/UA's "Red Corner" in week #3. Opening: 16 October (originally scheduled 17 August 1997) Reviews: Paul Tatara, CNN Online (c) CNN -- "Poor Satan. He just doesn't hold the emotional sway that he used to, now that he's mired in the ironic 90s. There was a time when filmmakers could spread goose bumps across an audience simply by having a man with a pointy beard chuckle and rub his chin, but those days are long gone. And it's only getting worse." "In the 70s it took something as elaborate as Linda Blair's neck doing aerobics to convince us that we weren't just looking at a bunch of actors pretending. By now, though, turning on the 6 o'clock news is scarier than anything you're bound to see at the theater. Our spirituality has actually become jaded." "Jaded or not, it seems like a studio could come up with something creepier than 'The Devil's Advocate,' which stars Al Pacino and actor-like performer Keanu Reeves as lawyers who are ... evil! This would be frightening as hell if it weren't already common knowledge, but the scattershot script doesn't even manage to make it much fun. You don't care about any of the characters, so there's no fear of something nasty happening to them, and, with the exception of Pacino (who plays the devil himself), it's terribly miscast." "Let's face it, if Keanu Reeves walks in and announces that he'll be defending you in your triple murder case (as he does for Craig T. Nelson in the movie), you would be wise to run out and buy 30 or 40 cartons of Marlboros. You'll be needing them in jail. To top it all off, director Taylor Hackford expects us to feel like we're staring into the Heart of Darkness because a bunch of rich guys get a kick out of slinky women and really expensive furniture. I'm not exactly running around with a pitchfork, but, hey, with the exception of the furniture, I'm right with 'em. "Like 'Rosemary's Baby' (It pains me to mention Polanski's classic in the same article as this turkey), 'The Devil's Advocate' is set in New York City, and attempts to wring hellishness out of the escapades of a ladder-climbing careerist. Reeves plays a hot-shot lawyer from Gainesville, Florida, a man so brilliant he's never lost a case. "Snicker. "His wife (Charlize Theron) is a curly-haired cutie who seems even more greedy and ambitious than her husband. In fact, Theron and Reeves are so self-centered it's a little difficult to feel sorry for them when Keanu's tainted soul commences to ruining the happy household. In the opening scene, Reeves even grills a junior high school girl on the stand, forcing her to look like a liar when she says that her (quite guilty) teacher molested her. The girl starts crying, but it could just be her embarrassment from watching Reeves." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Event Horizon

Story: in 2047, the jerry-rigged pre-production spaceship "Event Horizon" has been missing for 7 years, and turns up at the edge of the Solar System, in orbit around the planet Neptune, so 7-person search and rescue ship Lewis & Clark goes to find out where the spaceship has been and what happened to its crew; but something is very very wrong... could it be ghosts of dead astronauts, or aliens, or some side-effect of the experimental warp drive? "Infinite Space, Infinite Terror." Studio: Paramount Pictures and Lawrence Gordon present a Golar Production in association with Impact Pictures Based on: "The Shining" meets "Alien" with the philosophy of "Solaris" Executive Producer: Nick Gillott Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Jeremy Bolt Screenplay: Philip Eisner Novelization: Tor Books Director: Paul Anderson ("Mortal Kombat") Cinematography: Adrian Biddle, B.S.C. ("Aliens") Editor: Martin Hunter Starring: Capt. Miller (head of investigation team) -- Laurence Fishburne Dr. William Weir (spaceship designer) -- Sam Neill Peters (emergency technician) -- Kathleen Quinlan ("Apollo 13", "Twilight Zone: The Movie") Starck (navigator) -- Joey Richardson Cooper (emergency technician) -- Richard T. Jones Justin (engineer) -- Jack Noseworthy D.J. (trauma surgeon) -- Jason Isaacs Pilot Smith -- Sean Pertwee Special Effects: supervised by Richard Yuricich, A.S.C., shot almost completely indoors on 8 London soundstages (mostly for the interior of the "mile-and-a-half long spaceship", including the rotating 100-foot "meat grinder"), plus a day-and-a-half of outdoors shooting in the gardens of Pinewood Studios, as a flashback to a children's birthday party. 700 computer-generated images, including those to create the illusion of weightlessness Production Design: Joseph Bennett Supervising Art Director: Michael Stevenson Set Decorator: Crispian Sallis Costumes: John Mollo's spacesuit costumes weighed 65 pounds each, yet Laurence Fishburne was reportedly affectionate towards his, which he dubbed "Doris." Actors repeated the old joke from Project Mercury that space capsules used to be so small that you didn't get into them, you put them on. The spacesuits have their own air, lights, and sound. Music: Michael Kamen Soundtrack: London Records Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes Opening: 15 August 1997 Web: Event Horizon official site Box Office: "Event Horizon" opened strongly at #4, with 3-day weekend gross of $9,500,000 on 2,311 screens ($4,116 average). This put it below the 1-2-3 triple blockbusters of Miramax's "Cop Land" debut with a stellar cast headed by Sly Stallone, the 4th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One", and the 2nd week of Warner Bros.' Mel Gibson vehicle "Conspiracy Theory." On the other hand, "Event Horizon" was the leader of the 4-5-6-7 sci-fi quad with #5 New Line's Spawnin its 3rd week, #6 Disney's George of the Jungle in its 5th week, and #7 Sony/Columbia's Men In Black in its 7th week. The 5th science fiction film in the top-10, Warner Bros.' Contact, slipped to 9th in its 6th week. "Event Horizon" dropped 54% to a #7 ranking in week #2, with 4-day weekend gross of $4,400,000 on 2,328 screens ($1,872 average), and a cumulative gross of $17,700,000. The drop can be partly ascribed to the double debut of #1 "G.I. Jane" and #2 "Money Talks." Still, "Event Horizon" topped the #8 debut of Universal's "Leave it to Beaver." Reviews: Colin MacLean, CBS Newsworld: "'Event Horizon' will scare the living daylights out of you. Intelligent, visually awesome and dramatically satisfying." Mark Montgomery, Sci-Fi Channel: "An electrifying marriage of science fiction, suspense and classic horror. Leads us to a realm we've never seen before." John Platt, Sci-Fi Buzz: "Be prepared to be scared! As intense as 'Aliens' and as truly frightening as 'The Exorcist." Dave Kehr, Los Angeles Daily News: "A gripping late summer surprise." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug 1997, p.F16: "In the area of science-fiction horror, state-of-the-art technology gives and takes away. It makes possible wonders no one could have imagined and creates terrors so excessive it's dreadful to look at the screen. 'Event Horizon' has a knack for both, and that's something of a shame." "For watching the dark doings that results when spaceship Event Horizon returns from a mysterious trip 'beyond the boundaries of known scientific reality' leads to the odd wish it had been made in a different time. Yes, you'd sacrifice the special effects and the excellent model work, one of the film's prime assets, but you'd also sidestep the current hip fascination with creating repulsion, sickening and revolting an audience. Maybe that's not strictly a trendy desire, but it's not previously been joined with the kind of killer technology that makes it so graphically possible." "There are, as it turns out, several things to appeal to an adult audience about 'Event Horizon.' .... It's especially well-cast for what is basically a piece of pulp fiction. And Philip Eisner's script holds our interest, partly via a plot twist that fans of 'Forbidden Planet' will find familiar." "Director Paul Anderson... well knows how to build suspense and increase tension. But counter-balancing all that is 'Event Horizon's' position as a sci-fi splatter film, intent on drenching the screen in blood and gore whenever possible. Though the script provides an excuse for the charnel house ambience, that doesn't make it any more pleasant to watch." "Laconic no-nonsense Captain Miller (Lawrence Fishburne) whose idea of a big speech is 'You know the rules, people: someone drops the ball, we get the call.'..." "Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill), the troubled scientist who designed the Event Horizon. He explains that the lost ship was able to in effect fold space, creating what he calls 'a dimensional gateway' that enabled it to evade the laws of physics and fly faster than the speed of light." "The Event Horizon, it's soon determined, is a ghost ship with its crew--who have left behind a strange and terrifying captain's log--all dead and gone. It's also an extremely spooky place that causes all kinds of aberrant instrument readings. So no one is too happy when disastrous circumstances force ... the Lewis & Clark crew to temporarily abandon their ship and set up on the derelict vessel." "Though explaining exactly what's happening and why is not always this film's strength, it becomes clear that the Event Horizon is playing frightening mind games with everyone on board. Dr.Weir seems to understand more than he's willing to let on, and those who remember the strange powers of 'the monsters from the id' in 'Forbidden Planet' will know some of the places this film is headed...." "To sell this kind of B-movie material, an A-cast is always helpful, and starting with the always-convincing Fishburne, 'Event Horizon' has one. Why fine performers want to be reduced to saying lines like 'optimum approach angle is 14 degrees' is unclear (unless it's a desire to have a 'Star Trek' knockoff experience) but the film is better off for their presence." "It's also helpful that several of the actors, the director and key production personnel are British. It gives 'Event Horizon' a bit of a different feel, as does the arresting production design by newcomer Joseph Bennett. Expertly photographed by Adrian Biddle... Bennet's brooding, at times medieval sets are as convincing as they are different." "Director [Paul] Anderson gets points for skillfully choreographing all of this, but he loses them for a consistent desire to brutalize the audience. Even before scenes with gouged-out eyes, 'Event Horizon' uses over-amplified sound and a shock style of editing to unmercifully pulverize viewers." "This technique can't help but be effective up to a point, but the number of people who equate being efficiently tortured with being well entertained is, one hopes, a finite one. Otherwise the prognosis for film and society is about as grim as the doing's on that sinister ghost ship." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Fifth Element

Story: 24th Century New York is the setting for a wild adventure. Every 5,000 years a window between dimensions opens, allowing the evil force of negative life to threaten all positive life in our universe. A fiery dark planet appears, and the priest Cornelius who knows the parallel dimension legend warns the Federation President, who ignores him and bombs the planet, with each bomb increasing its size. Korben Dallas, a secret agent turned cab driver, joins with Cornelius and punkish Leeloo (an angel or God or something) in fighting the mercenary Mangalores and their boss Zorg "agent for all that is evil." Studio: Columbia/Gaumont Distributor: Sony is U.S. distributor Based on: New York wants to take "Bladerunner" away from L.A. and crossbreed it with the French comic book "Metal Hurlant" ["Heavy Metal"] Meaning of Title: The Greeks believed that the four elements of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire combined to create the fifth element, the quintessence, of life Co-Producer: Patrice Ledoux, Iain Smith Director: Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita", "The Professional") Writers: Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita", "The Professional") & Robert Mark Kamen. Besson, at 16 "wrote 200 pages as a novel, read it, threw it in the trash, and began all over again... then [20 years later] I started to think again about making it. The first script was 400 pages.... As soon as I had the first draft I started to pre-produce the movie.... I saw 500 or 600 designers and ended up choosing seven, then we had this team together for 12 months, working on ideas for the main characters.... You do that for one monster and then you have to do that for everything--each car, costume, weapon.... The movie was too expensive. Because we started with [later screenplay draft] 250 pages, so the budget was $135,000,000 [so he took a year off to direct 'The Professional']... After 5 months of preparation we shot for 22 weeks, by the end of the production I was sleeping at Pinewood--because there were a few weeks where we had three crews working at the same time." Story: Luc Besson Editor: Sylvie Landra Starring: Korben Dallas -- Bruce Willis (23rd century secret agent turned cab driver) Leeloo -- Milla Jovovich (goddess/pawn in the ultimate good-evil battle) Zorg -- Gary Oldman (amoral weapons dealer) Cornelius -- Ian Holm (priest with heart of gold) Ruby Rhod -- Chris Tucker ("House Party 3", "Friday", "Panther", "Dead Presidents"; 24-year-old Atlanta-based stand-up comic plays androgynous druggy entertainer) Federation President Lindberg -- Tommy "Tiny" Lister, Jr. Billy -- Luke Perry General Munro -- Brion James Fog -- Lee Evans Diva [alien singer] -- Maiwenn Le Besco Extras -- 900 Special Effects: Mark Stetson and 300 workers at Digital Domain Besson said to Iain Blair ["Film & Video" April 1997] "Mark Stetson was in charge of the effects and has his own unit, so we'd work in tandem." Stetson started work in July 1995 "starting breakdowns and meeting with Luc [Besson] and Dan [Weil]. At Pinewood, effects cinematographer Bill Neil and I shot over 100 plates, after an initial location shoot in Mauritania. Karen Goulekas, the digital effects supervisor, also came over to London and together we set up a previsualization unit and started developing shots from the storyboards. [meanwhile, cityscape miniatures were built at Digital Domain] at the same time, we started all the CG work, using [software such as Side Effects'] Prisms, Alias/Wavefront and Softimage for development and modeling, and [Discreet Logic's] FLAME for rendering. We ended up with 220 shots, ranging from alien planets to the desert, so it was a very interesting job." Then edited on 3 Avids at Besson's rented Malibu home. Digital Domain (based in Venice, California) was responsible for 224 shots. Mark Stetson, who used to run a profitable high-quality miniature effects shop with partner Bob Spurlock, told Christine Bunish [Post, 16 May 1997, pp.124-5] "It was the first large production to go entirely in-house at Digital Domain." The 15 minutes of onscreen effects were "a big achievement for us and did a lot to expand the pipeline at Digital Domain since we were also doing shots for Dante's Peakand Titanic concurrently." Animators mostly used Prisms 3D software plus Softimage for the laboratory DNA-to-body reconstruction scene, Alias for the cityscape, compositing with Digital Domain's proprietary Nuke software, so in-house Flame compositing, and output to film on Celco Extreme MPX film recorder. Production Design: Dan Weil ("the Big Blue", "La Femme Nikita", "The Professional") responsible for 9 stages and 24 major sets which he calls "a great deal of quite fantastical" effects constituting "a full spectrum of visual effects work" from digital mattes to total digital scene creation, in which he "created a future and traveled extensively in it An extensive chase cityscape of New York was 1/4 to 1/3 of the work, which used matte paintings, digital traffic, miniature flying cars, composited actors, and digital pigeons. Mark Stetson had directed New York City effects six times before ("The Hudsucker Proxy"). Art Directors: Jim Morahan, Kevin Phipps, Michael Lamont Set Decorators: Maggie Gray, Anna Pinnock, Paul Weathered Director of Photography: Thierry Arbogast Costumes: Jean-Paul Gaultier Monsters: Nick Dudman ("Interview with the Vampire", "Alien 3", "Batman") Music: Eric Serra Soundtrack: Virgin Records Novelization: HarperPrism Locations: Royal Opera House at Covent Gardens, Mauritania Budget: $70-90,000,000, the most expensive French film ever made Running Time: 2 hours, 7 minutes Promotion: opens the 50th Cannes Film Festival, after screening Gaumont threw a party for several hundred guests that cost between $1,000,000 and $3,000,000 with 1-acre tent, huge lighted balloon looking like planet, mock-up of flying cruise ship, huge pyramid, fashion show on mechanically-raised platforms, concert by Nenah Cherry, three-course dinner, and entrance only to those wearing a specially-designed Swatch watch. Opening: 9 May 1997 The Fifth Element @ movieweb Box Office: $63,800,000 domestic + $200,100,000 overseas = $263,900,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "The Fifth Element" opened at #1 with $17,000,000 on opening weekend, at 2,500 screens for an average of $6,813. It ranked above the opening of "Father's Day" with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and above the 2nd week of "Breakdown." Next in line was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at #4, Volcano at #5, and Anaconda at #8. After the second weekend, which grossed $11,600,000 in ticket sales, "The Fifth Element" stayed at #1 in the box office, although sales were down 32% from the opening week. As of 20 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "The Fifth Element" was still #1, on top of a booming box office in America (just above Warner Bros.' "Father's Day", also in its 2nd week), with a 3-day weekend gross of $11,400,000 for a total so far of $34,200,000 and was on 2,500 screens for $4,564 average -- extremely good for the 2nd week in release. As of 28 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "The Fifth Element" slipped to #3, on top of a booming box office in America (below the megablockbuster The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the opening week of "Addicted to Love"), with a 3-day weekend gross of $8,000,000 for a total so far of $46,000,000 and was on 2,500 screens for $3,209 average -- good for the 3rd week in release, especially consider the killer dino flick as competition. In the 4th week of release, "The Fifth Element" slipped to #5 (Just below the New Line comedy "Trial and Error") with $4,000,000 weekend gross at 2,500 screens ($1,613 average) for cumulative gross of $51,500,000. 5th week missing from database; will attempt to reconstruct. In the 6th week of release, "The Fifth Element" slipped to #8 (just below the Columbia animal comedy "Buddy") with $1,500,000 weekend gross at 1,560 screens ($951 average) for cumulative gross of $58,000,000. In week 7 of release, "The Fifth Element" slipped to #9 (Just below the Warner Bros. comedy "Addicted to Love", but pulling ahead of the Columbia animal comedy "Buddy") with $865,000 weekend gross at 1,066 screens ($811 average) for cumulative gross of $59,800,000. The reduced gross is due to the smaller number of screens, and to to the simultaneous openings of Batman & Robin and TriStar's "My Best Friend's Wedding" at #1 and #2. In week #8, "The Fifth Element" dropped off the top-10 list, ranking at #12 with $400,000 weekend gross on 662 screens (($562 average) for cumulative gross of $60,700,000. It ranked just below Orion's "Ulee's Gold" in that film's 3rd week, and just above Buena Vista's "Jungle2Jungle" in its 17th week. Webmaster's Review: by Jonathan Vos Post
--------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright 1997, by Magic Dragon Multimedia. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission. May be posted electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its entirety, and without charge. ---------------------------------------------------------------
Wow! Your Humble Webmaster took his wife and 8-year-old son to see "The Fifth Element" as a Mothers' Day treat, 11 May 1997, and went prepared to scoff, but instead enjoyed the film immensely. This is perhaps the most perfect movie ever made in the "Space Opera"genre, but raised to a higher level by an impeccable sense of comic timing. Again and again, we cut back and forth between subplots with stop-watch accuracy of pace. 2 hours and 7 minutes makes for a long film, but the accelerating tension/release rhythm makes the time fly. My son's favorite part was the swift intercutting of the Diva's stage performance and Leeloo's kick-butt martial arts mastery over the hulking Jean "Moebius" Giraud/Jean-Claude Mezieres Mangalores, in a cross between Bruce Lee and the Three Stooges, with Feydeau farce precision. The "Space Opera" genre is not necessarily a branch of anti-literate Hollywood "sci fi", but can be an entertaining mix of highbrow conceptualization and low-brow melodrama, as expertly penned by the likes of Isaac Asimov, Iain Banks, Leigh Brackett, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John W. Campbell, Arthur C. Clarke, Edmond Hamilton, Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Sheckley, E. E. "Doc" Smith, Olaf Stapledon, Jack Vance, and even H. G. Wells himself, to mention 14 of the many fine writers who have penned timeless Space Opera. Brian W. Aldiss, in his anthology "Space Opera" [Garden City NY: Doubleday, 1974] identifies various key indicators of "Space Opera." If I may take the liberty of interpolating from his delightful introduction, and explaining how "The Fifth Element" scores 100% according to the Aldiss Criteria: (1) Style and Mood staunchly traditional: both the weakness and strength of the film are that everything has been seen before, the fingerprints of generations of filmmakers from the past are visible in each scene, and yet -- as with music -- each note is both predictable and yet slightly surprising in execution. Luc Besson is not a scholar, he didn't know what Plato had to say about quintessence, but he has a very sure grasp of the tradition in which he confidently, exuberantly works his silver screen magic. (2) Hitherto unknown places to explore: we first see a mysterious temple in Mauritania, Earth upside-down from space, and then the unknown gigalopolis of future New York, before taking us to still-undiscovered alien star systems. Visually, we are always breaking through horizontal barriers to drop down through a floor, leap up through a hole in the ceiling, or dive vertically through 3-D traffic. My son mentioned this to me in the car: nothing important happens on the ground. Except for the camel-stepping desert at the opening, everything is suspended in mid-air, on the edge of a cliff, or bursting from one level to another -- giving the same sense of new places to explore as in a contemporary computer game. (3) Continuity between Past and Future: like the animated cartoon of "The Jetsons", the future here is a strict point-by-point satire of the exact present. Cars can fly, but are still recognizably cabs. Scientists can assemble alien bodies chemically from DNA, and yet people still eat McDonalds' hamburgers, drink coffee, and smoke cigarettes. Cops are cops, stewardesses are stewardesses, media stars are irritating, and mothers still nag. (4) Tremendous sphere of space/time: we have galactic transportation at faster-than-light speed, although the implications of this are never worked through, and we have danger recurring every five thousand years, tick by tick in an implied clock of eons. Many planets are presumed to be colonized, so that it is taken for granted that some are there purely for posh vacations. (5) A pinch of reality inflated with melodrama: for the implausible to work on us, there must be a context of gritty plausibility, which this film provides through ingeniously detailed art, set, costume, makeup, and production design. When LeeLoo walks, Harold Lloyd-like, inches from falling a mile into the canyons of Newer New York, she gets dirt on her palms from touching the unscrubbed walls. Cleanliness may be next to godliness, but Leeloo gets dirty, wet, cold, and bloody enough to make us feel for her. (6) A seasoning of screwy ideas: the nuttiest notions are thrown in our lap with no attempt at reasonableness. For example, the Manichaen conflict between Good and Evil is a given, not given any depth, and presuming that a "supreme being" incarnated in a young woman can be vulnerable to mere bullets. The borders between Terrestrial and alien space can be cordoned off with a line of beacons. Hint: one-dimensional lines cannot contain three-dimensional volumes. (7) Heady escapist stuff: this film is not trying to preach a pseudo-religious metaphysical dogma about the Light and Dark Sides of the Force, or make any other didactic points. It is supposed to be fun, and achieves this with no apologies about the need to escape. Luc Besson, fortunately, has little more than a hint of Existentialism, and a thankful freedom from Deconstructionism or other Franco-philosophical baggage. (8) Charging on with little regard for logic or literacy: There are more holes in this plot than in all the cheese in Switzerland. To pick a few at random: there is no room to squeeze more more base pairs, sugars, or phosphates into DNA, let alone for a gadget to reconstruct Leeloo from a form of DNA never before examined by human or computer. There are robots for cleaning up a broken waterglass, and for pouring booze into a glass at an airport bar, but no robot police, robot soldiers, or robot baggage handlers at that same airport. There are at least two species of aliens shown -- the good ones and the nasty Mangalores, and yet no diplomats or multi-species protocols seem to exist other than territoriality, and negotiation down the barrel of a gun. Corben Dallas' mom can get through to the President by phone the moment she wants to. And maybe the Supreme Being can learn all of Earth history on the updated World Wide Web by just clicking on menus, but how come the modem and line are never slow and the system never crashes once? (9) Often throwing off great images, excitements, aspirations: the various styles of hieroglyphics, weapons, vehicles, and alien body forms, combined with the tackiness of the airport and the exaggerated grandeur of the opera stage, and the facts that vast populations seem to exist on Earth without ecological breakdown, and that humans can fly from one solar system to another, are routine to science fiction, and yet are presented here with enough passion to create the so-called "sense of wonder." (10) The Earth should be in peril: this is quite explicit here. Both Cornelius and Corben have the stated assignment to "save the world." The President is told of the threat. The Generals mis-react to it, but acknowledge it. The flaming anti-planet comes within seconds of crashing into the Earth in what would be a bigger explosion than the one that wiped out the dinosaurs 65,000,000 years ago. (11) There must be a quest: the quest is to find the four stones that represent the four elements and which are vital parts to the super-weapon that will save the Earth. All the factions of good guys and bad guys scramble, and step on each other's toes, to get that quadruple maguffin. (12) There must be a man to match the mighty hour: Bruce Willis is that man, a perfect fighter, although evidently an imperfect cabbie, Major, husband, son, and legal client. He is just resentful enough of Authority to have the anti-hero flavor, while otherwise being an ideal Eagle Scout, killer, and gentleman. He nevers hurts as much as in "Pulp Fiction" or "Twelve Monkeys", but he is not just walking through the part. He's having fun, yet we know that he sincerely appreciates the film on its own terms. (13) That man must confront aliens and exotic creatures: the alien Leeloo literally drops in on him, and Corben/Bruce is never at a loss on how best to tactically confront anybody, whether it be mugger, superior officer, or monster. On the other hand, he never does resolve things with his mom, and fails to stop the stewardess from putting him to sleep in his Japanese-style bunk-cubicle. (14) Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher: spaceships of various sizes and designs whiz, blast, whirr, and swoop quite three-dimensionally through the cis-lunar and interstellar vacuum. Yes, yes, we all know that sound doesn't travel in a vacuum. But soundtracks do. (15) Blood must run down the palace steps: the violence is usually disconnected from genuine suffering, as is appropriate for a cartoon. And yet we have an occasional emphasis in extreme close-ups of dark blood from the forehead of mighty Zorg, ignored flesh wounds on "Die Hard" Willis, blue blood and blue tears from Diva (the literal Lucia de Lamermoor opera-singer of the Space Opera), and bleeding stigmata on Leeloo. (16) Ships must launch out into the louring dark: launch they do, blasting the walls away in front of them if necessary, or stomping little alien parasites in the loading docks. The political reality is troublingly police-statish, but by gosh the trains run on time. (17) There must be a woman fairer than the skies: Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich as brilliant/naive goddess/pawn in the ultimate good-evil battle, is gorgeous, and that is drummed into us at every opportunity by the reaction shots on the faces of scientists, priests, and hero alike. I never heard of her before the buzz about this film, but she is instantly a star. Milla can actually act, and gives an emotional depth to what could have been mawkish and silly if misplayed. (18) There must be a villain darker than a Black Hole: Zorg, as played by Gary Oldman, openly admits that he's a "monster" after he unsuccessfully tries to persuade the contradictory but magnetic Father Cornelius (half Obi Wan Kenobi, half the stammering minister of "Four Wedding and a Funeral") that chaos and destruction are good for life. He fears nobody, except the ultimate force of evil whose emissary on Earth he has been chosen, by some plot-thread never glimpsed. His merest sense of "disappointment" means instant death to minions or innocent bystanders alike. He also encapsulates management's corporate arrogance of our bottom-line down-sizing age. (19) All must come right in the end: there is, of course, a happy albeit hazy ending. Comedy and space opera both require this. Boy meets girl, boy nearly loses girl, boy gets erotically entwined with girl at the end, as James Bond always does. Of course, the champagne is poured prematurely, so that a final twist of fear can be created, with a final cliff-hanger. But we know that everyone lives happily ever after, although it's not clear whether Corben Dallas can get divorced quickly enough to avoid bigamy, and with an illegal ("no files") alien at that. (20) The future in space, seen mistily through the eyes of yesterday: again, this is not a "hard science fiction" prognostication of a scientifically valid future, but it does meet our media-hypnotized expectations about a future in which problems of racism and sexism have been solved (as in "Star Trek"), and, through unexplained technology and socio-economics, the stars are ours. Although not all these indicators are valid even for each of the stories that Aldiss assembled in his theme anthology, his list is indicative, and shows how deeply correct Luc Besson's intuition and obsession are in this particular genre. Stephen Schaeffer of the Boston Herald called this: "A 'Star Wars' for the 90's!" "Star Wars" is also inarguably Space Opera, and this hits the nail on the head. "The Fifth Element" is a tighter, faster, hipper "Star Wars" for a more frenetic and self-aware decade. It may make me enemies in the involuted and incestuous science fiction film community, to say so, but I believe that "The Fifth Element" is, for all its manifest flaws, a better-styled work of pure Space Opera entertainment. Wow!
Other Reviews: heard from screening viewers: "Loved the first half, hated the second", "It was violent, but the violence was funny", "Really cool graphics", "plot and dialogue right on target", "Milla Jovovich is the real star, makes alien lingo heart-felt", "Luc Besson shoots for the Moon, and hits the asteroid belt", "Gary Oldman really over-the-top, but hair and southern accent absurd" Joe Leydon, NBC-TV: "A jaw-dropping, mind-blowing epic that gives you everything!" David Sheehan, CBS-TV: "Bruce Willis takes 'Die Hard' into the 23rd Century." Stephen Schaeffer, Boston Herald: "A 'Star Wars' for the 90's!" Jane Horowitz, Los Angeles Times: "Great-looking, totally confusing." Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 97: "When it comes to saving the world, Bruce Willis is your man.... Willis holds together French filmmaker Luc Besson's elaborate, even campy sci-fi extravaganza, which is nearly as hard to follow as last year's 'Mission Impossible.' But it's also a lot warmer, more fun and boasts some of the most sophisticated, witty production and costume design you could ever hope to see.... [regarding the plot] all becomes clear enough at the finish.... What an amazing world Besson and his legions of craftsmen have created for us to behold.... Production Designer Dan Weil has envisioned New York as a kind of city-state that seems to pay homage to Fritz Lang's 'Metropolis'.... One tricky plot development after another... a vast cruise ship with interiors that would make Donald Trump's Taj Mahal casino seem understated.... Chris Tucker makes RuPaul--or for that matter Dennis Rodman--seem as calm and sedate as Whsitler's mother.... The look and feel of 'The Fifth Element' is clearly more important to Besson than the narrative--oh, for a soupcon of old-fashioned clarity--and it recalls 'Blade Runner' with a touch of Gallic 'Barbarella' insouciance thrown in for good measure (pastiche is clearly Besson's passion here). In some sequences there is that grunge look that harks back beyond 'Star Wars' to John Carpenter's 'Dark Star' (1974), which may be the most influential least-known movie of the past couple of decades.... the special effects, indeed all technical and creative aspects of the film, are stupendous. The cast is a delight but it's Willis who is the film's true 'fifth element', giving it life, depth and humanity." Tom Shales, Washington Post (as heard on National Public Radio": A flat-out disaster.. mess... facetious... a combination of two of the worst films of all time, 'Hudson Hawk" and 'Joon'... special effects are elaborate and virtually nonstop... quite a fabulous vision, but wasted... like piles of money burning up onscreen... some of the smaller touches are cute... has some appeal for young people who like 'Dungeons and Dragons'... time is too precious to waste on a piece of junk like this... worst of all is Chris Tucker in a potentially career-ending performance... it's horrible, it's torture... not just a movie to avoid, but to run from and hide." Joe Leydon, NBC-TV: "4 stars! A mind-blowing, jaw-dropping epic! The first big blast of the summer!" Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "This film is primed to explode! A kick-ass sci-fi jamboree!" Stephen Schaefer, Boston Herald: "A 'Star Wars' for the 90s!" Larry Ratliff, Fox-TV: "A sky-high sci-fi entertainment thrill ride! The 'E' in 'the Fifth Element' stands for 'extraordinary!'" Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "Willis is the life of the part! A visual knock-out! Eye-popping effects." Alan Silverman, Voice of America: "A dazzling sci-fi adventure spiced with unexpected humor." Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight: "Wildly imaginative, but even better, it's funny." Manohla Dargis, L.A. Weekly: "By all rights this SF cartoon, chock-a-block with discount effect, soft-boiled attitude and genre cliche, should be a disaster from start to finish--and in many ways it is. Too long by half, burdened with the shabbiest F/X this side of 'Invaders from Mars', and offering up some seriously weird performances [Lister and Tucker, this] pricey foray into science fiction is a muddle of miscues and narrative bloat--along with a whole lot of serious fun. Bruce Willis plays the straight man with raised eyebrows, Ian Holm nicely plays comic relief, and Milla Jovovich, a flawless beauty, plays savior in what is essentially a hash of Hugo Gernsback [the pioneering editor of "Amazing Stories" magazine in 1926]... The drop-dead costume design is by Jean-Paul Gaultier, the wonderful aliens are by Jean "Moebius" Giraud and Jean-Claude Mezieres, among others... disposable script... As the archvillain who looks like Hitler and sounds like Billy Bob Thornton, Gary Oldman is flat-out wonderful--he not only seems to know the movie's ridiculous, but that its very absurdity is its reason for being." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Genetically-ordinary human "in-valid" tries to pass himself off as one of the enhanced-DNA elite, because he wants to fly in space with Gattaca Aerospace Corporation (the name "Gattaca" is short for a sequence of 7 DNA nucleotides). Using another's DNA identity and name is a crime variously called "borrowed ladder" or "de-gene-erate", and our hero's predicament becomes even riskier when a Gattaca project director is murdered, and the murder investigation threatens to uncover our protagonist. Will he overcome all odds and be the navigator on the manned mission to Saturn's giant moon Titan? Read my sneak preview, below. Studio: Jersey Films (Danny DeVito) / Columbia / TriStar Title: the working title was "The Eighth Day" Based on: very loosely on Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" Producers: Danny DeVito, Gail Lyon, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher Screenplay: Andrew W. Niccol (NEW ZEALAND) Director: Andrew W. Niccol replaced a busy Luc Besson ("Fifth Element", "The Professional") Cinematography: Slawomir Idziak Editor: Lisa Zeno Churgin Starring: Vincent Freeman/Jerome -- Ethan Hawke Irene Cassini -- Uma Thurman ("Pulp Fiction") Hugo Coldspring (cop) -- Alan Arkin Caesar (janitorial supervisor) -- Ernest Borgnine Investigator/Anton Freeman -- Loren Dean Eugene Morrow/Jerome -- Jude Law Director Josef -- Gore Vidal Lamar -- Xander Berkeley Marie -- Jayne Brook Antonio -- Elia Koteas Delivery Nurse -- Maya Rudolph Head Nurse -- Una Damon Pre-School Teacher -- Elizabeth Dennehy Geneticist -- Blair Underwood Younger Vincent -- Mason Gamble Younger Anton -- Vincent Nielson Young Vincent -- Chad Christ Young Anton -- William Lee Scott Personnel Officer -- Clarance Graham German -- Tony Shaloub Gattaca Hoover -- Carlton Benbry Sequencing Customer -- Grace Sullivan Sequencing Technician -- Ken Marino Cavendish -- Cynthia Martells Gatacca Trainer -- Gabrielle Reece 12-Fingered Pianist -- Ryan Dorin Cop on the Beat -- Dean Norris Gatacca Detective -- Russell Milton Beaten Detective -- George Marshall Ruge Blood Test Detective -- Steve Bessen Mission Commander -- Lindsay Ginter Production Design: Jan Roelfs Special Effects: ??? Music: Michael Nyman composed and conducted Costume Design: Colleen Atwood Clones, genetic engineering and biotechnology in science fiction Opening: 24 October 1997 (slipped from 9 May), in Australia 30 October 1997 Box Office: "Gattaca" opened a surprisingly high #5, with a 4-day gross of $4,300,000 on 1,279 screens ($3,378 average), which put it just below the 3rd week of Sony'TriStar's "Seven Weeks in Tibet" and just above Paramount's fantasy "Fairy Tale--A True Story." After 2 weeks in release, "Gattaca" ranked #9, with $2,600,000 weekend gross on 1,279 screens ($2,022 average) and $8,200,000 cumulative gross. Columbia just wasn't promoting this intelligent and humane film hard enough. It ranked juyst below the debut of Paramount's "Switchback" and just below Paramount's gender-farce "In & Out." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Your Humble Webmaster's Sneak Preview: Copyright 1997, by Magic Dragon Multimedia.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- I loved it! This is a remarkably good, intelligent, well-acted surprise work of genuine science fiction -- and the secret missed by reviewers is that it serves seamlessly as a prequel to the masterpiece "Bladerunner." Consider: (1) In "Gattaca", genetic engineering has changed society in two ways. Individuals are immediately identifiable by analysis of their DNA from a drop of blood, strand of hair, or flake of skin; and this is used to enforce a genetic caste system with optimized children discriminating against natural "god-children." In "Bladerunner" the genetic engineering as advanced to the point that genetically perfect "replicant" androids are created, superior in every way to ordinary humans, so much so that they are kept in check only by an unbreakable programmed-in death within 5 years. (2) In "Gattica", human spaceflight has advanced to manned exploration of the outer solar system. By the time of "Bladerunner" humanity has expanded to flights to other solar systems, and there's an interstellar war in the background. (3) In "Gattica", cops use a combination of traditional flat-foot tactics and high-tech detection, but covert family ties between detective and suspect complicate the chase (I don't want to give away the plot-twist). In "Bladerunner", we are supposed to wonder whether or not the cop-protagonist is himself a replicant, with false memories so that he doesn't know, and supposed to empathize with the pursuer-pursued love affair. (4) In "Gattica", we have a dystopia have had to wait a most of whose citizens are fooled into thinking it's a utopia. By the time of "Bladerunner", it's obvious that things have taken a perhaps-irreversible turn to the dark side. (5) Both films deal with morally ambiguous aspects to the eternal conflict between the rights of the individual and the needs of the collective society, thrown into stark relief by literally life-or-death struggles within a film-noir detective format with hidden-agenda players. (6) Both films share Philip K. Dick's ontological anxiety about one's own identity, and what it means to be human. If you saw "Gattaca" immediately followed by "Bladerunner" at a film festival, you'd exult at the long-arc vision of the coherent pair. By the way, my 8-year-old son perceptively commented that this film shares a number of aspects with "Apollo 13": (1) both are long, slow, and lacking in kid-friendly action adventure, yet (2) both are not o much about space travel as about the kind of men and women who want to be involved in space travel, and (3) both have very close calls but result in happy endings, and so the bottom line is that "gattaca" is "pretty good." I say it's flat-out extraordinary for a film to be successful at the most erudite level, and for a smart 4th grader. This film is better than its critics know, far better than its weak advertising campaign, far deeper than its trailer promises. The world it warns us about is all-too possible. See this movie now, and then think about its message long and hard! --------------------------------------------------------------------- Reviews: Neil Rosen, NY1 News: "Easily one of the best films of the year!" Veronica Mixon, The Philadelphia Tribune: "Sci-Fi at its best! Ethan Hawke gives a riveting performance." Ron Brewington, American Urban Radio Networks: "Gripping, fascinating and suspenseful! A real thriller!" Bruce C. Steele, Out Magazine: "Visually stunning and smartly conceived, Uma Thurman is radiant." Michael Tunison, Entertainment Today: "Hollywood is great at aliens. It long ago cornered the market on spaceships, rayguns and giant insects. But the science fiction traditionalists didn't begin with Buck Rogers. You wouldn't know it by watching the movies, but before square-jawed pulp heroes blasted their first bug-eyed monsters, the genre was the realm of H. G. Welles' serious speculation -- the literature of "What If?" that brought us George Orwell's 1984, Ray Bradbury's Farenheit 451, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. "Anyone interested in sci-fi's special facility for probing humankind's noblest strengths and deepest flaws should rejoice at the fact that, smack in the middle of the Independence Day/Men In Black revitalization of the genre's lowbrow end, at least a couple of attempts have also been made to treat it seriously. Earlier this summer the excellent Contact put Earth in touch with technologically advanced aliens in a relatively plausible manner. Now 'Gattica' revisits another sci-fi staple -- an independent thinker's clash with the conformity of a dystopian near-future society. "Like Huxley's and Orwell's genre milestones, writer-director Andrew Niccol's film pits an outsider against a frighteningly efficient Brave New World Order. In this case, an obsession with using technology to reach genetic perfection with new generations of test-tube babies has led to a new caste system based on how promising a individual's DNA profile is -- their potential for intelligence, physical prowess and other traits. "The not-so-subtly named Vincent Freeman is considered a freak of nature because he was born live from his other's womb, with a completely random set of genes -- an 'invalid' in the era's parlance. With such a limited genetic future (he's myopic, at-risk for various diseases at an early age, etc.), Vincent is considered unfit for any but the most menial of occupations. So it's only with the greatest amount of trouble and personal sacrifice that he's able to work towards his life's dream -- leaving the planet for a tour with the space corps. He's only able to enter the elite training program at 'Gattica' (OK name for a training center -- lousy name for a film) by engaging in an elaborate identity-switching ruse with the genetically superior Eugene (Jude Law), who, unknown to the authorities, has been paralyzed in an accident abroad. Since Eugene can no longer use his top-notch DNA profile in the workplace, he rents it to Vincent -- an illegal scheme that puts both young men in serious danger. "Niccol uses this device to give his film a suspense-thriller spine, complete with a pair of cops (Alan Arkin, Loren Dean) closing in as Vincent's long-awaited launch day approaches. There's also a lukewarm love interest (Uma Thurman) who doesn't know the awful truth about Vincent's genes. Vincent's deception would have given the piece more than enough tension-producing genre punch, but Niccol proceeds to go overboard by turning it into an unnecessary and uninteresting murder mystery -- the death of a flight instructor at Gattaca. If viewers are able to suspend their disbelief through the various farfetched measures Vincent takes to fool the Establishment's identity-checking security system (packs of Eugene's blood underneath fake finger tips; a hidden dispenser of Eugene's urine under Vincent's clothing), they'll have more trouble doing so with convenient facts as no one at Gattaca recognizing Vincent even when his photo is displayed on every computer screen. "However plausible the backdrop, a gaunt-looking Hawke (he's even given that Gen-X goatee), brings just the right underdog Everyman quality to the hero, investing the film with a disarming humanity. It's especially important that he does so since Thurman, who alternates between surprisingly strong character turns in films and surprisingly flat ones, is in the latter mode this time around. Her attempt at a chilly genetic superwoman is cringe-inducing, especially when contrasted by Hawke's relaxed naturalness. "Lovers of a good, grim dystopia have had to wait a long time since the last important addition the the genre, 1985's Brazil. 'Gattaca' doesn't revolutionize the tradition, but its nice to see somebody give the giant bugs a momentary rest and take a shot." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

