Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
DAMES AT SEA?
IN THE PAST FOUR MONTHS, WHAT amounted to a fleet of movies helmed by female stars floated into view, sails unfurled, and promptly sank to the bottom of the box office. Geena Davis's pirate adventure Cutthroat Island earned back a pitiable $11 million of its $92 million cost, and became one of the major fiascos in movie history. Sandra Bullock's romance-caper Two If by Sea and Julia Roberts's horror-romance Mary Reilly fled theaters in humiliating haste. Faithful, Cher's first starring vehicle in six years, is now struggling at multiplexes. And Demi Moore followed up last year's disaster, The Scarlet Letter, with The Juror (costarring Alec Baldwin), and audiences, for the most part, stayed home.
Do these failures mean that women are the weaker sex at the box office? Actually, no. The 1995 ledger, after all, shows that Bullock single-handedly made hits out of The Net and While You Were Sleeping. Michelle Pfeiffer's Dangerous Minds, which many expected to bomb last summer, grossed $85 million. And Disney's Pocahontas, which starred a womanly cartoon, brought in $140 million.
And it's not as if female stars won't have the chance to redeem themselves in the coming months. Diane Keaton, Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn just finished shooting The First Wives' Club, a comedy about women of a certain age who plot revenge on their ex-husbands. Madonna is at work on Evita. First up, June 28, is the likely smash hit Striptease, a Demi Moore thriller-comedy, for which she was paid a record (for a woman) $12.5 million. As for those female-driven flops that have marred what has otherwise been a record first quarter at the box office, Sidney Ganis, worldwide marketing president for Columbia TriStar, which distributed Reilly, says, "Those films were just not good enough."
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