Picks and Pans Review: Spotlight On...
DISASTERS ON THE HORIZON
"IT'S GOING TO BE A HELLISH SUMMER." That's no Farmer's Almanac prophecy. It's a dire summation from film marketing authority Marvin Antonowsky of the competitive heat that's going to be felt in Hollywood's executive suites as the most expensive year in movie history moves into high gear. Between Feb. 7, when Dante's Peak (a volcano in the Pacific Northwest blows its top; budget: $155 million) hits theaters, and the end of the year, Hollywood will churn out, at the very least, a record 18 special-effects extravaganzas costing from $60 million to more than $150 million each. Among the coming spectaculars: Volcano (this one erupts in L.A.; estimated budget: $70 million); The Flood (May; $65 million); Batman and Robin (June; around $100 million); Titanic (July; up to $200 million); The Lost World: Jurassic Park 2 (May; $65 million); Speed II: Cruise Control (July; $100 million). Audiences "are going to be battered senseless," says Variety's Leonard Klady, "and we're all going to enjoy it."
The industry, however, is divided on the prospects for the year. As former Fox executive Michael London says, when these movies click, "the payoffs are huge." Or so one would assume, based on last year's Independence Day (cost: $75 million; worldwide box office take: $781 million and counting). Hollywood is hoping that audience enthusiasm for alien attacks and natural disasters will hold. But some say that this year big may not necessarily be better. "There are too many expensive pictures competing at the same time," says Antonowsky. "Somebody's gonna take gas." Con Air (savage felons hijack the plane transporting them to the pen; budget over $60 million) producer Jerry Bruckheimer agrees. All you can do is pile on the special effects, hype till it hurts and, he says, "hope it won't be you."
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