George of the Jungle

Story: Live Action remake of cartoon; "Watch Out For That Tree!" Y.A.R.O.T.O.T.A. (Yet Another Ripoff Of Tarzan Of The Apes) Studio: Walt Disney Pictures presents a Mandeville Films Avnet/Kerner production Based on: the low-budget 17-episode animated spoof series by Jay Ward Productions, Inc. ("Rocky and Bullwinkle"). The original 1967 animation was directed by Gerard Baldwin, Frank Braxton, Pete Burness, Jim Hiltz, William T. Hurtz, Lew Kieller, John Walker. It starred (voices only): June Foray as Ursula and Nell; Paul Frees as Narrator, Baron Otto Matic, others; Bill Scott as George, Super Chicken, and Tom Slick. The executive producer was Ponsonby Britt; Skipp Craig and Roger Donley edited; and the music was by Sheldon Allman and Stan Worth (see "Song", below). The original cartoon now airs on the Cartoon Network. Screenplay: Dana Olsen, Audrey Wells Story: Dana Olsen Director: Sam Weisman Cinematography: Thomas Ackerman, A.S.C. Editors: Stuart Pappe, Roger Bondelli A.C.E. Executive Producer: C. Tad Devlin Producers: John Avnet, David Hoberman, Jordan Kerner Co-Producer: Lou Arkoff Starring: George of the Jungle -- Brendan Fraser ("Encino Man", Showtime's "Twilight of the Golds", soon to be in independent film "Still Breathing") (and who worked out beforehand until his body fat was reduced to 4%) Ursula Stanhope -- Leslie Mann ("The Cable Guy", "Last Man Standing", "She's The One", "Birdland" [TV], "Virgin High") Wise Ape (voice) -- John Cleese Puppeteer -- Pons Maar Lyle Van de Groot (Ursula's fiance') -- Thomas Haden Church (TV's "Ned & Stacey") Thor -- Abraham Benrubi Beatrice Stanhope -- Holland Taylor Kwame -- Richard Roundtree Max -- Greg Cruttwell Narrator (voice) -- Keith Scott Betsy -- Kelly Miller Arthur Stanhope -- John Bennett Perry Ursula's Friends -- Afton Smith George Jr. -- Moah John Cardoza George Jr. -- Benjamin John Cardoza ??? -- Michael Chinyamurindi ??? -- Abdoulaye NGom ??? -- Lydell M. Chesier ??? -- Spencer Garrett ??? -- Jon Pennell ??? -- Lauren Bowles ??? -- Samantha Harris Production Design: Stephen Marsh Art Directors: David Haber, Mark Zuelzke Set Decorator: Kathryn Peters Visual Effects: Dream Quest Images (CGI makes the elephant, Shep, frolic like a dog) Special Creature Effects: Jim Henson's Creature Shop Stunts: the swing-from-the-San Francisco-Bay-Bridge stunt is performed by Joey Preston Costumes: Lisa Jensen Product Placement: clothes by Armani, shoes by Nike, and this is done so obviously that we're supposed to find it funny Music: Mark Shaiman (twice-nominated for Oscars: "The American President", "The First Wives Club") and also scored both "Addams Family" films. Here, he lushly orchestrates the original melody, slyly inserts it into big-band and Afro-World-Music stylizations, and provides lavish sweetening and animal-noise sampling. "On this movie, I got to use every burlequey, vaudeville-shticky musical idea I've ever wanted to do," he told Jon Burlingame ("The Jungle Ditty Everybody Knows", Los Angeles Times Weekend, 17 July 1997, pp.10-11). Jon Burlingame authored "TV's Biggest Hits" [Schirmer Books]. Song: Stan Worth and Sheldon Allman's 1967 signature song "George, George, George of the Jungle, Friend to you and me (scream: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!) Watch out for that tree!" Stan Worth was a semi-successful singer/musician, and Sheldon Allman was a game-show theme composer ("Let's Make a Deal") as well as a nightclub performer and character actor (the mean veterinarian in "Hud" and prison chaplain in "In Cold Blood). Between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m., at Allman's house, as supervised by Jay Ward, Stan & Sheldon had written not only this immortal ditty but also the theme songs for two other Jay Ward cartoons: "Super Chicken" and "Tom Slick." The tune was basically Stan's, and the words were mostly Sheldon's. Sheldon Allman's line "away he'll schlep on his elephant Shep" is surely the first Yiddish in TV themesongs. Stan Worth arranged, sang, played keyboards, and conducted a 7-man band for the original TV recording; he died in a 1980 plane crash. Allman quit while he was ahead, and never recorded another cartoon song, although he did write two "Mr. Ed" songs ("The Empty Feedbag Blues" and "Pretty Little Filly With The Pony Tail." Sheldon Allman also wrote a musical starring Frankenstien, Dracula, and Wolfman entitled "I'm Sorry, the Bridge is Out, You'll Have to Spend the Night" with co-author Bobby Pickett (the singer of "Monster Mash"). For this movie, the Seattle-based band 'The Presidents of the United States' rewrote the verses (keeping the original chorus) under music producer Don Was. Their version is the end-title theme, and the Mark Shaiman-sweetened version is used for the MTV video and the movie's animated (Jay Ward-style) opening credits. Budget: $50,000,000 [according to June 1997 press release] Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes Preview statements by the Star: Brenden Fraser told Los Angeles Times calendar reporter (Sunday 13 July 1997): "Playing George presented me with some really bizarre acting choices I've rarely been asked to make. Like being in a loin cloth and grasping by my fingernails from a vine as I swing towards a stationary object, screaming, while monkeys hold up numbers. To prepare, I went to Rockreation, the closest postmodern thing I could get to vine swinging. It's in Santa Monica, an indoor rock climbing facility with textured wallsand footholds and handholds. Learned to climb things, cut my fear of that. Opening: 18 July 1997 Web: George of the Jungle official site Brenden Fraser says "I'm a cyberjunkie. I use the Internet as a very helpful tool as an actor. Right now I'm researching a project I'm in with [Sir] Ian Mckellen called 'Gods and Monsters,' from the Christopher Bram book 'Father of Frankenstein.' It's based on James Whale, who directed more than 20 films, most notably 'Frankenstein' and 'Bride of Frankenstein.'" Box Office: "George of the Jungle" had a surprisingly strong opening at #2, with weekend gross of $16,500,000 on 2,506 screens ($6,600 average) and a cumulative 1-week gross of $22,900,000. It ranked below only the powerhouse Men In Black in that Columbia film's 3rd week, and displaced Contact for the #2 spot. Keeping its #2 rank in week #2, "George of the Jungle" kept swinging with weekend gross of $13,200,000 on 2,554 screens ($5,167 average) and a cumulative 2-week gross of $48,100,000. It ranked below only the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which opened at #1 with $37,100,000 to become the top non-holiday opening this year and the all-time hottest opening between 4th of July and Labor Day. "George of the Jungle" moved just ahead of Men In Blackin that Columbia film's 4th week. In Week #3, "George of the Jungle" hung on the vine with 3-day weekend gross of $8,900,000 on 2,605 screens ($3,408 average) and a cumulative 3-week gross of $64,300,000. It ranked below only the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which stayed at #1 with $25,700,000 for the weekend and $80,700,000 cumulatively; and the surprise hit, opening at #2, Spawn. "George of the Jungle" stayed just ahead of Men In Blackin that Columbia film's 5th week. {week 4 missing from database, will reconstruct later} "George of the Jungle" slipped 24% from week #4 to week #5, with 3-day weekend gross of $4,800,000 on 2,431 screens ($1,980 average) and a 5-week cumulative gross of $84,600,000. This put it well below the 1-2-3 triple blockbusters of Miramax's "Cop Land" debut with a stellar cast headed by Sly Stallone, the 4th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One", and the 2nd week of Warner Bros.' Mel Gibson vehicle "Conspiracy Theory." Thus, Event Horizon was the leader of the 4-5-6-7 sci-fi quad with #5 New Line's Spawnin its 3rd week, #6 Disney's George of the Jungle in its 5th week, and #7 Sony/Columbia's Men In Black in its 7th week. The 5th science fiction film in the top-10, Warner Bros.' Contact, slipped to 9th in its 6th week. "George of the Jungle" slipped another 35% down the vine to week #6, where it ranked #9 with $3,100,000 4-day weekend gross on 1,909 screens ($1,647 average) and a cumulative gross of $90,500,000. "George" ranked just below the debut of Universal's "Leave it to Beaver" and just above the 8th week of Men In Black. Even after 12 weeks from release, "George" was still swinging at #20. After the weekend of 3-5 October 1997, "George" had a gross of $500,000 on 757 screens ($604 average), placing it just below Tri-Star's "My Best Friend's Wedding" and giving it a solid cumulative gross of $101,400,000 -- breaking the hundred megabuck barrier. Reviews: Siskel & Ebert: "Two thumbs up!" Jim Svejda, KNX Radio: "The Best Disney Comedy in years." Jimmy Carter, Nashville Network: "One of the funniest films that I have seen in a long time." Ron Brewington, American Urban Radio Networks: "The funniest film of the summer." Bill Zwecker, WMAQ-TV (NBC), Chicago: "A comedy smash." Roger Moore, Winston Salem Journal: "Howlingly funny." Mike Cidoni, WOKR-TV (ABC), Rochester NY: "Watch out! Here comes the surprise smash of the summer." Bill Bregoli, Westwood One Radio: "The most fun you will have in the movies this summer." Don Stotter, WDZL-TV (Independent): "Everyone will love this wild and funny ride." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, Wednesday 16 July 1997, p.F5: "...Plucky but maladroit, this Tarzan knockoff is liable to bang into almost anything but, like those Timex watches, he takes a licking and keeps on ticking.... If you're looking for something silly, you've got nothing to worry about.... This version ... tries to recapture the wised-up cleverness of the original but only partly succeeds. Sporadically playful, it ends up wearing as thin as any film geared to a preteen sense of humor is bound to do. What that means is that any audiences that might be charmed by the film's self-mocking attitude will have to endure a long string of jokes about flatulence and people getting hammered in the crotch... that's an awful lot of slapstick to put up with from anyone who is not Jim Carrey." "Unseen but all-important is the narrator (Keith Scott) whose mellifluous voice delivers knowing asides referring to things like 'the big and expensive waterfall set.' It also moves us '46 vines away' from George's territory to introduce the 'terrifying intruder' who turns out to be madcap heiress Ursula Stanhope (Leslie Mann) on an adventure-seeking safari in Africa." "Soon enough Ursulais joined by her arrogant snob of a fiance', Lyle Van de Groot (Thomas Haden Church)... He's accompanied by a pair of poachers thinly-disguised as guides... [who] are ever so interested in jungle legends of a gigantic White Ape ["sounds like a drink"], 7 feet tall... but soon enough Ursula is gone, and it just might be that big galoot has made off with her. That galoot, of course, would be George, who, not surprisingly, given all the knocks on the head he's taken, is not the sharpest coconut in the jungle. Though the character is meant to be an innocent, Frasier's playing is closer to feeble-mided and befuddled, which puts a crimp in his audience appeal...." "[The animatronic] Ape [voice by John Cleese] is the most successful of the film's nonhuman characters... [who] sniff's 'George's Secrets: there's the shortest book ever written.' This kind of off-handed humor appears often enough to keep 'George of the Jungle' genial, but even by the standards of the genre, there's not a banana's worth of plot... to offer narrative nourishment...." "The film remains mildly amusing, but [self-conscious product placement] ends up canceling out the humor and the innocence. Given that 'King of Jungle only here to help' is George's constant refrain, he could have started by bailing out his own film." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Godzilla Story: big lizard stomps town Studio: Columbia/TriStar Based on: original low-budget Japanese films Screenplay: ??? Producer: Dean Devlin? ("Independence Day") Director: Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") Starring: love interest -- Leslie Mann ("George of the Jungle", "The Cable Guy", "Last Man Standing", "She's The One", "Birdland" [TV], "Virgin High") Special Effects: ??? Opening: Winter 1997, slipped to Summer 1998. Was grounded for budget revision. See SNEAK PRE-PREVIEWS: 1998 SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY/HORROR FILMS Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Feature Animation by the team that brought you "Aladdin" and "The Little Mermaid", trying to cash in on the Hercules/Xena craze in the studio's 35th animated feature. Herc, the awesomely strong but (in the myths) anger-prone, selfish, and very stupid son of God-King Zeus is taken from his home on Mount Olympus via a plot by Hades, God of the Underworld (in the myth, of course, it's Pluto, God of the Underworld, but that might be confusing to Disney fans). As Hades tries to conquer the universe, Hercules and his sidekick Phil have to stop him. They do. Studio: Walt Disney / Distributed by Buena Vista Based on: Greek legend. See my essay on Greece as the origin of science fiction Countries D-to-J Screenplay: Ron Clements & John Musker, Bob Shaw & Donald McEnery (stand-up comics) and Irene Mecchi Producer: Alice Dewey and John Musker & Ron Clements Director: John Musker & Ron Clements Editor: Tom Finnan Assistant Editor: Julie Rogers Songs: Alan Menken (melody) & David Zippel (lyrics) Musical Conductor/Vocal Arranger: Michael Kosarin Starring: Hercules -- Tate Donovan Young Hercules -- Joshua Keaton Young Hercules (singing) -- Roger Bart Philoctetes (Phil) -- Danny DeVito Hades -- James Woods Pain -- Bobcat Goldthwaite Zeus -- Rip Torn Narrator -- Charlton Heston Panic -- Mat Frewer Hermes -- Paul Shaffer Hera -- Samantha Eggar Amphitryon -- Hal Holbrook Megara (Meg) -- Susan Egan Cyclops -- Patrick Pinney Alcmene -- Barbara Barrie Atropos -- Paddi Edwards Burnt Man -- Corey Burton Nessus -- Jim Cummings Apollo -- Keith David The 3 Fates: Clotho -- Amanda Plummer Lachesis -- Carole Shelley The 7 Muses: Calliope -- Lillias White Clio -- Vaneese Thomas Melpomene -- Cheryl Freeman Terpsichore -- LaChanze Thalia -- Roz Ryan Production Design: Gerald Scarfe (artist/cartoonist "Pink Floyd--The Wall") Special Effects: over 1,000,000 drawings were made, wearing out 72,000 pencils in the process. Supervising Animator: Andreas Deja (Hercules) Web: Hercules official web site Game: there will be a PlayStation CD game released the same day, fo more on this see Disney's Hercules Game Opening: 25 June 1997 slipped to 27 June 1997? see my essay on "Rocky and Bullwinkle" in my Ultimate SF TV site TELEVISION: list of 350+ links, last updated 31 Dec 1996 Box Office: {opening week figures to be done} In the 2nd week of release, "Hercules" slipped to #10, with $852,000 gross on 2 screens for a cumulative gross of $1,500,000 and an Olympian $462,052 per screen. This is due to the seats for the Manhattan movie and stage showing at a pricey $15 to $55. When "Herc" goes to wider release, the per-screen average will drop enormously, but the weekly gross will shoot up, and so the ranking will rise beyond this week's #10 on the list. In week 3, as predicted, Hercules shot to #2, with 3-day weekend gross of $21,500,000 on 2,872 screens for an average of $7,470 and a cumulative gross of $23,700,000. "Hercules" was close behind the debut of Paramount's "Face/Off", directed by John Woo and starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, which opened at #1 with $23,400,000. The surprise was that "Hercules" rose above Batman & Robin. These numbers strongly suggest that "Hercules" will gross over $100,000,000 in North America which is good news for Disney, but not great news. After all, "The Lion King" grossed $312,000,000 in the same U.S./Canadian market. The 4th week gave "Hercules" an 11% shove down towards the underworld, with a still-strong $19,100,000 weekend gross. In 3rd place, Herc was still below "Face/Off" and the tremendous $84,100,000 debut of Columbia's Men In Black. Classical romance edged above modern romance, with the Hercules-Meg love-in just above the 3rd week of "My Best Friend's Wedding." In Week #5, "Hercules" dropped 32% from 3rd to 4th place, with weekend gross of $8,340,000 on 2,930 screens ($2,846 average), cumulatively raking in $66,500,000. It ranked just below the 3rd week of Paramount's "Face/Off", and just above the 4th week of TriStar's "My Best Friend's Wedding." Much of this slippage can be ascribed to the powerhouse pair on top of the market: Men In Black in its second week at #1, and Contact opening at #2. The science fiction/fantasy audience has a tough time choosing between winners in this record-breaking summer. "Hercules" slipped further in week #7, with weekend gross of $5,200,000 on 2,541 screens ($2,043 average) for a cumulative 7-week gross of $76,800,000. It ranked (once again) just below "My Best Friend's Wedding", and just above the slightly lower than expected debut of Miramax's "Operation Condor" (starring Jackie Chan). In Week #8, "Hercules" descended to 9th place, still below "My Best Friend's Wedding", and just above the slightly lower than expected 2nd week of Miramax's "Operation Condor" (starring Jackie Chan). "Hercules" grossed $3,200,000 for the weekend on 1,957 screens ($1,610 average) for a cumulative 7-week gross of $83,400,000. The slip to #9 can surely be ascribed to the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which opened at #1 with $37,100,000 to become the top non-holiday opening this year and the all-time hottest opening between 4th of July and Labor Day. Reviews: Mason Woods, WAFB-TV (CBS): "Disney does it again!" Peter Plagens, Newsweek: "'Herc' is the ultimate action hero." Time Magazine: "A hit!" Susan Granger, SSG Syndicate & American Movie Classics: "'Hercules' is a mighty, titanic 10!" Pat Collins, WOR-TV, New York: "Absolutely wonderful!" Marshall Fine, Gannett Suburban: "It delivers big time!" Janet Maslin, New York Times: "'Hercules' is divine!" Diane Kaminsky, KHOU-TV (CBS): "Don't miss 'Hercules'!" Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "It rocks!" Jack Matthews, New York Newsday: "A triumph! The surest bet this summer for family entertainment." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1997: "... Light on its feet and continually amusing, this free-spirited show-biz version of Greek mythology ranks with the best of modern Disney animation. Cleverly constructed to appeal to boys and girls, children and adults, it also has in 'City of Angels' Tony-winning lyricist David Zippel, the first person since the late Howard Ashman who's been able to write the kind of snappy musical patter these features thrive on... [a] wisecracking aura with a dollop of romantic poignancy.... brisk and successful cut-and-paste job on the original material, nervily mixing and matching elements from all over classical mythology.... 'A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum' comic tone.... [the Greek chorus] introduce characters, provide back story, and jump-start the film into an up-tempo gear it never abandons.... Though no one can duplicate what Robin Williams did for 'Aladdin', the irresistible James Woods as Hades ... comes surprisingly close ... and never pauses for breath.... The most impressive [monster] (and the film's only nod to Hercules' stories 12 labors) is the protean Hydra, a beat that grows a new head whenever one is cut off. A technological marvel, the Hydra is the film's most impressive computer-generated character, and no wonder: the press notes say a team of 15 artists and technicians worked on the five-minute sequence for two years.... Though they're not big star names, without the excellent, feeling work of [Tate] Donovan as the adult Hercules and Susan Egan as Meg, 'Hercules' would have had considerably less impact.... The animation ... has just enough of a different look to it to make things interesting.... Enertain[s] like crazy. It's hard to believe that lines that move can move us so much, but they do." Michael Sragow, New Times (Los Angeles), 19-25 June 1997: "Slapstick decadence is the dominant style at the Disney studios this summer, reaching all the way from Touchstone Picture's hit 'Con Air' to the 35th Walt Disney animated feature, 'Hercules.' It's a moviemaking mode that weds anything-for-a laugh to anything-for-a-jolt, leaving imagination and authenticity in the lurch. Instead of creating a world that audiences can escape into, these movies presuppose a pseudo-hip TV frame of reference. And the action they stick into the frame makes a deliberate mishmash of a viewer's mental circuitry: ANY response to what happens onscreen begins to seem appropriate." "When Steve Buscemi enters 'Con Air' in a Hannibal Lecter getup, moviegoers react with the same laughter and applause as when Billy Crystal made his Lecter entrance for the Oscar show. A similar chaotic pandering permeates 'Hercules', in which the moviemakers underline every reference with a thick and not-so-magic marker. It's not enough that Paul Shaffer be cast as Hermes, the winged messenger (it's actually a funny casting idea)--there also has to be a shot of him slamming the piano keys the way he does for David Letterman.... But 'Hercules' fries itself to a crisp, then mucks around in the ashes....[a] tuckered-out, off-the-top-of-the-head extravanganza." "What makes this desperate farce-spectacle so sad is that it's an outgrowth of the earned success of 'Aladdin'.... Unlike 'Aladdin', 'Hercules' is ALL patter, ranging from snappy to sappy.... When Disney gods start hurling platitudes, better duck and cover.... [the Greek 'Hercules'] embodied male rage and the frustration and regret that keep fueling it... [but Disney took] the sexual rivalry out of Hercules' origins... he's merely a mildly confused good guy...." "If you're after a deeply humorous account of a hero's life, you'd do better with the chapter on Hercules in Edith Hamilton's 'Mythology'--it's a masterpiece of informed drollery, studded with pointed comments such as 'Intelligence did not figure strongly in anything he did, and was often conspicuously absent.' Hamilton finds it amusing that the Greeks would love this brawny figure despite 'his simplicity and blundering stupidity; his inability not to get roaring drunk in a house where someone was dead.' Now THAT would be a daring scene for Disney..." "What's 'academic' about 'Hercules' aren't the few remnants of the Greek legend left in it but the tried-and-untrue Disney motifs strewn throughout... It's the Disney brand of legendry that's grown tired. The irreverence that Musker and Clements have made their specialty comes off as a restless, reckless tic... it's hard to distinguish self-criticism from self-promotion... This movie's overstuffed bag of tricks falls apart, because nothing in it is organic or interlocked... at the center of 'Hercules' is a lug who erodes into invisibility under a manic stream of pop consciousness... it plunges into an unholy mix of sass and sanctimony... at the inert core of this film rests the same old follow-your-dream stuff, done without any gusto or conviction." "[On the plus side] there is some fizzy filigree in the [Production design by] Gerald Scarfe... He exerts an astringent influence on the conception of the monsters, the Fates, and Hades.... The casting is on the mark. Meg's big number 'I Won't Say (I'm in Love)' ... is wistfully catchy, a relief after the go-for-broke gospel numbers. Some other sounds and images stay pleasurably in the mind, such as the Fates gleefully cutting mortal coils, or Hades pointing towering dumb-cluck Titans in the right directions.." "But there's more graffiti here than filigree: the frenetic activity and joke-mongering swamp the striking or affable moments. 'Hercules' is split so many ways that you could say it has multiple personalities. Or none." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves

Story: 4 grownups accidently shrunk, kids think they're alone and launch big party, parents must survive party and cockroach to rewire stereo as loudspeaker Based on: sequel to "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" (1989) and Dean Cundy's 3-D "Honey I Shrunk the Kids" for Disneyland, "Honey, I Blew Up the Kids" (1992), "Honey, I Shrunk the Website" (1999) Studio: Walt Disney -- directly to Videocasette release (no theatrical) Producer: Barry Bernardi Screenplay: Karey Kirkpatrick, Nell Scovell, Joel Hodgson Director: Dean Cundy Cinematography: Raymond Stella Editor: Charles Bornstein Starring: Wayne Szalinski -- Rick Moranis Diane Szalinski -- Eve Gordon Adam Szalinski -- Bug Hall Jenny -- Allison Mack Patty -- Robin Bartlett Gordon -- Stuart Pankin Mitch -- Jake Richardson sister-in-law -- ??? ??? -- Lisa Wilhoit Production Design: Carol Winstead Wood Cinematographer/Special Effects: Dean Cundy, A.S.C. ("Back to the Future 1,2,3", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "Hook", "Death Becomes Her", "The Flintstones", "Jurassic Park", "Apollo 13") over 300 composite shots (40 minutes total) out of entire film at 73 minutes Visual Effects Supervisor: Tim Landry Music: Michael Tavera Supervising Sound Editor: Greg Meador Opening: 18 March 1997 (Great Britain: July 1997 ) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Title: was finally released as "Fairy Tale: A True Story" Story: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini are friends, but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ("Sherlock Holmes") believes in the supernatural, while Harry Houdini is a skeptic, so they clash over photographic "evidence" found by a pair of kids that there really are fairies Studio: Wendy Finerman Productions/Icon Productions/Paramount Based on: very loosely on the lives of the two great men, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, and a famous hoax of their time in which two children in 1917 take a photograph which some people are convinced represents scientific evidence that fairies are real. Executive Producer: Paul L. Tucker Producers: Bruce Davey, Wendy Finerman, Mel Gibson Screenplay: Ernie Contreras, Charles Sturridge Based on a Story by: Albert Ash, Tom McLoughlin, and Ernie Contreras Director: Charles Sturridge Cinematography: Michael Coulter Editor: Michael Coulter ('Sense and Sensibility') Starring: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle -- Peter O'Toole Harry Houdini -- Harvey Keitel Francis Griffiths -- Elizabeth Earl Elsie Wright -- Florence Hoath Arthur Wright -- Paul McGann John Ferret -- Tim McInnery Polly Wright -- Phoebe Nichols Harry Briggs -- Bob Peck E. L. Gardner -- Bill Nighy Scared Sergeant -- Anton Lesser John Ferret -- Tim McInnerny James Collins -- Jason Salkey Jean Doyle -- Lara Morgan Adrian Doyle -- Adam Franks Denis Doyle -- Guy Witcher Houdini's Assistant -- Joseph May Portly Gentleman -- John Bradley Peter Pan -- Anna Chancellor Stage Manager -- Leonard Kavanagh Mrs. Thornton -- Lynn Farleigh Lucy -- Sarah Marsden Judith -- Tara Marie Margie -- Alannah McGahan Production Design: Michael Howells ('Emma', 'Orlando') Costume Design: Shirley Russell Music: Zbigniew Preisner (who scored the films of the late Krzysztof Kieslowski) Special Effects: FrameStore "Unicorns in the Garden", incursions of the supernatural into ordinary life Opening: 24 October 1997 Box Office: "Fairy Tale: A True Story" opened to a respectable $3,500,000 4-day gross, ranking it at #6, just below the debut of Gattaca and just above Paramount's gender-comedy "In and Out" in it's 6th week. Opening on 1,058 screens, "Fairy Tale" earned a strong $3,323 screen average. We infer that children like it, but parents don't mind taking them to the theatre. Critics differ about how much magic there really is, and whether "Fairy" can fly for long. After 2 weeks in release, "Fairy Tale" had a respectable weekend gross of $2,900,000 on 1,278 screens (average $2,271) which placed it at #7, just below TriStar's visually gorgeous but financially disasterous "Seven Years in Tibet" in its 4th week, and just above Paramount's "Switchback." Cumulative gross stood at $7,100,000. Week #3 saw the film at #10, with $2,100,000 4-day gross on 1,286 screens ($1,664 average) for a 3-week gross of $10,000,000. It stood just below Paramount's "Kiss the Girls" in its week #6. This was a 26% drop from the previous week's performance. Reviews: Edward Guthmann, Chronicle Staff Critic San Francisco Chronicle, October 24, 1997: "'Fairytale: A True Story,' which opens today at Bay Area theaters, is a delicate look at imagination and the power of believing. It's also that rare species: a family film that doesn't condescend to children. "Directed by Charles Sturridge ('Brideshead Revisited'), it is based on actual incidents in rural England in 1917: Two young girls took photographs that seemed to capture a group of fairies -- luminous, winged, about five inches high -- in their garden. "The photographs were challenged, mocked by the press and debated by such luminaries as ``Sherlock Holmes'' author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who defended their veracity, and magician/escape artist Harry Houdini, who called them fakes. Spiritualist societies took up the girls' cause and swarms of curiosity seekers, lugging cameras and butterfly nets, visited the notorious garden. "Although based on fact, 'Fairytale' unfolds like a children's fable -- dreamlike and unexpected -- and employs the same dramatic logic that powered 'The Secret Garden.' It gives us a world in which children -- and the occasional grown-up -- are able to perceive magic while most adults, afflicted with skepticism and education, cannot. "It's also set during World War I, which gives Sturridge a chance to contrast the girls' discovery with the bleakness of war -- and to underscore the characters' longing for hope and grace. "When 'Fairytale' begins, 8-year-old Frances Griffiths, played by Elizabeth Earl, has just returned from colonial Africa and is yearning for a father believed to be missing in action. Her uncle and aunt, played by Paul McGann and Phoebe Nicholls, have lost a son to pneumonia, and when they take in Frances, she infuses their 12-year-old daughter, Elsie (Florence Hoath), with gaiety and adventure. "Sturridge, whose direction is gentle but a tad somber, focuses on Frances and Elsie and turns the adults into peripheral figures who struggle to understand. Peter O'Toole, looking old and unusually subdued, plays the magnanimous Doyle, a proponent of the fairy photographs and author of the 1928 book 'The Coming of the Fairies.' "It's Doyle who debates the nonbelieving Houdini, played by Harvey Keitel, and reminds him, 'There is a point where learning teaches you nothing.' "It's not difficult to detect Sturridge's own bias or that of screenwriter Ernie Contreras. Their story of shadows and enchantment, intuition and childhood, is subtly effective and splendidly produced, with photography by Mick Coulter...; visual effects by Tim Webber, who creates a flock of fairies with dragonfly wings; production design by Michael Howells...; and shimmering music by Zbigniew Preisner... "The only minus in 'Fairytale' is the film's lack of humor. Sturridge brings skill, confidence and respect for his subject, but his rebuke to science and skepticism deserves an occasional wink and sense of spunk." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Kull the Conquerer

Story: Barbarian with Heart of Gold adventures from Cimmeria and points west. Kull (Kevin Sorbo) is a barbarian mercenary who kills an insane king and seizes the throne. An ancient witch (Tia Carrere) and machiavellian noblemen conspire to oust Kull. Kull, after being deposed, joins forces with a slave girl and a priest. The three set out to quest for "The Breath of Valka" -- the only magic which can defeat the witch. Studio: Korsola Productions/Universal Based on: stories by pulp-magazine genius Robert E. Howard ("Conan"), particularly on the collection of stories published in 1967 Science Fiction/Fantasy Authors: H Robert E. Howard's life was the subject of the recent film "The Whole Wide World" {hotlink to be done} and who is best known for "Conan the Barbarian" (filmed 15 years ago and making a star of Arnold Schwarzenegger) Check out the biographical details and wonderful use of language in The Poetry of Robert E. Howard Executive Producers: Beverlee Dean, Jeff Franklin, Steve Waterman Producer: Rafaella De Laurentiis Screenplay: Charles Pogue ("Dragonheart") Director: John Nicoletta ("Vanishing Son") Cinematography: Rodney Charters, Buzz Feitshans IV (second unit director) Editor: Dallas Puett Starring: Kull -- Kevin Sorbo ("Hercules: The Legendary Journeys") Akivasha -- Tia Carrere ("True Lies", "Wayne's World", "High School High") Zaerta (slave girl) -- Karina Lombard ("Legends of the Fall") Taligaro -- Thomas Ian Griffith ("Excessive Force") Ascalante (priest) -- Litefoot ("The Indian in the Cupboard") Juba -- Harvey Fierstein ("Independence Day") Tu -- Roy Brocksmith ("Total Recall") Ducalon -- Douglas Henshall Enaros -- Edward Tudor Pole King Borna -- Sven-Ole Thorsen Dalgar -- Joe Shaw Cpatian -- Terry O'Neill ??? -- Pat Roach ??? -- John Hallam ??? -- Peter Petruna ??? -- Boris Bacik ??? -- Paul Kynman ??? -- Paul Weston Production Designer: Benjamin Fernandez Supervising Art Director: Pier-Luigi Basile Supervising Set Director: Giorgio Desidri Costumes: Thomas Casterline, Sibylle Ulsamer Special Effects Supervisor: Kit West Visual Effects Supervisor: Richard Malzahn Special Visual Effects & Animation: Metrolight Studios Music: Joel Goldsmith HEROIC FANTASY: also known as "Swords & Sorcery" Opening: 29 August 1997 Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes Preview: Rafaella De Laurentiis told Iain Blair ["Film & Video", April 1997, p.50] "I first went to Jadran [Film Studios in Zagreb] and scouted all of Croatia when I was working on 'Conan the Barbarian' back in 1982, so I was very familiar with the facilities. Then in 1994 I went to Slovakia to shoot 'Dragonheart' and used a lot of really good crew members from Croatia. They've worked on a lot of big American films, so they're all very experienced. [Simultaneously I was developing 'Kull'] so I kept a lot of the same props and even stored one big set. And when we were ready to shoot 'Kull', because some of it takes place at sea, the Croatian coast was the obvious location. [I was] a little nervous at first [because of the war, but] we had absolutely no problem. [Working through jadran, we built a complete village and rebuilt a ship for sequences shot near Split, and] we ended up shooting for three weeks, and the team at Jadran was great and provided us with 60 crew members. I'd work there again, and the crews are so great that I actually took a lot of them with me to Rome when we filmed 'Daylight.' The production was previewed in "Robert E. Howard's Barbarian King Comes to the Silver Screen", by Dan Perez, "Realms of Fantasy" magazine, Vol.3, No.6, August 1997. Kevin Sorbo compares Kull and Hercules: "They both have long hair! [Kull] is much darker. Yes, they're heroes, but they're heroes on totally different sides of the spectrum of what the definition of a hero would entail. Because [Kull] is a much darker person. he has a lot more skeletons in his closet, so to speak." "For me, from an actor's standpoint, it was a kick to play someone like this, because Hercules [as filmed, not in the Greek Myths!] is kind of a goody two-shoes, let's face it. Yeah, he can get mad and things like this, but [Kull] has got a chip on his shoulder throughout... He's just a nastier guy, and he was more fun to play." Box Office: "Kull the Conqueror" opened at #9, with $3,500,000 in its debut 4-day gross, on 2,091 screens ($1,650 average). It ranked just below the 3rd week of Miramax's "Cop Land" and just above the 9th week of Men In Black. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

L5: First City in Space

Story: Space colony is Earth orbit, late 21st century. The future history includes the following approximate dates: space station 2010, human Mars landing 2040, humans to Jupiter and beyond 2070. The space colony, at Lagrange Point 5, is running out of water, according to Scientist-Grandfather's calculations, so Yoshio decides to travel to a comet and attach rockets to it so as to redirect its orbit towards L5 as a water supply. Never mind that, if it misses, it might wipe out civilization on Earth, as the dinosaurs were smashed 65 million years ago. But I digress. The 10,000 L5 residents are saved, and Chieko and family watch the whole thing on hologram (i.e. computer special effects, which are the best part of the film). Studio: Imax (hence film negative is 65 mm horizontal, printed to 70 mm with 1.44:1 aspect ratio) Based on: various books and articles by space activists Screenplay: Toni Myers Director: Allan Kroeker (live action), Toni Myers Cinematography: Andrew Kitzanuk Starring: Flight Commander Father Yoshio Mori -- Dennis Akayama Scientist-Grandfather -- Colin Fox Narrator -- Martha Henry Dr. Genevieve Mori -- Genevieve Langlois Chieko Mori -- Rachel Walker Special Effects: ??? SPACE: MOVIES AND TV-MOVIES ABOUT SPACE Opening: 11 October 1996, but not seen by many until 1997 REVIEWS: Jan Herman, Los Angeles Times: "'Mall in Space' would be a more fitting title." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

A Life Less Ordinary

Story: "Divine Interveners" come to Earth and get enmeshed in a kidnapping by a cleaning man who is disgruntled over being replaced by a robot. The "Divine Interveners" (angels somehow supervising human life on Earth) help to bring the cleaning man and his boss' daughter together, and then to make the kidnap victim save the kidnapper from the vengeful dad. Well, it's not ordinary. Studio: Channel Four Films / Figment Films / PolyGram Filmed Entertainment Based on: ??? Producer: Andrew MacDonald Line Producer: Margaret Hilliard Screenplay: John Hodge Director: Danny Boyle ("Trainspotting") Cinematography: Brian Tufano Editor: Masahiro Hirakubo Starring: kidnapper Robert -- Ewen MacGregor victim Celine -- Cameron Diaz God -- Sean Connery Gabriel -- Dan Hedaya O'Reilly -- Holly Hunter Jackson -- Delroy Lindo Naville -- Ian Holm Celine's Mother -- Judith Ivey Mayhew -- Ian McNeice Al -- Tony Shaloub Elliott -- Stanley Tucci Lily -- K. K. Dodds Tod -- Maury Chaykin Felix -- David Stifel Ted -- Frank Kanig Mel Winkler -- Frank Ms. Gesteten -- Anne Cullimore Decker Walt -- Christopher Gorham Hiker -- Timothy Olyphant Rental Car Agent -- Jayceen Craven Customer -- Jan hanks Bank Daughter -- Mary-Cristina Schaub Secretary -- Toni Lynn Byrd Attendant -- Duane Stephens Karaoke Cowboy -- Robert Kellog Client -- Chuck Gowdy Bank Teller -- Kitty Brunson Bank teller -- Crystal Martinez Special Effects: FrameStore Production Design: Kave Quinn Costume Design: Rachael Fleming Music: David Arnold Locations: Utah Runtime: 103 minutes Opening: 24 October 1997 (USA), 26 November 1997 (France) Box Office: "A Life Less Ordinary" opened at #9, with $2,010,000 on a 4-day gross, on 1207 screens ($1,664 average), just below Rocket Man and just above Warner Bros. "L.A. Confidential." In week #2, "A Life Less Ordinary" had a box office more ordinary at #16. Weekend gross of $800,000 on 1,208 screens ($701 average) and only $3,500,000 cumulative gross. The angel's wings had been clipped. It ranked just below the 3rd week of Grammercy's "Bean" (I liked Rowen Atkinson's short TV skits and the cruelly-funny "Blackadder" much more) and just above DreamWorks' first live-action feature "The Peacemaker" in that female-directed action flick's 6th week. Reviews: 45+ reviews Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

Story: Dr.Malcolm finds that some dinosaurs have escaped, and are not in a good mood Studio: Universal/Amblin Entertainment Based on: Jurassic Park (this is a sequel); Michael Crichton's novel "The Lost World" whose title was taken from a 1912 bestselling novel by Arthur Conan Doyle which directly inspired three more faithful movie adaptations (starting with 1925 with nice dinosaur animation, Wallace Beery as Professor Challenger, in Marion Fairfax's screen adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle novel) Science Fiction/Fantasy Authors: C Crichton Science Fiction/Fantasy Authors: D Several Doyle hotlinks SF Films of the 1920s: List, links to reviews Screenplay: David Koepp Executive Producers: Stephen Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy Producers: Gerald R. Molen and Colin Wilson Director: Stephen Spielberg Editor: Michael Kahn, A.C.E. Starring: Dr. Ian Malcolm -- Jeff Goldblum Dr. Sarah Harding -- Julianne Moore Nick Van Owen -- Vince Vaughan John Hammond -- Sir Richard Attenborough Roland Tembo -- Pete Postlethwaite Peter Ludlow -- Arliss Howard Kelly Malcolm -- Vanessa Lee Chester Dieter Stark -- Peter Stormare Ajay Sidhu -- Harvey Jason Eddie Carr -- Richard Schiff Dr. Robert Burke -- Thomas J. Duffy Tim Murphy -- Joseph Mazello Lex Murphy -- Ariana Richards Carter -- Thomas Rosales Cathy Bowman -- Camilla Belle Mrs. Bowman -- Cyndi Strittmatter Mr. Bowman -- Robin Sachs other {to be done} Production Design: Rick Carter Director of Photography: Janusz Kaminski, A.S.C. Special Effects: Industrial Light & Magic ("Star Wars", "Jurassic Parl", "Forrest Gump", "Casper", "Jumanji", "Dragonheart", "Twister", "101 Dalmatians") Live Action Dinosaurs by Stan Winston Full Motion Dinosaurs by Dennis Muren, A.S.C. Special Dinosaur Effects by Michael Lantieri The largest model made was a Mom and Pop pair of T. Rex that weighed over 12,000 pounds and stood 2 stories high. Music: John Williams Game: there is a retail computer game based on the film, to be released in July 1997, for more, see -- The Lost World: Jurassic Park (the Game) Opening: 23 May 1997 Box Office: $229,100,000 domestic + $382,300,000 overseas = $611,400,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: You've probably heard by now that "Lost World: Jurassic Park" crushed, chewed, and swallowed all opposition to have the biggest box office opening of all time. On Thursday night previews (22 May 1997) the film took in over $2,500,000 and by the end of the 4-day Memorial Day weekend holiday, the film had grossed an amazing $90,200,000 more. As Mark Wheeler quipped "In Hollywood-speak, that's almost a Disney compensation package weekend." By Tuesday 27 May 1997, the 5th day, the gross had passed $100,000,000 faster than any movie in history. By contrast to other blockbusters, 1996's "Independence Day" took 7 days to pass $100,000,000; 1993's prequel "Jurassic Park" took 9 days to pass $100,000,000. According to Exhibitor Relations Inc., "Lost World: Jurassic Park" opened on a record 5,000+ screens and, over the long weekend, grossed $92,700,000 on 3,281 screens for a monstrous average of $28,262. Even more amazing, "Lost World: Jurassic Park" accounted for 62% of the TOTAL box office gross that weekend for the United States of America. "Lost World: Jurassic Park" stomped all opposition in its second week of release, grossing an additional $34,100,000 on 3,282 screens for a robust $10,395 average. Still at #1 (ahead of "Addicted to Love" in week 2, "Gone Fishin'" in week 1, "Trial and Error" in week 1, and The Fifth Element in week 4), The 2-week gross was $141,500,000 which is the fastest rise of any movie in history. True, box office dropped 62% from opening weekend, but that's because kids are back in school. 3rd week missing from database; will attempt to reconstruct. In the 4th week of release, "Lost World: Jurassic Park" remained strong, grossing an additional $12,500,000 on 3,565 screens for a $3,500 average. It slipped to #3 (below #1 "Speed 2" in its opening week, and #2 Con Air in week #2; and ahead of "Addicted to Love" in week 4, and The Fifth Element in week 6), The 4-week gross was $190,700,000 which is the fastest rise of any movie in history. The film might even rebound to #2 if Fox's "Speed 2: Cruise Control" or Disney/Touchstone's "Con Air" lack legs, especially as "Speed 2" opened weaker than expected. In Week #5, "Lost World: Jurassic Park" cracked the $200 million barrier, with weekend gross of $8,000,000 bringing the cumulative gross to $205,000,000. It played on 3,086 screens for an average of $2,605. Ranked at #4, it was close behind a slipping "Con Air" in that action pic's 3rd week. Your Humble Webmaster predicts Batman & Robin to stick at #1 for several weeks, TriStar's "My Best Friend's Wedding" to stay at #2, but "Con Air" to drop below the dinosaur blockbuster, putting "Lost World" back up to #3 in the near future. "Lost World" did outlast Fox's "Speed 2: Cruise Control", which dropped to #5 in its 2nd week. In its 6th week, "Lost World: Jurassic Park" slid to #6, grossing $4,500,000 on 2,607 screens for an average of $1,740. The cumulative gross topped $213,200,000. The dinosaur flick played just below the crashing and burning "Con Air", and just above the sinking "Speed 2: Cruise Control." Week 7: "Lost World" dropped 19% from the previous week, grossing $3,700,000 for the weekend ($1,884 screen average) for a cumulative gross of $218,300,000. It ranked just below Disney/Touchstone's "Con Air" (down 16% in 5th week), and just above the debut of "Wild America." In Week #8, "Lost World" dropped another 48% to 10th place, with weekend gross of $1,400,000 on 1,422 screens ($950 average), cumulatively raking in $221,100,000. It ranked just below the weak debut of the Martin Short fantasy/comedy "A Simple Wish." Much of this slippage can be ascribed to the powerhouse pair on top of the market: Men In Black in its second week at #1, and Contact opening at #2. The science fiction audience is spread thin this summer! Website: Lost World: Jurassic Parkofficial site Reviews: {to be done} Daily Scoop: "The movie is like Jurassic Park, only without the rich character development." [intended as a joke] Your Humble Webmaster says: Postmodernism includes "appropriationism" -- boldly taking snippets of classic artworks to juxtapose in ironic contexts. I suggest that "Lost World: Jurassic Park" is the most successful appropriationist postmodern film ever made. This is NOT theft, or plagiarism, because the borrowings are open and respectful. Examples: (1) the title refers to 1912 bestselling novel by Arthur Conan Doyle; (2) the ship is named "The Venture", which is the same name as the ship in "King Kong"; (3) screenwriter David Koepp acknowledges that the extending-seats dino-hunting jeeps are based on the ones John Wayne drove in "Hatari" (1962); (4) the climax, where an angry mommy T-Rex bashes San Diego, looks like a deliberate copy of the climax of "Gorgo" (1961), even to the screaming Asian extras running for cover, as shot from an overhead vantage (in fact, Spielberg confided to Daily Variety's Army Archerd that there will be Japanese subtitles in this scene, for the Asian release of the film); (5) the release date is precisely one year before the release of the remake of Godzilla; (6) the literal cliff-hanger, with the good guys' trailer on the edge of a precipice, is exactly what Kurt Russell faced in "Breakdown" (often compared to Spielberg's 1971 "Duel"); (7) the attack on San Diego also has echoes of "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes" (1978), produced by Steve Peace, now a California State Assemblyman (Democrat, Chula Vista) who sponsored a bill requiring grocery stores to indicate whether tomatoes are vine-ripened or artificially ripened. This film was, it seems, designed for my 8-year-old son, who enjoyed "Jurassic Park" but was so scared of the T.Rex-in-the-museum scene that he retired to the lobby. In this slick, visually gorgeous sequel, there are deaths aplenty, but with the blood and guts sanitized. Sure, people get eaten by thunder lizards, but: (1) the little girl brutalized by small dinosaurs gets battered off-screen; (2) whether stepped on or bitten in half, people never spurt or leak bodily fluids; (3) one human hand is cut off, but there's no close-up of arterial bleeding; (4) the profanity is mild compared to contemporary television; (5) kids are scared by a calculated amount by showing other kids under threat, and by nasty hunters being politrially incorrect in there treatment of the nice dinosaurs. All over the world, parents will be telling their kids "don't worry, no actual dinosaurs were injured in the filming of this movie." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Men In Black

Story: An interstellar terrorist in loose on Earth, and the Immigration & Naturalization Service is in charge of Illegal Aliens, right? Pair of hip detectives, "J" and "K" work for a mysterious organization "Men in Black" who clean up the evidence at alien landing sites to cover up for the government. Earth, you see, is a voluntary "safe zone" for galactic political refugees "kind of like Casablanca without Nazis", but this has all been concealed from the public. The "Men in Black" ultrasecret agency keeps the more dangerous aliens in line, especially Edgar, who disguises himself in a local dude's skin while searching New York for the microminiaturized Arquillian Galaxy, one of the most valuable items in the cosmos. Studio: Amblin Entertainment in association with MacDonald/Parkes Productions, released by Columbia Based on: the Comic Books "Men in Black" meet "Coneheads" and "The Fugitive" actually, based on a novel which was based on the Lowell Cunningham/Marvel/Malibu comic book series Screenplay: Ed Solomon (also has screen story credit) Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg Producers: Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald Associate Producer: Steven R. Molen Co-Producer: Graham Place Producer: Walter Parkes ("Twister") Director: Barry Sonnenfeld ("The Addams Family", "Get Shorty") Cinematography: Don Peterman, A.S.C. Editor: Jim Miller Starring: immigration leader J -- Will Smith ("Independence Day", "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) K -- Tommie Lee Jones ("The Fugitive") Edgar -- Vincent D'Onofrio Dr. Laurel Weaver (New York's Deputy medical examiner) -- Linda Fiorentino Zed (MiB boss) -- Rip Torn Jeebs -- Tony Shalhoub Special Effects: Alien make-up effect by Rick Baker (Oscar-winner) and special/digital effects by ILM (Industrial Light & Magic). The weapons, explosions, flying car, and especially the aliens (both cute and scary, for different species) and their fascinating flying saucer interiors will help make this the surprise hit of the summer (after the expected blockbuster of Jurassic Park 2). Production Design: Bo Welch Art Director: Thomas Duffield Set Decorator: Cheryl Carasik Music: Danny Elfman Soundtrack: Columbia Records Costume Design: Mary E. Vogt Locations: Guggenheim Museum, 1964 World's Fair Grounds in Queens, Battery Park vent room for the Holland Tunnel Merchandising: According to John Calley, the head of Sony Pictures' movie operations [L.A. Times, 16 May 97, p.D5] his mandate is making more "franchise" films such as Warner Bros.' "Lethal Weapon" and "Batman" series, because these make big bucks domestically, reap more revenues overseas, and cash in on video and merchandise sales. Sony prays that "Men in Black" and the 1998 "Godzilla" will fit this model. Calley swears "I've lived off those kind of franchise pictures all my life." Sagansky, in charge of Sony's TV and international strategy, agrees that Sony is being transformed from a "transaction-oriented culture" to a "marketing-based kind of company.... [If Calley] is going to have pictures with a long life, you've got to have a structure here that can exploit that... When 'Men in Black' comes out, we're going to come out in the fall with an animated [TV] show, a toy line, and as John [Calley] works toward a sequel, we're going to keep that alive." Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes Rating: PG-13 (language and sci-fi violence) Opening: 2 July 1997 Web: Official Men In Black site Preview: the trailers got laughs and "ooohs" from the audiences witnessed by Your Humble Webmaster. The wry, hip attitude of the stars, the fast-paced action, the casual aliens within the government, the terrifying monsters, and the little alien inside the skull of a humanoform robot all impressed the crowds. "Looks like a hit," said one viewer. Box Office: $250,000,000 domestic + $313,000,000 overseas = $563,000,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "Men in Black" opened at #1, with a surprisingly strong $84,100,000 gross in 5 days, averaging $27,859 per screen. It far outstripped the popular Paramount "Face/Off" in that hit's 2nd week, and had over 4 times the weekend draw of #3 Hercules in the animated feature's 4th week. In its 2nd week, "Men in Black" held onto the top slot against the strong opening of Contact. MIB grossed $30,100,000 for the weekend on 3,020 screens (average $9,954), bringing the cumulative 2-week gross to a whopping $139,600,000. It had slipped 41% from its enormous debut week, but still "had legs", as they say in the industry, by holding onto #1. "Men in Black" stayed on top, at #1, in its 3rd week, with weekend gross of $19,000,000 on 3,102 screens ($6,135 average) and a cumulative 3-week gross of $172,100,000. It ranked above the opening of George of the Jungle which in turn ranked barely above the 2nd week of Contact. MIB grossed $30,100,000 Slipping to #3 rank in week #4, "Men in Black" alienated nobody, with weekend gross of $12,400,000 on 3,180 screens ($3,884 average) and a cumulative 4-week gross of $194,000,000. It ranked below only the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which opened at #1 with $37,100,000 to become the top non-holiday opening this year and the all-time hottest opening between 4th of July and Labor Day, and the cleverly-stupid #2 George of the Jungle. "Men in Black" stayed ahead of Contact, #4 in its 3rd week. Slipping slightly to #4 rank in week #5, "Men in Black" was still unforgettable, with weekend gross of $8,000,000 on 2,932 screens ($2,732 average) and a cumulative 5-week gross of $208,100,000. It ranked below only the Sony/Columbia powerhouse "Air Force One", which stayed at #1; the surprisingly strong #2 debut of New Line's Spawn; and the stupidly-clever #3 George of the Jungle in it's 3rd week. "Men in Black" stayed ahead of Contact, #6 in its 4th week; but the low-medium budgeted ($18,000,000) "Picture Perfect" squeezed in at #5 for Fox. {week 6 missing from database, will reconstruct later} "Men in Black" slipped 26% from week #6 to week #7, with 3-day weekend gross of $4,200,000 on 2,261 screens ($1,860 average) and an awesome 7-week cumulative gross of $225,300,000. This put it well below the 1-2-3 triple blockbusters of Miramax's "Cop Land" debut with a stellar cast headed by Sly Stallone, the 4th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One", and the 2nd week of Warner Bros.' Mel Gibson vehicle "Conspiracy Theory." Thus, Event Horizon was the leader of the 4-5-6-7 sci-fi quad with #5 New Line's Spawnin its 3rd week, #6 Disney's George of the Jungle in its 5th week, and #7 Sony/Columbia's Men In Black in its 7th week. The 5th science fiction film in the top-10, Warner Bros.' Contact, slipped to 9th in its 6th week. "Men in Black" dropped 31% from week #7 to week #8, with 4-day weekend gross of $2,900,000 on 1,835 screens ($1,570 average) and a galactic cumulative gross of $230,500,000. This week, it ranked just below the #8 debut of Universal's "Leave it to Beaver" and the #9 showing of George of the Jungle in "George's" 6th week. In week #9, "Men in Black" slipped to #10, just below the debut of Kull the Conqueror. With 4-day gross of $3,400,000 on 1,561 screens ($2,149 average), MiB reached the cumulative gross of $235,100,000 -- unquestionably THE hit of the summer. By week 14, "Men in Black" was down to #16, with $700,000 weekend gross on 922 screens ($746 average) and $243,000,000 cumulative. The film was destined to gross over a quarter BILLION dollars before overseas, video, the Saturday Morning animated series, and the merchandising kicked in. That makes it a billion buck franchise, guaranteed to spawn a sequel. And I, for one, can hardly wait! Week #18 brought in $600,000 weekend gross on 1,010 screens ($615 average) for a #19 ranking, and a cumulative gross of $245,000,000. It stood just below 20th Century Fox's 6th week of "The Edge" and just above Columbia's 15th week of "Air Force One." REVIEWS: David Ansen, Newsweek: "A hip, clever comedy, 'MIB' is the cure for moviegoers' summertime blues." David Denby, New York Magazine: "An inventive and hilarious summer season spectacle." David Sheehan, CBS-TV: "A wildly original, fiercely funny treat. 'Men in Black' is this summer's surprise hit." Bill Zwecker, NBC-TV: "If you only see one movie this summer make sure it's 'Men in Black.' An absolute delight. Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are the perfect comedy team." Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "This summer's number one joy ride! A playfully hip and hilarious comedy. Director Barry Sonnenfeld loads the bases with action, fantasy, laughs and hits a grand-slam." Steve Oldfield, Fox-TV: "A galaxy above the competition. If you see only one movie this summer, make it 'Men in Black.'" John Corcoran, KCAL-TV, Los Angeles: "The best movie of the summer so far, by far. The best space men on earth adventure since 'E.T. the Extraterrestrial." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 1 July 1997: "... Wised-up and offhandedly funny, 'Men in Black'... introduces us to the super-secret government agency, known as MiB for short, that makes ... aliens toe the line. Starring the inspired pairing of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, 'Men in Black.' is a genially twisted riff on the familiar alien invaders story, a lively summer entertainment that marries a deadpan sense of humor to the strangest creatures around." "Based on obscure comic-book material, 'Men in Black' has maintained the energy and sass of the form... Barry Sonnenfeld is an excellent director for this point of view, and 'Men in Black' is a blend of the strngths of his previous films, the knowing humor of 'Get Shorty' and the visual razzmatazz of 'The Addams Family".... [Tommy Lee] Jones has a definite flair for gruff, acerbic humor... [Will] Smith [has] a glib, engaging cockiness...." "Hard to ignore because it's partly unexpected is the film's slime factor. 'Men in Black' has periodic moments of gross-out humor that will not be to everyone's taste, and when Edgar the invader finally reveals himself, he turns out to be more disturbing and off-putting than the film's genial tone would have you expect." "But mostly what you get with 'Men in Black' is the opportunity to spend some quality time with the Kings of Cool in a world where inconvenient memories get erased and supermarket tabloids offer the most reliable alien tips...." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Scientist couple did genetic engineering to help people, but their experiments threaten themselves and all of the greater New York metropolitan area (you know, my wife and I are both scientists, and never once threatened to destroy the world). It all boils down to cockroaches -- really nasty ones, supposedly sterile but now starting to breed, mutate, and grow... Studio: Dimension Films Mimic presents a film by Guillermo Del Toro Based on: Blame it all on Mr. & Mrs. Charles Darwin, Pierre & Marie Curie, Crick & Watson? No, this film is based on a science fiction story by the late Donald A. Wollheim Executive Producer: Michael Phillips Producers: Bob Weinstein, Ole Bornedal, B. J. Rack Co-Producers: Scott Shiffman, Michael Zoumas, Cary Granat, Richard Potter, Andrew Rona Co-Executive Producers: Stuart Cornfeld and Harvey Weinstein Director: Guillermo Del Toro Cinematography: Dan Laustsen, D.F.F. (Denmark) Editor: Patrick Lussier Screenplay: Guillermo Del Toro, Matthew Robbins, John Sayles, Steven Soderbergh Screen Story: Matthew Robbins & Guillermo Del Toro Screenplay: Matthew Robbins & Guillermo Del Toro Story: Donald A. Wollheim Starring: (Male Scientist) Peter Mann -- Jeremy Northam (Female Scientist) Susan Tyler -- Mira Sorvino ("The Mighty Aphrodite") Dr.Gates -- F. Murray Abraham Chuy -- Alexander Goodwin Manny -- Giancarlo Giannini Leonard -- Charles S. Dutton Josh -- Josh Brolin Jeremy -- Norman Reedus Remy -- Alix Koromzay Casting: Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Smith, Kerry Barden Costume Design: Marie-Sylvie Deveau Music: Marco Beltrami Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande CDs Locations: Los Angeles and Toronto, subway chase Creature Design: TyRuben Ellingson, Rob Bottin Creatures Created By: Rick Lazzarini / The Character Shop (Budweiser Frogs) Visual Effects Supervisor: Brian M. Jennings Production Design: Carol Spier (several David Cronenberg films) Art Director: Tamara Deverell Set Decorator: Elinor Rose Galbraith Web: Mimic official site Clones, genetic engineering and Budget: $25,000,000 Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes Opening: 21 August 1997 Box Office: "Mimic" opened strongly, with $7,800,000 4-day weekend gross, putting it in 4th place, very close behind the 5th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One" (at $7,900,000), which had dropped 36% from its previous weeks from the one-two punch of the debut of Disney/Buena Vista's #1 "G.I. Jane" and New Line's #2 "Money Talks." "Mimic" ranked just above Warner Bros.' "Conspiracy Theory," which was #5 in its 3rd week. "Mimic" opened on 2,255 screens for an average of $3,467. In Week #2, "Mimic" slipped somewhat to 7th place, with 4-day gross of $6,200,000 on 2,256 screens ($2,741 average) for a cumulative gross of $16,900,000. It ranked just below the debut of Alicia Silverstone's weak directorial debut in Sony/Columbia's "Excess Baggage", and ranked just above Miramax's "Cop Land" in its 3rd week. Reviews: Jeffrey Lyons, NBC-TV: "The scariest movie this summer!" Richard Corliss, Time Magazine: "It works as both pulp and poetry! It gets scare shivers tickling the lay audience while connoisseurs nod sagely at the canonical resonance." Siskel & Ebert: "Two thumbs up, way up! A spectacularly good and exciting film." Greg Procaccino, ABC-TV: "A heart-pounding, sci-fi thriller!" Ray Sawhill, Newsweek: "An elegant scare picture! A virtuoso at tension and atmosphere. An effective successor to 'Scream and Scream 2' that is also a feast for film buffs." Michael Calleri, CBS-TV: "A smart, hip adrenaline rush! This is what going to the movies is all about." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation

Story: Derivative superheroes battle a warlord who wants to conquer Earth; doesn't the bad guy realize that if he did take over our planet, the administrative overhead would eat him alive? Studio: a Lawrence Kasanoff/Threshold Entertainment production, released by New Line Cinema. Based on: this is the sequel to a film based on a violent videogame; I admit that I thrilled at beating my 7-year-old in the Ed Boon/ John Tobias Nintendo-64 version Producer: Larry Kasanoff Executive Producers: Alison Savich, Carla Fry, Brian Witten Screenplay: Bryce Zabel (executive Producer of NBC's "Dark Skies) & Brent Friedman Story By: Lawrence Kasanoff, Joshua Wexler, John Tobias Director: John Leonetti Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti Editor: Peck Prior Starring: Liu Kang -- Robin Shou Kitana -- Talisa Soto Rayden -- James Remar Shao-Kahn -- Brian Thompson Sandra Hess -- Sonya Blade Motaro -- Deron McBee Jade -- Irina Panteva Jax -- Lynn Redd Williams Shao Kahn -- Brian Thompson Shinnok -- Raynor Scheine Sindel -- Musetta Vander Sheeva -- Marjean Holden Nightwolf -- Litefoot Johnny Cage -- Chris Conrad Ermac -- John Medlan Cyrax/Scorpion -- J. J. Perry Rain -- Tyrone Wiggins Baraka -- Dennis Keiffer Smoke -- Ridley Tsui Sub Zero -- Keith Cooke Mileena -- Dana Hee Noob Saibot -- Nosaj Samoht Elder God of Fire -- Lance Legault Elder God of Water -- Carolyn Seymour Special Effects: ??? Larry Kasanoff points out "The morphing in 'Terminator 2' was incredible. Five years later, kids can buy it for 20 bucks and do it on their home computer." Production Design: Charles Wood Art Director: Nathan Schroeder Costumes: Jennifer L. Parson Music: George S. Clinton Locations: filmed in Jordan, this was the world's first film to use a crew integrated from Israelis and Jordanians. Peace in the Middle East was brought one step closer...
GAMES/SOFTWARE: list of 77 links, last updated 17 April 1997
New: Previews of 15 Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror computer games of 1997 (updated 14 April 1997) Opening: 21 November 1997 (originally scheduled for 1 August 1997) Running Time: 1 hour, 31 Minutes Box Office: Producer Larry Kasanoff told the Los Angeles Times (12 May 1997) "The fan base of science fiction goes 10 times. Those kids get out of the theatre and go right back in line." The original "Mortal Kombat" movie grossed above $120,000,000 worldwide, much less than "Independence Day" at $800,000,000, but just as profitable compared to Mortal Kombat's much lower production costs. "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" astonished Hollywood by opening at #1, with $16,800,000 three-day gross on 2,140 screens ($7,837 average). It overwhelmed the #2 film, also aimed at kids, Fox's "Anastasia" in this Disney-imitation by Don Bluth's heavily promoted 2nd week. For that matter, both "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" and "Anastasia" easily beat the #5 ranked re-release of Disney's "The Litle Mermaid." The Los Angeles Times (25 Nov 97) cites Exhibitor Relations Co. as quoting New Lines Cinema's Al Shapiro (President, Domestic Theatrical Marketing) that exit polls showed "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" playing well with audiences from ages 9 through the 30s. In Week #2, "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" was still strong with a #6 ranking (just below Universal's "The Jackal" and just above Warner Bros.' "Midnight in the Graden of Good and Evil." The ranking was based on a 5-day Thanksgiving holiday gross of $9,400,000 on 2,140 screens ($4,405 average), a 60% drop from the previous week, for a cumulative gross of $27,800,000. In its Week #3, "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" slipped slightly to #7, with a 62% decrease to $2,600,000 on 2,140 screens ($1,219 average) for a cumulative gross of $31,400,000. This put it right below the 3rd week of Warner Bros.' "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and right above the 8th week of Sony/Columbia's teen thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer." By week #4, "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" dropped off the top 10 list, and I'll summarize weekly and cumulative grosses at some future time, after I expand my listings and previews for 1998 science fiction, fantasy, and horror films. Reviews: Bob Heisler, Los Angeles Times (24 Nov 1997): "Rule No. 1 of fantasy movies: Box office rules." "The mortal world was saved for a generation in 1995, when Liu (Robin Shou) defeated the champion of the Outworld in 'Mortal Kombat,' the movie." "Case closed. Now, everyone, back to the video game to train for the next battle in, say, 20 years. The portal between the Realm of Earth and the Outworld was closed with the solemn promise that things would remain hunky-dory for Liu and his friends." "Not so fast, pathetic humans." "The Elder Gods didn't count on 'Mortal Kombat' making more than $100 million, including rentals. And that's not counting foreign sales." "So rip open the portals and prepare Earth to meet its doom." With holdovers playing Liu and his romantic interest Kitana (Talisa Soto), a new director... and a new flock of martial artists leaping, kicking, and twirling, 'Mortal Kombat Annihilation' arrived Friday. The sequel is quite serious, charmless and critic-proof (in fact, it wasn't screened for the media), and it may attract the teenagers who have made the game so popular." "Then again, it may not." "Unlike with the video game, the outcome here is as certain as an episode of 'Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.' There will be a martial arts fight to the finish between good and evil. In this corner, the folks who play by the rules, the puny mortals. In the other corner, the folks who don't, the Outers, who really mess things up--at least geographically--before they're through." "Unlike with the video game, there is no apparent violence. Mortal and monster alike tumble from tall buildings, fall against crumbling walls, bounce off a variety of surfaces with no bruises or blood. Oh, a couple of bad guys dissolve, females get to fight in the mud, and Jax (Lynn Red Williams) has to tear off his cybernetic, arm-length gloves before he can do his thing, but people only die when thrown into a pit of fire or when their necks are snapped with a loud soundtrack crack. Oddly, amazingly, the neck is the only bone broken anywhere." "There are lessons, of course. Underestimating the power of the human spirit gets you into trouble every time. Earth does not bend to the will of tyrants. Cheaters never win. What closes can also open again. And vice versa." "Characters from the first movie appear in this one, at least briefly, and because they are played by new faces, they must be introduced by name. So you'll see Johnny Cage and Sub-Zero, but don't blink." "The martial arts sequences themselves are carefully choreographed dance routines, but provide neither spiritual enlightenment nor enthralling action. The video game elements--multilevel sets, the tendency for a bad guy to suddenly morph or throw out a dragon-headed coil from his midsection--are simply curves in the same thrill ride." "More than a few hands will reach out for a joystick to get more involved, but alas, this is not a game. It's only a movie." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Postman

Story: Ordinary guy in 2013 A.D. helps to heal an America shattered by a nuclear war. I know this sounds strange, but it's an upbeat post-nuclear-holocaust story, with an appeal to traditional American moral values as snail-mail reknits the nation back together. "The Year is 2013. A war has destroyed the United States of America leaving the country in anarchy, its people defeated and all communications in ruins. An army of warriors called the Holnists are determined to keep the struggling townships isolated from each other so that they may continue their reign of terror and keep survivors devoid of the hope that life as they remembered it will ever return." "A stranger discovers the remains of a mail carrier's rusted jeep. Inside, he finds its driver's uniform and a sack of undelivered mail. He decides to wear this uniform, hoping it will make it easier for him to get food and shelter from the townspeople. Instead, he discovers that the mail he carries serves as a reminder to the people of the way they once lived their lives." "Slowly, a new patriotism begins to take hold in the hearts of the countrymen. The mail he carries has become a symbol of hope, order and a reconnection with the places and loved ones of their past. More importantly, it gives the citizenry the courage to battle the Holnists to regain control of their beloved country." "And the stranger, now named The Postman, becomes the reluctant leader of a revolt against the forces of destruction, the Holnists." Studio: Warner Bros./TIG Productions Based on: Novel "The Postman" by best-selling scientist/author David Brin Authors: B Screenplay: Brian Helgeland, Eric Roth Director: Kevin Costner Cinematography: Stephan F. Windon Editor: Peter Boyle Producers: Kevin Costner, Steve Tisch, Jim Wilson Starring: Gordon Krantz/The Postman -- Kevin Costner General Bethlehem -- Will Patton Gibbs -- Todd Allen Mercer -- Rex Linn Idaho -- James Russo Getty -- Joe Santos Ford Lincoln Mercury -- Larenz Tate Abby -- Olivia Williams Sheriff Briscoe -- Daniel von Bargen Bridge City Mayor -- Tom Petty Luke -- Scott Bairstow Bandit 20 -- Giovanni Ribisi Irene March -- Roberta Maxwell Old George -- Ron McLarty Ellen March -- Peggy Lipton Woody -- Brian Anthony Wilson Billy -- Shawn Wayne Hatosy Eddie -- Ryan Hurst Michael -- Charles Esten Ponytail -- Annie Costner Cavalryman -- Steve Bowers Cavalryman -- Stormy Cox Cavalryman -- Dave Crowe Cavalryman -- Rob Culbertson Cavalryman -- Lee Day Cavalryman -- Whit Edwards Cavalryman -- Mark B. Farris Cavalryman -- Jim Hamilton Cavalryman -- Billy Jack Cavalryman -- Patric Johnstone Cavalryman -- James L. Kirk Cavalryman -- Rick Reed Cavalryman -- Howard Schmidt Cavalryman -- Tim Williams Cavalryman -- Dave Wilson Production Design: Ida Random Costume Design: John Bloomfield Music: James Newton Howard Special Effects: Sony Pictures ImageWorks, Cinesite, Caliban Filmworks Web: The Postman official site on Thursday 17 July 1997 there was a Vxtreme Video webcast available free at Vxtreme Video of Kevin Costner, live, directing a scene from "The Postman." Opening: Christmas 1997 Box Office: "The Postman" posted a very disappointing $5,300,000 weekend gross on 2,207 screens ($2,643 average) for a cumulative gross of $6,800,000. Since the film cost a rumored $80,000,000 to produce, the #9 debut ranking, which would have marked success for a low budget film, instead signaled a financial disaster for Warner Bros., which had hoped that the Kevin Costner epic would save 1997 for the studio, instead faced a monumental flop. This was sad for a picture based on such a strong novel. Jay Leno started making at least one joke about the movie every night. He said, for example, that an earthquake in Los Angeles panicked people so much that they ran into a theatre where it was playing. Argus Hamilton joked to the Los Angeles Times "The IMF gave $67 billion to South Korean banks. In return, the banks agreed to reduce their work force and, for the third and final time, to never back a Kevin Costner movie again." Fans of "Postman" novelist David Brin had to laugh to keep from crying, especially since "The Postman" rated just below the 5th week of Disney's hit "Flubber" and just above the debut of the Disney stinker "Mr.Magoo." Reviews: The Postman: Link List of On-lIne Reviews (by Internet Movie Database) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Rocket Man

Story: Man and Woman in battle of the sexes aboard a mission to Mars Studio: Walt Disney / Buena Vista / Caravan Pictures / Gold-Miller Based on: it couldn't really be derived from the title "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus", could it? No, it's about Fred Randall, a computer geek somehow selected to be on the crew of the first manned mission to Mars, where he falls in love with the girlfriend (wife?) of the Captain. Wacky humor is intended. Executive Producers: Oren Aviv, Jonathan Glickman, Jon Turteltaub Co-Executive Producer: Richard H. Prince Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Eric L. Gold Co-Producers: Jamie Masada, Peter Safran Screenplay: Craig Mazin, Greg Erb Story: Oren Aviv, Craig Mazin, Greg Erb Director: Stuart Gillard Cinematography: Steven B. Poster Editor: William D. Gordean Starring: Fred Z. Randall -- Harland Williams Officer Julie Ford -- Jessica Lundy Mission Commander Captain Overbeck -- William Sadler Paul Wick -- Jeffrey DeMunn Ben Stevens -- James Pickens Jr. Flight Surgeon -- Don Lake Gary Hackman -- Peter Onorati Bud Nesbitt -- Beau Bridges Ulysses -- a chimpanzee Mrs. Randolph -- Shelley Duvall others -- {to be done} Special Effects: ??? Production Design: Roy Forge Smith Costume Design: Daniel Orlandi Music: Michael Tavera SPACE: MOVIES AND TV-MOVIES ABOUT SPACE Opening: Fall/Holiday 1997 Box Office: Opening week {to be done} Week #2 found "RocketMan" at #7, with $3,000,000 weekend gross on 1,839 screens ($1,625 average) and $8,700,000 cumulative gross. It ranked just below Fox's 4th week of the surprise hit "Soul Food" and just above week #4 of DreamWorks SKG's "The Peacemaker" (which had holes in its plot big enough to fly an A-bomb through). Week #3 was down 31% from week #2, with $2,100,000 4-day gross on 1,867 screens ($1,111 average) and $11,200,000 cumulative gross. It ranked just below week #6 of Paramount's gender-comedy "In & Out, and just above Fox's A Life Less Ordinary. By week #4, "Rocketman" had dropped from the top-10 orbit, and was ranked #11, with $1,500,000 weekend gross on 1,760 screens (an anemic $827 average) and $13,000,000 cumulative gross. It ranked just below week #10 of Paramount's gender-comedy "In & Out, and just above the 12th week of Fox Searchlight's delightful "The Full Monty" (well on its way to becoming the top-grossing film in Great Britain history). Reviews: 16+ Reviews on-line link list by Internet Movie Database Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Saint

Story: Why would anyone want to steal the work of a scientist? Well, a couple of jerks did it to me, and I'm suing them for $4,400,000; but in this story, someone hires The Saint to steal a scientist's life work and it throws him into an international adventure Studio: Paramount Pictures presents in association with Rysher Entertainment / David Brown/Robert Evans productions / Studio Trite Based on: the "Saint" series of books by Leslie Charteris; Director: Philip Noyce Director of Photography: Phil Meheux, B.S.C. Executive Producers: Paul Hitchcock, Robert S. Baker Story: Jonathan Hensleigh Story: Jonathan Hensleigh & Wesley Strick Editor: Terry Rawlings Production Designer: Joseph Nemec III Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart Music: Graeme Revell Starring: Simon Templar/The Saint -- Val Kilmer (role created by George Sanders and Roger Moore) Dr. Emma Russell (Chemist) -- Elizabeth Shue ("Adventures in Babysitting", "Cocktail", "Back to the Future 2", "Leaving Las Vegas") Ivan Tretiak -- Rade Serbedzija Ilya Tretiak -- Valeri Nikolayev Dr. Lev Botvin -- Henry Goodman Inspector Teal -- Alun Armstrong Tretiak's Aide Vereshagin -- Michael Byrne President Karpov -- Yevgeni Lazarev Frankie -- Irina Apeximova General Sklarov -- Lev Prygunov Inspector Rabineau -- Charlotte Cornwell Woman on Plane -- Emily Mortimer Russian prostitute -- Lucija Serbedzija other -- {to be done} Special Effects: Computer Film Company (CFC)/London ("IMAX l-5: First City in Space", "The Borrowers"), Cinesite (Europe) Ltd., Bionics, Digital Film Location: filmed on location in Russia and Paris Budget -- $75 million? Opening: 4 April 1997 Runtime: 116 minutes Box Office: $61,400,000 domestic + $56,700,000 overseas = $118,100,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: Grossed $16,300,000 on opening weekend, placing "The Saint" at #2, close behind "Liar Liar." The Saint official movie web site Soundtrack: Music from "The Saint" soundtrack is on sale from Virgin Records. Featured artists are: Orbital, Sneaker Pimps, Moby, Fluke, Luscious Jackson, The Chemical Brothers, Underworld, Duran Duran, Daft Punk, David Bowie, Superior, Dreadzone, Duncan Sheik, and Everything But The Girl Box Office: 4th weekend gross was $3,200,000 for 8th place. In its 6th week The Fifth Element opened at #1 with $17,000,000 on opening weekend, at 2,500 screens for an average of $6,813, ranking above the opening of "Father's Day" with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and above the 2nd week of "Breakdown." Next in line was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at #4, with $7,100,000 for the weekend, at 2,1877 screens for an average of $3,230 and a cumulative gross of $19,500,000. Volcano kept smoking at #5, and Anaconda squeezed in at #8. Anaconda had now cumulatively grossed $53,100,000 with $2,700,000 on this 5th weekend at 2,302 screens for an average of $1,158. Anaconda was at 1,730 screens for an average of $1,158, and ranking right above The Saint at #9 in its 6th week, with $1,600,000 on 1,730 screens for an average of $903, and with a cumulative gross of $54,800,000. REVIEWS: Diane Kaminsky, CBS-TV "Move over James Bond, here comes 'The Saint'" Andrew Sarris, New York Observer: "Kilmer... a mysterious and charismatic hero... a fun-filled frolic... wit and flair." Bill Diehl, ABC Radio Network: "A sexy sizzler of a thriller!" George Pennacchio, ABC-TV: "Non-stop spy thrills laced with a wonderful sense of humor. Val Kilmer is terrific!" John Leonard, CBS Sunday Morning: "Two fast-paced hours!" Pat Collins, WWOR-TV: "Val Kilmer is a sexy, seductive, sinfully good saint." David Sheehan, CBS-TV: "The chemistry between Kilmer and Shue is electric!" {say, that sounds like Electrochemistry, a good subject for science fiction...} Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Val Kilmer is one weirded out dude, someone whose duplicitous soul comes from quite a different movie than the James Bondish action-adventure saga the rest of the story aspires to be. And Kilmer's fascination with disguise gets old remarkably fast." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 3

Story: When a mad killer cuts loose, only slasher movie fans know what will happen next, but those fans are characters in a post-modernist self-aware film which is about the Horror genre while exemplifying it effectively. The sequel will be released during the Christmas holiday, 1997. Studio: Dimension Films presents a Wes Craven production Based on: Every scary and every silly slasher film ever made Director: Wes Craven ("Bad Moon Rising" 1997, "Vampire in Brooklyn" 1995, "A Nightmare on Elm Street 7" 1994, "The People Under the Stairs" 1992, "Night Visions" TV 1990, "Shocker" 1989", "The Serpent and the Rainbow" 1988, "Casebusters" TV 1986, "Deadly Friend" 1986, "Chiller" TV 1985, "The Hills Have Eyes II" 1985, "Invitation to Hell" TV 1984, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" 1984, "Swamp Thing" 1982, "Deadly Blessing" 1981, "The Hills Have Eyes" 1978, "A Stranger in Our House" TV 1978, "It Happened in Hollywood" 1973, "Last House on the Left" 1972) Executive Producers: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, and Marianne Maddalena Producer: Cary Woods and Kathy Conrad Co-Producer: Dixie J. Capp Co-Executive Producer: Stuart M. Besser Writer: Kevin Williamson Editor: Patrick Lussier Production Designer: Bruce Alan Miller Director of Photography: Mark Irwin, A.S.C., C.S.C. Starring: Deputy Dewey Riley -- David Arquette Sidney Prescott -- Neve Campbell Gale Weathers -- Courtney Cox Stuart -- Matthew Lillard Tatum Riley -- Rose McGowan Billy Loomis -- Skeet Ulrich Randy -- Jamie Kennedy Casey Becker -- Drew Barrymore Phone Voice -- Roger Jackson Steve Orith -- Kevin Patrick Walls Casey's Mother -- Carla Hatley Neal Prescott -- Lawrence Hecht Kenny -- W. Earl Brown Mrs. Tate -- Lois Saunders Sheriff Burke -- Joseph Whippe Reporter #1 -- Lisa Beach Reporter #2 -- Tony Kilbert Hank Loomis -- C. W. Morgan Mrs.Riley -- Lee McCain Cotton Weary -- Liev Shreiber Cheerleader in Bathroom -- Leonora Scelfo Ghost Teen #1 -- Troy Bishop Ghost Teen #2 -- Ryan Kennedy Mask Reporter -- Lisa Canning Young Girl -- Bonnie Wood Girl in Bathroom -- Nancy Ann Ridder Check-Out Lady -- Lucille Bliss Bored Teen -- Kurtis Bedford Party Teen #1 -- Aurora Draper Party Teen #2 -- Kenny Kwong Teen on Couch -- Justin Sullivan Girl on Couch -- Angela Miller Uncredited appearances: Obnoxious Reporter -- Linda Blair Janitor Fred -- Wes Craven Maureen Prescott -- Priscilla Pointer Principal Himbry -- Henry Winkler Special Effects: ??? Music: Marco Beltrami Genre: Horror Soundtrack: TVT Soundtrax (hit single: "Drop Dead Gorgeous" from Republica) Opening: 20 December 1996, so technically "Scream" is a 1996 film, most people saw it in 1997, so that's why it's on this web page; The Japanese 50-screen opening of "Scream" was set for 14 June 1997, but was delayed because an 11-year-old boy in Kobe had his head cut off by a murderer, and it was felt that "Scream", with its depiction of a serial murder of California high school students, might be in bad taste. Business is business, however, and the nation-wide Japanese opening is being rescheduled. Scream Again, also known as Scream 2, opened 12 December 1997. Dimension Films Box Office: Mirimax was right in expanding the release pattern four months after the original narrower opening, as shown by the three-day weekend box-office gross of the last weekend in April = $1,400,000 on 1,242 screens for an average of $1,156 $/screen, bringing the 19 week total to $93,000,000 and securing the #8 slot ahead of 'The Devil's Own' and 'Chasing Amy.' By the end of May, "Scream" quietly surpassed the $100,000,000 mark in its 24th week of release. Picking up $780,200 on 796 screens ($980 average) the cumulative gross stood at $100,200,000. It never got the mega-publicity of "Lost World" or "The Fifth Element" or "Batman and Rabin", but it proved to have "legs" as they say -- standing tall week after week as a reliable scary sophisticated film whose sequel looks like a good business proposition. Better than that! "Scream 2" was reported to have grossed an almost unbelievable $39,200,000 on its debut 3-day weekend, on 3,112 screens ($12,611 average) for the best December opening in Hollywood history. Dimension President Cary Granat said (according to Robert W. Welkos, Exhibitor Relations Co., and the Los Angeles Times): "The [marketing] research and screenings that we did had us very excited but we were completely surprised at the extent of how big the film was when it opened." This opening shoved The Absent-Minded Professor/Flubber out of first place in the box office competition. But wait... the next week Miramax/Dimension admitted that it had exaggerated the opening weekend gross for "Scream 2" -- they now put the debut at $33,000,000 and blamed the $6,200,000 discrepancy on demand by 449 theatres that demanded the film but never got around to actually receiving the reels and projecting them. It was still a #1 opening, but some faces were red... and not with blood on the outside. By this point, the original "Scream" had grossed $103,000,000, after opening at just $6,400,000 and growing by word of mouth. Typically, a sequel earns about 2/3 as much as the original film, but Wes Craven and his team made a bigger than usual investment in spending $24,000,000 to make the sequel. The intense "Scream 2" debut was $13,000,000 less than the record-breaking summer 1995 debut of "Batman Forever." Only a couple of other horror films ever opened with over $30,000,000 grosses: 1992's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" and 1994's "Interview with the Vampire." In "Scream 2" week #2, there was a 58% decline in gross revenues, and a slip to #3 rank, due to the simultaneous powerful openings of #1 Paramount/Fox's "Titanic" (with special effects rivalling any sci fi), and #2 MGM/UA's James Bond 18: Tomorrow Never Dies. The super-sequel grossed $13,900,000 in the 3-day weekend, on 2,638 screens ($5,277 average), for a cumulative cash register ring-up of $55,100,000. The 3rd week of "Scream 2" marked a 35% decline in gross revenues to a weekend take of $9,100,000 on 2,670 screens ($3,402 average) and a cumulative gross of $71,100,000. It ranked #6, just below the debut of Tarantino's Miramax/Dimension film from the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch" -- the film "Jackie Brown", and a hair above "American Werewolf in Paris." Week #4 {to be done} The 5th week of "Scream 2" marked a 51% decline in gross revenues to a weekend take of $3,600,000 on 2,332 screens ($1,536 average) and a cumulative gross of $90,800,000. It ranked #9, just below week #3 of Tarantino's Miramax/Dimension film from the Elmore Leonard novel "Rum Punch" -- the film "Jackie Brown", and well above the 5th week of DreamWork's "Amistad" (a critical success, but not as profitable as the unsinkable "Titanic" which neared the $200,000,000 mark and still floated as #1 on the box office ocean) Spinoffs: The box office success of "Scream" reportedly helped Wes Craven land a $1,000,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster. The book will be titled "The Fountain Society", and Wes will write the first sentence any day now... Murders: a California teenager murdered two, including his mother, and said he got the idea from "Scream 2"... more {to be done} Reviews: MTV Movie Awards Nominee Scream 3: rumored to be directed by Wes Craven, with a Kevin Williamson screenplay, for late 1999 release Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Sixth Man

Story: Basketball star dies, and his ghost returns to boost the chances of the Washington Huskies in the NCAA championship Studio: Touchstone (Disney), Distributed by Buena Vista Based on: Unfortunately, the title "Dead Man Can't Shoot" was too close to this year's "Dead Man Can't Dance" (Live Entertainment's CIA/nuke thriller) and the Final Four was over before the film hit many screens Director: ??? Writer: ??? Starring: slam-dunk dude -- Kadeem Hardison ??? -- Marlon Wayans Special Effects: ??? Opening: Last weekend of March 1997 Box Office: The opening weekend grossed $6,000,000 and the second weekend pulled in $2,900,000 so the film hung in at #8 after 2 weeks, just under "Junge 2 Jungle" and "Selena" and just above "Return of the Jedi" in Jedi's 4th week of re-release. Reviews: Peter Goddard of "The Toronto Sun" says "The Funniest Sports Flick since 'Bull Durham." I've not found any reviews that focus on the fantasy concept, or relate this to classic ghost movies. But I'll keep looking. Thelma Adams, New York Post: "A great Disney family comedy!" Jack Matthews, Los Angeles Times: "Angels in the Backcourt... terrific!" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Smila's Sense of Snow

Story: Half-Eskimo Greenland woman finds surprises while investigating the death of a boy, and changes her self-understanding. I won't give away the sci-fi "surprise" ending, but there is a speculative intelligence to the film which comes straight from the novel. Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures presents a Bernd Eichinger production somehow involving Constantine Films Based on: best-selling novel by Peter Hoeg (VERY scientific and philosophical) Screenplay: Ann Biderman Director: Billie August (a Billie August Film) Producers: Bernd and Martin Moszkowicz Starring: Smila -- Julia Ormond ??? -- Gabriel Byrne ??? -- Richard Harris ??? -- Robert Loggia ??? -- Vanessa Redgrave Special Effects: Digital Filmworks did postproduction on a rock representing a meteorite inside an ice cave by enhancing it and adding steam with Alias Power Animator composited with Avid Illusion for color correction to make the cave darker and more mysterious. Digital Filmworks also inserted a boat into 10 shots, where the boat came from 35 mm still shots, cut and pasted from original background, tracked with Hammerhead Rastrack, pasted into Avid Illusion, made to move with the camera through 2D DVEs, and color corrected to fit the new scenes, and the whole shebang data-stored on a Viewgraphics "Data for D-1." [Thanks to 16 May 1996 "Post" magazine, pp.116-7] Music: Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson Williams Costume Designer: Barbara Baum Editor: Janis Billeskov Jansen Production Designer: Anna Asp Director of Photography: Jorgen Persson Opening: 28 February 1997 Reviews: Kenneth Turan , Los Angeles Times: "Danish Director Billie Augusts's version of Peter Hoeg's international bestseller is bland, stodgy, and homogenized." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Space Truckers (Star Truckers)

Story: Well, they say that the Space Shuttle is just a glorified big-rig carrying cargo into orbit, so why not make a film that revels in blue-collar values about real truckers in space? On the other hand, why? Studio: ??? Based on: ??? Executive Producer: Guy Collins Producers: Mary Breen-Farrelly, Stuart Gordon, Greg Johnson, Ted Mann, Peter Newman Co-Producer: Morgan O'Sullivan Screenplay: Stuart Gordon, Ted Mann Director: Stuart Gordon Cinematography: Mac Ahlberg Editor: John Victor-Smith Costume Design: Anne Bloomfield, John Bloomfield Music: Colin Towns Starring: John Canyon -- Dennis Hopper Mike Pucci -- Stephen Dorff Cindy -- Debi Mazar Keller -- George Wendt Mister Cutt -- Vernon Wells Carol -- Barbara Crampton E. J. Saggs -- Shane Rimmer Nabel/Macundo -- Charles Dance Trooper Officer -- Tim Loane Trooper -- Ian Beattie Building Commander -- Olwen Fouere Tank Patrol -- Roger Gregg Tech Leader -- Dennis Akayama Chopper 4 -- Seamus Flavin Chopper 3 -- Jason O'Mara Bitchin' Betty -- Sandra Dickenson Jackie -- Graeme Wilkenson Mel -- Sean Lawlor Jerry -- Lonnie R. Smith Delia -- Carolyn Purdy-Gordon others {to be done} Special Effects: Electric Image (London) ISDN networking of daily rushes Genre: SPACE: MOVIES AND TV-MOVIES ABOUT SPACE Opening: Fall/Holiday? 1997 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Hero Al Simmons is a government agent who dies in combat in Vietnam, shot by his own agency, and he comes back to half-life seeking revenge (hey, it worked for "The Crow"). The undead antihero can change shape, is internally conflicted between the dark motive of revenge and the glimmering decency of wanting to save the people he loved. He is blocked by his nemesis, the evil "Violator" who is sent by the Master of Hell, who also employs "Clown" disguised as a homeless wanderer. Studio: New Line Cinema presents, in association with Todd McFarlane Entertainment, a Dippe' Goldman Williams production Based on: the Comic Books "Spawn" by Todd McFarlane Screenplay: ??? Director: Mark A. Z. Dippe' (his first feature film; he did FX for "The Flintstones" and "Jurassic Park"; episodes of "Beauty and the Beast") Producer: Clint Goldman Executive Producers: Todd McFarlane, Alan C. Blomquist Co-Executive Producers: Brian Witten, Adrianna A. J. Cohen Screenplay: Alan McElroy, based on a Screen Story by Alan McElroy and Mark A. Z. Dippe' Cinematography: Guillermo Navarro Editor: Michael N. Knue, A.C.E. Novelization: Avon Books Starring: Spawn/Al Simmons -- Michael Jai White Violator/Clown -- John Leguizumo Jason Wynn -- Martin Sheen Cogliostro -- Nicol Williamson Wanda -- Theresa Randle Terry -- D. B. Sweeny Special Effects: ILM, Santa Barbara Digital Sets, and The Band from the Ranch; effects include protective armor that morphs to new shapes Mark Dippe' comments "It's hell to make a [special effects] picture. You start with great ideas and things go wrong. It's like you're on a canoe down a river where a dam has broken. And the whole time, you have to keep your head clear to steer that canoe" [L.A. Times, 12 May 1997]. According to "The Making of a Monster" by Paul Zieke [L.A. Times, Business Section, p.D1, 6 Aug 1997] "New Line Cinema paid preeminent special-effects house Industrial Light & Magic $8,500,000 for a total of 85 'shots' in the movie 'Spawn.' If that sounds like a lot, keep in mind that it took more than 70 people nearly 11 months to complete the work. 'Spawn' special-effects supervisor Steve "Spaz" Williams explained the laborious process of creating the movie's ultimate monster, the reptilian Violator. (1) "First, we created [with Chatsworth-based KNB Efx Group, which also did makeup for the film] a 24-inch poly-resin model and an 11-foot metal and rubber model that was used in a few of the practical shots." Time and manpower: 3 1/2 months, 20 people. (2) "We took the small model and sawed it up--its legs, arms and head. We took it to Cyberware in Monterey, where they used a Cyberware scanner to shoot a vertical laser. A camera collects the impression and turns it into data, which goes into a computer. The next day, we got a data tape to take back to ILM." Time and manpower: 2 days, 5 people. (3) "At ILM, we rebuilt the model on the computer; we fit the parts together like Legos. We built the armature for the character and worked out movements, like joint rotations. Then, we 'painted' the computerized model and gave it texture." Time and manpower: 2 1/2 months, 20 people. (4) "Finally, we start animating the character, making him 'act.' After we complete work on a shot, we have to transfer it to regular film stock; at that point, we have to make the shot blend in with the rest of the scene by changing lighting or adding fake 'grain' to match the other footage... I turned in the last shot on July 21 [about a week and a half before the film opened]." Visual Effects: Steve "Spaz" Williams Animation Supervisor: Dennis Turner Special Make-Up and Animatronic Effects: Kurtzman, Nicotero & Berger EFX Group, Inc. Costumes: Dan Lester Music: Graeme Revell Soundtrack: Immortal/Epic CDs and Cassettes; new music from Filter with Crystal Method, Korn with The Dust Brothers, Marilyn Manson featuring The Sneaker Pimps, Henry Rollins with Goldie Production Design: Philip Harrison Casting: Mary Jo Slater, C.S.A. Tie-Ins: HBO cable launches the animated TV series "Spawn" at midnight, 16 May 1997 Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes Opening: 2 August 1997 Web: Spawn official home page Box Office: "Spawn" opened with a remarkable $21,200,000 three-day weekend gross on 2,536 screens ($8,364 average) for a #2 spot, only slighty behind Columbia's "Air Force One" in its 2nd week of release. "Spawn" was thus New Line Cinema's 4th best debut ever, behind only "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Mortal Kombta", and "The Mask." It ranked well above the #3 George of the Jungle in that Walt Disney film's 3rd week in release. {week 2 missing from database, will reconstruct later} "Spawn" slipped 44% from week #2 to week #3, with 3-day weekend gross of $4,900,000 on 2,478 screens ($2,012 average) and a 3-week cumulative gross of $46,700,000. This put it well below the 1-2-3 triple blockbusters of Miramax's "Cop Land" debut with a stellar cast headed by Sly Stallone, the 4th week of Sony/Columbia's "Air Force One", and the 2nd week of Warner Bros.' Mel Gibson vehicle "Conspiracy Theory." Thus, Event Horizon was the leader of the 4-5-6-7 sci-fi quad with #5 New Line's Spawnin its 3rd week, #6 Disney's George of the Jungle in its 5th week, and #7 Sony/Columbia's Men In Black in its 7th week. The 5th science fiction film in the top-10, Warner Bros.' Contact, slipped to 9th in its 6th week. Reviews: Darcel Rockett, The Arizona Republic: "'Spawn' is by far the best movie of the summer.It picks you up in a tornado of special effects and eye-enticing visual imagery." Jim Wilson, FOX-TV: "'Spawn' rules! It's the ultimate summer thrill ride." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "3 1/2 stars! 'Spawn' is unforgettable." Joseph B. Mauceri, World of fandom: "'Spawn' is not your father's superhero, 'Spawn' is a superhero for the next millennium." Leo Quinones, KIIS-FM, Los Angeles: "'Spawn' delivers action, intensity, and one heck of a kick." Dave Kehr, The New York Daily News: "Spectacular!" Michael Snyder, KITS-FM, San Francisco: "Astonishing! 'Spawn' is a banquet of high-tech eye candy. 'Spawn' rocks." Thelma Adams, New York Post: "Dazzling, nonstop special effects." Mason Wood, CBS-TV: "'Spawn' is a heck of a good time." John Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 1 Aug 1997: "'Spawn' is Hellish-- and That's a Compliment. If you're in the mood for Julie Harris in 'The Belle of Amherst,' there's probably no need to read further. If, however, what you want is an anguished superhero from hell whose face looks like the inside of an all-weather radial, 'Spawn' might be just the movie for you.... Al Simmons, a rogue member of a rogue agency who is sent to hell by his superior, Jason Wynn, when he's virtually incinerated during a germ-warfare 'experiment' in North Korea.... While down there, he makes a pact with Satan: by agreeing to lead the forces of hell against heaven at Armageddon, he is allowed to return to Earth and see his beloved wife, Wanda.... Inspired by the Tim Burton school of gothic urban decay, and with a few episodes of the old 'Beauty and the Beast' series under his belt, director Mark A. Z. Dippe' does a considerable job recreating the feel of McFarlane's books [graphic novels]; the scenes in hell are particularly ghoulish and otherworldly; the fire-scarred Simmons, who has metamorphosed into Spawn, takes the disquiet and self-loathing of the modern comic hero to new heights--or depths-- especially when you consider that he's already dead. The special effects are effective and aggressive, although one might occasionally confuse a divine vortex with a flushed toilet." "Any questions will be answered in the sequel, which seems inevitable given that the final words of 'Spawn' tell us in no uncertain terms that the story hasn't ended. But then, 'Spawn' is mostly about establishing its hero and seeking revenge: Spawn, cape aswirl and eyes aglow, wants Wynn and is relentless in his pursuit." "Spawn doesn't actually return to Earth until five years have passed; finding wanda married to his best friend Terry doesn't help his disposition. Neither does the fact that he's caught on the horns of an infernal dilemma. The evil Clown, played by an antic but very funny John Leguizumo (he gets all the good lines), is intent on filling satan's army with lost souls; to that end, he devises a sheme whereby Spawn's killing of Wynn will unleash an unstoppable viral plague.... Posturing like hell's boulevardier is Cogliostro, another hellian who urges Spawn to reject Stan and preserve life. Spawn, already in need of some serious dermatology, now has this end-of-the-world thing to worry about." "There's lots of action and lots of dubious theology, and the religious right will be tying itself in knot trying to figure out whom to boycott.... 'Spawn,' meanwhile, does what it's supposed to do, which is make a comic come to life. Or is it death?" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Starship Troopers

Story: Human civilization in interstellar war against giant insect culture on other planets. In the novel, it was giant spiders, but in either case the motorized computerized combat spacesuits would have been way cool. A genuinely great science fiction war film, the best ever made in this genre. See below for more. Studio: a John Davidson Production, released by Columbia/TriStar (Sony) [but Disney owns 50% of foreign rights] Based on: novel "Starship Troopers" by the incomparable Robert A. Heinlein Authors: H Screenplay: Ed Neumeier ("Robocop") Director: Paul Verhoeven ("Robocop", "Total Recall", "Basic Instinct", "Showgirls") Cinematographer: Jost Vacano ("Das Boot", "Robocop", "Total Recall") Editors: Mark Goldblatt, Caroline Ross Producers: John Davidson, Alan Marshall Starring: Johnny Rico -- Casper Van Dien (forthcoming "James Dean") Carl Jenkins -- Neil Patrick Harris (TV's "Doogie Howser") Dizzy Flores -- Dina Meyer Carmen Ibanez -- Denise Richards Ace Levy -- Jake Busey Professor/Lieutenant -- Michael Ironside Sgt. Zim -- Clancy Brown Zander Barcalow -- Patrick Muldoon others: {to be done} Special Effects: ??? Creature Visual Effects Supervisor: Phil Tippett Production Design: Allan Cameron Art Directors: Steve Wolff, Bruce Robert Hill Costumes: Ellen Mirojnik Music: Basil Poledouris Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes Opening: 7 November 1997 (was originally to be 2 July 1997) Budget: $70-100,000,000 Web: Unofficial Starship Trooper Site Scoop: I've spoken to extras who complained about the filming, in the desert, while wearing padded "spacesuits", who sweated away 5 pounds of water per shooting day. They haven't yet seen the post-production, so they don't know what the monsters look like while they had to act as if they did. But the extras all say that this should be genuine ----------------------------------------------------------- Your Humble Webmaster's Sneak Preview: ----------------------------------------------------------- Copyright 1997 by Magic Dragon Multimedia ----------------------------------------------------------- This is the greatest military science fiction film of all time! My 8-year-old son and I saw this masterpiece screened in late October at the Cary Grant Theatre in Sony Studios. Because it's R-rated, my son will not be allowed to see it when it opens two weeks later. But he and I were stunned by its straight-ahead power, even though he found it almost tearfully sad in places. Hey, it's a war film -- some of the good guys die. War is hell, whatever planet it is fought upon. So we wonder: why is the studio hoping to sell a hundred million dollars worth of toys and other merchandising, when children are legally banned from the theatres? Best guess: they'll sneak in anyway, driven by the way-cool TV ads and schoolyard word of mouth. The special effects are astonishing -- hordes of giant killer insects (confusingly called both Arachnids and "bugs") could never have been believable in a previous generation of filmmaking. But, combined with non-star but earnest acting, the film is admirable in every regard. I'll be detailing this at length later, but the most important thing is this: the movie is 95% faithful to the profoundly serious yet entertaining novel by Robert Heinlein. I didn't expect them to keep in the political philosophy (you must serve in the military to become a citizen) or the anti-sexism (co-ed army shower scenes). But they did. Some critics will attack this film as politically incorrect, as did the critics of three decades ago, when the book was released. Heinlein was even called a "fascist" -- but this film is true to his deeper patriotism and individualistic morality. There is a plethora of pseudo-Nazi iconography, but I'm sure that it is knowingly ironic in intent -- the one-world government's stylized Eagle logo, the trenchcoat worn by the intelligence officer, and so forth. Here you can see the best space-battle ever filmed, with starships sliced in half by plasma beams. Starships would not really be arrayed so close as to collide with each other in battle, but it makes for an awesome armada, beyond "Star Wars" and "Battlestar Galactica" on steroids. Here you can see true science fiction, with sociological extrapolation piled on engineering and biology. The worst howler is the coffee tilting in the cup from a gravity field outside the starship, a silly copy of the rippling coffee in Jurassic Park. Now that I think of it, there is also the almost identical scene of the cow being shredded by Velociraptors in "Jurassic Park" and a cow being shredded in "Starship Troopers." Don't flinch at stealing from successful films, if you want to succeed in Hollywood. I missed the body armor/powered spacesuits (which make the Mobile Infantry genuinely mobile, in the book), but they would have made it hard to identify the actors in mid-battle. I missed the father-son reconciliation scene in the book -- here, when Buenos Aires is wiped out by aliens, Dad and Mom are both snuffed. My friends who served in Korea and/or Vietnam quibbled that 'Starship Troopers' was too limited by World War II weaponry. "Machine guns in the 23rd century?" they sniff, "plus the occasional tactical nuke grenade? Where are the lasers? Where is the air support? Where are the armored personnel carriers, the flame throwers, the bazookas, the Stinger missiles, let alone the phasers and blasters and tractor beams? Didn't they have lasers in boot camp?" My 8-year-old son insists that the lasers in boot camp were merely laser designators. My vet buddies have a point, in that Heinlein served in World War II, and saw the future through anti-Axis glasses. But then again, so did J. R. R. Tolkien. A more subtle complaint was raised by science fiction author/scientist Dr. Thomas McDonough, who thought the Arachnids were ecologically impossible, with no visible food sources on the desert planet we saw. I point out that we didn't see much of the begs' underground burrows, where they could have had slaves as food on the hoof, or slave species raising plants to feed other prey. But by and large, this is a rare example of a great science fiction book being crafted into a great science fiction film. You must see this movie. Then be prepared to argue. Caution: superb special effects may distract you from the fact that there are real ideas and a real story! ----------------------------------------------------------- Box Office: "Starship Troopers" conquered the galactic box office in its opening week, with a #1 debut from $22,100,000 4-day weekend gross on 2,971 screens (a stellar $7,425 average). This was almost double the weekend gross of Gramercy's "Bean" (which had already grossed $140,000,000 in foreign markets since its June debut in Australia). "Starship Troopers" slipped 55% to #2 in its second weekend, with $10,000,000 on 2,971 screens ($3,377 average) and a $39,200,000 cumulative gross. It was pushed out of first place by the debut of Universal's "The Jackal", an action film starring Bruce Willis and Richard Gere, and the first release by Universal since 29 Aug 97's Kull the Conquerer. The 3rd week marked another 53% decline, to #7 rank, with 3-day weekend gross of $4,700,00 on 2,822 screens ($1,668 average) and a cumulative gross of $46,300,000. I'd guess that adults craving action opted for Paramount's "John Grisham's The Rainmaker" (#3) and Universal's "The Jackal" (#4) while kids were siphoned off to "Mortal Kombat Annihilation" (#1), Fox's "Anastasia" (#2), Disney's re-release "The Little Mermaid" (#5), and Gramercy's "Bean" (#8). The 4th week brought another 42% decline, to #10 rank, with 5-day Thanksgiving weekend gross of $3,900,00 on 2,397 screens ($1,645 average) and a cumulative gross of $51,000,000. It stayed below the 7th week gross of "Bean." In week #5, "Starship Troopers" held on to #10 ratings, with 3-day weekend gross of $1,300,00 (down 54% from Week #4) on 1,854 screens ($682 average) and a cumulative gross of $53,000,000. It stayed below the 8th week gross of the Gramercy comedy "Bean." Not a hit, not a flop, but a film that will eventually show a modest profit in overseas and video release. By week #6, "Starship Troopers" was lost in space, no longer on the top 10 list of domestic box office gross. I still like the film very much, and intend to see it a 3rd time. Later, I'll update the weekly and cumulative grosses and ratings. And let's hope for more Robert Heinlein films! Reviews: Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "Sensationally Exciting! Like 'Star Wars' it's ground zero for a new generation of Thrill Seekers." Jeff Giles, Newsweek: "The battles are magnificent!" Robert Hoffler, Buzz Weekly "****! A Must-see!" Sam Hallenbeck, Fox-TV, Tampa, Florida: "One hell-of-a-rock-and-roll rocket ride! A real blast!" Dave McDonnell, Starlog: "The Best War Movie Ever!" Paul Wunder, WBAI Radio, New York City: "An eye-popping explosively entertaining epic!" Maria Salas, CBS Telenoticias: "One of the best science fiction movies ever!" Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Forget the Terminator, it's the Exterminator you'll be looking for after experiencing 'Starship Troopers.' A film whose self-proclaimed motto is 'Kill anything that has more than two legs'..." "Based on Robert A. Heinlein's classic 1959 science fiction novel... 'we're in this for the species, boys and girls.'" "[Directed] by Paul Verhoeven..., a director for whom excess is never enough, 'Troopers' does not fit any reasonable definition of a quality motion picture. But it certainly is a jaw-dropping experience, so rigorously one-dimensional and free from even the pretense of intelligence it's hard not be astonished and even mesmerized by what is on the screen." "Part of the reason is those darn bugs. Besides the hordes of gigantic Warriors, who attack in unstoppable waves like the Japanese in xenophobic World War II movies, there are flying bugs, crawling bugs, gargantuan fire-breathing Tanker bugs and even, Lord protect us, a deep-thinking Brain bug that knows lots more than we'd like it to." "Constructed out of a complex combination of model and miniature work and computer-generated imagery, 'Starship Troopers' impressive futuristic world of bugs, spaceships and total war makes you wonder about the sanity of the technicians who spent lonely hours making innumerable insects look good on camera. There must be less taxing ways to make a living." "But where 'Starship Troopers' has it all over similar effects-laden efforts like 'Independence Day' and 'Twister' is its complete lack of pretense. There's no mock emotion here, none of the nauseating pseudo-sensitivity ... [of] Judd Hirsch's character in 'Independence Day.' What Ed Neumeier's script provides instead is a cheerfully lobotomized, always watchable experience that has all the simple-mindedness of a live-action comic book, with no words spoken that wouldn't be right at home in a funny paper dialogue balloon. Not just one comic book either, but an improbable and delirious combination of 'Weird Science', 'Betty and Veronica' and 'Sgt.Rock and His Howling Commandos.'" [a few days later, Arthur Metz of Los Angeles corrected the above: "Kenneth Turan's review of the film 'Starship Troopers' makes reference in passing to a comic book 'Sgt.Rock and His Howling Commandos.' I believe he is conflating DC's WWII comic "Sgt.Rock" with Marvel's WWII comic 'Sgt.Fury and His Howling Commandos.'] "Also thrown into this high-energy mix... is the fascist utopianism of the original Heinlein novel..." "'Starship Troopers' offers no shortage of all manners of carnage. The bugs are both nuked and blown away by what's been reported as the most ammunition ever used in a major motion picture, while the hapless humans are repulsively chomped up, dismembered, impaled, beheaded and completely slimed on by the enemy. 'Bugs don't take prisoners,' our troops are warned and, for better and worse, neither does 'Starship Troopers'." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition

Story: 20th anniversary of "Star Wars" celebrated with release including some never-before seen footage and new digital soundtrack. All true Star Wars fans have already seen this film, often several times, so I won't bother with details. Studio: 20th Century Fox Director: George Lucas Starring: Original Cast Special Effects: Industrial Light and Magic Space Opera Opening: already Where did the Names come from?: Eric P. Nash, in the New York Times, Sunday 26 January 1997 had a dandy essay entitled "The Names Came from Earth." George Lucas told Mr.Nash that "Basically, I developed the names for the characters phonetically. I obviously wanted to telegraph a bit of the character in the name. The names needed to sound unusual but not spacey. I wanted to stay away from the kind of science fiction names like Zenon and Zorba. They had to sound indigenous and have consistency between their names and the culture." For those of you who already know that Darth Vader's face mask was based on the grille of a '56 Chevy, prepare to memorize trivia NOW! Mr.Nash researched 20+ novels, trading cards, RPGs, guides, and websites, to come up with the following list [restructred and edited for this web site]:
  1. Darth Vader: from Dutch roots, roughly "Dark Father"
  2. Anakin Skywalker: "Anakin" derives from the race of giants in the biblical "Genesis", and "Skywalker" as a phrase for the Norse god Loki, known for fire and sneakiness and trouble.
  3. Luke Skywalker: "Luke" is from Greek "leukos" or "light", as opposed to the Dark Side of the Force and "Darth" [Dark]. In the Gospels, Luke was a gentile who converted to Christianity, which is appropriate for a boy who becomes absorbed by the religious power of The Force. An early draft of the screenplay has the name "Luke Starkiller." Either way, the hero is "Luke S.", which can easily be pronounced "Lucas!"
  4. Tatooine: Luke Skywalker's home planet is a variant of "Tataouine", a town in Tunisia, which is the country where the desert scenes of "Star Wars" were filmed.
  5. Princess Leia Organa: The Carrie Fisher role is evocative of "Princess Dejah Thoris", princess of the Martian city of "Helium" in Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of John Carter of Mars. She also has echoes of "Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien" in J.R.R. Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings." "Organa" equals "organic" in the sense of the forest versus the mechanical power of the Empire, according to Lucas' biographer Dale Pollock.
  6. Hans Solo: Harrison Ford's character springs from "Han" as an archaic variant of "John" in order to put us back in mythic time. "Solo" means the lone-gun swashbuckler who must grow to trust others and work as part of a team for the sake of a cause beyond his narrow agenda. The name also connects to "Napoleon Solo" in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", which name actually first appeared as a minor bad guy in the James Bond novel "Goldfinger."
  7. R2D2: Lucas tells that the robot's name came from a sound editor's once calling out "R2D2" as shorthand for "Reel Two, Dialogue Two" during the filming of Lucas' prior hit, "American Graffiti." Lucas said to himself "R2D2? I like the sound," jotted it down in his notebook, and planned to use it again someday.
  8. Chewbacca: Everyone's favorite Wookiee was reportedly inspired by Lucas' malamute "Indiana", which was the name given to the hero of the "Indiana Jones" movies. Wookiee was originally an ad lib in Lucas first feature film, "THX 1138", where a character said "I think I ran over a Wookiee back there,"
  9. Obi-Wan Kenobi: Alec Guiness' character, also called "old Ben Kenobi," is discovered to be a Jedi knight who brings Luke to the power of the Force. Appropriately, then, "Obi" is the sash used to tie a Japanese kimono, thus suggesting the oriental martial arts, and relating to "Wan" which is close to Japanese honorific "san." "Obi" also sounds like "OB" as an abbreviation for "Old Ben", and the buzz on the Net is that his name is really "OB-1" as a coded reference to the Clone Wars history in the future 6 episodes of the planned 9-movie series.
  10. Ewoks: the fighting teddy bears get their name from "Miwok", the Indian tribe indigenous to San Rafael, California, where Lucas built his Skywalker Ranch. In "The Return of the Jedi" we see the Ewoks in the forests of the moon Endor, which was the name of the witch in the biblical Book of Samuel.
  11. Boba Fett: some say, on the World Wide Web, that this is based on another hotshot jockey, Bob Falfa, the drag racer played by Harrison Ford in "American Graffiti."
  12. Banthas: the screw-horned shaggy beasts of the honky Sand People, derive from "Banth", a creature found on "Barsoom", the adventurous Mars of Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of John Carter of Mars.
  13. Jawas: These mutant descendants of the cartoon chipmunks Chip 'n Dale, relate to Indonesian Islam, and to the trance music of Morocco, called "Gnawa." By the way, the son of Your Humble Webmaster met a character in a "Dale" chipmunk outfit at Disneyland when the boy was shy of 3 years old; it was his first encounter with a genuine celebrity, and so he was first excited, then a bit shy. For a look at the world through this boy's eyes, check out his web page at: "Gruesome"
Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Turbo: A New Power Rangers Adventure

Story: Quintet of superhero teenagers in tights power-up their Turbo Zords and clash with a Space Pirate Studio: 20th Century Fox presentation of a Saban Entertainment/ Toel Co. production Based on: a sequel to a money-making franchise of TV and toys, i.e. the 1995 film "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and the "Power Rangers ZEO" children's television series Producer: Jonathan Tzachor Directors: David Winning and Shuki Levy Writers: Shuki Levy & Shell Danielson Cinematography: Ilan Rosenberg Editors: Harry Richardson, B. J. Sears Costumes: Danielle Baker Production Designer: Yuda Ako Art Directors: Steve Miller, David Lazan Set Designers: Khurt Alex Geisse, Marcos Alvarez Set Decorator: Julie Bolder Running Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes Starring: Divatox -- Hilary Shepard Turner Adam -- Johnny Yong Bosch Tanya -- Nakia Burrise Tommy -- Jason David Frank Kat -- Catherine Sutherland Justin -- Blake Foster Special Effects: Calico Entertainment Opening: Spring 1997 Review: Kitschy comic-booky look, very slick special effects, rock & roll soundtrack, cool anti-crime gadgets, nicely megalomaniacal villainess with all the good lines of dialog, could have been stupid but has enough wit to keep the parents entertained when their kids drag them to this movie. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Los Angeles is darn near wiped out by a volcano erupting in the mid-Wilshire area. The L.A. County Museum of Art and the La Brea Tar Pits are at the center of the action, while the mayoral race between incumbent Riordan and challenger Tom Hayden (ex-radical ex-husband of Jane Fonda) was for some reason ignored. Lava drools down Wilshire Boulevard and through Metro Rail tunnels, sometimes flowing uphill. Ad Hook: "The Coast is Toast" Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures presents a Shuler Donner/Donner and Moritz Original production; a Mick Jackson film Based on: the Rodney King riots, the Northridge Quake, and the Altadena Malibu Fires rolled into one Executive Producer: Lauren Shuler Donner Producer -- Andrew Z. Davis ("The Fugitive"), Neil H. Moritz Director: Mick Jackson ("The Bodyguard", "L.A. Story") Writer: Jerome D. Armstrong and Billy Ray Story: Jerome D. Armstrong Book: novelization published by Harper Paperbacks Editor: Michael Tronick, A.C.E., Don Brochu Technical Advisor -- volcanologist Rick Hazlett (Professor of Geology at Pomona College) who says he was inspired to become a volcanologist by seeing Disney's "Fantasia" as a child. Production Designer: Jackson DeGovia Director of Photography: Theo Van de Sande, A.S.C. Starring: Mike Roark (emergency management czar) -- Tommy Lee Jones ("Batman Returns", "Blown Away") partly modeled on Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Bob Canfield (much seen after 1994 Northridge quake) Roark's daughter -- Gaby Hoffman Emmit Reese (Roark's assistant) -- Don Cheadle ("Devil in a Blue Dress") Dr. Amy Barnes (seismologist) -- Anne Heche ("Donnie Brasco") ??? -- Keith David Special Effects: Marty Bresin supervisor, 80% scale model of Wilshire corridor constructed on 17-acre McDonnell Douglas parking lot in Torrance and gleefully awash in fake lava. Music: Alan Sylvestri Sountrack: ??? Costume Designer: Kirsten Everberg Locations: MacArthur Park, Beverly Center mall, Metro Rail tunnel, Emergency Operations Center Budget -- $70 million Opening: 25 April 1997 Volcano official web site Box Office: $47,500,000 domestic + $73,500,000 overseas = $121,000,000 worldwide in Calendar Year 1997 only, according to "Variety." Here's how: "Volcano" blasted into the #1 box office slot with a debut week of $14,700,000 thus blowing Anaconda out of #1,where it had been #1 for its first two weeks in a row. This was a good opening, but not as good as the other volcano flick of the season, Dante's Peak, which was released two months earlier, and which captured $18,600,000 for the best February opening of any movie ever. "Volcano" slipped from #1 after just one week as people flocked to the opening thriller "Breakdown" and the comedic Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery "Volcano" slipped to #3 with a gross of $9,500,000 which was down 35% from opening weekend. 3rd weekend gross was $4,500,000 for 5th place. In its 3rd week The Fifth Element opened at #1 with $17,000,000 on opening weekend, at 2,500 screens for an average of $6,813, ranking above the opening of "Father's Day" with Billy Crystal and Robin Williams and above the 2nd week of "Breakdown." Next in line was Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery at #4, with $7,100,000 for the weekend, at 2,1877 screens for an average of $3,230 and a cumulative gross of $19,500,000. Volcano kept smoking at #5, on 2,650 screens for an average of $1,696 and a cumulative gross of $34,100,000. Anaconda squeezed in at #8. Anaconda had now cumulatively grossed $53,100,000 with $2,700,000 on this 5th weekend at 2,302 screens for an average of $1,158. Anaconda was at 1,730 screens for an average of $1,158, and ranking right above The Saint at #9 in its 6th week, with $1,600,000 on 1,730 screens for an average of $903, and with a cumulative gross of $54,800,000. As of 20 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "Volcano" ranked 5th (just below Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), with a 3-day weekend gross of $3,600,000 for a total so far of $38,900,000 and was on 2,636 screens for $1,364 average -- reasonably good for the 4th week in release. As of 28 May 1997, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., "Volcano" still smoked at #8, (well below the megablockbuster The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and just below the 10th week "Liar Liar", and just above the 2nd week of "Night falls on Manhattan" and the 5th week of "Romy and Michele."). "Volcano" had a 3-day weekend gross of $2,300,000 for a total so far of $42,400,000 and was on 1,736 screens for $1,330 average -- good for the 5th week in release, especially against the super dinosaurs. By its 10th week, "Volcano" sputtered to #18 on the box-office list, with $300,000 weekend gross on 482 screens ($600 average) and a cumulative gross of $46,700,000. It ranked just below Warner Bros.' "Fathers' Day" in its week #8, and just above "Grosse Pointe Blank" in that Hollywood film's 12the week. Reviews: Your Humble Webmaster's favorite line: "Find me a scientist who can tell me what the hell is going on!" But see other quotes in

Sci-Fi Attacks on Los Angeles

Caltech seismologist Egill Hauksson said "Why are we trying to employ a method of scientific analysis to this garbage? After reading the script, it's totally fictional, totally unrealistic. This is entertainment. I would like to leave it at that and let Hollywood have its entertainment," and then he asked Caltech to have its attorney write to Fox and demand that Caltech's name not be used in the film. It is not. Stan Williams, volcanologist at Arizona State University says (1) the methane bubbling up in the La Brea Tar pits is from decay of organic material underground, NOT from lava; (2) Vulcanism is possible at Mammoth Lakes in California, near Portland, Oregon, and other West Coast locations, but NOT Los Angeles; (3) The film has "a complete absence of scale", i.e. NO WAY could lava be stopped by freeway barriers and firetrucks Response from Laura Ziskin at Fox 2000 Pictures: "We are not claiming this is a scientific fact. It is as likely as the dinosaurs being brought back to life." Metro Rail officials (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) really really hate the scenes where their fictional counterparts refuse to shut down the subway in the face of Los Angeles Emergency Preparedness warnings. An insider complained to Your Humble Webmaster that these scenes are "ripped off from the movie 'The Money Train' because real subway officials don't play with passengers' lives." Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: "Volcano glows with heat... mightily impressive special effects... particularly convincing... unnerving. As written by Jerome Armstrong and Billy Ray, 'Volcano' also manages some sly moments that will be appreciated around town. A subway motorman reads ' Screenplays That Sell'... sense of continuous urgency... great sense of pace... predictable implausibilities... crisp work from its principals, especially Tommy Lee Jones... after the horrendous dramatics of 'Twister', 'Independence Day' and 'Dante's Peak', a disaster movie that's not a disaster can be reason enough to smile." Richard Corliss, Time Magazine: "You'll have a hell-lava time." Paul Wunder, WBAI Radio: "Explosively entertaining, An eye-popping thriller." Jim Ferguson, Prevue Channel: "Tommy Lee Jones takes on the forces of nature, and wins.... Take the ride--Volcano has it all." Don Stotter, Network One: "Non-stop excitement and suspense." Terry Morgan, Pasadena Weekly: "Volcano blows. Latest disaster flick sags like a leaky balloon... all that remains after the hullabaloo is a lot of hot air... the City of Angels is about to become angel food... The one nice thing one can say about 'Volcano' is that the acting by the leads isn't bad. Sadly, the script is. Director Mick Jackson is hampered by the dreadful script as well as his cast, but brings no apparent visual panache or flair for suspense... the screenplay by Jermone Armstrong and Billy Ray misses its mark so completely it's semi-astounding. The satirical or visual possibilities inherent in trashing L.A. are mind-boggling, yet the most they came up with was a billboard of Angelyne crashing to the ground. The entire film remains confined to the terrifically boring setting of the Miracle Mile area of Wilshire Boulevard. The special effects aren't particularly special. If you want a decent volcano film, wait for Dante's Peak on video." Jane Horowitz, Los Angeles Times: "Lava'll keep us together, as fast, funny disaster epic with brotherhood message proves." David Ansen, Newsweek: "A radiant gusher of movie magma." Shiela Benson, Cinemania Online: "One rip-roaringly satisfying time in the dark." Matt Levitz, Syndicated Radio: "The first great action film of the year!" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Warriors of Virtue

Story: in 4 words: Teenage Mutant Ninja Kangaroos; Seems to be "Star Wars" meets "Power Rangers"; characters based on the five "elements" of Chinese alchemy, namely "Water, Metal, Wood, Fire, and Earth." Studio: MGM / A Law Brothers Production Based on: "In a world beyond your wildest imagination, a battle for the universe has begun." Well, I'll match my wildest imagination against yours anytime, and as for "battle for the universe", see my summary of Brian Aldiss' analysis of Space Opera Executive Producer: Joseph Law Producers: Dennis Law and Ronald Law and Christoper Law and Jeremy Law and Patricia Ruben Screenplay: Michael Vickerman and Hugh Kelley Novelization: Boulevard Books Director: Ronny Yu (who helmed the wonderful "Bride with White Hair") Editor: David Wu Starring: Komodo -- Angus Macfayden (Evil character is draining The Lifesprings of Zubrium which are a fountain of youth, and to which he is addicted). Ryan Jeffers -- Mario Yedidia (smart kid with a brace on his leg, who gives highschool football quarterback a winning play and is tricked into a cruel initiation in the sewers, where he falls into a magical world -- Tao) Elysia -- Marley Shelton (the lovely but troubled character helps Ryan, but embroils him in the war between the nice Roo-Warriors and the evil Komodo) Master Chung -- Chao-Il Chi (the character is a cross between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Master Splinter and Star Wars' Obi-Wan Kenobi) Ming -- Dennis Dun Tsun -- Adrienne Corcoran (personifies Earth and Loyalty) Yee -- Doug Jones (personifies Metal and Righteousness) Yun -- Jack Tate (personifies Water and Benevolence) Lai --Don W. Lewis (personifies Wood and Order) Willy Beest -- Chi -- J. Todd Adams (personifies Fire and Wisdom) Mudlap -- ??? -- ??? Special Effects Director: John Gajdecki Special Effects: Tony Gardner and Alterian Studios (Makeup and animatronics) Production Designer: Eugenio Zanetti Director of Photography: Peter Pau, H.K.S.C. ("Bride with White Hair", "Double Team") Costumes: Shirley Chan Action Choreographer: Siu-Ming Tsui Running Time: 1 Hour, 43 minutes Music: Don Davis Soundtrack: Kid Rhino Location: Almost entirely made in Beijing, China Warriors of Virtue official web site Opening: 2 May 1997 Box Office: Debut weekend grossed $3,600,000 for 7th place slot. Reviews: John Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 97, said "Strategically positioned for a line of its own lunch boxes... an ambitious kung fu fantasy with a muscular visual style, a fairly consistent level of hysteria and an admirable sense of its own goofiness.... Manufactured mythology... magic marsupial[s]... mystical boiler-plate... recycling is as important a theme as the inherent cruelty of teenagers... Much of the film is fun, but a lot is confusing... Hong Kong director Ronny Yu keeps things fluid in the pre-Tao sequences, and the scenes in which Ryan's wise friend Ming displays his kung fu cooking style in the kitchen of a neighborhood Chinese restaurant are electric. But the fight scenes in Tao are claustrophobically tight, there's little sense of space and the story bogs down in its own myth and moralizing.... Half fairy tale, half thriller... having as much of an identity crisis as Hong Kong itself. Andy Klein, New Times, Los Angeles, 1-7 May 97: "Ronny Yu... has managed to bypass the Jean-Claude Van Damme initiation rites by making this children's flick... another version of your standard 'Neverending Story/Wizard of Oz' stuff, only less comprehensible. There are plot leaps that suggest imprudent cutting.... It's almost shot in that weird 'step-printed' semi-slo-mo style that Sammo Hung used in 'Ashes of Time'.... moderately diverting, probably entertaining for rugrats... a little disappointing for Yu fans." Barbara & Scott Siegel, Siegel Entertainment Syndicate: "Mix one part 'Star Wars', one part 'The Wizard of Oz', with five parts super hero kangaroo, and you've got an exuberant film." Maria Salas, CBS-Telenoticias: "A wonderful family adventure... for kids of all ages." Mose Persico, CFCF-12, Montreal: "Magical... An adventure to be shared with the entire family!" Brandon Judell, America Online: "A classic children's film." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: watch out with wishes -- as many a fairytale has warned, getting what you asked for can be horrible beyond belief Studio: Live Entertainment Executive Producer: {To Be Done} Producers: {To Be Done} Screenplay: {To Be Done} Novelization: {To Be Done} Director: {To Be Done} Editor: {To Be Done} Starring: {To Be Done} Special Effects Director: {To Be Done} Special Effects: {To Be Done} Production Designer: {To Be Done} Director of Photography: {To Be Done} Costumes: {To Be Done} Action Choreographer: {To Be Done} Running Time: {To Be Done} Music: {To Be Done} Soundtrack: {To Be Done} Location: {To Be Done} {To Be Done} official web site Opening: {To Be Done} 1997 Box Office: In its debut week, {To Be Done} By week #2, {To Be Done} After 3 weeks, "Wishmaster" ranked #10, with $1,500,000 weekend gross on 1,727 screens ($892 average), for $13,300,000 cumulative gross. It stood just below Fox Searchlight's heart-felt working-class comedy "The Full Monty." Reviews: {To Be Done}


Apt Pupil Armageddon The Avengers Baby Geniuses Blade The Borrowers Carrie II Dark City Deep Impact Deep Rising Dr. Dolittle The Thirteenth Warrior (a.k.a. Eaters of the Dead) Fallen Godzilla Indiana Jones 4 Instinct (a.k.a. "Ismael") Ishmael (a.k.a. "Instinct") Lost in Space The Matrix Meet Joe Black Mighty Joe Young Mission Impossible 2 The Mummy My Favorite Martian Phantoms Practical Magic Quest for Camelot Return from the Planet of the Apes Small Soldiers Soldier Species II: Offspring Speed Racer Sphere Star Trek 9 Superman Tarzan and the Lost City Virus What Dreams May Come X-Files X-Men X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

Apt Pupil

Story: High school student uncovers Nazi war criminal in his hometown, blackmails the Nazi to find out more about Holocaust, gets in too deep, ends up in murder Studio: TriStar/Phoenix Pictures (Divisions of Columbia Pictures) Based on: Stephen King novella (King optioned the story to Singer for $1) Screenplay: Brandon Boyce Producer: was to have been done in 1997 but Spelling Entertainment pulled out. Mike Medavoy (former head of TriStar) formed his own production company, Phoenix Pictures ("The Mirror Has Two Faces", "The People vs Larry Flynt") and approached Bryan Singer. Next, Jane hamsher, Tim Herbert, Kenneth Kokin, and Don Murphy came on board. Associate Producers: Tom DeSanto, John Ottman, Scott Rudin Director: Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects", "Apt Pupil", "X-Men") Cinematography: Tom Sigel Editor: John Ottman Starring: Todd Bowen -- Brad Renfro (Played Huckleberry Finn in Touchstone's "Tom and Huck", also in "Sleepers" and "The Client") Kurt Dussander/Arthur Denker -- Sir Ian McKellen ("Richard III") Ed French -- David Schwimmer (NBC-TV "Friends") Mr. Bowden (Todd's dad) -- Bruce Davidson Monica Bowden -- Ann Dowd Victor Bowden -- James Karen Agnes Bowden -- Marjorie Lovett Detective Getty -- Michael Artura Kevin Spirtas -- Kevin Blair Ben Kramer -- Michael Byrne Joey -- Joshua Jackson Archie -- Elias Koteas Becky Trask -- Heather McComb Agent Richler -- Joe Morton Weiskopf -- Jan Triska Music: John Ottman Production Design: Richard Hoover Costume Design: Louise Mingenbach Special Effects: ??? Location: "Santo Donato High School" is actually Elliott Middle School, in Altadena, California, less than 2 miles from Your Humble Webmaster. Budget: $14,000,000 Openings: 23 October 1998 in USA (1 May 1998 Denmark, October U.K., 5 Nov 1998 Argentina, 11 Dec 1998 Iceland, 4 Feb 1999 Germany, 15 Apr 1999 Slovakia) Pre-Preview: Director Bryan Singer grew up in Princeton, New Jersey as a friend of actor Ethan Hawke and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie (Academy Award for best original screenplay "The Usual Suspects" directed by Bryan Singer, starring Kevin Spacey who won best supporting actor). An adopted child, he's placed his mother in "Apt Pupil" as a secretary and his father as a hospital administrator. Singer went to USC as an undergraduate and there had McQuarrie write "Public Access" which shared the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, which led him to Spielberg and Robert Altman who sponsored him for Directors Guild of America, after which he directed "The Usual Suspects." Lawsuits: Constance and Philip St.Albin allege that their 14-year-old son Devin was forced to appear nude or nearly nude (in G-string) in a dream sequence concentration camp shower scene without permission and in direct violation of a strict supervision/no nudity agreement. They filed suit against TriStar, Phoenix Pictures, and Columbia Pictures. A second such suit has also been rumored, involving another child actor. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Science Fiction adventure, probably Space Opera, involving a meteor that threatens to wipe out human civilization, as opposed to "Deep Impact" which is about a Comet that threatens to wipe out human civilization. Bruce Willis, an ultra-tough oil driller, is sent on a near-suicide mission to destroy the meteor. Action scenes on Shuttle, Asteroid Rover, MIR space station... Studio: Touchstone (Disney), Jerry Bruckheimer Pictures Based on: capitalize on success of Bruce Willis in The Fifth Element Variously described as "Sci-Fi The Dirty Dozen" and "Sundance in Space" Screenplay: Jonathan Hensleigh (Die Hard: With a Vengeance, Jumanji, The Rock, The Saint, Virus, Hulk [1999]), Robert Roy Pool Executive Producers: Jonathan Hensleigh, Chad Oman, Jim Van Wyck Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer ("Con Air", "The Rock"), Michael Bay, Gale Anne Hurd Associate Producer: Barry H. Waldman Director: Michael Bay ("The Rock", "Bad Boys") Editors: Mark Goldblatt, Chris Lebenzon Starring: Harry Stamper (oil driller) -- Bruce Willis NASA Administrator Truman -- Billy Bob Thornton Grace -- Liv Tyler A. J. Frost -- Ben Affleck Chick -- Will Patton Rockhound -- Steve Buscemi Oscar Choi -- Owen Wilson Lev Andropov -- Peter Stormare General Kimsey -- Keith David Jennifer Watts -- Jessica Steen Colonel Sharp -- William Fichtner Quincy -- Jason Isaacs Tucker -- Anthony Guidera Jayotis "Bear" Kurleen -- Michael Duncan NBT Tech -- Andy Milder Max -- Ken Hudson Campbell Gruber -- Grayson McCouch Colonel Davis -- Marshall R. Teague Lt. Halsey -- Greg Collins CBS Reporter -- Gary Rogers ??? -- ??? Special Effects: POP Film Production Design: Michael White Costume Design: Michael Kaplan Music: Trevor Rabin Budget: Disney's most expensive film ever, at $100,000,000 [according to June 1997 press release], or $150,000,000 asccording to the Los Angeles Times, or closer to $200,000,000 including marketing through July 1998. Opening: 1 July 1998 Review: I hated the stupid holes in the plot, even as I gasped at the special effects. Why talk about a "Vandenburg" launch when we see super-shuttles launch from Cape Canaveral (Vandenburg Air Force Base was originally planned to be launching shuttles from the California coast)? Why spend a minute in astronaut training explaining why the asteroid's gravity was too low and so spacesuits had special jets to keep your feet on the ground, and then never showing that technology? How could an asteroid "as big as Texas" (i.e. as big in cross section as Texas, since it was not flat) not be seen until less than a week from earth, when our telescopes today have spotted everything over ten miles across out to Pluto? Why did Bruce Willis have to drill to exactly 800 feet into said asteroid, instead of just 790 or so? Why so much banal dialogue, barely rescued by good actors? Why such a loud, crude, dumb, manipulative Sci Fi disaster movie ... when with a little more effort, a classic Science Fiction film could have been crafted? It's not from a lack of money, that's for sure. And I can't fault Disney/Touchstone from laughing all the way to the bank. But what a wasted opportunity. Box Office: Is "Armageddon" a hit or not? It drew a hefty $36,100,000 weekend gross in its debut (3-5 July 1998) on 3,127 screens for a powerful $11,541 per-screen average, and $54,200,000 gross by the end of week #1, good enough to be ranked #1 (comfortably above Dr. Dolittle) but that was well below the $41,200,000 with which the very similar Deep Impact opened. Any executive producer or studio boss would murder to get such box office receipts, and yet it under-performed for this highly desirable holiday weekend -- when Men In Black and Independence Day scored mega-hit openings in the two previous summers. Fortunately for Disney, that studio had 3 other movies in the top 10 that same week (Mulan; Six Days, Seven Nights; and The Horse Whisperer). Week #2: to be done During week #3, ranked #3, with a 3-day gross of $16,600,000 on 3,184 screens ($5,211 average) for a cumulative gross of $129,100,000. It ranked just below the 2nd week of the Warner Bros. hit "Lethal Weapon 4" in that film's 2nd week, and just above the debut of 20th Century Fox bad-taste comedy smash "Something About Mary" (which cost only $25,000,000 to make, and might have domestic gross of $100,000,000). Week #4 saw "Armageddon" ranked #5, with a 3-day gross of $11,200,000 on 3,127 screens ($3,569 average) for a cumulative gross of $149,600,000. It ranked just below the 2nd week of the 20th Century Fox bad-taste comedy smash "Something About Mary" and right above Dr. Dolittle This answered the question "Is "Armageddon" a hit or not?" with a resounding "yes!" It is a mega-moneymaker, with projected domestic box-office receipts of $185,000,000 (and these domestic grosses are typically just 55% of gross, or 20% of final revenue, which includes overseas theatrical, video, and TV income). Week #5 saw "Armageddon" slip to #8, with a 3-day gross of $7,600,000 on 2,491 screens ($3,035 average) for a cumulative gross of $163,100,000. It ranked just below the 4th week of the Warner Bros. hit "Lethal Weapon 4", and right above the 6th week of Dr. Dolittle Week #6 {to be done} Week #7 allowed "Armageddon" to cling to the top 10 at #10, with a 3-day gross of $4,100,000 on 1,786 screens ($2,317 average) for a cumulative gross of $180,000,000. It ranked just below the 3rd week of the Warner Bros. action flick "The Negotiator" and right above {to be done} in the week marked by the debuts of Fox's "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (at #2) and Warner Bros.' The Avengers (at #3). Week #8 revealed "Armageddon" at #13, with $2,700,000 weekend gross on 1423 screens ($1,922 average) and cumulative gross of $185,000,000. It ranked just below Warner Bros.' comedy "Wrongfully Accused" in its debut week, and just above the 4th week of the Warner Bros. action flick "The Negotiator." Week #9 showed "Armageddon" ranked #12, with $188,500,000 cumulative gross, projected to reach $195,000,000 domestically before being retired to stud in overseas, television, and video. By Tuesday, 8 September 1998, after the 4-day Labor Day Weekend (The USA's traditional end of the cinematic summer season), "Armageddon" was clearly the summer's biggest trosser, yet also the summer's most expensive film. It is now projected to gross $195,000,000 domestically and perhaps $250,000,000 in overseas revenues yet to come, plus significant ancillary revenue. Although slightly slowed by the release of the thematically similar Deep Impact opened. it is still a super-profitable movie because it has only one minor profit participant. In combination with the animated "Mulan" (with estimated worldwide gross of $350,000,000 and huge video and merchandising revenues), "Armageddon" helped Disney become the #1 studio in Summer 1998, with some $530,000,000 domestic gross from 6 films, half of which are profitable ("Armageddon", "Mulan", and "The Parent Trap"). Disney also had good gross from "The Horse Whisperer" (cost $75,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $75,000,000) and "Six Days, Seven Nights" (cost $65,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $72,000,000), but those two had large production and marketing expenses, and will neither make nor lose much money. Only the parody "Mafia!" (cost $30,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $21,000,000) was a clear loser for Disney in Summer 1998. At the end of week #12, "Armageddon" rebounded to #9, with $1,300,000 weekend gross on 1,259 screens ($997 average) and cumulative gross of $195,800,000. It ranked just below week #8 of Fox's marginally Fantastic little-girl-flick "Ever After" (which now had $59,600,000 cumulative), and just above Paramount's thriller "Snake Eyes" in that film's 7th week. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Avengers

Story: British super-agents pitted against a brilliant mad scientist in a battle that will rock the British Empire, and possibly the world, but John Steed will not lose his bowler hat nor mess up his tie, and Emma Peel will not disturb her hair-do. And didn't that mad scientist used to be a British super-agent himself? Oh, that was another series of movies.... Studio: Warner Bros. Based on: the 1961 TV series of the same name (and "The New Avengers" [1976]) 1960s: Science Fiction TV 1960-1969 Screenplay: Don MacPherson (from TV series written by Sydney Newman) Executive Producer: Susan Ekins (Executive Producer of: Soldier [1998], Vegas Vacation [1997]; Associate Producer: The Specialist [1994], Pure Country [1992], The Karate Kid II [1986]) Producer: Jerry Weintraub Director: Jeremiah Chechik (Diabolique [1996], Tall Tale [1994], Benny & Joon [1993], National lampoon's Christmas Vacation [1989]) 1st Assistant Director: Terry Needham 2nd Assistant Director: Adam Somner Cinematography: Roger Pratt Editor: Mick Audsley Starring: John Steed -- Ralph Fiennes Emma Peel -- Uma Thurman Sir August de Wynter (Mad Scientist) -- Sean Connery ??? -- Eileen Atkins Mother -- Jim Broadbent Bailey (De Wynter's Assistant) -- Eddie Izzard Bully Boy -- Shaun Ryder Father -- Fiona Shaw Alice -- Eileen Atkins Trubshaw -- John Wood Invisible Jones (voice) -- Patrick Macnee (John Steed on TV series) Special Effects: Cinesite (Europe) Ltd., The Computer Film Company Production Design: Stuart Craig Music: Michael Kamen, Joel McNeely Costume Design: Anthony Powell Stunts: Dickey Beer Production Manager: Gerry Toomey 2nd Unit Production Coordinator: Emma Mager 2nd Unit Production Manager: Michael Murray Budget: $65,000,000 Rumors: Filming has wrapped in February 1998, and post-production is underway, after a June 1997 fire swept through the Pinewood Studios set, and some sets had to be rebuilt. Rumors that the film was a miscast bomb flickered through The Industry when Warner Bros. refused to give free screenings of the film to critics. But the opening week's gross showed that ordinary Americans were brought into theatres by the stylish trailers and TV ads, plus memories of the sometimes superb television show. Opening: 14 August 1998 (slipped from Spring 1998 to 26 June 1998) Web: Opening Prospero's Books Very good fan-created web site. The name refers to Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (at the end of which the magician Prospero breaks his magic wand and throws his books of magic into the ocean) Box Office: "The Avengers" opened at #3, with $10,300,000 weekend gross on 2,466 screens ($4,179 average). DreamWorks/Paramount's "Saving Private Ryan" was in its 4th week at #1, and Fox's "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" opened just ahead of "The Avengers" with $11,300,000 weekend gross. The film was now projected to be a modest money loser, with an projected $32,000,000 in domestic box office recipts -- only half what the film was estimated to have cost. Eventual gross will show the loss even though U.S. receipts (roughly 55% of gros) make up only about 20% of the ultimate revenue (which includes overseas theatrical, video, and television revenue streams). In week #2, "The Avengers" plummeted 64%, with $3,700,000 weekend gross on 2,466 screens ($1,486 average). This dropped it to #10 rating, just below Disney's 4th week of the remake of "The Parent Trap." Cumulative gross was now $17,800,000. This was projected to be $25,000,000 in eventual US box-office receipts, and since the film cost $65,000,000 to make, it is horrible news for Warner Bros. -- a big loss when they needed a big profit. By Tuesday, 8 September 1998, after the 4-day Labor Day Weekend (The USA's traditional end of the cinematic summer season), it became sadly clear that "The Avengers" was one of the 2 worst money-losers of the season. It cost $65,000,000 to make and market, yet was now projected to expect only $23,000,000 in domestic receipts. To summarize Warner Bros. results for Summer 1998, they raked in over $300,000,000 for their 8 summer releases, but not one was a definitive cash cow. The best results were from "Lethal Weapon 4" which cost $135,000,0000 and is estimated to earn $130,000,000 domestically plus $300,000,000 overseas, and yet is a borderline perfomer because of its major profit participants. 2 other summer releases look like break-even cases because their grosses did not cover high costs: "The Negotiator" (cost $45,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $42,000,000) and "A Perfect Murder" (cost $65,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $68,000,000). Another 2 summer releases will at least not lose much cash: "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" (cost $18,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $10,000,000) and "Wrongfully Accused" (cost $22,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $10,000,000). But Warner Bros. was seriously hurt by the 2 biggest losers of the summer: "The Avengers" and "The Quest for Camelot" (cost $80,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $23,000,000). Reviews: {to be done} Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Baby Geniuses

Story: Two mad scientists are trying to crack the Baby Talk code, but a bunch of cute high-IQ babies try to stop them by wrecking the laboratory Studio: Crystal Sky Communications, Inc. / Triumph / Sony Pictures Entertainment Based on: "Rugrats" meets "Hackers", story by Steven Paul Screenplay: Bob Clark, Steven Paul Story: Steven Paul Producers: Steven Paul (1997: Boys Will Be Boys, 1997: The Protector, 1996: Bombshell, 1996: Exit in Red, 1996: Whispering, 1995: Hourglass, 1994: A Million to Juan, Co-Producer of NYPD Blue [TV]); David Saunders Director: Bob Clark (The Ransom of Red Chief [TV, 1996], Derby [TV, 1995], Fudge-A-Mania [TV, 1995], Stolen Memories [TV, 1995], It Runs In The Family [1994], Arthur Miller's The American Clock [TV, 1993]) Cinematography: Stephen M. Katz Starring: Dr. Elena Kinder -- Kathleen Turner Dr. Heap -- Christopher Lloyd ??? -- Kim Cattrall ??? -- Dom DeLuise ??? -- Ruby Dee ??? -- Kyle Howard Sly/Witt (voice) -- Miko Hughes ??? -- Peter MacNicol ??? -- Randy Travis ??? (voice) -- Seth Adkins ??? -- Kaye Ballard ??? -- Kim Cattrall ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Michael Burnett Productions, Inc.: computers morph infants so that they seem to be talking Digital Compositor: John Cornejo (CVFX) Mrs.Turner's Costumer: Cynthia Flowers Stunt Coordinator: Michael R. Long Budget: Opening: 10 April 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Wesley Snipes is half-human, half-vampire, because a vampire bit his mother while she was pregnant, but he is all-too-human as he tries to save people from Vampires. The vampires have their claws into every important aspect of human society -- they own the police, they are heavily into a high-tech portfolio, and their ruling council is split on whether to remain underground or to openly rule their human prey. Snipes, as Blade, must stop them from unleashing the blood god on an unsuspecting world... Studio: Forces / Amen Ra Films / New Line Cinema Based on: adapted from a comic, in turn loosely based on "Interview with the Vampire" meets "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." As Screenwriter David S. Goyer puts it: "He's similar to the Clint Eastwood character in 'Unforgiven.' Blade's struggling against his own fear and his own confused sense of his identity. He doesn't belong in either world, but when he's faced with killing vampires, he's faced with killing himself." Screenplay: David S. Goyer ("Dark City", "The Crow: City of Angels", "Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." [from Marvel comix, produced in May 1998 as a 2-hour TV movie for Fox Television). David grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, loved "Incredible Hulk" and "Spider-Man" comix, and figured he'd grow up to be a homicide detective. But he won national short fiction awards while still in high school, and was accepted to Film School at USC. He perfected his craft on action flicks for Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal. "Comics helped me to fill a void," he told John Polly of The Los Angeles Times (25 Aug 98, p.F1), "teaching me about right and wrong, courage and justice. I also like that superheroes tend to be working outside the system and are pretty flawed. That's what makes them attractive." Executive Producers: Avi Arad, Joseph Calamari, Lynn Harris, Peter Frankfurt, Stan Lee Producers: Avi Arad, Rober Engelman, Stan Lee, Wesley Snipes Co-Producer: Andrew J. Horne Director: Stephen Norrington (alien creature effects on 1992 "Alien 3", make up of Grand High Witch in 1990 "The Witches", mechanical character designs of 1985 "Return to Oz") Cinematography: Theo Van de Sande (Volcano; "Colors Straight Up" [1997]; "Bushwacked" [1995]; "Wet" [1995]; "Exit to Eden" [1994]; Swalows Never Die in Jerusalem" [1994]; "It Was a Wonderful Life" [1993]; "Wayne's World" [1992]; "Eyes of an Angel" [1991]; "Once Around" [1991]; "Big Girls Don't Cray... They Get Even" [1991]; "Body Parts" [1991]; "Let the Good Times Roll" [1991]; "The First Power" [1990]; Miracle Mile" [1989]; "Rooftops" [1989]; "Crossing Delancey" [1988]; "The Alien" [1980]; many other credits] Editor: Paul Rubell Starring: Blade -- Wesley Snipes Deacon Frost -- Stephen Dorff ("Blood and Wine"; "City of Industry") Abraham Whistler -- Kris Kristofferson Palentine (Vampire Lord) -- Judson Scott Pearl -- Eric Edwards Mercury -- Arly Jover Dragonetti -- Udo Kier Quinn -- Donal Logue Racquel -- Traci Lords Krieger -- Kevin Patrick Walls Karen (hematologist) -- N'Bushe Wright (Dead Presidents) Curtis Webb -- Tim Guinee Vanessa -- Sanaa Lathan Nurse -- Donna Wong Senior Resident -- Carmen Thomas Resident -- Shannon Lee Heatseeking Dennis -- Kenneth Johnson Creepy Morgue Guy -- Clint Curtis Pallantine -- Judson Scott Japanese Doorman (as Sidney Liufau) -- Sidney Liufau Kam -- Keith Leon Williams Paramedic -- Andray Johnson Paramedic -- Stephen R. Peluso Pragmatic Policeman -- Marcus Aurelius Blood Club Bouncer -- John Enos III Martial Arts Kid (as Eboni Adams) -- Eboni "Chrystal" Adams Reichardt -- Lyle Conway Menacing Stud -- Freeman White III Vampire Underling -- D. V. DeVincente Frost's Goon -- Marcus Salgado Frost's Goon -- Esau McKnight, Jr. Von Esper -- Erl Crease -- Matt Schultze Pleading Goon -- Lennox Brown Party Girl -- Yvette Ocampo Slavic Vampire Lord -- Irena Stepic Russian Woman -- Jenya Lano Russian Vampire -- Levani Special Effects: Blue Sky/VIFX (digital visual effects, miniature photography); Image Savant / Digiscope / Flat Earth Productions / Post Logic /Wildcat Digital Effects (digital wire removal) / 525 Post Productions (digital compositing) / The Production Plan, Inc. Visual Effect Producer: Matthew Justice Special Make-up: Greg Cannom Production Design: Kirk M. Petrucelli Costume Design: Sanja Milkovic Hays Music: Mark Isham Budget: $45,000,000 Rumors: Screenwriter David S. Goyer is now crafting a script for Eddie Murphy, producing TV shows, and collaborating on a comic book series for DC Comics. He is attached to "Evermere" -- the first of a trilogy of fantasy epics "It's kind of like 'The Wizard of Oz' for grownups" joked David, who wrote and will serve as Executive Producer in a new company fopunded by Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar (former heads of Carolco). He's also co-producing a fact-based "Mission to Mars" for Hollywood Pictures, about the first manned voyage to the Red Planet. Openings: 21 August 1998 (USA); September 1998 (U.K.), 6 October 1998 (Australia), 30 October 1998 (Denmark), 7 January 1999 (Germany) Box Office: "Blade" stunned the industry by opening at #1, knocking DreamWorks' megahit out of 1st place (where it had reigned 4 weeks). "Blade" had 3-day gross of $17,100,000 (compared to $10,100,000 for "Saving Private Ryan"), running on 2,322 screens ($7,353 average). Projected domestic gross was put at $55,000,000 -- so it remained a toss-up whether "Blade" would be a minor moneymaker, or a major moneymaker. Only later weeks would tell the story. The media focussed attention on both the charismatic star, Wesley Snipes, and the writer, David S. Goyer. In week #2, "Blade" remained in 1st place, with $10,900,000 3-day weekend gross on 2,351 screens ($4,647 average) and cumulative domestic gross of $34,700,000. This was a drop of only 35% from week #1 to week #2 (an unsually good figure), so the projected domestic gross was inched upwards to $60,000,000. "Blade" ranked above Fox's "Something About Mary", which in a rare maneuver actually rose from #3 in its 6th week to #2 in its 7th week (partly because of adding 215 screens to 2,401 total, partly by marketing and word-of-mouth) and $116,200,000 cumulative gross (now project to $150,000,000). By Tuesday, 8 September 1998, after the 4-day Labor Day Weekend (The USA's traditional end of the cinematic summer season), it became clear that New Line will either break even or even show a slight profit from "Blade" -- once the foreign revenue rolls in. We eagerly await a sequel in the 2000 A.D. timeframe -- this is one Independent studio that's done it right. Week #4: {to be done} Week #5 saw "Blade" ranked #7, with $3,300,000 weekend gross on 2,375 screens ($1,374 average) and a cumulative domestic gross of $61,300,000. It stood just below the 9th week of DreamWork's World War II masterpiece "Saving Private Ryan", and just above the 8th week of Fox's girl fantasy "Ever After." Reviews: I saw this film 7 September 1998 with my 9-year-old son, and we both enjoyed it very, very much. The fast-paced martial-arts scenes were wonderfully choreographed and technically very accurate (according to a 5th degree black belt sword fighter I consulted). The deft balance of Dark Fantasy and Science Fiction was unusually effective -- the range from "the vampire bible" to high-tech computer archives was exciting. The acting was impeccable -- Wesley Snipes is a major, major star now. The pace, sets, production design, camera work, music -- all belnded to a seamless heart-throbbing thriller. I think we'll go see it again.
  1. Blade : une critique!
  3. eye WEEKLY
  4. Film Ink - Executive Summary
  5. Journal Now
  6. New York Times (registration required)
  7. Salon Magazine
  8. Screen It! (spoilers)
  9. San Francisco Chronicle
  10. San Francisco Examiner
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Critic: Snipes Plays Stylish Vampire Hunter in Well-Cut `Blade' (Friday, 21 August 1998): "Wesley Snipes' ``Blade'' has vampires, guns with silver bullets and pale bodies that blister and explode in the sun. It has big acting, big effects and enough big noise and quick cutting to scare off anyone not used to going to the movies these days. Yet don't dismiss ``Blade'' as a typical thriller or as some kind of inflated style piece -- there's more than that going on. Big as it is, ``Blade'' is meticulous and subtle, not just in its camera technique but in the way it works its themes and creates a mood. I love the way director Stephen Norrington uses odd little one- and two-second shots. Sometimes he does it to convey information. For example, he suggests that a woman might be turning into a vampire by giving us a split-second, overexposed shot of the street as seen through her eyes. Are her eyes getting sensitive to bright light, by any chance? Other times Norrington will throw in a shot for no reason except that it has a subconscious rightness. A brief flash of a young blond vampire baring her teeth ends one sequence. The shot is sexy, scary and weird, and it comes out of nowhere. ``Blade'' feels of a piece. It feels like the director was in tune with the material and knew what he was doing. The main thing Norrington was doing was making nice, fat, industrial-sized pop entertainment, and he compromises nothing on that score. ``Blade,'' which opens today, is based on the Marvel Comics series. It's about a stalker of vampires (Snipes) who has some vampire blood himself, which gives him special powers. Vampires can run faster and jump higher, but their most interesting quality is their eyesight. Like a bird, they're capable of processing visual information faster than we can. That's why, when the film shows things through a vampire's eyes, everything is speeded up and has a throbbing strobe effect. But when we see humans through the eyes of a vampire, they seem to be going in slow motion. As Blade, Snipes looks great. What an outfit: black leather coat, leather vest, black sunglasses, Grace Jones hairstyle. Like Jean-Claude Van Damme, this is one action hero who is not going to let a life-and-death struggle with the forces of evil get in the way of his weekly salon appointments. I admire that. Blade isn't feeling good, though. In addition to the physical complications having to do with vampire blood, he's emotionally screwed up. As an infant, he lost his mother to a vampire. The search for Mommy is an underlying motif and informs his relationship with Karen (N'Bushe Wright), a gorgeous hematologist he has to protect. Stephen Dorff... who is getting very good at playing smirky young villains, is Deacon Frost, an up-and-coming vampire. In the world of ``Blade,'' vampires are a powerful, unseen influence on every aspect of human society. Too flamboyant to hide in the shadows, Frost wants to dominate humans. The picture sets up a conflict between ``pure-blood'' establishment vampires and the decadent breed of youngsters who just want to pillage and have fun. While Blade is on a metaphorical search for Mom, Frost is out to kill Daddy. The production design and cinematography -- beautiful sets, beautifully lit -- are worth special attention. In the board room where the top vampires meet, everything is dark blue and shadowy, the faces pale and bluish. Everyone looks as if he could use a good meal." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Borrowers

Story: 4-inch-tall "Borrowers" live undetected in the home of the "human bean" family "The Lenders", until nasty banker/land developer John Goodman sets about to evict or destroy them Studio: Working Titles Film UK / PolyGram Based on: the children's novels of the same name by Mary Norton, who also wrote the books that became the Disney film "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (see her bibliography in Authors-N) Screenplay: Gavin Scott and John Kamps Executive Producer: Walt deFaria Producers: Tom Bevan, Eric Fellner Co-Producers: Liza Chasin, Debra Hayward, Richard Talalay Line Producer: Mary Richards Director: Peter Hewitt ("Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey") Cinematography: Trevor Brooker, John Fenner Editor: David Freeman Starring: Ocious P. Potter -- John Goodman Pod Clock (head of the Borrower family) -- Jim Broadbent Homily Clock -- Celia Imrie Officer Steady -- Hugh Laurie Peagreen Clock -- Tom Felton Arrietty Clock -- Flora Newbigin Exterminator Jeff -- Mark Williams Peter Lender -- Bradley Pierce Spiller -- Raymond Pickard Joe Lender -- Aden Gillett Victoria Lender -- Doon Mackichen City Hall Clerk -- Ruby Wax Dustbunny -- Andrew Dunford Minty -- Bob Goody Swag -- Patrick Monkton Milk Man -- Dick Ward Wrigley -- George Yiasoumi Special Effects: The Moving Picture Company, The Film Factory at VTR, FrameStore Visual Effects Supervisor: Peter Chiang Production Design: Gemma Jackson Art Director: Andrew Ackland-Snow Music: Harry Gregson-Williams Costume Design: Marie France Budget: $29,000,000 Opening: 13 February 1998 Box Office: Premier week: "The Borrowers" had a 4-day opening weekend gross of $6,100,000 on 1,535 screens ($3,958 average) which was good enough for a #6 ranking, just below the 8th week of Sony/TriStar's "As Good As It Gets" and just above the 2nd week of Sony/Columbia's "The Replacement Killers." Week #2 marked a 34% drop in revenues, to a #7 ranking (beneath the 9th week of "As Good As It Gets"; and just above the debut of Sony/Columbia's "Palmetto." "The Borrowers" had a weekend gross of $4,000,000 on 1,593 screens ($2,518 average) for a cumulative domestic gross of $11,200.000. In Week #3, "The Borrowers" slipped slightly to 4-day weekend gross of $2,800,000 on 1,606 screens ($1,763 average) which was good enough for a #7 ranking, just below the debut of Disney/Touchstone's "Krippendorf's Tribe" and just above the 2nd week of Dimension's "Senseless" and a cumulative domestic gross of $14,500.000. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Carrie II

Story: Studio: United Artists, distributed by MGM-UA Executive Producer: Producers: Paul Monash Based on: Sequel to Brian DePalma's "Carrie" released 1976, which in turn was based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King Screenplay: Rafael Moreu, Howard Rodman Director: Robert Mandel Editor: Richard Nord Starring: Sue Snell -- Amy Irving Carrie -- Emily Bergl ??? -- Jason London ??? -- Dylan Bruno ??? -- Zachery Ty Bryan Chuck -- Elijah Craig Tracy -- Charlotte Lopez ??? -- Rachel Blanchard Karen, Jr. D.A. -- Teddi Siddal ??? -- Justin Urich ??? -- ??? Locations: North Carolina (shooting in May 1998) Special Effects: ??? Opening: 1999 (slipped from 1998) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Dark City

Story: John Murdoch discovers that his memories are fake, and so his very life may be a construct. He has awakened in a hotel room and soon finds out that he is wanted for a series of grotesque murders. He stumbles on an underworld group ("The Strangers") who are made up like Murnau's Nosferatu, can distort reality, who seem to able to stop the flow of time, and to change the people resident in the city. John Murdoch must now stop "The Strangers", prevent them from changing him or taking over his mind, and find out who he really is. His estranged wife, torchsinger Emma Murdoch, and the credulous Inspector Burnstead, try to figure out "The Strangers", who do evil things with knives, and why everyone but John go unconscious at midnight and lose all memory of the previous hours. Studio: Mystery Clock, New Line Cinema Title: has meandered from "Dark World" to "Dark Empire" to "Dark City" Based on: loosely on the ontological/epistemological fiction of Philip K. Dick Authors: D or maybe Dick meets Kafka where Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" joins Tim Burton's "Gotham City" Screenplay: Lem Dobbs, David S. Goyer, Alex Proyas Producers: Andrew Mason, Alex Proyas Director: Alex Proyas (from Australia) ("The Crow" -- 1994) Cinematography: Darlusz Wolski Editor: Dov Heonig Starring: Inspector Frank Burnstead -- William Hurt John Murdoch -- Rufus Sewell ("Carrington") Dr. Daniel Poe Schreber -- Kiefer Sutherland Emma Murdoch/Anna -- Jennifer Connelly May -- Melissa George Mr. Hand -- Richard O'Brien Mr. Book -- Ian Richardson Mr. Wall -- Bruce Spence Mr. Rain -- Nicholas Bell Mr. Sleep -- Satya Gumbert Mr. Sleep filiming double -- Noah Gumbert Mr. Quick -- Frederick Miragliotta Eddie Walenski -- Colin Friels Karl Harris -- John Bluthal Husselbeck -- Mitchell Butel Stromboli -- Frank Gallacher Hotel Manager/Vendoe -- Ritchie Singer Taxi Driver -- Justin Monjo Stranger -- Peter Sommerfeld Stranger -- Jeanette Cronin Assistant Stranger -- Paul Livingston Assistant Stranger -- Michael lake Schreiber's Assistant -- David Wenham Automat Cop -- Alan Cinis Automat Cop -- Bill Highfield Mr. Goodwin -- Terry Bader Mrs. Goodwin -- Rosemary Traynor others {to be done} Special Effects: DFILM Services Visual Effects producer/Supervisor: Mara Bryan Production Design: George Liddle, Patrick Tatopolous Custom Design: Liz Keogh Music: Trevor Jones Opening: 27 February 1998 (slipped from Fall/Holiday 1997) Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes Box Office: The debut 4-day gross of $5,600,000 was the weekend's strongest opening, good enough for a #4 ranking, below the 11th week of "Titanic", the 3rd week of "The Wedding Singer", and the 13th week of "Good Will Hunting." The wide following was seen at 1,754 screens (average $3,180). After 2 weeks in release, "Dark City" had weekend gross of $2,800,000 on 1,754 screens ($1,618 average) for a #9 ranking, just below Sony/TriStar's "As Good As It Gets" (11th week) and just above PolyGram's fantasy "The Borrowers" (4th week). "Dark City" now had a cumulative gross of $10,200,000. Reviews: Stephen Holden, The New York Times: "Relentlessly trippy! It could easily inspire a daredevil cult of moviegoers who go back again and again to experience its mind-bending twists and turns. It's a visually arresting ride." Roger Ebert, Siskel & Ebert: "'Dark City' is one of the year's best films! It's an astonishing visual and dramatic triumph." Richard Corliss, Time Magazine: "Luscious and chilling, 'Dark City' is a reminder of how sensuous movie watching can be. It's a wonder to see." Dennis Lim, Village Voice: "An eye-popping convolution of neogothic fantasy and old-school sci-fi paranoia." Jeffrey Lyons, WNBC-TV: "'Dark City' is a fascinating, bizarre and brilliantly conceived thriller." Marshall Fine, Gannett Newspapers: "'Dark City' is fascinating, visionary filmmaking. The most unique-looking film in ages. A frightening dream, a dizzying trip." Thelma Adams, New York Post: "It does what no other movie has done so far this year: grip an audience with its sheer visual intensity and deliver a clear, concise humanist message." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Deep Impact

Story: A comet prepares to smash into the Earth, and three simultaneous plot-lines converge on an equally inevitable trajectory. Director Mimi Leder paid advisors including comet scientists and astronauts, and didn't seem to make much use of their expertise. After all, the race was on to beat the 1 July 1998 release date of Armageddon. Studio: Zanuck/Brown Productions / DreamWorks SKG / Paramount Executive Producers: Joan Bradshaw, Walter F. Parkes, Steven Spielberg Producers: David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck, D. Scott Easton (Associate) Based on: ??? Screenplay: Bruce Joel Rubin, Michael Tolkin Director: Mimi Leder ("The Peacemaker", TV's "ER") 2nd Unit Director: Tom Priestley, Jr. (L.A., 2nd unit Director of Photography) 2nd Unit Director: Mark Vargo (Washington DC, 2nd unit Director of Photography) Cinematography: Dietrich Lohmann Editors: Paul Cichocki, David Rosenbloom Assistant Editor: Peter G. Parise Starring: Spurgeon Tanner (Aging Astronaut) -- Robert Duvall Jenny Lerner -- Tea Leoni Leo Biederman -- Elijah Wood Robein Lerner -- Vanessa Redgrave Jason Lerner -- Maximillian Schell U.S. President Beck -- Morgan Freeman Alan Rittenhouse -- James Cromwell Oren Monash -- Ron Eldard Gus Partena -- Jon Favreau Beth Stanley -- Laura Innes Andrea Baker -- Mary McCormick Don Biederman -- Richard Schiff Sarah Hotchner -- Leelee Sobieski Mark Simon -- Blair Underwood Eric Vennekor -- Dougray Scott Chuck Hotchner -- Gary Werntz Stuart Caley -- Bruce Weitz Ellen Biederman -- Betsy Brantley Morten Entrekin -- O'Neal Compton Chloe -- Rya Kihlstedt Vicky Hotchner -- Denise Crosby Mikhail Tulchinsky -- Alexander Baluyev Marcus Wolf -- Charles Martin Smith Fleeing Pedestrian -- Len Berdick (uncredited) McCloud -- W. Earl Brown ??? -- Charles Dumas Refugee -- Phil Haven (uncredited) Astronomy Club Member -- Joel Nater, Jr. (uncredited) Locations: big tidal wave sequence in Washington DC wrapped, one other impact being filmed now Budget: $75,000,000 Special Effects: Industrial Light & Magic Visual Effects Producer: Denise Ream Visual Effects Supervisors: Scott Farrar, Michael Lantieri Visual Effects Co-Supervisor: Bill George Visual Effect Coordinator: Harrison Zanuck Display Graphics Supervisor: Todd A. Marks Technical Director/Sequence Supervisor: Tom Martinek Art Directors: Gary Kosko, Andrew Neskoromny, Tom Valentine Set Designers: Josh Lusby, Richard F. Mays, Suzan Torres, Dean Wolcott Casting: Allison Jones Music: James Horner Costume Design: Ruth Myers Stunt Coordinators: M. James Arnett, Charles Croughwell Runtime: 120 minutes Opening: 8 May 1998 Box Office: "Deep Impact" smashed onto American screens with a debut at the #1 box-office spot, with $41,200,000 weekend gross. As it was to turn out, this was a better opening than the similarly-themed and later-released Armageddon which was to open with $36,100,000 in the essential 4th of July weekend. In week #2, "Deep Impact" stayed in the #1 spot, earning $23,300,000 in the 3-day weekend on x,xxx screens (average $7,299) for a total gross of $74,000,000. The film beat Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer", which opened at #2 with $14,000,000. Warner Bros.' animated "Quest for Camelot" debuted at #3, with a disappointing $6,400,000. Weeks #3-#8 {to be done} Week #9 saw "Deep Impact" ranked at #14, with weekend gross of $800,000 on 1,116 screens ($699 average) and cumulative gross of $137,200,000. That week, "Deep Impact" ranked just above Columbia's "Can't Hardly Wait" and just below the 7th week of Godzilla. By Tuesday, 8 September 1998, after the 4-day Labor Day Weekend (The USA's traditional end of the cinematic summer season), it was obvious that "Deep Impact" was one of the 8 biggest super-money-makers for the summer season, with costs of around $88,000,000 for making and marketing easily offset by estimated domestic gross of $140,000,000. This was the surprise hit, despite its early release in th season, and has now raked in beyond $300,000,000 in overseas gross. Even though Paramount had to split the profits with DreamWorks, they also split the cost with them, and so they still do quite well. The same partnership split costs and profits on "Saving Private Ryan" -- another of the summer's Big 8 (cost $65,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $190,000,000). "The Truman Show" (cost $65,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $125,000,000) was another huge summer hit (as well as an Oscar likely) and because of the lack of profit participation, surely the studio's #1 profit center. "Dead Man on Campus" (cost $12,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $15,000,000) will eke out a small profit. The only loser of the studio's 4 summer films was the thriller "Snake Eyes" (cost $70,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $55,000,000) where at least Paramount shares the pain with partner Disney -- and the film could end up with a slight loss or a slight gain, it's too easy to say. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Deep Rising

Story: Cruise ship is taken over by something really creepy from the bottom of the deep blue sea -- sea-monsters with tentacles Studio: Hollywood Executive Producer: Barry Bernardi Producers: Laurence Mark and John Baldecchi Based on: ??? Screenplay: ??? Director: Steve Sommers ("The Jungle Book") Starring: John Finnegan -- Treat Williams Hanover -- Wes Studi [as leader of the hijackers] Trillian -- Famke Janssen Pantucci -- Kevin J. O'Connor Locations: Burnaby (British Columbia) for high-seas and underwater (purporting to be the South China Sea) Special Effects: ??? Opening: Feb 1998 (slipped from October 1997) Box Office: Debut Week: "Deep Rising" opened with a 3-day weekend gross of $4,700,000. This gave it a rank of #8, just below New Line's prescient "Wag the Dog" (week #6), and just above Warner Bros.' "Fallen" (week #3). Week #2, had a weekend gross of $2,500,000 on 1,788 screens ($1,408 average) for a cumulative gross of $8,400,000. This week, it ranked #10, just below the 2nd week of TriStar's "Desperate Measures" and just above Warner Bros.' 4th week of "Fallen" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Dr. Dolittle

Story: The 20th Century Dr. Dolittle had a childhood ability to talk with animals, but repressed it completely, until he just misses crashing his car into stray dog Lucky, who tells him off -- and revives his talent Studio: 20th Century Fox Executive Producer: Jenno Topping Producers: Based on: 1967 Rex Harrison movie, in turn based on Hugh Lofting novel (note: first filmed as animation in 1927, see hotlinks below) Screenplay: ??? Director: Betty Thomas (The Brady Bunch, Private Parts) Starring: Dr. Dolittle -- Eddie Murphy (who gets at least $17,500,000 salary) ??? (dog) -- Norm MacDonald ??? (dog) -- Ellen Degeneris ??? (guinea pig) -- Chris Rock ??? (pigeon husband) -- Gary Shandling ??? (pigeon wife) -- Julie Kavner ??? (rat) -- John Leguizamo ??? (rat) -- Reni Santoni ??? (tiger) -- Albert Brooks ??? -- ??? Locations: Special Effects: Henson's Creature Shop (animatronics for "Babe") Visual Effect Supervisor: Jon Farhat (The Mask, The Nutty Professor) Opening: 26 June 1998 Hotlinks: Dr.Doolittle and His Animals (1927) Box Office: Opening week: {to be done} Week #2 saw "Dr. Dolittle" slip to #2 rank, with $19,700,000 weekend gross (3-5 July 1998) on 2,871 screens ($6,853 average) for cumulative gross of $64,800,000. This ranked it just below the opening of Touchstone/Disney's Armageddon and just above Disney's "Mulan" in that animation's 3rd week. Week #3 {to be done} During Week #4, "Dr. Dolittle" dropped to #5 rank, with $9,500,000 weekend gross (17-19 July 1998) on 2,805 screens ($3,379 average) for cumulative gross of $105,400,000. This ranked it just below the opening of 20th Century Fox's comedy smash "There's Something About Mary", and just above Disney's 2nd week of "Small Soldiers." Week #5 found "Dr. Dolittle" slipping to #6 rank, with $7,300,000 weekend gross on 2,509 screens ($2,908 average) for cumulative gross of $118,000,000. It ranked just above the debut of MGM/UA's "Disturbing Behavior" and just below the 4th week of Armageddon During Week #6, "Dr. Dolittle" dropped to #9 rank, with $4,600,000 weekend gross on 2,184 screens ($2,101 average) for cumulative gross of $126,100,000. This ranked it just below Touchstone/Disney's Armageddon and just above the 2nd week of Disney/Touchstone's expensive flop parody "Mafia!" By Tuesday, 8 September 1998, after the 4-day Labor Day Weekend (The USA's traditional end of the cinematic summer season), it was obvious that "Deep Impact" was one of the 8 biggest super-money-makers for the summer season, with costs of around $68,000,000 for making and marketing easily offset by estimated domestic gross of $140,000,000. As a result, 20th Century Fox is right behind Disney for summer box office gross, and almost surely #1 among all studios for for summer profit. The total gross is in the neighborhood of $525,000,000 and more is still coming in from 3 summer releases (especially "There's Something About Mary"). 5 of the 7 Fox summer films will make a profit, which will greatly assist the parent company "News Corp." in its 3rd Quarter 98 income, perfectly timed for an Initial Public Offering of stock in News Corp.'s Entertainment Division. Not one of Fox's 7 summer flicks cost over $70,000,000 and so they can easily handle the two weakest movies: political comedy "Bullworth" (cost $35,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $27,000,000) and the break-even "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (cost $25,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $36,000,000). The surprise mega-hit was "There's Something About Mary" (cost $25,000,000 and estimated domestic gross $150,000,000). of which the estimated $80,000,000 in video rentals alone will pay for marketing and production. It is certain now that putting Eddie Murphy in the lead of "Dr. Dolittle" was a master-stroke of family comedy planning, now that the overseas gross appears to equal the domestic gross, and the icing on the cake will be the video sell-through. Part of the Fox summer equation, of course, is the X-Files movie, (cost $65,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $83,000,000) which might yet take in $200,000,000 in worldwide theatres and significant ancillary revenue in sell-through video cassettes. Even the 2 flicks aimed at women will show profits: "Hope Floats" (cost $32,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $60,000,000), and "Ever After" (cost $25,000,000 and domestic gross estimated $60,000,000). Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Thirteenth Warrior/Eaters of the Dead

Story: Action/adventure in which a band of Vikings, joined by Emissary Antonio Banderas (a sort of Arab ambassador), engage in ultimate combat with monsters that can devour anything or anyone Title: also known as "The Vikings" Studio: Disney Based on: Michael Crichton novel "Eaters of the Dead" Screenplay: Michael Crichton & William Wisher Jr. Executive Producers: Ethan Dubrow, Andrew G. Vajna Producer: Michael Crichton & John McTiernan Director: John McTiernan (Die Hard) Starring: Ibn Fadlan (Emissary) -- Antonio Banderas ("The Mask of Zorro") ??? -- Maria Bonnevie ??? -- Omar Sharif Herger -- Dennis Storhoi ??? -- Diane Venora Viking-King -- Sven Wollter ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Digital Matte Supervisor: Charles Darby Art Directors: Richard Harrison, William Heslup Music: Wolf Kroeger Opening: slipped to 1 january 1999 (previously 31 July 1998 slipped from Spring 1998) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Cop chases a serial killer suspect who might be Satan or another fallen angel Studio: Turner Pictures/Atlas Entertainment/Warner Bros. Based on: ??? Screenplay: Nicholas Kazan Director: Gregory Hoblit Cinematography: Tom Sigel Editor: Lawrence Jordan Starring: John Hobbes (cop) -- Denzel Washington Jonesy -- John Goodman Lt. Stanton -- Donald Sutherland Lou -- James Gandolfini Jimmy -- Allelon Ruggerio Gretta Milano -- Embeth Davidtz Edgar Reese -- Elias Koteas Art -- Gabriel Casseus Charles -- Robert Joy Sam -- Michael Pagan Tiff -- Aida Turturro ??? -- Graham Beckel Ron Yates -- Bob Rumnock Production Design: Terence Marsh Special Effects: ??? Costume Design: Colleen Atwood Locations: Philadelphia Opening: January 1998 (slipped from Fall 1997) Box Office: Debut: "Fallen" opened with a 4-day weekend gross of $10,400,000 on 2,448 screens ($4,249 average). Week #2: {To Be Done} In Week #3, "Fallen" had 3-day weekend gross of $2,800,000 on 2,150 screens ($1,314 average) for a ranking of #9, just below Deep Rising and just above the 3rd week of Paramount's "Hard Rain." After 3 weeks, "Fallen" had a cumulative gross of $21,400,000. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: big lizard stomps town, lays eggs Studio: Columbia/TriStar/Centroplis Centropolis Entertainment is a new company created to produce films and television, and to contract special effects with the team that did Independence Day. Godzilla is their first project, but they've also hired teenage director Andy Hurst for another film, and are producing "The Visitor" as a new science fiction television series for Fox, starring John Corbett as a man who visits the Bermuda Triangle and returns with strange powers and abilities. The Visitor, John Corbett, was the DJ on "Northern Exposure." Based on: Toho Studios' original low-budget Japanese films: 1954 Godzilla (starring Raymond Burr) 1955 Gigantis the Fire Monster 1962 King Kong vs. Godzilla 1964 Godzilla vs. the Thing 1964 Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster 1965 Monster Zero 1966 Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster 1967 Son of Godzilla 1968 Destroy All Monsters! 1969 Godzilla's Revenge 1971 Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster 1972 Godzilla on Monster Island 1973 Godzilla vs. Megalon 1974 Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster 1975 Terror of Mechagodzilla 1985 Godzilla 1985 1989 Godzilla vs. King Ghidrah 1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra and see also: Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) Gorgo Versus Godzilla (1969) Screenplay: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich Executive Producers: Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich, William Fay Co-Executive Producers: Robert N. Fried, Cary Wood Producer: Dean Devlin ("Independence Day"; writer of "Stargate" and "Universal Soldier") Director: Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") -- rumor is that Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, and Joe Johnston (Honey I Shrunk the Kids) were the original choices to direct "Godzilla", and then Jan De Bont was sent in by the studio to straighten out the then $130,000,000 budget, and finally in 1996 the studio brought in Devlin & Emmerich Editor: David Siegel Starring: Dr. Niko Tatopoulos -- Matthew Broderick ("Addicted to Love"; "The Cable Guy", producer of an acted as Richard Feynman in "Infinity"; "The Road to Wellville", "Glory", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", "Ladyhawke", "Wargames", adult Simba's voice in "The Lion King" Ursula -- Leslie Mann ("The Cable Guy", "Last Man Standing", "She's The One", "Birdland" [TV], "Virgin High") Victor "Animal" Palotti -- Hank Azaria Lucy -- Arabella Field Audrey Timmonds -- Maria Pitillo Philippe Roche -- Jean Reno Charles Caiman -- Harry Shearer Colonel Hicks -- Kevin Dunn Lucy Palotti -- Arabella Fields Mayor Ebert -- Michael Lerner Jean-Claude -- Philippe Bergeron Dr. Elsie Chapman -- Vicki Lewis Sergeant O'Neal -- Doug Savant Dr. Mendel Craven -- Malcolm Danare Leonard -- Jack Moore Jules -- Steve Gianelli Arthur -- Brian Farabaugh Jean-Luc -- Christian Aubert Murray -- Robert Lesser Field Reporter #1 -- Jonathan Dienst others {to be done} Visual Effects Producer: Terry Clotiaux Visual Effects Supervisor: Volker Engel Digital Effects Supervisor: Steven T. Puri Creature Effects: Patrick Taopoulus Costume Design: David A. Porro Music: David Arnold Budget: $125,000,000 to produce; $50,000,000 for worldwide marketing; $150,000,000 promotional tie-ins by Taco Bell, Hershey Chocolate, Duracell, Electronic Arts, Trendmasters (the toymaker) Opening: Winter 1997, slipped to May 1998. Was grounded for budget revision. Web: Official Godzilla Site includes trailers, production photos, cast and crew chats, and more -- a well-done site indeed Box Office: Weeks #1-#6 {to be done} Week #7 had "Godzilla" ranked #13, with weekend gross of $800,000 on 1,162 screens ($700 average) and cumulative gross of $134,000,000. This ranked the big momma lizard just below the 2nd week of the re-released "Gone With The Wind" (whose cumulative gross, by the way, was $194,800,000 including the original release) and just above Paramount's Deep Impact. Reviews: Ashley Grayson, science fiction agent: *** Ashley's Lizard Review *** The real key to the awful Godzilla movie is to look at it from the monster's point of view. This is really the best film about visiting New York since Jack Lemon's "The Out of Towners." Premise: Godzilla is just a simple giant radioactive lizard from the boondocks, but he knows New York City is the place to become sexually active. The action: As soon as Godzilla sets foot on Manhattan Island: He's immediately treated with suspicion by the New Yorkers. He gets shot at and no one ever comes to his aid. He can't find a place to stay and has to sleep in the Subway. He can't get into a restaurant and the only food he can find on the street is sushi. Central Park is full of heavily armed muggers. He's stalked by tv-camera toting paparazzi. Every time he tries to grab a cab it makes a U-turn and speeds off in the other direction. The only food his kids like is popcorn at the Garden. There's no day-care and his latch-key children are all home alone when the building is bombed. The only guy who appears to understand him, sets him up to be shot by the authorities. So what's so different here? © 1998 by Ashley Grayson Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Indiana Jones 4

Story: Hero archaeologist beats bad guys in colorful location shots with gosh-wow special effects, with story rumored to involve either Area 51 and crashed flying saucer or then again maybe Atlantis, but in any case set after World War II and at the start of the Cold War Studio: Paramount Based on: the previous films, and maybe some of the unsuccessful but good-looking and witty "Young Indiana Jones" TV series Screenplay: ??? Producer: Steven Spielberg Director: Steven Spielberg Starring: Indiana Jones -- Harrison Ford Dr. Jones -- Sean Connery Indiana's Brother -- Kevin Costner or Tom Selleck ??? -- Karen Allen ??? -- John Rhys-Davies Special Effects: ??? Opening: December 1998-January 1999 possible (slipping from Summer 1998) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Instinct (a.k.a."Ishmael")

Story: Anthropologist lives with gorilla tribe, is accused of attempted murder, is probed by psychiatrist Studio: Touchstone Based on: award-winning novel "Ishmael" by xxx Executive Producers: Gail Katz, Wolfgang Petersen Producers: Barbara Boyle, uncredited Hunt Lowry, Michael Taylor Screenplay: Gerald Di Pego Script Supervisor: Thomas Johnston Director: John Turteltaub ("Phenomenon") Cinematography: Philippe Rousselot Editor: Richard Francis-Bruce First Assistant Director: Bill Elvin Second Assistant Director: Andrew Bernstein Unit Production Manager: Bill Johnson Production Supervisor: Yvonne Yaconelli Starring: ??? -- Cuba Gooding, Jr. ??? -- Anthony Hopkins ??? -- John Ashton ??? -- Donald Sutherland ??? -- Maura Tierney Special Effects: ??? Production Design: Garreth Stover Art Director: Chris Cornwell Set Decorator: Larry Dias Costume Design: Jill M. Ohanneson Music: Danny Elfman Sound: Peter J. Devlin Casting: Renee Rousselot Genre: BAMBI'S CHILDREN: animals who speak, think, or act human Opening: Slipped from Christmas Holiday 1998 to some time in 1999 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Lost in Space

Story: Dad, Mom, and kids stranded in the cosmos after their rocketship is smashed. Dark, serious, fun, sci-fi, and TV retread strangely brewed together. Earth in the 21st Century is drifting deeper into ecological collapse (think of David Brin's novel "Earth") as rocketeer Prof. John Robinson (William Hurt) sets out to colonize a planet named Alpha Prime. Along with him come his biochemist wife Maureen Robinson (Mimi Rogers), his his daughters Judy and Penny, his genius 10-year-old son Will, dashing Don West, and psychotic Dr. Zachary Smith (Gary Oldman). Studio: Prelude Pictures/New Line Cinema Based on: TV series 1960s: Science Fiction TV 1960-1969 and hoping mightily to become a lucrative franchise Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman ("Batman & Robin", "A Time to Kill", "Batman Forever", "The Client", "Silent Fall") Executive Producers: Mace Neufeld, Robert Rehme Producers: Akiva Goldsman, Stephen Hopkins, Mark W. Koch Director: Stephen Hopkins ("The Ghost and the Darkness") Starring: Prof. John Robinson -- William Hurt (role created by Guy Williams) Maureen Robinson -- Mimi Rogers (role created by June Lockhart) ("The Mirror Has Two Faces") Don West -- Matt LeBlanc (role created by Mark Goddard) (TV's "Friends") Judy Robinson -- Heather Graham (role created by Marta Kristen) ("Boogie Nights") Will Robinson -- Jack Johnson (role created by Billy Mumy) Penny Robinson -- Lacy Chabert (role created by Angela Cartwright) (TV's "Party of Five") Dr. Zachary Smith -- Gary Oldman (role created by Jonathan Harris) The Robot -- (role created by Bob May) The Robot (voice) -- (role created by Dick Tufeld) The Spaceship -- Jupiter II Creator/Producer -- (TV series created/produced by Irwin Allen) Story Consultant -- ??? Music: Jerry Goldsmith Special Effects: ??? Budget: $70,000,000 Opening: 3 April 1998 Box Office: Opening week: {to be done} Weeks #2-13 {to be done} Week #14 found "Lost in Space" ranked at #18, with weekend gross (3-5 July 1998) of $300,000 on 535 screens ($577 average) for cumulative gross of $68,100,000. This placed it just below Sony Pictures Classics' "The Opposite of Sex" in week #7, and just above Dream Works' "Paulie" in that parrot-comedy's 12th week. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Matrix

Story: In the 22nd Century, computers run the world -- completely. A secret band of revolutionaries attempts to overthrow the electronic dictators, by battles in both reality and cyberspace. The story opens when an ordinary and likeable young man "Thomas Anderson") discovers that what he thought was his reality is just a virtual reality created by the computers that have taken over the Earth. Studio: Warner Bros. Based on: the Cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson and Bruce Sterling Producers: Barrie M. Osborne, Joel Silver Screenplay: ??? Directors: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski Starring: Thomas "Neo" Anderson -- Keanu Reeves (Johnny Mnemonic, Chain Reaction, Feeling Minnesota, Speed) Morpheus -- Laurence Fishburne Trinity -- Carrie-Anne Moss ??? -- Joe Pantoliano ??? -- Hugo Weaving ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Mass Illusions LLC Stunt Coordinator: Woo-ping Yuen Location: Sydney, Australia Cyberpunk: the Genre Production: started in January 1998 Opening: Fall or Christmas Holiday 1998 Rumors: Laurence Fishburne as the leader of the anti-computer freedom fighters is shaved bald Budget: over $100,000,000 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Meet Joe Black

Story: Alien disguised as human falls in love with Earth woman Based on: loosely a remake of "Death Takes a Holiday" [1934] Genre: Aliens on Earth {hot link to be done} Studio: Universal City Studios Executive Producer: Ronald L. Schwary Producer: Martin Brest Co-Producer: Martin Brest Director: Martin Brest Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki Screenplay: Bo Goldman Starring: Joe Black/Death -- Brad Pitt William Parrish -- Anthony Hopkins Anthony Hopkin's daughter -- Claire Forlani ??? -- Marcia Gay Harden ??? Jeffrey Tambor ??? Jake Weber ??? -- ??? Effects: Industrial Light & Magic Production Design: Dante Ferretti Preview: ??? Opening: Fall or Thanksgiving-Christmas Holiday 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Mighty Joe Young

Story: 13-foot tall gorilla pretty much does what he wants to Studio: Disney Based on: remake of original Mighty Joe Young movie (1949) Screenplay: Mark Medoff ("Santa Fe" 1997; "Homage" 1995; "City of Joy" 199; TV "Apology" 1986; "Children of a Lesser God" 1986; "Off Beat" 1986; "Good Guys Wear Black" 1979; "When You Comin' Back, Red Ryder?" 1979) Producer: ??? Director: Ron Underwood ("Speechless" 1994, "Heart and Souls" 1993", "City Slickers" 1991, sci-fi: story & screenplay for "Tremors" 1990, executive producer of "Tremors 2" 1995) Starring: ??? -- Naveen Andrews ("The English Patient", "Kama Sutra", "True Love and Chaos", "Peacock Spring" [TV], "The Buddha of Suburbia", "Double Vision" [TV], "Wild West", "London Kills Me") ??? -- Regina King ("Jerry Maguire", "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate", "Friday", "Higher Learning", "Poetic Justice", "Boyz N the Hood", "227" [TV]) ??? -- Bill Paxton ("Titanic", "Twister", "Independence Day", "Apollo 13", "Future Shock", "Predator 2", "Aliens", "Weird Science", "The Terminator") ??? -- David Paymer ("The Sixth Man", "Howard the Duck") ??? -- Charlize Theron "Devils Advocate", "That Thing You Do") Special Effects: Rick Baker (Special Makeup Effects) ("Men in Black", "Escape from L.A.", "The Frighteners", "The Nutty Professor", "Batman Forever", "Ed Wood", "Wolf", "Beauty and the Beast" [TV], "It's Alive 3", "Captain Eo", "Cocoon", "Greystoke", "Videodrome", "An American Werewolf in London", "The Howling", "The Fury", "The Incredible Melting Man", "Star Wars", "Food of the Gods", "Flesh Gordon", "The Thing with Two Heads") Budget: budgeted at $80,000,000 [according to June 1997 press release] Opening: 19 December 1998 (slipped from Summer 1998) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Mission Impossible 2

Story: team of good guys commit black-bag covert operations against bad guys, in a way guaranteed to provide "plausible deniability" in case they fail, to keep the agency's funds from being slashed or the President from being impeached. Y'know, that sounds awfully realistic these days... Studio: Paramount Pictures presents a Cruise-Wagner production Based on: The hit yet confusing Mission Impossible film which was in turn based on the TV series, see: Ultimate Science Fiction TV Web Guide Screenplay: Brannon Braga, Ronald D. Moore, William Goldman, David Marconi, Michael Tolkin Producer: Tom Cruse, Paula Wagner Director: John Woo Starring: Ethan Hunt -- Tom Cruise Luther Stickwell -- Ving Rhames ??? -- Paul Newman Special Effects: ??? Rumor Disproved: Oliver Stone will replace Brian DePalma Rumor Confirmed: will slip to 1999 release date Opening: Summer 1998, possibly after the big bucks roll in from Indiana Jones 4 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Mummy

Story: There are things in Egyptian pyramids that humans should stay the hell away from -- or else the Mummy's Curse will follow them until horrible death ensues -- but what can this possibly have to do with Ireland, and buried family secrets? Studio: Unapix / Goldbar / Trimark Based on: the Classic 1932 movie "The Mummy" {hotlink to be done} Producers: Sean Daniel, James Jacks Screenplay: Stephen Sommers Director: Stephen Sommers Editor: Bob Ducsay Starring: ??? -- Alison Elliot ??? -- Stephen Dunham ??? -- Brendan Fraser ??? -- John Hannah ??? -- Rachel Weisz ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Industrial Light & Magic Music: Jery Goldsmith Horror: the Genre Opening: Fall or Christmas Holiday 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

My Favorite Martian

Story: Human-appearing Martian stranded in small town tries to rebuild spaceship but gets caught up in local affairs. TV Sit-com was about Los Angeles Sun reporter Tim O'Hara rescuing a crashed Martian who looked human (except for extensile antennae) and had both telepathic and telekinetic powers (see Extra-Sensory Perception), plus Invisibility and a mind filled with advanced technology. Like all good aliens, he just wanted to fix his spaceship and go home, while he stayed with Tim in Mrs. Brown's boardinghouse. He developed a crush on Mrs. Brown, and imagined that Officer Brennan also had romantic leanings towards her -- which he manifestly did. The show worked to the extent that Ray Walston's character was so convincingly portrayed, and failed to the extent that the episodic sit-com adventures went nowhere. Studio: Walt Disney Based on: 1960's TV series [CBS, 29 Sep 1963- 4 Sep 1966] Screenplay: ??? Producers: ??? Director: Donald Petrie ("The Associate", "The Favor", "Richie Rich", "Grumpy Old Men", "The Opponent", "Opportunity Knocks", "Mystic Pizza", "The Equalizer" [TV]) Starring: Uncle Martin/The Martian -- Christopher Lloyd [role created by Ray Walston] Tim O'Hara -- Jeff Daniels [role created by Bill Bixby] Brace Channing -- Elizabeth Hurley Lizzie -- Daryl Hannah Armitan -- Ray Walston Mrs. Lorelei Brown -- ??? [role created by Pamela Britton] Angela Brown (1963-64) -- ??? [role created by Ann Marshall] Mr. Harry Burns (1963-64) -- ??? [role created by J. Pay O'Malley] Detective Bill Brennan (1964-66) -- ??? [role created by Alan Hewitt] The Police Chief (1965-66) -- ??? [role created by Roy Engle] [TV series Creator -- Jack Chertok ("My Living Doll")] [TV series Producer -- Jack Chertok] Special Effects: Tippett Studio Music: John Debney Budget: ??? Opening: Fall or Holiday 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Small Colorado town (rewritten to "Snowfield, California") suffers an incomprehensible mass murder of over 100 people, or is it something even darker? Hundreds more are missing... Has a vast army of underground creatures been awakened from uneasy sleep to plague the living? Studio: Dimension Films/Miramax Films presentation of a Neo Motion Pictures production in association with Rave House Based on: Novel "Phantom" by horrormeister Dean Koontz Executive Producers: Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein, Dean Koontz Producers: Steven A. Lane, Michael Leahy, Robert Pringle, Joel Soisson Screenplay: Dean Koontz & Tegan West (and uncredited Joel Soisson) Director: Joe Chappelle Cinematography: Richard Clabaugh Editor: Randolph K. Bricker Starring: Timothy Flyte -- Peter O'Toole Sheriff Bryce Hammond -- Ben Affleck Dr. Jenny Palley -- Joanna Going Deputy ??? -- Nicky Katt Lisa Palley -- Rose McGowan Deputy Stu -- Liev Schreiber Special Effects: Richard Greenberg, Bruce Schulter Costumes: Dana C. Litwack Music: David Williams Production Design: Deborah Raymond & Dorian Vernacchio Art Directors: Daniel Bradford, Ken Larson Set Designer: Jack Bishop Set Decorator: Barbara Cole Kaye Opening: January 1998 (slipped from 24 October 1997) Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Practical Magic

Story: Two sisters in New England discover an uncanny ability to manipulate cause and effect, and a web of Fate and counter-fate plots entwine with deadly possibilities... Studio: Warner Bros. Based on: Novel by Alice Hoffman Screenplay: Robin Swicord (Matilda [1996] writer/co-producer, The Perez Family [1995] writer-executive producer, Little Women [1994] writer/co-producer, The Red Coat [1993] writer-director, Shag [1989]) Executive Producer: Sandra Bullock Producer: Denise Di Novi (Almost Heroes [1998], Message in a Bottle [1998], Ed Wood [1994], Cabin Boy [1994], Little Women [1994], The Nightmare Before Christmas [1993] Production Designer, Batman Returns [1992], Edward Scissorhands [1990], Meet the Applegates [1990], Heathers [1989]) Director: Griffin Dunne Cinematography: Andrew Dunn Starring: Sally Owens -- Sandra Bullock Gillian Owens -- Nicole Kidman Young Sally Owens -- Camilla Belle Aunt Francis -- Stockard Channing Aunt Jet -- Dianne Wiest ??? -- Lucinda Jenney Gary Hallet -- Aidan Quinn Jimmy -- Goran Visnjic Kylie -- Evan Rachel Wood Antonia -- Alexandra Artrip Michael -- Mark Feuerstein ??? -- Chloe Webb ??? -- ??? Set Designer: Robin Standefer Production Coordinator: Karen Shaw Assistant Director: Josh McLaglen Second Assistant Director: Michael J. Moore Special Effects: ??? Music: Michael Nyman Locations: San Juan Island, Whidbey Island, Coupeville, and Friday Harbor (all in Washington State, USA) Opening: 16 October 1998 Web: Practical Magic Official Site Box Office: "Practical Magic" opened in #1 place, with 3-day weekend gross of $13,100,000 on 2,652 screens ($4,941 average). This was very similar performance to star Sandra Bullock's previous film, "Hope Floats", which opened at $14,200,000 on its first weekend, or star Nicole Kidman's previous film "The Peacemaker" (co-starring George Clooney), which opened with $12,300,000 in Sepetmber 1997. "Practical Magic" finished above the #2 film, Universal's "Bride of Chucky" (which had $11,800,000). Reviews: Philip Wuntch, Guide Live "A crafty chick flick about likable witches!" Andy Jones, Roughcut: "It's Stockard Channing and Dianne Weist, who play The Aunts -- a pair of spunky senior witches who light the screen on fire." E! Online: "Slick and mostly successful!" Duane Dudek, Milwaukee Jopurnal Sentinel: "'Practical Magic' is delightful sweetmeat for Halloween." Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: "The movie doesn't seem sure what tone to adopt, veering uncertainly from horror to laughs to romance." Mark Caro, Chicago Tribune: "The trio of credited writers exhibits a complete failure of imagination!" Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: "A witch comedy so slapdash, plodding, and muddled it seems to have had a hex put on it." David Hunter, Hollywood Reporter: "A disappointing brew of slick commercial moviemaking and old-fashioned romantic fantasy!" Sean Means, "The only thing unpredictable about 'Practical Magic' is the unpleasant surprise one feels when the movie reveals itself as a irritatingly creepy supernatural thriller, rather than the offbeat romantic comedy the ads make it out to be." Jack Garner, Rochester Chronicle: "A mediocre mishmash of female-bonding comedy, schmaltzy romance and blessedly brief horror about latter-day witchcraft!" Eve Zibart, Washington Post: "Not that the movie isn't fun in spots; it's just a TV-ready mix of camp and curdle." Julie Hinds, San Jose Mercury News: "A flat, unappealing potion!" Ben Williams, New York Citysearch: "A big mess!" Bob Fenster, Arizona Republic: "What a disappointing mess made from such a promising premise!" Susan Stark, Detroit News: "A saga that lacks the courage of its own odd convictions." Emanuel Levy, Variety: "Part comedy, part family drama, part romance, part special-effects mystery-adventure, and not entirely satisfying on any of these levels." James Bernadinelli, : "...counterprogramming for the Halloween season. While other distributors are dumping the more traditional October fare of 'The Bride of Chucky', 'Apt Pupil', and 'John Carpenter's Vampires' into theaters, Warner Brothers is trying for a somewhat different approach -- blending classic horror elements (witches, potions, curses, and zombies) into a female bonding story with a touch of supernatural romance. Unfortunately, like far too many films, this one gives up the ghost during the last fifteen minutes, saddling an otherwise-enjoyable film with a dumb ending." Film Ink: {to be done} Journal Now: "[the screenwriters] can't decide whether the film is a spoof, a romantic comedy or something else. As a result, it doesn't succeed on any level. Despite a charismatic cast and a promising premise, the film never gets out of first gear. Too often, the whimsy feels forced." Practical Magic Mr. Showbiz: Kevin Maynard, Mr. Showbiz: "Practical Magic doesn't cast much of a spell!" New York Times (registration required) Film Psychosis Radio Free Movie Review: "Light hearted and fun!" -- Andrew Manning Salon Magazine Screen It! (spoilers): "The film consequently feels anemic and scattered most of the time." San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Examiner Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Quest for Camelot

Story: The girl Kayley and her blind buddy Garrett go on a Quest to rescue Kayley's mother Lady Juliana, who has been kidnapped by the evil Ruber, who also intends to grab King Arthur's magical sword Excalibur. Merlin the Magician sets them in the right direction, as they struggle to save the kingdom of Camelot and its endangered King. They have sometimes action-based, sometimes comic, sometimes romantic episodes with various other characters, including a 2-Headed Dragon, an unpleasant Griffin, and others. Studio: Warner Bros. (their first feature-length fully animated film Based on: VERY loosely based on King Arthur legends Screenplay: ??? Producer: Director: Frederik Du Chau (from BELGIUM, first major feature film directed Starring: Kayley (voice) -- Jessalyn Gilsig Kayley (songs) -- Andrea Corr Garrett (voice) -- Cary Elwes Garrett (songs) -- Bryan White Ruber (voice) -- Gary Oldman 2-Headed Dragon (voice) -- Don Rickles 2-Headed Dragon (voice) -- Eric Idle Lady Juliana (voice) -- Jane Seymour King Arthur (voice) -- Pierce Brosnan Merlin (voice) -- Sir John Gielgud Griffin (voice) -- Bronson Pinchot ??? (voice) -- Jaleel White ??? (voice) -- Gabriel Byrne ??? -- Special Effects: 750 people total in crew, combining CGI and conventional cel animation Music: Patrick Doyle Songs: David Foster & Carole Bayer Sager Opening: May 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Return from the Planet of the Apes

Story: The Apes send a time-machine spacecraft to Earth which is contaminated with a child-killing virus designed to wipe out humans (based on Lord Jeffrey Amherst giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans). Astronauts try to find the spacecraft and the plague in order to create a vaccine. Studio: 20th Century Fox Based on: previous films in the series, and the original novel by Pierre Boulle [Vanguard, 1963]. Movie spinoff novels included: * Avallone: Beneath the Planet of the Apes [Bantam, 1970] * Gerrold: Battle for the Planet of the Apes [Award, 1973] * Niven?: Escape from the Planet of the Apes [Award, 1973] * Jakes: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes [Award, 1974] and spinoffs from the TV series included George Alec Effinger's: * Man the Fugitive [Award, 1974] * Escape to Tomorrow [Award, 1975] * Journey Into Terror [Award, 1975] * Lord of the Apes [Award, 1976] as well as the "Return to the Planet of the Apes" spinoff books by "William Arrow": * William Rotsler: Visions of Nowhere [Ballentine Books, 1976] * Don Pfeil: Escape from the Terror Lagoon [Ballentine Books, 1976] * William Rotsler: Man the Hunted Animal [Ballentine Books, 1976] Screenplay: ??? Producer: Oliver Stone replaced James Cameron? Director: Chris Columbus Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- Arnold Schwarzenegger Special Effects: ??? Opening: Winter 1998/1999, possibly after the big profits start rolling in from the X-Files movie Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Small Soldiers

Studio: MCA-Universal/Dreamworks Executive Producer: Walter F. Parkes Producers: Michael Finnell, Colin Wilson Co-Producer: Paul Deason Director: Joe Dante (Gremlins) First Assistant Director: Benita Allen-Honess Cinematography: Jamie Anderson Editor: Marshall Harvey Writers: Ted Elliott, Zak Penn, Adam Rifkin, Terry Rossio, Gavin Scott Story: Animated film about a troop of toy soldiers that come to life in a suburban town (Winslow Corners, Ohio), trying hard not to rip-off "Toy Story." In this case, the animated toy soldiers accidently got a military robot chip installed in them, which makes them tactically effective... There are Good toy soldiers (the Gorgonites) and Bad toy soldiers (the Commando Elite), and eventually two human teen-agers (and their parents) are deeply entangled in the plot. Shooting: ??? Sequels: ??? Starring: Major Chip Hazard (the Commando Elite leader) (voice) -- Tommy Lee Jones Christy Fimple -- Kirstin Dunst Alan Abernathy -- Grgory Smith Phil Fimple -- Phil Hartman (TV's Saturday Night Live) Larry Benson -- Jay Mohr Brad -- Jonathan Bouck Irwin Wayfair -- David Cross Stuart Abernathy -- Kevin Dunn ??? -- Archie Hahn Gil Mars -- Dennis Leary Irene Abernathy -- Ann Magnuson Marion Fimple -- Wendy Schaal Mrs. Kegel -- Alexandra Wilson ??? (voice) -- Dick Miller Ralph -- Robert Picardo ??? -- Jacob Smith Archer (voice) -- Frank Langella Kip Killagin (voice) -- Ernest Borgnine Butch Meathook (voice) -- Jim Brown Link Statis (voice) -- Bruce Dern Brick Bazooka (voice) -- George Kennedy Nick Nitro (voice) -- Clint Walker Slamfist/Scratch-It (voice) -- Christopher Guest Insaniac (voice) -- Michael McKean Punch-It (voice) -- Harry Shearer Gwendys Doll (voice) -- Sarah Michelle Gellar Gwendys Doll (voice) -- Christina Ricci Globotech Phone Operator -- Cheri Oteriaturday Night Live) Special Effects: Stan Winston Studio (60 in crew), Industrial Light and Magic Visual Effects Supervisor: Stefan Fangmeier Animation Supervisor: David Andrews Music: Jerry Goldsmith Costume Design: Carole Brown-James Budget: $58,000,000 Merchandising: huge deal between DreamWorks SKG and Burger King for exclusive restaurant rights for Gorgonites and the Commando Elite Release: originally scheduled for 10 July 1998 Reviews: {to be done} Webmaster & son saw this film 18 July 1998 and review Real Soon Now... Box Office: Debut wek: {to be done} Week #2 saw "Small Soldiers" hanging in at rank #6, with $8,600,000 3-day weekend gross on 2,613 screens ($3,310 average) for a cumulative gross of $30,300,000. It ranked just below the 5th week of 20th Century Fox's Dr. Dolittle, and just above the 5th week of Disney's "Mulan. Week #3 saw "Small Soldiers" hanging in at rank #9, with $5,300,000 3-day weekend gross on 2,512 screens ($2,117 average) for a cumulative gross of $40,500,000. It ranked just below the unexpectedly poor debut of Disney/Touchstone's "Mafia!" and just above the 6th week of Disney's "Mulan." The film now looks like a minor moneymaker, with roughly $50,000,000 projected domestic box-office gross, which will make its profit on overseas theatrical, video, and TV income. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: A group of colonists on a distant planet come uner overwhelming attack, and their only defender is an out-of-date soldier of long-since concluded interstellar war... Based on: ??? Genre: Studio: Warner Bros. Executive Producer: Susan Ekins (Executive Producer of: The Avengers [1998], Vegas vacation [1997]; Associate Producer: The Specialist [1994], Pure Country [1992], The Karate Kid II [1986]) Producer: Jerry Weintraub Director: Paul Anderson (Event Horizon) Cinematographer: David Tattersall Writer: David Webb Peoples (Twelve Monkeys [1995), Deadfall [1993], Unforgiven [1992], Hero [1992], Leviathan [1989], The Blood of Heroes [1988], Blade Runner [1982]) Starring: Todd -- Kurt Russell Caine -- Jason Scott Lee Sandra -- Connie Nielsen Captian Church -- Gary Busey Colonel Mekum -- Jason Isaacs Mace -- Sean Pertwee Omar -- Danny Turner Jimmy Pig -- Michael Chiklis Red -- Max Daniels Jimmy Pig's Wife -- Elizabeth Dennehy Slade -- Paul Dillon Chester -- Jesse D. Goins Judith -- Ashley Nolan ??? -- Wyatt Russell ??? -- ??? Production Design: David L. Snyder Effects: Matte World Digital, Cinema Production Services Preview: ??? Opening: Fall/Holiday 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Species II: Offspring

Story: The implacable alien seductress Sil of "Species" was killed, alright, but her clone "Eve" again seeks to breed while being stalked by government scientists and while stalking a human/alien hybrid. Alien DNA is in every cell of an infected hybrid astronaut, who comes home to Earth with an unquenchable urge to impregnate lots of gorgeous women. Based on: This is a sequel to "Species" {hot link to be done} Genre: Aliens on Earth {hot link to be done} Studio: MGM Producer: ??? Director: Peter Medak Starring: Sil -- Natasha Henstridge [model in real-life, space-slut in film] ??? -- Michael Madsen ("Species") ??? -- Marg Helgenberger ("Species") ??? -- James Cromwell ??? -- Mykelti Williamson Locations: University of Maryland sequences are in the can Preview: ??? Opening: 5 June 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Speed Racer

Story: Boy can drive cars fast, tangles with bad guys Based on: The animated TV show Genre: ??? Studio: Warner Bros. Producer: ??? Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? Preview: ??? Opening: Summer 1998, possibly leading up to Warner Bros. release of Superman 5 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Submarine crew finds 400-year-old sunken alien spaceship. Since Norman Johnson, a Jewish psychologist (Dustin Hoffman) had written an academic paper proposing his set of friends as an alien first-encounter team, they end up down there with the ancient spaceship, and soon both they and their computer start having weird experiences... Studio: Warner Bros. presents a Baltimore Pictures/Constant C Production in association with Punch Productions, Inc. Based on: 1987 novel "Sphere" by Michael Crichton Screenplay: Michael Crichton, from an early draft by Stephen Hauser (former assistant to Barry Levinson), which was rewritten by Paul Attanasio ("Donnie Brasco"), adaptation by Kurt Wimmer Director: Barry Levinson ("Sleepers") Executive Producer: Peter Giuliano Producers: Michael Crichton, Barry Levinson, Peter Giuliano Cinematography: Adam Greenburg Editor: Stu Linder Starring: Norman Johnson (Jewish psychologist) -- Dustin Hoffman Beth Halpern (neurotic biochemist) -- Sharon Stone Harry Adams (the laid-back mathematician) -- Samuel L. Jackson Harold Barnes -- Peter Coyote Miguel Torres -- Benicio Del Toro Fletcher -- Queen Latifah Ted Fielding (hypercompetitive astrophysicist) -- Liev Schreiber Edmunds -- Marga Gomez Production Design: Norman Reynolds Special Effects: Flash Film Works Note: had spent $5 million preproduction before being "drydocked" 18 Oct 1996, with 200-300 Vallejo, California workers dismissed, while script rewrite was undertaken Music: Elliot Goldenthal Soundtrack Album: Varese Sarabande CD Web: Matt Boudreau's "Sphere" site: unofficial Official "Sphere" site Genre: SPACE: MOVIES AND TV-MOVIES ABOUT SPACE Opening: U.S. and Australia: February 1998; originally planned for December 1997 (possibly Christmas) Running: 2 hours, 8 minutes Reviews: Janet Maslin, The New York Times: "Rich in techno-terror." Michael Medved, The New York Post: "Thrills! Diabolical surprises! An A-team cast. The shocks and tension that Barry Levinson expertly provides will pump adrenaline through moviegoers. Have a ball." Tim Sherno, WSNV-YV, Miami: "The master Michael Crichton does it again. An all-star cast with non-stop action and an incredible story." Box Office: Debut week: "Sphere" had a strong opening 4-day weekend gross of $16,600,000 on 2,814 screens ($5,894 average) for a debut ranking at #3, below only the supersmash "Titanic" (9th week) and New Line's "The Wedding Singer" (the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore romantic comedy with the 2nd highest-ever opening of a rromnatic comedy ["My Best Friend's Wedding" was tops]). This placed it just above the 11th week of Miramax's "Good Will Hunting." Week #2 marked a 54% drop in revenues, to a #3 ranking (beneath the 10th week of "Titanic" and the 2nd week of the New Line romantic comedy "The Wedding Singer" (starring Adam Sandler); and just above the 12th week of Miramax math-film "Good Will Hunting." "Sphere" had a weekend gross of $7,700,000 on 2,814 screens ($2,731 average) for a cumulative domestic gross of $26,900,000. Week #3 marked a __% drop in revenues, to a #6 ranking (beneath the 10th week of "As Good As It Gets" and just above the Disney/Touchstone Debut of "Krippendorf's Tribe." "Sphere" had a weekend gross of $3,800,000 on 2,238 screens ($1,702 average) for a cumulative domestic gross of $32,500,000. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Star Trek 9

Story: Star Trek The Next Generation film, story speculation swirls lately on the internet... Some say that The Federation tries to conquer a planet where magic works, others say that the Enterprise is trying to thwart a loose-cannon Admiral while in conflict with a race of aliens called the Son'a, Picard falls in love, Riker and Troi try for romance again Based on: The familiar franchise Studio: Paramount Producer: ??? Director: Jonathan Frakes Starring: Captain Picard -- Patrick Stewart ??? -- Brent Spiner ??? -- Jonathan Frakes ??? -- Michael Dorn ??? -- Gates McFadden ??? -- Marina Sirtis ??? -- LeVar Burton cameo as Federation leader -- Arnold Schwarzenegger Preview: ??? Opening: Thanksgiving 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Superman 5

Story: Superman versus one or more super-villains including Braniac and Braniac's creation Doomsday Title: Superman Lives; or maybe, Superman Reborn Based on: The comics, novels, TV shows, and three prior feature films. The cartoon strip "Superman" was created by Jerome Siegel and drawn by Joseph Shuster in the early-to-mid 1930s, and began in Action Comics in 1938. They sold all rights to the comic and the character, and were living in poverty and obscurity until fans persuaded DC Comics to give them a stipend, after the character "Superman" had earned over $1,000,000,000 for publishers, television, and film studios. The other films in the franchise: Superman (1978) Superman II (1980) Superman III (1983) Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) Genre: SUPERMEN: Studio: Warner Bros. Producers: Jeff Levine, Jon Peters Director: Tim Burton ["Batman", "Nightmare Before Christmas", "James and the Giant Peach"] Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman [1998 "Lost in Space", 1997 "Batman and Robin", 1996 "A Time to Kill", 1995 "Batman Forever", 1994 "Silent Fall", 1994 "The Client"] (after scripts were rejected from Kevin Smith and Wesley Strick) Starring: Clark Kent/Superman -- Nicholas Cage Braniac -- Jim Carey [having proven himself as a supervillain in his role as "The Riddler" in Batman 2] Doomsday -- Batman -- Michael Keaton (cameo) Locations: Pittsburgh as Metropolis? Production Design: Rick Heinrichs Special Effects: Boss Film Studios, Digital Domain Superman's suit can become transparent or translucent as needed (or when he x-rays himself) Digital Illustrator: Franois Audouy Production Illustrators: Harald Belker, James Carson, Jacques Rey Supervising Art Director: John Dexter Music: Danny Elfman Preview: Nicholas Cage said, in various wire reports 5 May 1997, that he wants to portray the Man of Steel as "a freak, but a beautiful freak in that he really cares about people.... I wouldn't be afraid to talk about his loneliness and his feeling like an alien, never fitting in and so always compulsively needing to do heroic acts so people would like him and he would feel loved.... But that part's still up in the air. No pun intended." Release: November/December 1998 but may slip to 1999 if shooting starts in July 1998 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Tarzan and the Lost City

Story: Tarzan intends to save a timeless mystical city Based on: The books Studio: ??? Producer: ??? Director: Starring: Tarzan -- Casper Van Dien ("Starship Troopers") Opening: Late April 1998 Preview: Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Aliens consider Human civiliation no more than an infection of a galactic virus which needs to be wiped out. Jamie Lee Curtis is on board a Russian research ship when a killer alien decides to go for a cruise. Studio: Universal Based on: Dark Horse comic book "Virus" Screenplay: Dennis Feldman (writer/producer 1995 "Species", co-producer 1991 "Dead Again", writer/director 1987 "Real Men"), Jonathan Hensleigh (Executive Producer 1997 "Con Air", writer 1997 "The Saint", uncredited writer 1996 "The Rock", writer 1995 "Die Hard 3", story 1995 "Jumanji", writer 1993 "A Far Off Place"), Chuck Pfarrer Director: John J. Bruno (executive producer 1996 "Paperblood", visual effects supervisor 1996 "Terminator 2:3D Battle Across Time", production assistant 1995 "Steel Frontier", visual effects supervisor 1994 "True Lies", visual effects supervisor 1993 "Cliffhanger", visual effects supervisor 1989 "The Abyss", visual effects art director 1986 "Poltergeist 2", visual effects art director 1985 "Fright Night", special effects director/sequence director 1981 "Heavy Metal", artist 1974 "The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat") Producers: Gale Anne Hurd, Mike Richardson Starring: ??? -- Jamie Lee Curtis ??? -- Donald Sutherland ??? -- William Baldwin ??? -- Cliff Curtis ??? -- Joanna Pacula ??? -- Marshall Bell Special Effects: Tippett Studios Storyboards: Rodolfo Damaggio Locations: Wilmington, North Carolina; Newport News, Virginia Opening: 14 August 1998 (slipped from 24 October 1997) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

What Dreams May Come

Story: Visually superb Afterlife Romance Studio: Metafilmics / Interscope / PolyGram Based on: Novel by Richard Matheson in the movie context of: Outward Bound [1930], Between Two Worlds [1944], A Matter of Life and Death [1946], Down to Earth [1947], Heaven Can Wait [1978], Beetlejuice [1988], Always [1989], All Dogs Go to Heaven [1989], Defending Your Life [1991], and Bill & Ted'd Bogus Journey [1991] Screenplay: Ronald Bass Director: Vincent Ward (from New Zealand) ("Map of the Human Heart" Director/writer [1992], "The Navigator: A Mediaeval Odyssey" Director/writer TIME TRAVEL [1988], "Vigil" Director/writer [1988]) Producers: Barnet Bain, Alan C. Blomquist (co-producer), Stephen Deutch (Associate Producer) Executive Producers: Ronald Bass, Ted Field, Erica Huggins, Scott Kroopf Cinematographer: Eduardo Serra Editors: David Brenner, Maysie Hoy Starring: Chris Nielsen -- Robin Williams (Flubber, Dead Poet'sSociety, Good Will Hunting, Hamlet, Jumanji, Father's Day, Deconstructing Harry, Jack, The Birdcage, The Secret Agent, Nine Months, Being Human, Toys, Mrs.Doubtfire, Alladin, The Fisher King, Good Morning Vietnam) Albert -- Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire, As Good As It Gets, Do Me A Favor, The Audition, Losing Isaiah, Outbreak, Lightning Jack, Judgment Night, A Few Good Men, Gladiators, Hitz) soon to appear in "Instinct", and as Producer/Star of "A Murder of Crows" Annie Nielsen -- Annabella Sciorra ("Cop Land" [1997], "Underworld" [1997], "Highball" [1997], "Mr. Jealousy" [1997], "The Funeral" [1996], "The Addiction" [1995], "The Cure" [1995], "The Innocent Sleep" [1995], "National Lampoon's Favorite Deadly Sins" [1995], "Mr. Wonderful" [1995], "Jungle Fever" [1991]) The Tracker -- Max von Sydow Marie Nielsen -- Jessica Brooks Ian Nielsen -- Josh Paddock Leona -- Rosalind Chao Production Design: Eugenio Zanetti Special Effects: P.O.P. Digital Film Group, Mass Illusions, Digital Domain, CIS Hollywood, MastersFX, Cinema Productions Music: Michael Kamen Costumes: Yvonne Blake Budget: $70,000,000 or $85,000,000 (reports differ widely) Storyboards: Locations: Opening: 28 Sep 98 USA Previews, 2 Oct 98 USA opening, 15 Oct 98 Australia, 26 Nov 98 Germany, 27 Nov 98 Austria, 3 Dec 98 Singapore Web: Official Site Internet Movie Database Runtime: 113 Minutes Box Office: Week #1 {to be done} Week #2 {to be done} Week #3 saw "What Dreams May Come" ranked #6, with $6,400,000 in 3-day weekend gross on 2,506 screens ($2,555 average). The cumulative gross was $41,100,000. "What Dreams May Come" ranked just below the debut of Disney/Touchstone's "Beloved" (which debuted at #5 but had the highest top-10 per-screen average of $5,440), and just above Paramount's "A Night at the Roxbury." Reviews: Roger Ebert, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: "`What Dreams May Come' is so breathtaking, so beautiful, so bold in its imagination!" John Powell, JAM! Showbiz: "What Dreams May Come is a soulful piece as you'll ever see!" David Hunter, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: "A visual feast not to be passed up and bound to pack an emotional punch for many viewers!" Todd McCarthy, DAILY VARIETY: "A heaping serving of metaphysical gobbledygook wrapped in a physically striking package." Sarah Gilliam, RADIO FREE: "One of the most beautiful movies of the year!" E! ONLINE: "Ultimately it's too trippy--and drippy--for all its visual finery and erudite musings." Edward Johnson-Ott, NUVO Newsweekly: "A visually breathtaking work!" Harry Knowles, AIN'T IT COOL: "This film portrays some of the most beautiful and stunning use of digital effects yet!" Jackie Loohauis, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL: "Muddled and confused!" SCREEN IT!: "The film greatly suffers from a lack of any substantial plot!" OREGON LIVE: "It's such a lavish, awesome spectacle!" Sean Means, FILM.COM "Few films delight the eye the way Vincent Ward's 'What Dreams May Come' does!" Jack Garner, ROCHESTER CHRONICLE: "Visually breathtaking and intellectually intriguing!" Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: "As rare and odd, and visually breathtaking, as modern filmmaking gets!" BOSTON GLOBE: "The afterlife movie soars to new visionary heights in 'What Dreams May Come.'" Eleonore Snow, MR. SHOWBIZ: "Dripping with bold visual aplomb and sugar-coated mysticism, Vincent Ward’s film is a staunch romantic's romance for those who believe—-or want to believe—-in eternal love." Sean Elder, NEW YORK CITYSEARCH: "This movie is all fat!" Karen Hershenson, CONTRA COSTA TIMES "'What Dreams May Come' is a like an abstract painting, full of vivid brushstrokes that hint at deeper meaning." Susan Stark, DETROIT NEWS: "In both concept and execution, they testify to painfully banal sensibilities." Owen Gleiberman, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: "If the film's morose sentimentality sidesteps ludicrousness, it's also not very dramatic." Christopher Brandon, ROUGH CUT: "The imagery, though it's [sic] constantly switching moods, remains delicious." Stephen Hunter, WASHINGTON POST: "It's not much, other than the vision thing." Scott Renshaw, HOLLYWOOD HOTLINE: "Williams is certainly a fine performer, but there are times when he's giving a 'serious' performance that he looks like he's trying way too hard." Bob Fenster, ARIZONA REPUBLIC: "Here's what's wrong with giant movie screens: You can fill them with extreme close-ups of Robin Williams' face!" James Berardinelli, REELVIEWS: "Director Vincent Ward's view of heaven is surreal and spectacular!" James Berardinelli's ReelViews: "'What Dreams May Come' has the sensibilities of an art film placed into a big-budget feature with an A-list cast. Although it is undeniably a tear-jerker, it's probably not mainstream enough to enthrall audiences and assure a big return at the box office. It is arguably too offbeat. The storyline, which has Chris relishing the serenity of heaven before taking a trip through hell, is compelling, even if the ending is a little too cute. Part of the reason the movie works is that the characters are likable. Most of us would love to have the kind of relationship that Chris and Annie enjoyed, so it's not hard to root for them to somehow find each other again, even with the chasm of death dividing them. Also, the production design is truly amazing, coming in second only to Dark City for the most visually arresting picture of the year." "Robin Williams stars in this $70 million production of the Richard Matheson book. That is a pretty darn big budget for a movie with no explosions. Instead, the money was used to create amazing sets of heaven. Williams... takes the lead this time. The movie starts with he and his wife's death. In heaven he is shown around by Cuba Gooding Jr. ... in yet another Oscar caliber supporting performance. He meets is children and old friends. He soon starts to wonder of [sic] his wife died as well and where she is. He begins to realize that much of the imagery in this place resembles his wife's paintings. He fins [sic] out that she died, but went to H-E double hockey sticks (HELL). He decides heaven sucks without his wife, so he decides to do whatever it takes (even a trip to Hades) to get back with her. This weird guy called The Tracker helps him out. "What Dreams May Come is a flawed film, and like Simon Birch, a large part of this was because it didn't stay true to the novel. A big problem is that the first 30-45 minutes is exposition. All that time is spent telling us about Chris's (Williams) life was like and how heaven works. Then, when we finally get to some action, it doesn't get much better. Unlike the novel, Chris's kids are dead, and they pop up in heaven with different bodies. It [sic] supposed to surprise and move us, but it annoyed me. "Matheson doesn't stick to any religion's traditional heaven. He takes parts out of many interpretations of heaven to make his own...." eye WEEKLY: James Cowan: "...mythic, baroque, an epic, and elegy... It steals its title from 'Hamlet' and borrows from Dante, Homer, and Van Gogh... It's a love story that talks to your head, not your heart... The afterlife is magnificently rendered... eye candy and brain food, but no nourishment for the soul." Film Ink - Executive Summary: "For Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams), his love for his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) defines the core of his being and completes his very soul....If Destiny decrees that Chris must journey to the very depths of Hell to be with her, then he will... and he does!...and experiences a world bound only by his imagination....In this alternative realm, Chris delights in the knowledge that Heaven for him is existing within one of Annie's magnificent paintings. When Chris is told that Annie can never join him in his Heaven, he vows to find her. Guided by a sage Tracker (Max Von Sydow) and his unconditional love for Annie, he embarks on an epic odyssey through a tapestry of timeless illusions to try to free her from the endless torments of Hell.... Although many people have traveled to death's doorway, and peered into the dark abyss on the other side, the ability of filmmakers to "take us there" has fallen short in the view of many. In this film, technology is pushed to the limits in order to allow the full expression of the vision of the filmmakers; to show us their view of Chris Neilsen's heaven and hell. Visually, the effect is stunning, and the talents of the artists and craftspeople who helped create this film should be applauded." Hollywood Jesus: "'Ah, go to Hell!' We talk about Hell all the time. We send everyone we know there when we get upset. And everyone thinks that if there is a Heaven, they will go there after death. Most believe that some people will actually go to Hell, but very few believe they personally will go to Hell. We all wonder about life after death. We like to think of our loved ones going to a "better place." Despite all this, few movies have ever depicted Heaven and/or Hell. "For this reason alone I believe this is going to be a powerful film. I think it will spur conversations. It will furnish popular culture a collective way of visualizing and discussing Heaven and Hell. I am very excited about this film. Reports indicate that the visual effects are outstanding. It should be very compelling. "I am impressed that Max Von Sydow is in the film. He played Jesus in 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' and the 'Exorcist' priest. What a great casting idea. "Why do people go to Hell? What on earth determines such a fate? Can love overpower Hell? What is heaven like? Do people look the same outside their bodies? What assurance can anyone have of Heaven? Is Heaven a place of restoration? Is Hell eternal? Can there be life after Hell? Get ready for some great conversation by taking your friends out to coffee after this film." Journal Now Nitrate Online New York Times (registration required): Stephen Holden, NEW YORK TIMES: "All the weeping and hugging the characters do can't make up for the film's fatal lack of texture and psychological nuance." Film Psychosis: By Nathaniel R. Atcheson: "I've seen films that deal with death and afterlife, but I don't think I've seen any that conquer the subject with such unrelenting determination as Vincent Ward's 'What Dreams May Come'.  It's so refreshing to see a Hollywood production that succeeds by ignoring all the standard conventions and cliches of the genre.  This film is profound and deeply interesting -- it handles disturbing subjects with unflinching sincerity.  And though it has its roots in many other works -- from Dante's Inferno all the way up to the films of Bergman -- it still manages originality and uniqueness. "But these aren't the elements that will stick with you, for 'What Dreams May Come' is one of the most visually astounding films I've ever seen.  It's a wealth of truly beautiful sets and special effects, seamless and visionary images of things that can't exist in our world.  That's what makes this such a memorable film experience -- it takes you places you have never been, and shows you things you can't see anywhere else.  In a time when most films don't exhibit the even lowest degree of creativity, here is a film that registers as art and serves its purpose both in sensation and perception.  Your eyes and your mind will feed on all that Ward's film has to offer.  "At the same time, however, the film's flaws are almost as obvious as its virtues.  It suffers from a terribly disjointed narrative -- the chronology is difficult to understand, and there's not always a strong sense of momentum.   As a whole, the film may not have you feeling absorbed as much as you may feel trapped -- at times, it's so visually arresting that it seems like you're living the nightmare. This is a positive attribute to a point, but this film comes inches away from being intolerably depressing." Radio Free Movie Review: Sarah Gilliam, RADIO FREE: "One of the most beautiful movies of the year!" Screen It! (spoilers): [an interesting matrix or tabular presentation of micro-comments] San Francisco Chronicle: Bob Graham, San Francisco Chronicle: "Dull Story." San Francisco Examiner: David Armstrong, EXAMINER STAFF CRITIC (Oct. 2, 1998) "It's just a bad "Dream'" Headline: Robin Williams stars in cloying, effects-laden story of love in the afterlife Review (excerpts): "When the history of Big Talent in Bad Movies is written, the name Robin Williams will be writ large. Protean, quicksilver smart and too prolific for his own good, Williams appears determined to appear in every movie out of Hollywood. As a result, he makes many mediocre to bad pictures along with keepers such as 'Good Will Hunting' and 'Moscow on the Hudson,' the early dramatic role that showed he could act. "Williams' latest, "What Dreams May Come," is a scary example of bad movies happening to good people. A shamelessly manipulative and soft-centered treatment of undying love in the afterlife, "Dreams" was directed by Vincent Ward, whose bio is yet another cautionary tale about ambition. A New Zealand filmmaker who made the extraordinary "The Navigator" and the quite respectable "Map of the Human Heart," he has set aside, at least for now, the creativity of his early small-budget efforts. "The computerized special-effects in "Dreams" must have pumped up the $85 million budget considerably. So, too, the star salaries for Williams.... "It's the special-effects and art-direction, though, that are the real stars of 'Dreams,' shot on Bay Area soundstages. Bright digitalized sets, saturated colors and backgrounds of almost palpable, three-dimensional quality infuse the sometimes-inspired visuals. The backdrops are informed by famous styles of painting, and the heaven 'n' hell storyline they reflect combines strong elements of Hieronymus Bosch and 'Fantasia'-era Disney. It's art history on acid." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Return to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Two cool Government agents are still trying to figure out what the government knows and doesn't know about extraterrestrial life on Earth. The film will be set up by a 1997-98 TV season special finale cliffhanger, and massive promotion. The plot revolves around the Oklahoma City-style bombing of a government building in Dallas that has something to do with aliens, cloning, killer bees, the Consortium, the origin of the extraterrestrial virus, the connection between Mulder and Cancer-Man, and JFK. Studio: 20th Century Fox Based on: hit TV series, see: Ultimate Science Fiction TV Web Guide Producer: Chris Carter (who will leave the TV series at the end of his 5 years) Screenplay: Chris Carter Director: Rob Bowman (who directed several of the TV episodes) Starring: Fox Mulder -- David Duchovny (rumored to be getting $4,000,000 for the film role plus $100,000 per episode of the 1998 TV season, for which he has another year to go on his 6-year contract) Dana Scully -- Gillian Anderson (rumored to be getting several million dollars for the film role plus $80,000 per episode of the 1998 TV season, for which she has another year to go on her 6-year contract) Cancer-Man -- Rest of Cast: {to be done} Special Effects: ??? Opening: 19 June 1998 (as Fox's first event film of the summer) Pre-Preview: Filming is supposed to have wrapped in August 1997, and post-production should be done in late April 1998 Rumors: Scully and Mulder will be in a film sequel, while another FBI odd couple replaces them on the TV series for season #6 Box Office: Here are the calculations. Since 18,000,000-20,000,000 viewers watch the hit TV series, if 18,000,000 people go to the movie theatres at an average of $4.50 per ticket, that would be an $81,000,000 gross. But since there are an estimated 30,000,000 X-Files fans around the world, the overseas market could be equally huge. Executives at the Fox television network won't talk openly about such figures, but the truth is out there. 20th Century Fox, the sister company for movie-making, is equally hush-hush, with Head of Production Tom Rothman saying only that it will be "a worldwide event movie" [Los Angeles Times Calendar, p.46, 15 May 1997]. Opening week: {to be done} Week #2: {to be done} Week #3 saw "The X-Files" ranked #5, with $6,300,000 gross over the 3-5 July 1998 weekend, on 2,602 screens ($2,403 average) for cumulative gross of $67,100,000. It ranked just below Universal's "Out of Sight" and just above Paramount's "The Truman Show." Week #4: {to be done} In Week #5, "The X-Files" ranked #12, with $2,000,000 gross over the 17-19 July 1998 weekend, on 1,451 screens ($1,381 average) for cumulative gross of $78,300,000. It ranked just below the 4th week of Universal's "Out of Sight" and just above Paramount's 31st week of "Titanic" (which by now had domestic gross of $590,500,000). Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Mutant superheros battle evil and angst; action/sci-fi Studio: 20th Century Fox Based on: comic book series Screenplay: ??? Director: Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects", "Apt Pupil") Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Opening: Mid 1998 Rumor: Will slip to 1999 Pre-Preview: Director Bryan Singer grew up in Princeton, New Jersey as a friend of actor Ethan Hawke and screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie (Academy Award for best original screenplay "The Usual Suspects" directed by Bryan Singer, starring Kevin Spacey who won best supporting actor). An adopted child, he's placed his mother in "Apt Pupil" as a secretary and his father as a hopsital administrator. Singer went to USC as an undergraduate and there had McQuarrie write "Public Access" which shared the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festval, which led him to Spielberg and Robert Altman who sponsored him for Directors Guild of America, after which he directed "The Usual Suspects." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

X--The Man with the X-Ray Eyes

Story: Remake of 1963 Roger Corman cult classic Studio: DreamWorks SKG / Orion Pictures Based on: 1963 Roger Corman cult classic Screenplay: Bryan Goluboff ("The Basketball Diaries") Director: Tim Burton ("Batman", "Edward Scissorhands", "Nightmare Before Christmas") Starring: ??? -- Jamie Lee Curtis ??? -- Donald Sutherland Special Effects: ??? Opening: Fall/Holiday 1997 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1998 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle AI Alien Love Triangle American Legend; or, I Am Legend American Psycho The Astronaut's Wife Avatar Barthe Batman: Dark Knight Bedazzled The Bionic Man James Bond #19 Bride of Chucky Colony 12 Cosm Duke Nukem Ender's Game Fantasia 2000 Farenheit 451 Forbidden Planet Freddy vs. Jason Frost Gargoyles The Gelfin The Ghost Ghostbusters III The Green Mile Highlander 4 The Hulk I Married a Witch Idle Hands Independence Day 2 Inspector Gadget The Iron Giant Jumanji 2 The Lamia Men in Black 2 Mephisto in Onyx The Secret of Nimh II The Nutty Professor 2 Rendezvous with Rama Santa Claus Conquers the Martians Shrek Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists Software Star Wars 1 Supernova Thunderbirds Total Recall 2 Toy Story 2 Twister 2 The Wild, Wild West Wonder Woman -- {to be done} WW3.COM
Other 1999 films, which have not yet been determined by Your Humble Webmaster to be science fiction, fantasy, horror, or what...
  1. Age of Aquarius (1999) SF?
  2. Cybersex and Pretzles (1999)
  3. Guam Goes to the Moon (1999)
  4. In Your Dreams (1999)
  5. Instinct (1999)
  6. Into Thin Air (1999),with Sylvester Stallone
  7. Mefisto in Onyx (1999)
  8. Meltdown (1999)
  9. Midsummer Night's Dream, A (1999)
  10. Mission: Impossible 2 (1999)
  11. Mystery Men (1999)
  12. Nemo (1999)
  13. Ninth Gate, The (1999)
  14. Nutty Professor II, The (1999)
  15. Ogniem i mieczem (1999)
  16. Outside Ozona (1999)
  17. Passionnément (1999)
  18. Planet Ice (1999)
  19. Planet of the Apes (1999)
  20. Project: Destroy (1999) (TV)
  21. Rendezvous with Rama (1999)
  22. Resurrection (1999)
  23. Scream 3 (1999)
  24. Sinbad and the Veil of the Mists (1999)
  25. Star Wars: Episode I (1999)
  26. Superman Lives (1999)
  27. Toy Story 2 (1999)
  28. Twenty Billion (1999)
  29. U-571 (1999)
  30. Wand, Die (1999)
  31. Wonder Woman (1999)
  32. X-Men (1999)
  33. Zero Hour (1999)

Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Duke Nukem: The Movie

Model for cut&paste Story: ??? Studio: ??? Based on: ??? Screenplay: ??? Producers: ??? Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Inspector Gadget (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
*********** ************

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Story: Moose and Squirrel have antic pun-filled adventures Studio: MCA/Universal Pictures Based on: the 1950's and 1960's TV series "Rocky and His Friends" (1959) and "The Bullwinkle Show" (1961) 1960s: Science Fiction TV 1960-1969 Screenplay: ??? Producers: ??? Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle data on IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: ??? (Great Britain) Distributor: ??? Producer: ??? Director: Stanley Kubrick Based On: collaboration with British science fiction author and former linguistics professor Ian Watson Writers: Stanley Kubrick, Ian Watson, many rewriters: ???, and ??? Story: Little boy grows up in a cyber-dominated future Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Rumors: currently in pre-production, the schedule keeps slipping because Kubrick can't keep his hands off yet another edit of "Eyes Wide Shut." Almost no leaks to track down, except the one about a well-known artist being involved in a rewrite. Release: later and later in 1999, may slip to 2000 or (dare I say it) 2001 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Alien Love Triangle

Studio: Figment Films (Great Britain) Distributor: Dimension Films Producer: Andrew MacDonald Director: Danny Boyle, ???, and ??? Based On: original title "Change of Luck" Writers: John Hodge, ???, and ??? Story: Anthology film with 3 segments and probably 3 different directors. Courtney Cox is a male alien disguised as a human female, married to Earth human Kenneth Branagh Starring: ??? -- Kenneth Branagh ??? -- Heather Graham ??? -- Courtney Cox (Scream, Scream 2, TV's "Friends") Music: Simon Boswell Digital Effects Producer: Drew Jones Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

American Legend; or, I Am Legend

Studio: ??? Distributor: ??? Producer: ??? Director: Ridley Scott Based On: Remake of 1971 Charlton Heston adaptation ("The Omega Man") of Richard Matheson novel "I Am Legend" Writers: ??? Story: Only one man left alive as global plague makes everyone else into zombies. San Francisco is a riot after dark... Starring: ??? -- Arnold Schwarzenegger ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Release: was set for Summer 1998 Budget: projected at over $100,000,000 Rumor: "Variety" says that studio execs killed the picture, due to budget, and that both Director Ridley Scott and Star Arnold Schwarzenegger are attached to other projects now. But maybe the film can rise from the dead... Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

American Psycho

Story: Generation-X serial killer is very hip, and very crazy Studio: Warner Bros. / Single Cel Pictures / Quadra Entertainment / Lions Gate Films / Muse Productions Based on: the novel by Bret Ellis Screenplay: Mary Harron, Guinevere Turner Executive Producer: Michael Paseornek Producers: Chris Hanley [1998 "The Revenant"], Edward R. Pressman [1998 "Crow: The World of Gods and Monsters", 1996 "The Crow: City of Angels", 1996 "The Island of Dr. Moreau", 1994 "The Crow", 1987 "Masters of the Universe", 1981 "Conan the Barbarian", 1974 "Phantom of the Paradise", executive producer of 1995 "Judge Dredd"] Ron Rotholz, John Michael Stipe Director: Mary Harron [1996 "I Shot Andy Warhol"] Starring: ??? -- Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be attached ??? -- Christian Bale [1997 "Metroland", Voice of Thomas in 1995 "Pocahontas", 1987 "Empire of the Sun", 1990 TV "Treasure Island"] ??? -- Willem Dafoe [John Geiger in 1997 "Speed 2", Carravaggio in 1996 "The English Patient", T.S. Eliot in 1994 "Tom & Viv", Clark in 1994 "Clear and Present Danger", Bobby Peru in 1990 "Wild at Heart"] ??? -- Jared Leto [1998 "The Thin Red Line", title role in 1997 "Prefontaine", title role in 1997 "Basil", Jordan Catalano in 1994 TV "My So-Called Life"] Special Effects: ??? Music: Danny Elfman Budget: ??? Rumors: Leonardo DiCaprio is rumored to be attached Opening: ??? American Psycho (1999) @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Astronaut's Wife

Studio: New Line Cinema Executive Producer: Mark Johnson Producer: Andrew Lazar Director: Rand Ravich (his debut as Director; was screenwriter of Candyman 2: Farewell to the Flesh, and others -- see below) Cinematographer: Allen Daviau Editor: Steve Mirkovich Based On: ??? Writer: Rand Ravich (The Maker, 1997; Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, 1995; Crime Lords, 1990) Story: Astronaut returns from mission and begins acting very weird Starring: Spencer Armacost -- Johnny Depp (Ed Wood, Donny Brasco, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) ??? -- Clea DuVall (first major feature film) Jillian Armacost -- Charlize Theron (The Devil's Advocate, 2 Days in the Valley) ??? -- Blair Brown Cameraman -- Jim Jenkins (uncredited) ??? -- Joe Morton ??? -- Donna Murphy ??? -- Tom Noonan Production Design: Jan Roelfs Costume Design: Isis Mussenden Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Animation character has identity crisis when he meets the fictional character and the real person that the fictional character is based on, in a Cyberpunk kind of virtual reality way Studio: Lightstorm Entertainment [1997 "Titanic", 1995 "Strange Days", 1994 "True Lies", 1996 "Terminator 2: 3-D", 1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day"] Based on: ??? Screenplay: ??? Producers: ??? Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Digital Domain Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Avatar (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: ??? Producer: Danny DeVito Director: Danny DeVito Based On: ??? Writers: ??? Story: Alien's true love flees from him under false suspicion that he's been unfaithful, and he pursues her; tabloid news reporter searches for aliens for his big story Starring: Tabloid Reporter -- Danny DeVito ( similar to his role in L.A. Confidential) ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Rumors: Danny DeVito will get to work on this full-time after he finishes his co-starring with Jim Carrey in the Andy Kaufman biography "The Man in the Moon." He wants to get bigger box-office action than the last time he tangled with aliens -- in "Mars Attacks!" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Batman: Dark Knight

Studio: Warner Bros. Producer: ??? Director: Joel Schumaker Based On: the darker tone of the Batman graphic novel of the same name Writers: ??? Story: Starring: John Wayne/Batman -- George Clooney Scarecrow -- Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Spacey, John Travolta have all been all rumored Harley Quinn -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Rumors: besides the conflicting buzz about the Scarecrow and the new villain Harley Quinn, not much leaks out of this franchise tightly locked down into pre-production Release: Summer 1999 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: Short-order cook Stanley Moon, in love with Wimpy Burger waitress Margaret Spencer but with no hope of being the object of her affections, decides to commit suicide, but is seduced into signing a contract with the Devil (George Spiggott/Peter Cook). The devil transforms him according to 7 successive wishes, first as a genius (upstaged by Spiggott as a cynical genius), then as a rock star (upstaged by Spiggott as a bored punker singing "Go Away, Get Lost, I Hate You"), then as a titan of industry (upstaged by Spiggott, who crushes him on the stock market). He is also put in contact with the personified 7 Deady Sins. Eventually, he comes to realize how infantile his fantasies are, and how much his real life means to him. Studio: 20th Century Fox Based on: remake of the 1967 20th Century Fox film Bedazzled", directed by Stanley Donen, starring Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, and Raquel Welch Screenplay: Larry Gelbart ["M.A.S.H.", 1998 "Chicago", 1997 TV "Weapons of Mass Distraction", 1993 TV "Barbarians at the Gate", 1982 "Tootsie", 1977 "Oh, God!", 1966 "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", 1966 "The Wrong Box"] Producers: ??? Director: Harold Ramis [Director of: 1999 "Ghostbusters III", 1996 "Multiplicity", 1993 "Groundhog Day", 1983 National Lampoon's Vacation, 1980 "Caddyshack"] Starring: George Spiggott -- ??? (role created by Peter Cook) Stanley Moon -- ??? (role created by Dudley Moore) Margaret Spencer -- ??? (role created by Eleanor Bron) Lust -- ??? (role created by Raquel Welch) Vanity -- ??? (role created by Alba) Anger -- ??? (role created by Robert Russell) Envy -- ??? (role created by Barry Humphries) Avarice -- ??? (role created by Danielle Noel) Sloth -- ??? (role created by Howard Goorney) Inspector Clarke -- ??? (role created by Michael Bates) Irving Moses -- ??? (role created by Bernard Spear) Randolph -- ??? (role created by Robin Hawdon) Lord Dowdy -- ??? (role created by Michael Trubshawe) Mrs. Wisby -- ??? (role created by Evelyn Moore) Vicar -- ??? (role created by Charles Lloyd Pack) St. Peter -- ??? (role created by Lockwood West) Sister Phoebe -- ??? (role created by Betty Cooper) Special Effects: ??? Music: George Fenton Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Bedazzled (1999) more data @ IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Bionic Man

Studio: ??? Producer: ???, Lionel E. Siegel , Kenneth Johnson Director: ??? Based On: 1960's TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man", which aired on ABC, 18 Jan 1974-6 Mar 1978, which was in turn based on the novel "Cyborg" by aerospace wizard Martin Caidin, whose novel "Marooned" became the film which inspired the actual US-USSR Apollo-Soyuz mission, the first time the Americans and Russians cooperated in manned spaceflight before today's Shuttle/Mir peacemaking. Writer: Josh Whedon ("Alien Resurrection") Story: Critically injured test-pilot is rebuilt into a cyborg, who is the ultimate government agent/superhero. Starring: Colonel Steve Austin -- ??? (role created by Lee Majors) Oscar Goldman -- ??? (role created by Richard Anderson) Dr. Rudy Wells -- ??? (role created by Alan Oppenheimer 1974-75 and Martin E. Brooks 1975-78) Barney Miller -- ??? (role created by Monte Markham) ??? -- ??? Rumor: retitle as "The Six BILLION Dollar Man" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

James Bond #19

Story: More adventures with Secret Agent 007 Studio: MGM-UA presents a Danjaq Productions/Eon production Based on: the immortal creation of Ian Fleming's novels, James Bond, 007 Screenplay: Neal Purvis [1991 "Let Him Have It"], Robert Wade [1991 "Let Him Have It", and author of the 1964 novel under pseudonym Wade Miller] Producers: Barbara Broccoli [1997 "Tomorrow Never Dies", 1995 "Goldeneye"] Michael G. Wilson [1997 "Tomorrow Never Dies", 1995 "Goldeneye", 1989 "License to Kill", 1985 "A View to a Kill", and executive producer on 1981 "For Your Eyes Only" and 1979 "Moonraker"] Director: ??? Starring: James Bond -- Pierce Brosnan [1997 "Tomorrow Never Dies", Harry Dalton in 1997 Dante's Peak, Donald Kessler in 1996 "Mars Attacks!", 1995 "Goldeneye", Stuart Dunmeyer in 1993 "Mrs. Doubtfire", Dr. Lawrence Angelo in 1992 "The Lawnmower Man", Phileas Fogg in 1989 TV miniseries "Around the World in 80 Days", and title role in 1982 TV "Remington Steele", voice of 1998 "The Quest for Camelot"] ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Music: David Arnold Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? more Bond 19 data on IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Bride of Chucky

Story: ??? Studio: ??? Based on: the endless series of stupid "Chucky" movies Screenplay: ??? Producers: David Kirschner, Laura Moskowitz Director: Ronnie Yu Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Bride of Chucky (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Colony 12

Story: Deadly problems on a space colony far from Earth Studio: Ohana Films Based on: Screenplay: Mark Hockley, John P. Mesa Producer: Tina Mesa [Visual Effects production manager on 1997 "DNA", Visual Effects Producer on 1996 "Maximum Surge", 1995 "Cutthroat Island", 1995 "The Deolitionist", 1995 "Galaxis"] Director: John P. Mesa [Visual Effects Supervisor or Co-supervisor on: 1998 "Talos the Mummy", 1998 "Very Bad Things", 1997 TV "Team Knight Rider", 1997 "Quicksilver Highway", 1997 "DNA", 1996 "Robinson Crusoe", 1995 "Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh", 1995 TV "Land's End", 2nd Unit DP on 1995 "The Darkening", and many credits as visual effects cameraman] Executive Producers: Ulrich P. Bruckner, John P. Mesa, William Mesa Starring: ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: in Pre-production as of 1 March 1998 Opening: ??? Colony 12 (1999) more data @ IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: African-American lady physicist accidently creates a wormhole into a super-rapidly evolving universe, through particle accelerator experiment at Brookhaven, which appears like a shimmering basketball, and emits energy beams that kill one scientist. She steals it, and heads for her office at the University of California at Irvine, while being chased by government agents and more sinister figures. Studio: Blue Tulip Productions (Jan de Bont) for 20th Century Fox Based on: 1998 novel by Gregory Benford Screenplay: Jan de Bont, Robert E. Collins Producers: Jan de Bont [Producer of 1999 "Zero Hour", 1997 "Speed 2"], Michael Peyser [Executive Producer of 1996 "Matilda", 1986 "F/X", 1985 "Desperately Seeking Susan"; Producer of 1995 "Hackers"; Associate Producer of 1985 "The Purple Rose of Cairo", 1983 "Zelig", and 1982 "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy"] Director: Jan de Bont [Director of 1997 "Speed 2", 1996 "Twister", 1994 "Speed"] [Cinematographer on: 1992 "Lethal Weapon 3", 1992 "Basic Instinct", 1990 "Flatliner", 1990 "The Hunt for Red October", 1988 "Die Hard", 1986 "Clan of the Cave Bear", 1983 "Cujo" Starring: ??? -- Angela Bassett ??? -- Dustin Hoffman ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Cosm (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Duke Nukem: The Movie

Story: ??? Studio: Threshhold Entertainment [1997 Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation, 3D Realms. GT Interactive Based on: Video Game "Duke Nukem" and its novelizations by Dafydd ab Hugh and others Screenplay: ??? Producers: Lawrence Kasanoff [1998 "Beowulf", 1997 Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation", 1995 "Mortal Kombat" (also the screenwriter); Executive Producer of 1995 "Strange Days", 1995 TV series "Mortal Kombat", 1994 "True Lies", 1994 "A Gnome Named Gnorm", 1991 "Ghoulies 3", 1990 "Blue Steel", 1990 "Class of 1990", 1989 "Dream a Little Dream", 1989 "Far From Home", 1988 "The Conjurer", 1987 "Blood Diner"] Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Threshhold Entertainment's Digital Research Lab Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: Summer 1999 Duke Nukem: The Movie (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Ender's Game

Studio: Chartoff Productions presents a Fresco Pictures production Producer: Robert Chartoff Director: ??? Based On: award-winning science fiction trilogy by Orson Scott Card Writers: Orson Scott Card, ??? Story: Precocious boy excels in military school, trained to fight the interstellar "buggers." Hints of incest with his sister. Starring: Ender (6 years old) -- ??? Ender (12 years old) -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Web Site: Ender's Game official Rumor: Orson Scott Card delivered his completed screenplay, but it's being rewritten to avoid comparisons with Starship Troopers Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Fantasia 2000

Story: Adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" Studio: Walt Disney Productions Based on: 1940 masterpiece by Walt Disney (which, by the way, he pronounced Fant-a-see-a") Screenplay: ??? Producer: Donald W. Ernst [Executive Producer of 1993 "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"] [Editor of: 1989 "Tummy Trouble", 1985 "Starchaser: The Legend of Orin", 1978 "The Lord of the Rings"] Directors: Gaetan Brizzi [1985 "Asterix et la surprise de Cesar"], Paul Brizzi [1985 "Asterix et la surprise de Cesar"], Hendel Butoy [1990 "The Rescuers Down Under"], Francis Glebas, Eric Goldberg [supervising animator of 1997 Hercules, assistant animator on 1977 "Raggedy Ann and Andy"] Editor: Lois Freeman-Fox [1993 TV "And the Band Played On", 1992 TV "Majority Rule", 1992 "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot", 1990 "Air America", 1989 "Turner & Hooch", 1989 "K-9", 1987 "Like Father, Like Son", 1985 "Teen Wolf"] Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Visual Effects Supervisor: Dave Bossert Art Directors: Dan Cooper, Dean Gordon, Michael Humphries, Carl Jones, Keith Lesser, James Levine Music: Bruce Broughton -- (transitions) Paul Dukas -- "L'apprenti sorcier") Edward Elgar -- "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1" Modest Mussorgsky -- "A Night on Bald Mountain" Amilcare Ponchielli -- "La Gioconda" Dmitri Shostakovich -- ??? Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky -- "Nutcracker Suite Op. 71a" Ludwig Van Beethoven -- "5th symphony in C minor, Opus 67" Budget: ??? Rumors: Originally titled Fantasia 1999, but schedule slipped. I was very impressed by the stills and design sketches I saw at the 1998 World Animation Celebration in Pasadena Opening: ??? Fantasia 2000 (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Farenheit 451

Producer/Director: Mel Gibson Based On: the novel by Ray Bradbury rather than a remake of the Francois Truffaut movie Story: Near-future world of "firemen" who burn books, where people are lulled into total-immersion entertainments of interactive soap operas and real-time manhunts of "Enemies of the State", and one fireman is seduced into the forbidden pleasures of reading Studio: Icon Entertainment International Screenplay: Terry Hayes (1999 Planet of the Apes, 1998 From Hell, 1996 Mr.Reliable, 1989 Dead Calm, 1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) Shooting: ??? Starring: ??? -- Mel Gibson or Tom Cruise ??? -- Sean Connery ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Sequels: ??? Release: Fall 1999 Rumors: Still in pre-production, and dissent in rewrite about portrayal of Cyberspace Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Forbidden Planet

Studio: ??? Producer: ??? Director: ??? Based On: remake of original film, rather than a sequel as originally planned, supposedly according to Harlan Ellison. The original film, it is widely known, was a sci-fi remake of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Writers: ??? Story: Explorers on alien planet encounter mad scientist, lovely daughter, and alien technology that unleashes "mosnters of the id" Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Freddy vs. Jason

Story: Yet more Freddy Krueger combined with yet more Nightmare On Elm Street as the two successful slasher series are mated, hoping that they breed true at the box office Studio: New Line Cinema Based on: The following earlier films in both series -- Friday the 13th (1980) Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) Nightmare on Elm Street, A (1984) Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge, A (1985) Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985) Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, A (1987) Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, A (1988) Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, A (1989) Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) Screenplay: David J. Schow [1994 "The Crow", 1991 "Critters 4", 1991 "Critters 3", 1990 "Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III"] Producer: Sean S. Cunningham [Producer of: 1993 "Jason Goes to Hell", 1993 "My Boyfriend's Back", 1989 "Deep Star Six", 1989 "The Horror Show", 1987 "House II: The Second Story", 1986 "House", 1985 "The New Kids", 1983 "Spring Break", 1974 "Case of the Full Moon Murderers", 1972 "Last House on the Left"; Director of: 1989 "Deep Star Six", 1985 "The New Kids", 1983 "Spring Break", 1982 "A Stranger is Watching", 1980 "Friday the 13th", 1978 "Here Come the Tigers", 1978 "Manny's Orphans", 1974 "Case of the Full Moon Murderers", 1971 "Together] Director: Rob Bottin [Creature Designer on: 1998 Deep Rising, 1997 "Mimic"; special make-up effects on: 1996 "Mission Impossible", 1995 "Se7en", 1987 "The Witches of Eastwick", 1985 "Explorers", 1985 "Legend", 1982 "The Thing", 1981 "The Howling", 1980 "The Fog", 1980 "Maniac", 1978 "Piranha", 1977 "The Incredible Melting Man", 1976 "King Kong"; Special Effects on: 1993 "Robocop 3", 1992 "Basic Instinct", 1991 "Bugsy", 1990 "Total Recall", 1987 "Innerspace", 1987 "Robocop", 1981 "Tanya's Island"; plus various actor and creature designer credits] Starring: Freddy Krueger -- Robert Englund Jason Voorhees -- Kane Hodder ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Freddy vs. Jason (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: Warner Bros. Producer: ??? Director: Troy Miller Based On: Original working title was "Frosty the Snowman" but that had legal problems Writers: ??? Story: Comedy/Drama about a boy whose deceased musician father (who neglected his son, and died on Christmas Eve) returns to life as a snowman Starring: ??? -- Michael Keaton ??? -- Kelly Preston ??? -- Mark Addy Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: ??? Studio: ??? Based on: the 1994 Saturday Morning animation TV series about kindly angst-ridden Gargoyles and theor troubled relationship with human beings and other hostile powers Screenplay: ??? Producers: Michael Reaves [Co-Producer of 1994 TV series "Gargoyles"] [Writer of 1994 "Gargoyles: The Heroes Awaken", 1993 animated "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm", 1993 TV "Full Eclipse"], Greg Weisman [Co-Producer of 1994 TV series "Gargoyles"] Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Gargoyles (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Gelfin

Studio: Universal Pictures presents an Imagine Entertainment production Producer: ??? Director: Brian Grazer and Stephen Surjik [1997 TV "Weapons of Mass Distraction", 1995 "Little Criminals", 1993 "Wayne's World 2", the 1993 "Excelsius Dei" episode of "The X-Files", 1990 TV series "Avonlea"] Based On: Writers: Story: Comedy version of the Genie in a Bottle legend Starring: Genie -- Cuba Gooding Jr. (replacing Chris Farley, originally cast) [1998 "Instinct" a.k.a. "Ishmael", Otis Redding in 1998 "Blaze of Glory", Frank Sachs in 1997 "As Good As It Gets", Rod Tidwell in 1996 "Jerry Maguire", Major Salt in 1995 "Outbreak", Corporal Carl Hammaker in 1992 "A Few Good Men", Tres Styles in 1991 "Boyz N the Hood"] ??? -- Vince Vaughn [Nick Van Owen in 1997 The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Clay Hewitt in 1997 "The Locusts", Trent in 1996 "Swingers", Max in 1994 "At Risk", Jamie in 1993 "Rudy"] ??? -- ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Ghost

Studio: Columbia Pictures Producer: ??? Director: ??? Based On: novel by bestselling romance author Danielle Steele, in her first major motion picture deal (22 of her 69 novels have become TV miniseries, which for some reason kept Hollywood away from her door) Writers: Danielle Steele and ??? Story: Architect is abandoned by his cheating wife, moves to a mansion in Vermont, mansion is haunted by lady ghost, architect eventually finds and reads the diary she wrote when alive, which somehow heals his emotional wounds, and he is free to fall in love again Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Ghostbusters III

Story: When supernatural events pour through into our mundane world, who ya gonna call? The literary subgenre being spoofed is: UNICORNS IN THE GARDEN: magic events within our mundane world Studio: Columbia Pictures Corporation Based on: sequel to the first two films in the franchise: Ghostbusters (1984) Ghostbusters II (1989) Screenplay: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis Executive Producer: Trevor Albert [1996 "Multiplicity", 1993 "Groundhog Day"] Producers: Dan Aykroyd, Ivan Reitman [Producer on: 1998 "6 Days, 7 Nights", 1997 "Fathers' Day", 1997 "Howard Stern's Private Parts", 1996 "Space Jam", 1994 "Junior", 1993 "Dave", 1992 "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot", 1990 "Kindergarten Cop", 1989 "Ghostbusters II", 1988 "Twins", 1986 "Legal Eagles", 1984 "Ghostbusters", 1981 "Stripes", 1981 "Heavy Metal", 1978 "Animal House", 1977 "Death Weekend", 1975 "Shivers"; Executive Producer on: 1997 "Commandments", 1996 TV "The Late Shift", 1993 "Beethoven's 2nd", 1988 "Casual Sex?", 1988 "Feds", 1983 "Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone", 1978 "Blackout", 1977 "Rabid"; Director credits, many, starting with 1973 "Cannibal Girls" and 1979 "Meatballs"] Director: Harold Ramis Starring: Dr. Raymond Stantz -- Dan Aykroyd Dr. Egon Spengler -- Harold Ramis ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) Budget: ??? Sound: Dolby Music: George Fenton Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Ghostbusters III (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Green Mile

Story: ??? Studio: Warner Bros. presents a Castle Rock Entertainment production Based on: novel of the same name by Stephen King Screenplay: Frank Darabont [writer of: 1998 "Saving Private Ryan", uncredited 1996 "The Fan", uncredited "Eraser", 1994 "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein", 1994 "The Shawshank Redemption", 1989 "The Fly", 1988 "The Blob", 1987 "Nightmare on Elm Street 3"] Producers: ??? Director: Frank Darabont [Directed: 1998 TV "From the Earth to the Moon" (2nd segment), 1994 "The Shawshank Redemption", 1990 TV "Buried Alive", 1990 TV "Till Death Do Us Part", 1983 "The Woman in the Room"; started as a set dresser on 1984 "China Blue" and transportation captain on 1982 "The Seduction"] Starring: Paul Edgecombe -- Tom Hanks Janice Edgecombe -- Bonnie Hunt ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? The Green Mile (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Highlander 4: Search for Connoa

Studio: ??? Producer: ??? Director: ??? Director of Photography: ??? Based On: the previous 3 films in the franchise, but closer to the TV series Writer: ??? Story: Starring: Highlander Duncan MacLeod -- Adrian Paul ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Hulk

Studio: MCA-Universal Pictures Producer: Gale Ann Hurd [Produced: 1998 "Armageddon", 1998 "Virus", 1998 "Snake Eyes", 1997 "Switchback", 1997 "Dante's Peak", 1997 "The Relic", 1996 "The Ghost and the Darkness", 1994 TV "Witch Hunt", 1994 "No Escape", 1994 "Safe Passage", 1992 "Raising Cain", 1992 "The Waterdance", 1989 "The Abyss", 1988 "Alien Nation", 1988 "Bad Dreams", 1986 "Aliens", 1984 "The Terminator", 1981 "Smokey Bites the Dust"; Executive Producer of: 1990 "Tremors", 1990 "Downtown"; writer of 1984 "The Terminator"] Director: Jonathan Hensleigh (writer on "Die Hard: With a Vengeance", "Jumanji", 1996 "The Rock", "The Saint", "Virus") Director of Photography: Oliver Wood Based On: comic book "The Incredible Hulk" Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh Story: Starring: Novak -- Gregory Sporleder [1998 "Clay Pigeons", 1998 "I Woke Up Early the Day I Died", 1997 "Men With Guns", Willie in "Twister", 1996 "Andersonville", Captain Frye in 1996 "The Rock", 1996 "Skin and Bone", Rob in 1995 "The Outpost", 1994 "Renaissance Man", 1994 TV "State of Emergency", 1993 "True Romance", 1993 "Fatal Instinct", 1992 "A League of Their Own", 1992 "Trouble Bound", 1990 "The Grifters", 1990 TV "The Kid Who Loved Christmas", 1989 "Say Anything", 1989 "Cold Justice", "Tadeus" in 1988TV "Murphy Brown"] ??? -- Lynn "Red" Williams [Jax in 1997 "Mortal Kombat II: Annihilation", Sabre in 1989 TV "American Gladiators"] ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) Hulk (1999) more data @IMDB Rumors: either canceled or on hiatus after $25,000,000 has been spent in development hell, with orders from MCA-Universal Pictures to shrink the projected budget to comfortable under where it had drifted: $100,000,000 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

I Married a Witch

Story: ??? Studio: ??? presents a Cruise-Wagner Productions production Based on: remake of the 1942 black & white United Artists comedy produced and directed by René Clair, and written by Marc Connelly and Robert Pirosh, based on the novel "The Passionate Witch" by Thorne Smith and Norman Matson, which in turn became the TV series "Bewitched" Screenplay: ??? Producers: Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner Director: ??? Starring: Wallace Wooley -- ??? (role created by Fredric March) Jennifer -- ??? (role created by Veronica Lake) Dr. Dudley White -- ??? (role created by Robert Benchley) Estelle Masterson -- ??? (role created by Susan Hayward) Daniel -- ??? (role created by Cecil Kellaway) Margaret -- ??? (role created by Elizabeth Patterson) J. B. Masterson -- ??? (role created by Robert Warwick) Tabitha -- ??? (role created by Eily Malyon) Town Crier -- ??? (role created by Robert Greig) Vocalist -- ??? (role created by Helen St. Rayner) Justice of the Peace -- ??? (role created by Aldrich Bowker) Justice's wife -- ??? (role created by Emma Dunn) ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: Based more on Thorne Smith's original novel than on the TV "Bewitched", but with cameos from the TV series, and costumes similar to the Edith Head ones from the 1942 film Opening: ??? I Married a Witch (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Idle Hands

Studio: TriStar / Columbia / Team Todd Producers: Andrew Licht, Jeffrey A. Mueller, Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd Director: Rodman Flender (Leprechaun 2) -- a protege of Roger Corman Director of Photography: xxx Based On: xxx Writer: Terri Hughes, Ron Milbauer Story: High school girl's hands are possessed by the devil, in this "slacker slasher" film Starring: Anton -- Devon Sawa Mick -- Seth Green Debi -- Vivica A. Fox Randy -- Jack Noseworthy ??? -- Eldon Henson ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Location: partly shot in Altadena/Pasadena (but I was too busy to visit the set, darn it) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Independence Day 2

Studio: Columbia/TriStar/Centroplis Screenplay: Dean Devlin & Roland Emmerich Executive Producers: Roland Emmerich, Ute Emmerich, William Fay (?) Co-Executive Producers: Robert N. Fried (?), Cary Wood (?) Producer: Dean Devlin ("Independence Day"; writer of "Stargate" and "Universal Soldier") Director: Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") Editor: David Siegel ("Godzilla") Director of Photography: xxx Based On: Independence Day Story: Not all the aliens on Earth have been killed, and the remaining battle-hardened monsters will not fall for the same tricks. The aliens have been continuing their technological development and have a new type of super-weapon, plus good anti-virus software. Earth's multinational coalition begins to break apart (the way George Bush's Desert Storm coalition did), and politics weakens humanity -- while the Mother Ship reinforcements approach the Solar System. Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Rumors: an expensively-promoted novelization series will hype the franchise, along with other spin-offs and merchandising, and increase profits to a goal of over $100,000,000; there seem to be some snags in the negotiations between Sony and Fox similar to that between Paramount and Fox for "Titanic", but Devlin & Emmerich are said to hold a grudge towards their previous studio... Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Inspector Gadget

Story: The title role is a bumbling spy, sort of a James Bond meets Inspector Clouseau, who has amazing cartoonish gadgets that pop out of his shoes or hat, and is helped by his dog "Brain." Studio: Walt Disney Pictures presents a Caravan Pictures/DiC Entertainment production Based on: animated TV series "Inspector Gadget" (1983) Screenplay: Jeff Berry, Kerry Ehrin [1996 "Mr. Wrong"], Dana Olsen [credited with the Story of 1997 "George of the Jungle"; writer of 1992 "Memoirs of an Invisible Man", 1989 "The 'burbs", 1983 "Going Berserk, 1982 "It Came from Hollywood", 1981 "Wacko"] Producers: Roger Birnbaum [1998 "6 Days, 7 Nights", 1998 "Holy Man", 1998 "A Small Miracle", 1997 "Rocket Man", 1997 "G.I. Jane", 1997 "Gone Fishin'", 1997 "Grosse Pointe Blank", 1997 "Metro", 1996 "The Rich Man's Wife", 1996 "First Kid", 1996 "Celtic Pride", 1995 "Powder", 1995 "The Big Green", 1995 "While You Were Sleeping", 1994 "Angels in the Outfield", 1994 "Heavyweights", 1994 "Houseguest", 1994 "The Jerky Boys", 1994 "A Low Down Shame", 1994 "Tall Tale", 1993 "The Three Musketeers", 1985 TV "Scandal Sheet", 1985 "Sure Thing"; and Executive Producer of: 1998 "Flash", 1997 TV "Angels in the Endzone", 1997 "The Beautician and the Beast", 1996 "Maximum Risk", 1996 "Before and After", 1994 "Angie", 1987 TV "Bay Coven", 1987 "Who's That Girl?"], Andy Heyward [Executive Producer of: 1998 "Meet the Deedles", 1995 TV "Sailor Moon", 1990 TV "The Wizard of Oz", 1989 TV "The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!", 1987 TV "The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin", 1985 "MASK", 1985 "Here Come the Littles"; Supervising Producer of 1986 TV "The Real Ghostbusters"], Gregg Hoffman [co-producer/music supervisor 1992 "Only You"], Jordan Kerner [1999 "30 Wishes", 1997 "Red Corner", 1997 "George of the Jungle", 1996 "D3: The Mighty Ducks", 1996 "Up Close and Personal", 1992 "D2: The Mighty Ducks", 1994 "The War", 1993 TV "The Switch", 1992 "The Mighty Ducks", 1991 "Fried Green Tomatoes", 1990 "Funny About Love", 1990 TV "Heat Wave", 1989 TV "Breaking Point", 1987 "Less Than Zero"; Executive Producer of: 1995 "Miami Rhapsody", 1995 TV "Naomi & Wynonna", 1993 "The Three Musketeers", 1993 TV "For Their Own Good", 1992 TV "The Nightman", 1991 TV "Backfield in Motion", 1989 TV "Do You Know the Muffin Man"] Director: David Kellogg [1991 "Cool as Ice"] Starring: Inspector Gadget (voice) -- Don Adams [Agent 86 Maxwell Smart in 1965 TV "Get Smart!"] Brain/Dr.Claw (voice) -- Frank Welker [most recently the voice of Malebolgia in 1997 "Spawn"] Penny (voice) -- Holly Berger or Cree Summer Chief Quimbly (voice) -- Maurice LaMarche Capeman (voice) -- Townsend Coleman ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Inspector Gadget (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Nutty Professor 2

Studio: Disney Executive Producers: James D. Brubaker, Tom Shadyac Producers: Brian Grazer Director: F. Gary Gray [1998 "The Negotiator", 1996 "Set It Off", 1995 "Friday"] Director of Photography: xxx Based On: The Nutty Professor (Eddie Murphy's remake) Writers: Barry W. Blaustein, Steve Oedekerk, David Sheffield Story: Nutty Professor's family visits the White House Starring: Sherman Klump/Buddy Love -- Eddie Murphy ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Iron Giant

Story: ??? Studio: Warner Bros. Animation Distributed by: Warner Bros. Based on: Novel of the same name by Ted Hughes, which he adapted into a play Screenplay: Andy Brent Forrester [1998 "Dancer, Texas Pop. 81", 1998 "Dennis the Menace 2", 1987 "North Shore"], Tim McCanlies [Writer/Director of 1998 "Dancer, Texas Pop. 81"] Producers: Allison Abbate [Executive Producer of 1995 "Runaway Brain"], Des McAnuff [Director of 1998 "Cousin Bette", 1998 "Monterey Pop"] Director: Brad Bird [Director of "Family Dog" episode of 1985 TV "Amazing Stories"; Executive Consultant of 1997 TV "King of the Hill", 1994 TV "The Critic", 1989 TV "The Simpsons", who started as an animator for 1982 "The Plague Dogs" and writer of 1987 "*batteries not included"] Starring: The Iron Man -- Ted Hughes (One of England's leading poets, best known in the US as the husband of the tragic poet Sylvia Plath) Annie Hughes (voice) -- Jennifer Aniston (Office Space, 1998: The Object of My Affections, 1997: 'Til There Was You, 1997: Picture Perfect, 1996: She's The One; TV: Friends) Dean McCoppen (voice) -- Harry Connick Jr. Kent Mansley (voice) -- Christopher McDonald Earl (voice) -- M. Emmet Walsh ??? (voice) -- James Gammon ??? (voice) -- Chloris Leachman ??? (voice) -- John Mahoney ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Music: Pete Townshend (of "The Who", with many film credits: Pete Townshend data @IMDB) Technical Director: Andy King Story Artist: Piet Kroon (Quest for Camelot, An American Tail: Fieval Goes West) Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Iron Giant, The (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Jumanji 2

Story: ??? Studio: Columbia Pictures/TriStar Pictures presents a Teitler Film/Interscope Communications production Based on: Sequel to 1995 "Jumanji" (data @IMDB) which was from a Jonathan Hensleigh/Greg Taylor/Jim Strain screenplay and story of the book by Chris Van Allsburg Screenplay: Adam Rifkin (a.k.a. Rif Coogan) [Directed: 1998 "Denial", 1994 "The Chase", 1993 "Psycho Cop 2", 1992 "The Nutt House", 1991 "The Dark Backward", 1990 "The Invisible Maniac", 1989 "Tale of Two Sisters", 1988 "Never on Tuesday"; wrote screenplays for: 1998 "Small Soldiers", 1998 "Denial", 1997 "Mouse Hunt", 1994 "The Chase", 1991 "The Dark Backward", 1990 "The Invisible Maniac"] Executive Producer: Robert W. Cort?, Ted Field?, Larry J. Franco? Producers: Scott Kroopf?, William Teitler? Director: Joe Johnston ? ["1995 "Jumanji"] Cinematography: Thomas E. Ackerman ? Editor: Robert Dalva?, Randy Thom? Starring: Alan Parrish -- Robin Williams Van Pelt/Sam Parrish -- Jonathan Hyde Judy Shepard -- Kirsten Dunst Peter Shepard -- Bradley Pierce Sarah Whittle -- Bonnie Hunt Aunt Nora -- Bebe Neuwirth Carl Bently -- David Alan Grier Carol Parrish -- Patricia Clarkson Young Alan -- Adam Hann-Byrd Young Sarah -- Laura Bundy Exterminator -- James Handy ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Amalgamated Dynamics. ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) Production Design: James D. Bissell Costume Design: Martha Wynne Snetsinger? Music: James Horner? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Jumanji 2 (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Lamia

Story: Supernatural women tangle the lives and loves of mortals Studio: ??? Based on: ??? Screenplay: ??? Producers: ??? Director: Sam Raimi [Executive Producer of: 1997 TV "Spy Game", 1996 "Darkman 3", 1995 TV "American Gothic", 1995 TV "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys", 1995 TV "Xena: Warrior Princess", 1994 TV "M.A.N.T.I.S.", 1994 "Darkman 2", 1991 "Lunatics: A Love Story", 1989 "Easy Wheels", 1988 uncredited "The Dead Next Door", 1982 "The Evil Dead"; Producer of: 1994 "Timecop", 1993 "Hard Target; Director of: 1998 "A Simple Plan", 1995 "The Quick and the Dead", 1993 "Army of Darkness", 1990 "Darkman", 1987 "Evil Dead 2", 1985 "Crimewave", 1982 "The Evil Dead", 1978 "Clockwork", 1978 "Within the Woods", 1977 "It's Murder!"; Writer of: 1994 "The Hudsucker Proxy", 1994 TV "M.A.N.T.I.S.", 1993 "Army of Darkness", 1992 (as Alan Smithee, Jr.) "The Nutt House", 1990 "Darkman", 1987 "Evil Dead 2", 1985 "Crimewave", 1982 "The Evil Dead", 1978 "Within the Woods"] Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: ??? Budget: ??? Rumors: ??? Opening: ??? Lamia, The (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians

Studio: Universal Pictures Producer: David Zucker (1998: BASEketball, 1996: High School High, 1995: A Walk in the Clouds, 1994: Naked Gun 33 1/3, 1988: Naked Gun) Director: Ben Edlund (TV animation The Tick) Based On: remake of 1964 Jalor Productions/Aco Embassy Pictures film, also known as "Santa Claus Defeats the Aliens" (directed by Nicholas Webster, starring John Call, screenplay by Glenville Mareth from a story by Paul L. Jacobson) with new comic twists Writers: ??? Story: flying saucers versus reindeer and sleigh... Plot starts with TV show kidnapping some Martian children, whose parents decide to retaliate by capturing Santa Claus Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Opens: 1 January 1999? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Men in Black 2

Story: Pair of hip detectives, "J" and Dr. Laurel Weaver, work for a mysterious organization "Men in Black" who clean up the evidence at alien landing sites to cover up for the government. Earth is a voluntary "safe zone" for galactic political refugees "kind of like Casablanca without Nazis", but this has all been concealed from the public. The "Men in Black" ultrasecret agency keeps the more dangerous aliens in line. This sequel includes X-Files spoofs and Independence Day spoofs, plus a cameo by Sean Connery as a representative of a rival government agency. Studio: Amblin Entertainment in association with MacDonald/Parkes Productions, released by Columbia Based on: Sequel to Men In Black, which in turn is based on the Comic Books "Men in Black" meet "Coneheads" and "The Fugitive" actually, based on a novel which was based on the Lowell Cunningham/Marvel/Malibu comic book series Screenplay: Ed Solomon? Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg Producers: Walter F. Parkes? and Laurie MacDonald? Associate Producer: Steven R. Molen? Co-Producer: Graham Place? Producer: Walter Parkes? ("Twister") Director: Barry Sonnenfeld ["MIB", "The Addams Family", "Get Shorty"] Cinematography: Don Peterman, A.S.C. ? Editor: Jim Miller ? Starring: Agent J -- Will Smith ["MIB", "Independence Day", TV "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"] K -- Tommie Lee Jones ("The Fugitive") in cameo and flashback only? Dr. Laurel Weaver (New York's Deputy medical examiner) -- Linda Fiorentino Zed (MiB boss) -- Rip Torn Jeebs -- Tony Shalhoub Agent 007 -- Sean Connery (cameo) ??? -- ??? Special Effects: Alien make-up effect by Rick Baker (Oscar-winner) and special/digital effects by ILM (Industrial Light & Magic). Production Design: Bo Welch ? Art Director: Thomas Duffield ? Set Decorator: Cheryl Carasik ? Music: Danny Elfman ? Soundtrack: Columbia Records Costume Design: Mary E. Vogt ? Budget: ??? Rumors: Planning and budget for this began in earnest within one week of the powerhouse debut of "Men in Black"; David Duchovny will join the cast; Will Smith, Tommie Lee Jones, and Barry Sonnenfeld are each demanding a minimum paycheck of $20,000,000 -- and Sony might just pay (hoping to make another half-billion dollars as they did with the first film of the franchise) Opening: ??? Men in Black 2 (1999) more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Mephisto in Onyx

Studio: ??? Producer: Samuel L. Jackson Director: Based On: novella by Harlan Ellison Writers: Harlan Ellison, Greg Widen Story: Serial killer swaps minds with a psychiatrist "mind jumper" in unique racially-charged story of great power and emotional depth Starring: ??? -- Samuel L. Jackson ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Secret of Nimh II

Studio: MGM Executive Producers: Rich Irvine, James L. Stewart Producer: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy Director: Don Bluth Based On: animated feature, sequel to The Secret of Nimh, in turn based on children's book "Mrs.Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien (winner of the Neberry Medal) and sequels by Jane Leslie Conly Writers: Don Bluth, Will Finn, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy Story: Smart rats Starring: Jeremy (voice) -- Dom DeLuise Mrs. Frisby -- Elizabeth Hartman ??? -- ??? Music: Jerry Goldsmith Release: direct to video Christmas 1998 or January 1999 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Rendezvous with Rama

Studio: PolyGram / Propaganda Films Producer: ??? Director: David Fincher Based On: 1973 novel by Arthur C. Clarke ("2001") and its sequels Screenplay: Andrew Kevin Walker ("Se7en") Story: Padua, Verona, and Venice wiped out by meteors in 2077, so Project Spaceguard started to find anything heading towards Earth. In 2130, Humongous 50-mile long alien spacecraft "Rama" cruises into Solar System, and is explored by team of astronauts on the spaceship "Endeavor", who can't seem to find anyone aboard to be steering Rama... The builders of "Rama" seem to do everything in threes... Are there creatures, robots, or intelligent aliens on Rama? Will hotheaded politicians seek to nuke Rama? Starring: Endeavor Crew Commander William Tsien Norton -- Morgan Freeman Lt. Commander Karl Mercer -- ??? Executive Officer Lt. Commander Kirchoff -- ??? Surgeon Commander Laura Ernst -- ??? Lt. Joe Calvert -- ??? Dr. Carlisle Perera -- ??? Ravi McAndrews -- ??? Willard Myron -- ??? Lt. James "Jimmy" Pak -- ??? Lt. Boris Rodrigo -- ??? Sgt. Pieter Rousseau -- ??? Sgt. Ruby Barnes -- ??? Blackie, Blondie, Goldie, Brownie -- various chimps Rama Committee Back on Earth and Moon: Dr. William Stenton -- ??? Professor Emeritus Olaf Davidson -- ??? Ambassador Dr. Bose -- ??? Dennis Solomons -- ??? Sir Lewis Sands -- ??? Sir Robert Mackay -- ??? Dr. Thelma Price -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Set Designer: ??? Opening: 31 December 1999? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Story: ??? Studio: Dreamworks SKG / Red Feather Photoplays Based on: comic book series of same name Screenplay: ??? Producers: John H. Williams [1997 "Seven Years in Tibet", 1986 TV "The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket", 1986 TV "Rocket to the Moon", 1983 "True West"] Director: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Special Effects: part live-action, part computer animation Budget: ??? Rumors: filming as of 5 January 1998 Opening: ??? Shrek more data @IMDB Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists

Studio: ??? Producer: Sriram Rajan Director: Gordon Hunt [directed "1997 TV "Fired Up", 1995 TV "Caroline in the City", 1992 TV "Mad About You"; writer/producer of 1984 "Starring... the Actors"], Alan Jacobs [Producer of 1997 TV: A Call to Remember, 1995 TV: Past the Bleachers, 1994: Nina Takes a Lover (Writer-Director-Producer), 1993 TV: Call of the Wild, 1992 TV: An American Story], Evan Ricks Based On: Animated film based on the anonymous fables 1,001 Arabian Nights Story: Writer: Jeff Wolverton (CGI Technical Director of 1997 Hercules) Shooting: ??? Sequels: ??? Starring: Akron the Wizard (voice) -- Leonard Nimoy King Chandra (voice) -- John Rhys Davies King's Guard (voice) -- Mark Hamill Sinbad (voice) -- Brendan Fraser (George of the Jungle) ??? -- Jennifer Hale Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: Phoenix In 1990 Rucker sold the novel's movie rights to New Line, but Phoenix bought those rights in Fall 1997 Producer: Edward R. Pressman (The Island of Dr. Moreau) Director: Scott Billups Writer: Larry Wilson (Beetlejuice) [several early scripts exist, one with rewrite by John Shirley, but Larry Wilson has supposedly begun from the novel instead] Based On: Cyberpunk novel of same name by Rudy Rucker Story: Intelligent robots on the moon, called "boppers", run amok and come to Earth to steal human brains, freeze them, slice them, and download their memories and consciousness into more robots. The boppers can't understand why earthlings don't appreciate this service... Shooting: ??? Sequels: "Wetware" and "Firmware" also optioned Special Effects: may involve Rudy Rucker's Cellular Automata software Starring: ??? -- ??? bit part -- Rudy Rucker Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Star Wars Episode One

Producer/Director: George Lucas Studio: several are fighting over an estimated $1 Billion projected gross Based On: this will be the first film in the trilogy of fils which occur BEFORE the currently re-released Star Wars Trilogy. Story: the Clone Wars force the creation of the Jedi Knights, and young Darth Vader grows up. The Clone Wars end the old Republic and start the rise of the Empire. The Mandalorian Army fights gallantly. There's no Kevin Costner on a rather different Water World. The top 12 Jedi Knights provide a warped replay of King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot. Shooting: Leavesden Studios (outside of London) Sequels: the next films are tentatively set to be released in 2001 and 2003, with locations in Scotland and New Zealand Starring: ??? -- Pernilla August ??? -- Ahmed Best ??? -- Samuel L. Jackson ??? -- Jake Lloyd ??? -- Ewan McGregor ??? -- Liam Neeson ??? -- Natalie Portman Anakin (8 year old) -- ??? Queen Padme Naberrie Amidala Young Obi-Wan Kenobe -- ??? Young Darth Vader -- ??? Release -- May/June 1999 Sample fan website: Blue Harvest (Sweden) Blue Harvest "A Hitch Hiker's Guide to StarWars. Behind the scenes of StarWars galore." Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: United Artists Distributor: Imperial Entertainment Executive Producer: Ash R. Shah Producers: Daniel Chuba, Jamie Dixon Director: Walter Hill replaced Geoffrey Wright Based On: Rescue space-ship in deep space receives call of distress from a freighter which has sustained strange damage, and all hell breaks loose in the attempted rescue, in part because someone on board is homicidally deranged Screenplay: David C. Wilson [The Perfect Weapon (1991)] Story: Shooting: begins April 1998 Sequels: ??? Starring: ??? -- James Spader ??? -- Vincent D'Onofrio Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: ??? Producer: ??? Director: Peter Hewitt Based On: the British TV puppet series Thunderbirds, ATV (Great Britain), 1965, Perhaps the best of the puppet series created and produced by the Andersons. A future family performs rescue operations undersea, in the air, and in space, with really nifty keen vehicles. Creator/Producers -- Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson Special Effects Supervisor -- Derek Meddings Story: Shooting: ??? Sequels: ??? Starring: Lady Penelope --- Kristin Scott Thomas Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Total Recall 2

Studio: Miramax (purchased sequel rights from bankrupt Carolco for $3,000,000) Producer/Director: Jonathan Frakes Based On: the first Total Recall film, itself based on the Philip K. Dick story "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" Story: Some sort of alien action is going under the surface of Mars, and there's a conspiracy trying to cover it up, while Ah-nold tries to kick the conspiracy's collective ass Shooting: Sequels: ??? Starring: ??? -- Arnold Schwarzenegger Rumors: Dimension Films paid $3,150,000 for sequel rights to Total Recall, but promise to keep within a $60,000,000 budget, which is proving difficult, as Arnold Schwarzenegger gets $20,000,000 to begin with. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Toy Story 2

Studio: Disney Animation and Pixar Studios Executive Producers: Steve Jobs, John Lasseter Producers: Ralph Guggenheim Director: Colin Brady, Ash Brannon Based On: the Disney 1995 computer-animated breakthrough hit Story: Andy goes to summer camp, leaving the toys on their own to save Woody from a toy collector who will stop at nothing Shooting: Originally slated to be a direct-to-video with an October 1998 release, it is now scheduled to be released to movie theatres in the Christmas 1999 season Sequels: ??? Starring: original cast, including Woody (voice) -- Tim Allen Buzz Lightyear (voice) -- Tom Hanks Mr.Potato Head (voice) -- Don Rickles Slinky Dog (voice) -- Jim Varney Rex (voice) -- Wallace Shawn Hamm (voice) -- John Ratzenberger Bo Peep (voice) -- Annie Potts Andy (voice) -- John Morris ??? (voice) -- Joan Cusack ??? (voice) -- Estelle Harris ??? (voice) -- Wayne Knight ??? (voice) David Ogden Stiers Release: 24 November 1999 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Twister 2

Studio: Disney Animation and Pixar Studios Producer/Director: Mel Gibson Based On: the 1996 tornado flick Story: there's a whole new kind of super-storm, and the government wants our hero and heroine to figure out how it works, and build a gadget to predict it or stop it -- but evil politicians want to turn the super-storms into super-weapons. One killer storm trashes a major city. Shooting: Originally slated to be a direct-to-video with an October 1998 release, it is now scheduled to be released to movie theatres in the Christmas 1999 season Sequels: ??? Starring: original cast, including ??? -- Helen Hunt Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

The Wild, Wild West

Studio: ??? Producer: Will Smith? (TV show was produced by 1st season Fred Freiberger all other seasons Michael Garrison) Director: Barry Sonnenfeld Based On: the 1960's TV show (CBS, 17 Sep 1965-7 Sep 1970) Story: James Bond meets Gunsmoke. James T. West (not to be confused with James T. Kirk) was a secret agent for President Ulysses S. Grant, in real life the military genius who boozed his way through the White House, surrounded by corrupt aides, went bankrupt, and wrote the best Presidential autobiography ever -- for the money. James T. West's focus was the alarming number of revolutionary, radical, criminal, and anarchist groups constantly plotting to take over America. Assisted by Secret Service Agent Artemus Gordon, master of disguise, they traveled by special railroad car equipped with the tools and materials needed to make a vast array of gadgets and gizmos. James T. West's nemesis was the brilliant but irrevocably evil Dr. Miguelito Loveless. Anachronistically daffy? Delightful? We'll see... The rumor now is that Dr. Arliss Loveless has created a huge robot called the Tarantula to assassinate President Grant. Shooting: Screenplay: in rewrite by Brent Maddock Sequels: ??? Starring: James T. West -- Robert Conrad reprises his TV role Artemus Gordon -- Kevin Kline replaced George Clooney Miguelito Loveless -- ??? ??? -- Will Smith ??? -- Kenneth Branaugh Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


Studio: 20th Century Fox Producer: ??? Director: ??? Writer: John Carlin (author of article "A Farewell to Arms") Based On: information warfare, cyberpunk, cold war thrillers, and maybe Your Humble Webmaster's May 1979 Omni Magazine article "Cybernetic War", and John Carlin's article "A Farewell to Arms" Story: Cyber-Terrorists try to bring a nation to its knees, but are stopped by cyber-soldier defense forces Shooting: ??? Sequels: ??? Starring: ??? -- ??? ??? -- ??? Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1999 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents


The Internet Movie Database: 1,000 science fiction films, with links, cast, plot summaries, etc. Essential, yet as sprawling as a city-sized amoeba Aliens: The Web Site info and music from all three (so far) Aliens films, from biology to bureaucracy. This site endorsed by Sigourney Weaver. David’s Home Page (Star Wars) Fiction Into Film started as a school project, grew into an alphabetical listing of several hundred science fiction/fantasy/horror films which were adapted (sometimes loosely) from stories, novels, plays, and other literary ur-texts. Cross-linked to The Internet Movie Database. Sometimes incomplete or erroneous, due to possible over-dependence on tips supplied by readers -- but who am I to talk? I also welcome e-mail from readers! Foiled inside look at a "no-budget scifi film" * "The Continuing Adventures of a No-Budget Film" * Brief Summary * Quotes from the Stars * Guest Book * Q&A * What's New * Foiled in Detail * Cast * Crew * Diary * Links * Awards * Reel Ring -- links through a daisy-chain of film homepages Museum Arakeen (Dune) ID4: Independence Day The Lost Highway: an unusually sophisticated surreal official web site for David Lynch's controversial film Mars Attacks Metropolis the classic film Off-World (Bladerunner) Post Views: Australian experts review SF movies Robocop 2: WWW Science Fiction Film Page Sci-Fi Entertainment (Trek, X-Files, Star Wars) Science Fiction Gallery (Film/TV) Sci-Fi Central (Film/TV) The SciFi Site (Film/TV) The 2001: A Space Odyssey Resource Archive Dave's Monster Star Wars page by Dave Scarbrough: if you've got a java-enabled browser, you'll get Star Wars music, and more... perhaps the largest list of Star Wars pages in the galaxy Star Wars Rendering Central Star Wars Storyline The New Republic (Star Wars) Ultimate Star Wars Link Page Verne: Movies from Jules Verne Stories Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

My Competitors

(who are also pretty cool)
And here are some hotlinks to my colleagues/competitors in the Science Fiction Film Web business: Ronnie Cramer's Cult SF Film Page Read the thumnail summaries or order by mail the following 58 cult classic Sci-Fi Films: The Alien Agenda: Out of the Darkness (1996) The Amazing Transparent Man (1959) Assignment Outer Space (1962) The Astounding She Monster (1957) Atom Age Vampire (1961) The Atomic Man (a.k.a. Timeslip) (1955) Attack of the Giant Leeches (19xx) Battle Beyond the Sun (1963) Battle of the Worlds (1961) The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) Beyond the Time Barrier (1959) The Brain from Planet Arous (19xx) Cat Women of the Moon (1953) Cosmic Monsters (1958) The Crawling Eye (1958) The Crawling Hand (1963) Creation of the Humanoids (19xx) Devil Girl from Mars (1954) Dinosaurus (1960) The Doomsday Machine (1967) Fantastic Planet (1973) First Man Into Space (1959) First Spaceship on Venus (1960) The Flesh Eaters (1963) Four Sided Triangle (19xx) Future Women (1975) Giant Gila Monster (1959) The Head (1959) Hideous Sun Demon (1959) The Keeper (1975) Killers from Space (1954) The Killer Shrews (19xx) Last Woman on Earth (19xx) The Love Factor (19xx) Mars Needs Women (1966) Mesa of Lost Women (1952) Missile to the Moon (1958) Nude in His Pocket (1962) Phantom from Space (1953) Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1956) The Phantom Planet (1961) Planet of Storms (1962): Soviets on Venus Science Fiction Theatre [television] Star Odyssey (1977) Teenage Monster (a.k.a. The Meteor Monster) (1958) Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1992) The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959) This Is Not A Test (1962) The Unnatural (1952) Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965) The War Game (1965) The Wasp Woman (1959) Wild World of Batwoman (a.k.a. She Was a Hippy Vampire) (1966) Woman in the Moon (1929) The Yesterday Machine (1963) Zontar, the Thing from Venus (19xx) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Check out Cinemarquee -- "A computer showcase designed primarily as an entertainment investment magazine, forming a link between professionals in the entertainment business." Nice stuff on science fiction, fantasy, and horror: Science-Fiction,Fantasy, Horror e-mail John Edgerton of Cinemarquee "We of the Cinemarquee have created a cinema resource for the rising producer, professional film-maker, student of film, aspiring screenwriter and novelist. We have been gathering movie resources since our creation: the Major Studio sites, Movie Data, Moviepage Connection, Movielink, Movieweb, Flicker, Filmmaker, Zuzu's Petals, Horror Hotel, Screenwriter's Resource ...etc. We have begun creating a Science Fiction link that is dedicated to my cousin Gene L. Coon, Producer of Star Trek and one of the main writers." Cinemarquee starts with a nice graphic of the Egyptian Theatre (Boise, Idaho) and then offers hotlinks to: About Cinemarquee Producers Entertainment Lawyers - Contracts Film Financing Cinemarquee Academy of Dramatic Arts Celebrities Guilds, Organizations and Associations Crews for Hire Security/ Bodyguards Psychologists Hollywood Gossip and Movie Entertainment Entertainment Festivals and Workshops For Sale or Rent Entertainment Investments Computer Investments The Music Industry Screenplays Novels, Books, Poetry Plays Concerts and Events: Tickets Circuses Fundraising Games Entertainment Souvenirs Coming Attractions Chat Client Search Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Science Fiction Gallery (text only version) fans survey the evolution of science fiction films and television, enthusiastically but not all that well organized or spelled, with sections on: Science Fiction Gallery's All Time Favorites The Classic SCI FI of all time Sci Fi pioneering silent films and early Serial Talkies B Movies in the Long Dry Spell Television Finally Comes of Age An Explosion of Science Fiction Hits Japanese TV and with special pages (in random order, apparently) on: The Abyss Aliens Back to the Future I, II, III Barbarella Close Encounters of the Third Kind Dark Star The Day the Earth Stood Still Dr. Strangelove Dr. Who Dune Flash Gordon Forbidden Planet Last Action Hero Leviathan Logan's Run Metropolis (1926) NASA Planet of the Apes Predator Quatermass and the Pit (1967) Road Warrior Soylent Green Star Gate Star Trek: The Next Generation Star Trek, the original series Star Trek films Star Wars Terminator 2 THX 1138 Time Cop Village of the Damned (1960) The War of the Worlds (1952) Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Strange Fun A slick and quirky website that covers Science Fiction Film reviews, Science Fiction television reviews, Comics, Star Trek, peculiar graphics, and promises to enlighten us about "Hong Kong action, Japanese anime, Hindi musicals" or whatever else tickles the webmasters' fancy. As of 12 Jan 1997, Science Fiction film reviews (with ratings, cast list, and stills) include: Bogus Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story The Island of Dr. Moreau John Carpenter's Escape from L.A. Mars Attacks 101 Dalmatians Space Jam Star Trek: First Contact There is also a weekly column on science fiction television by Ken Shapiro, and Science Fiction Video reviews (with ratings, cast list, and stills) including: The Arrival Casper The City of Lost Children Crumb Dragonheart Independence Day James and the Giant Peach Rumble in the Bronx Toy Story Twister Opinionated, pulling no punches, witty, and graphically cool, this is a web site to watch. Who knows what it might grow into, or perhaps mutate would be a better term... Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Forbidden Planet Movie Page This Italian science fiction film site gives greatest emphasis to the classic "Forbidden Planet" and to a list of Star Trek sites, with a strong net-political stand against Viacom (Paramount's parent corporation) "trying toi eliminate every 'unofficial' Star Trek homepage out there, so that next year Microsoft Network's Star Trek:Continuum will be the only Star Trek site available on the Net." This site also gives out a "Forbidden Planet Hot Site Award" of which I am a winner *blush blush* Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Zeta Tanuki's Cybperpunk page a very individualistic student at Kapi'olani Community College in Hawaii probes deeply into: "Near Future Films" "Near Future TV/Videos" "Near Future Printed Material" "Other Things of Interest" Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Movie Review Search Engine no emphasis at all on Science Fiction; coverage is spotty unless the film has big box office, in which case this does point to lots of mainstream reviews plus some by Science Fiction specialists. Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Dan Sachar reviews Dan Sachar runs a film club at Swarthmore, and has some reviews of B-Movie horror and sci-fi films: Dan's Science Fiction Movie Page Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
Videoflicks has some reviews of videotapes, but no special emphasis on (and therefore spotty coverage of) science fiction Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents
All New York film reviews For New York City movie-goers, with emphasis on what's playing in New York when, and what reviews from local media exist; no special emphasis on science fiction you might also be interested in my definitive and opinionated encyclopedia of Science Fiction Television, with cast lists and analyses: TELEVISION: list of 350+ links, updated 4 June 1997 Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents A nicely extensive website on Horror literature, film, and film posters is: The Cabinet of Dr.Casey Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents For several carefully selected handfuls of hotlinks to horror TV, film, actors, directors, and writers, check out: The Dark Side of the Web Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

X-Rated Sci-Fi/Fantasy Videos

I, your humble webmaster, don't buy x-rated videotapes, and don't want my 8-year old child to see them. But, as a scholarly reviewer, I cannot deny that there is an overlap between the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre and the x-rated "sexvids", and as some sort of service to the public, if only to warn the sensitive away from this sort of material, I have a little list here, substantially based on "The X-Rated Videotape Guide" by Robert H. Rimmer, New York: Harmony Books, 1984. I am a happily married man who strongly believes in monogamy. I also believe in Freedom of Speech. I in no way endorse the following. "Alice in Wonderland", Xtra-Vision/Media (and soft-core Vid America version), 1975 Produced/Directed by Bill Osco/Bud Townsend Actually has a plot, stolen from Lewis Carroll "Angel Above, Devil Below", Cal Vista, 1975 Produced/Directed by anonymous Literally devilish, said to be clever, actresses and actors never seen before or since "Aunt Peg's Fulfillment", Cal Vista, 1982 Produced/Directed by Arthur Cutter/Wes Brown I have no idea why Mr.Rimmer ascribes a "supernatural" content "Baby Rosemary", Select Essex, 1975 Produced/Directed by Bill Steele/Hoard Perkins Parody of "Rosemary's Baby" with sex/death cult "The Blonde", VCX, 1980 Produced/Directed by Eliot and Harry Lewis Involves reincarnation, future perspective, Hollywood aesthetics "Blondes Have More Fun", Select/Essex, 1975 Produced/Directed by John Seeman Professor Brains invents aphrodesiac PQM2; said to be a comedy "Blue Magic", Quality, 1981 Produced/Directed by Par Sjostedt Screenplay by Candida Royalle? Gothic, 300-year-old woman, voodoo doll, enslavement spell "Blue Voodoo", Gold Stripe, 1983 Produced/Directed by Armand Weston, Dianna Chambers, Romeo Davis Magic/voodoo/nightclub with sex and death horrifyingly combined "Cafe Flesh", VCA, 1982 Produced/Directed by Rinse Dream/F. X. Pope 5 years after nuclear World War III, only 1% of population is still sexual, and are forced to provide show-biz entertainment. Actually popular in the art-house scene, actually attempts to tell a science fiction story. Shown to me by the science fiction club of Alabama, who then apologized to me for it. Disturbing. "Caligula", Penthouse Products, 1980 Produced/Directed by Bob Guccione/Franco Rosselini, Tinto Brass Starring Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Malcolm McDowell, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud, Guido Mannari, many others $15,000,000 production was by far the most expensive X-rated film of all time, with an R-rated version later released when box-office grosses were poor, based on Suetonius' "Lives of the Twelve Caesars" circa 48 A.D. A woman took me to see this in Seattle once, and was so disgusted by the decapitations and indecencies that she dragged us out of the theatre. Overacted, by genuine stars who obviously did it for the money. Lavish, extravagant sets and costumes. "Captain Lust and the Pirate", International Home Video Club, 1979 Produced/Directed by Beau Buchanan Funny and dramatic, unfortunately spawned dozens of crummy imitations using gothic backgrounds. But this film is endearingly swashbuckling. "The Erotic Adventures of Casanova", Hifcoa, 1979 Produced/Directed by Michael Merlino/John C. Holmes 18th century swordsman in his dreams, the psychiatric patient finds antique letters from Casanova, or is he crazy? "Casanova II", Hifcoa, 1982 Produced/Directed by Troy Benny Paris 1751 shofts to the present, magic perfume, said to better than "The Erotic Adentures of Casanova." "Cinderella", Vidamerica, 1977 Produced/Directed by Charles Band/Michael Pataki Soft-core musical about the fairy tale, corny and sincere. "Descendants of Grace", Blue Video, 1974 Produced/Directed by Richard Bolla/Bobby Astyr Said to be one of the stupidest sexvids; vaguely involves ghosts "The Devil and Miss Jones", VCX, 1972 Produced/Directed by Gerard Damiano ("Deep Throat") Actual acting, dramatic suicide, from Hell back to Earth for virgin granted a chance to fulfill the desires whose repressions led to the suicide in the first place. Don't bother with the sequel. "The Devil Insider Her", Blue Video, 1978? Produced/Directed by Leon De Leon "Scary", "explicit", shows sexuality as inherently evil "Delicious", Video-X-Plus, 1981 Produced/Directed by Bill Eage/Philip Drexler Sorceress who can make people see her as naked when she's not. "Devil's Ecstasy", Xtravision, 1974 Produced/Directed by Robert Keith/Brandon Carter Sex/witchcraft/satanism, "interesting cinematography" "Devil's Playground", VCX, 1974 Produced/Directed by R. Owen Teegee/Rik Taziner "Sleazy-looking Lucifer", should be avoided due to apparent youth of girls "Dirty Looks", VCA, 1982 Produced/Directed by Chuck Vincent Seems to be postmodernist or hypermedia-like in structure "Dracula Exotica", TVX, 1981 Produced/Directed by Ken Schwartz/Warren Evans Genuine storytelling in 1490 and 1990; elaborate costumes. "Dracula Sucks" a.k.a. "Dracula's Bride", Media, 1979 Produced/Directed by Darryl Marshak/Philip Marshak Both hard- and soft-core version exist. Makes explicit the implicit sexuality of the vampire legend. See "Lust at First Bite." "Dracula" a.k.a. "Blood for Dracula", Video Gems, 1974 Produced/Directed by Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey Probably made simultaneously with Andy Warhol's "Frankenstein" as both use the same key actors. Very bloody. "Dream Lover", CDI Home Video, 1985 Produced/Directed by Jim Reynolds Haunted house story. "Dr.Love and His House of Perversions", VCA, 1978 Produced/Directed by Robert Michaels Dr. Franken Schlong blows up his lab; worse than most "The Enchantress", 4-Play Video, 1984 Produced/Directed by Bruce Seven Aphrodesiac powers from magic crystal medallion "The Erotic Adventures of Candy", Wonderful World of Video, 1978 Produced/Directed by Gail Palmer A parody of Voltaire's "Candide", itself a satire "Femme Fatale", Vista Video, 1985 Produced/Directed by Mike Stryker/Vanessa Cruz Real-estate puzzle of haunted house "Fiona on Fire", TVX, 1978 Produced/Directed by Kenneth Schwartz Based on "Laura", this is a genuine murder mystery, with a real plot as well as a wide range of sexuality. "Flesh Gordon", Media, 1978 Produced/Directed by Howard Ziehm, William Osco, Michael Benveniste The biggest-budget X-rated film made in its era, over $1 million, not surpassed until the star-studded "Caligula", this lovingly parodies "Flash Gordon" and has real awareness of science fiction pulp-magazine history. Emperor Wang the Perverted shoots Sex Rays at Earth from Planet Porno. Flesh Gordon and Dale Ardor fly a phallic spaceship, fight the Penisaurus, and kill a King Kong parody with a death ray. Unfortunately, I have a lawsuit against one of the bit-part actors, and that spoils my fun with this video, which gave sci-fi sex its best shot yet. "Frankenstein", Video gems, 1973 Produced/Directed by Carlo Ponti, Paul Morrissey, Andy Warhol Bloody and macabre, no genitals shown, Andy Warhol tried something interesting here, and there is real acting. Funny yet gross. "Friday the 13th, Parts 1, 2, 3", Paramount, 1980-82 Produced/Directed by Steve Miner Major studio, hence no explicit sex, but clearly there is a perverse connection between sexuality and violence (albeit implicit). "Future Sex", Now Showing, 1984 Produced/Directed by Laurence T. Cole Androids, the "Sextapo", in a world where sex is banned "Heat Wave", Command, 1973 Produced/Directed by Midas Gettrich (an obvious pseudonym)/Umberto Corleone (Cecil Howard?) Libido is associated with the Devil. "Heavenly Desire", Cal Vista Visual Entertainment, 1979 Produced/Directed by Jaacov Jaacovi Parody of Thorne Smith "Topper" where Old West ghosts sexually haunt a fraternity "The House of Strange Desires", Now Showing, 1985 Produced/Directed by Lawrence T. Cole Demons live on orgasm energy. "I Dream of Ginger", Vivid Video, 1985 Produced/Directed by Herschel Stevens/Scotty Fox Parody of "I Dream of Jeannie" with genie-in-a-bottle "Intensive Care", Blue Video, 1974 Produced/Directed by Jack B. Nuss/David Sear Dr.Scrotum, test-tubes, corpse-becomes-vampire "Jezebel", Cal Vista, 1979 Produced/Directed by Sam Norvell/Charles Adamson Transmigration/devil/gypsy amalgamation. "Judgment Day", Cal Vista, 1978 Produced/Directed by Bella Maria/Jon Cutala Suicide, St.Peter with halo, deaths reversed "The Kinky Ladies of Bourbon Street", Quality, 1978 Produced/Directed by Francis Le Rois/Henri Outrandy Cemetery past/present confusions "Looking for Love", VCX, 1985 Produced/Directed by anonymous Afro-aphrodesiac plant and sex-therapist "Lure of the Triangle", Visual Entertainment, 1979 Produced/Directed by Robert Angrove/Phillip Ronald Bermuda Triangle/Atlantis/mermaids/scuba-diving theme. "Lust at First Bite", VCA, 1979 Produced/Directed by Dale Alexander/Phillip Morris Complete version of a Dracula story with partial releases "Dracula Sucks" and "Dracula's Bride." Said to be gory, but with cinematography, acting, and music above average. "Lust in Space", Paradise Visuals, 1985 Produced/Directed by Frank and Ernest Macintosh/Miles Kidder Planet Zitcom is 46 lightyears away, and is ruled by Vixanna, who keeps all sex to herself. Escapee arrives in Los Angeles. "Lust in the Fast Lane", Paradise Visuals, 1984 Produced/Directed by "Adam" Ghoul/vampire so-called surprise ending "Mary, Mary", Select/Essex TVX, 1975 Produced/Directed by Bernard Morris Sophisticated cinematography/ambiance sell-your-soul story "Nocturna", Media, 1979 -- actually R-rated and shown on TV Stars John Carradine & Yvonne de Carlo John Carradine as Dracula, and a sexual rock & roll sequence "On Golden Blonde", Paradise Visuals, 1984 Produced/Directed by Michael Phillips/"Adam" Prematurely in Heaven, woman sent back to Earth in other women's bodies temporarily. "The Other Side of Lianna", L.A. Video, 1984 Produced/Directed by L. M. Burton/Drea Grimm's-style fairy tale about devil's helpers "Pandora's Mirror", Caballero Control, 1981 Produced/Directed by Warren Evans 17th Century/1920s mirror-magic, makes no sense "The Psychiatrist", Select/Essex, 1978 Produced/Directed by Peter Balakoff/Belinda Balakoff Who is crazy and who is sane? Satanic subversion. "Ring of Desire", Select/Essex, 1982 Produced/Directed by Peter Balakoff Plot revolves around magical amulet. "Occasional laughter and good dialog." "Ring of Pleasure", Fantasy/Caballero, 1975 Produced/Directed by anonymous Magical ring gets woman a rich boyfriend "Rites of Uranus", IVP (formerly CVX), 1975 Produced/Directed by anonymous Charles Manson-type commune, should have been scarier. "Sensual Encounters of Every Kind", Select Essex TVX, 1978 Produced/Directed by Harold Lime/Ramsey Carson Jeweled talisman makes people irrestable. Resist bothering to see this. "Sexcalibur", Select/Essex, 1983 Produced/Directed by Dadas Christi/Dinin Dicimino 3-D film; sorcery and knight in armor. "Sex Dreams on Maple Street", Essex, 1985 Produced/Directed by Duck Dumont/Charles De Santos Ghosts from 50-years in past. "Sexorcist Devil", Arrow, 1974 Produced/Directed by Hans Leek/Sven Hellstrom Satanist cult. "Not scary, only amateurish." "Sex Rituals of the Occult", Quality/Video-x-X-Pix, 1975 Witches, black masses, said to be dull. "Sexteen", VCA, 1975 Produced/Directed by Lynn Metz The angel of death hassles teenagers "Sinderotica", Essex, 1985 Produced/Directed by Alan Hitchcock, Leslie Marie, John Silver Sleazy Cinderella retelling. "Space Virgins", Creative Video, 1984 Produced/Directed by Sol Starr/Phil Marshak Screenplay by Bill Margold & Mark Weiss Space sluts from planet Zona, with amusing dialogue filled with computer-nerd jokes and a few actual ideas "Star Babe", Cabellero, 1977 Produced/Directed by Anne Perry "Star Wars" parody, aboard Starship Orgasm, to save Earth from Darth Vader-type and the Planet Phallus. Waste of time. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", Wizard, 1974 Produced/Directed by Tobe Hooper A cult-classic with no nudity or explicit sex, which implicitly related sex and violence, and is far sicker than any pornography as such. Cemetery horror. A forerunner to the "splatterpunk" fiction of the late 1980s. "A Thousand and One Erotic Nights", Select/Essex, 1982 Produced/Directed by Sandra Winters/Stephen Lucas Loosely based on Richard Burton's unexpurgated translation, including genie & fisherman story, and prince on golden horse who can travel through time "Through the Looking Glass", Quality, 1976 Produced/Directed by Jonas Middleton Said to be a sexvid classic with genuine gothic drama and "cinematographic tour of madness that must have been inspired by Hieronymus Bosch's paintings." "Trashi", Cabellero, 1980 Produced/Directed by Jo Anne Lewis/Louis Lewis Dr.Frankentein is "Dr.Schtup" here, having built a household of female robots: "every woman has some good parts." "Urges in Young Girls", VCA, 1984 Produced/Directed by Janus Ranier/David Christopher Astral projection with magic mirror, low budget and stupid "Visions", Quality, 1977 No dialogue at all in this surrealistic video which one gradually realizes is supposed to be the unconscious hallucinations of a man in cardiac arrest, trapped in a half-alive state as medica try to pull him through. Metaphysical Fantasy, with no genre cliches. "Wickerman", Media, 1973 Produced/Directed by Peter Snell, Robin Hardy, Anthony Shaffer Starring Edward Woodward (Breaker Morant) Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Britt Eklund X-rated but a very sophisticated film, wrongly marketed as horror. Produced in Scotland, on an imaginary pagan island, where a detective gradually comes to realize that he is to be seduced and then sacrificed. Well-written, gorgeous cinematography, fine acting. Erotic without in any way descending to porn. "The Wizard of Aahs", Essex, 1985 Produced/Directed by John Gold Women rule in 2069; men banished to space station. "X-Rated Cartoons", VCX, date? Produced/Directed by ??? Fairy tales (Hansel & Gretel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), Bugs Bunny, and Porky Pig in a way which must have driven the Disney attorneys into a frenzy; said to be particularly offensive to women Conclusion: don't waste your time seeing any of these, with the possible exception of "Wickerman". Watch real science fiction and fantasy movies, and develop your genuine imagination. Adult video rental has outstripped (pun) the overall video market, according to a survey by Adult Video News, with doubling of revenues over the past 5 years to an orgiastic $4,200,000,000 annually in the United States, or approximately a quarter of all U.S. video rentals, despite a modest decline from the peak in 1995. Jeffrey H. Douglas, Free Speech Coalition's Executive Director, explains these obscene profits in terms of the average cost of the cassettes' rental at about $1.00 more than the overall average rental fee of $2.76. In the first 3 years of VCR sales, some 70% of purchasers acknowledged that the primary reason they bought the devices was to watch "adult titles" at home. We don't really know what fraction of America's 28,000 video specialty retailers carry adult films -- some of the giants, such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart do not, while the huge Blockbuster chain is slipping into at least soft-core "wild" or "screwball" titles. 70% of adult videos are rented by men, 19% by male-female couples, and only 2% by women. Think about that the next time you deny that X-rated films degrade women.
For an examination of sex in science fiction literature, click on: Science Fiction Sex Forrest J. Ackerman's "Nine Favorite Science Fiction Movie Nude Scenes" in "The SF Book of Lists", p.258, ed. Malcolm Edwards & Maxim Jakubowski, New York: Berkeley (1982):
  1. Jenny Agutter, in loose, revealing, almost transparent and then wet gowns in Logan's Run, an otherwise rotten film.
  2. Julie Christie, one of my major feminine obsessions (ah! Don't Look Now, Dr Zhivago, Darling, ah again!) is spied upon by the sinister computer in Demon Seed as she takes a shower.
  3. Jessica Lange in the clutches of King Kong, in the de Laurentis version. Not strictly nude, although I gather from reports on the shooting of the movie that her top kept slipping off under the pressure of the mechanical hand of the giant ape. I leave my imagination to do the rest and conjure up a delightful breast and nipple. Also a nice wet scene.
  4. Brooke Adams in Kaufman's version of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, walking in a naked daze among the selves and shelves of pods.
  5. Sigourney Weaver's stripping down to her underwear under the watchful eye of the monster in Alien. Again, not strictly a nude scene, but full of potent eroticism.
  6. Sara Kestelman in Zardoz, freckles and all.
  7. The running girl in the fantasy sequence of A Clockwork Orange. The slow motion, her anonymity and the full frontal effect all combine to make this another strong scene.
  8. Valerie Perrine on Tralfamadore in Slaughterhouse-Five. Playing Billy Pilgrim's dream-girl Montana Wildhack, Valerie Perrine showed much more in the Playboy pictorial of the shooting and almost everywhere else since, but there's a delightful hint of puppy fat and such a mischievous twinkle in her eye!
  9. Judy Bowker, almost virginal in the horrendous Clash of the Titans but offers us a brief back view of her compact body before indulging bra-less in the spray, which, although not on a par with Jacqueline Bisset's famous wet tee-short scene in The Deep, nevertheless provides some guilty pleasure.

Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Sci-Fi Attacks on Los Angeles

Because Los Angeles is the home to the Hollywood movie industry, the city has been assaulted by disasters and extraterrestrials more than any other city in the world -- sorry, Tokyo. In Volcano, we have lines of dialogue such as: "Lava? In L.A.?" and "Better take the freeway--Wilshire [Boulevard] looks pretty bad." But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Some other memorable moments from sci-fi films: "Once again, the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department] is asking Los Angelenos not to fire their guns at the spacecraft." [Newsman Gary Cruz, Independence Day] "All trains as far as Long Beach are covered by either a bazooka team or flame-throwers." [Military Official, before the giant ants attack in Them!] "Tsunami! Surf's up big time now. This is gonna be some kind of bitchin' ride." [Peter Fonda, about to surf Sunset Boulevard in Escape from L.A.] "This is KTTV Studios in Hollywood, to Mt.Wilson. We are being attacked by the Slime People." [TV Announcer in The Slime People] "People turning south on the freeway were startled to see three flying saucers, high over Hollywood Boulevard." [Narrator in Plan 9 from Outer Space] "The Target of the A-Bomb is this nest of Martian machines in the Puente Hills." [Newsman in remake of War of the Worlds] "Ladies and gentlemen, you're witnessing a manhunt for the biggest man in existence. We're in Griffith Park." [News anchor Stan Chambers in War of the Colossal Beast] And let's not forget the novel by Robert Moore Williams: "The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles" [Ace, 1961] Return to MOVIES Table of Contents Up to 1997 SNEAK PREVIEWS Table of Contents

Domestic Market Share of U.S. Distributors

The Los Angeles Times, on Tuesday 11 November 1997, gave the following data on Domestic Market Share and Number of Films in release for United States distributors from 6 January 1997 through 9 November 1997:
Distributor Films Market Share
Sony 36 23.0%
Buena Vista 30 14.4%
Warner Bros. 25 11.7%
Paramount 26 10.8%
Universal 11 10.6%
20th Century Fox 19 10.2%
New Line 25 6.3%
Miramax 30 5.8%
MGM/United Artists 16 1.6%


CLONES: NEW: annotated hotlinks to films, books, and stories about clones, cloning, and genetic engineering of animals and people
SPACE: NEW: 123 annotated hotlinks to films about space travel
TELEVISION: list of 319 links, 278 shows, last update 31 October 1997
TIME TRAVEL: List of 65 movies about time travel, last updated 6 March 1997

Compiled by Magic Dragon Multimedia

Go to Ultimate Mystery/Detective Web Guide
Copyright 1996, 1997, by Magic Dragon Multimedia.
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.
May be posted electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its entirety, and without charge.