"Scream 3" and "Titus" haven't hit the shelves of video stores yet, but if you stop off at the market on your way home today, you might be able to buy them. But bring your inheritance, because they'll probably cost you six figures.
The horror hit and the Shakespearean tragedy are just two of the roughly 350 movies that are up for grabs (that is, if you happen to be an overseas film distributor) at the market -- the American Film Market, that is -- the annual international trade show for the motion picture industry, running here today through March 1. Founded in 1981, the AFM is now the largest movie market in the world, and organizers say about $400 million in licensing deals will be inked in the coming week.
The AFM isn't a film festival -- there are no awards, and don't expect to see Sundance stalwarts such as Ben Affleck and Steven Soderbergh making the rounds. But it is a high-power event nonetheless, and this year's market features the world premiere of movies starring (and featuring possible -- albeit remotely -- appearances by) Sharon Stone, Burt Reynolds, Mercedes Ruehl, Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, and others.
In recent weeks there also has been rumblings that director Martin Scorsese will drop in to generate interest in his forthcoming "Gangs of New York," the indie movie with the whopping $80 million budget and Leonardo DiCaprio. Ever since Robert De Niro quit the movie last year, word-of-mouth has spread that the project is in trouble; Scorsese's German financiers recently told Daily Variety that the director could restore confidence in the movie by appearing at AFM.
The backbone of the market are dozens of buyers representing international distributors who will be wheeling and dealing for the overseas theatrical rights to high-profile American studio and independent movies such as "Scream 3" or the video and TV rights to lower-budgeted productions.
Then there are the premieres, all of them featuring recognizable, if not necessarily bankable, stars. The films bowing as part of the AFM Premiere Screenings series include: "The Last Producer," starring Burt Reynolds, Benjamin Bratt and Lauren Holly, directed by Reynolds; "Picking Up the Pieces," starring Sharon Stone, Woody Allen and Kiefer Sutherland; Estevez and Sheen's "Rated X," a biopic of pornography mavens the Mitchell brothers, directed by Estevez; "Wayward Son," starring Harry Connick Jr.; "Steal This Movie," starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Janeane Garofalo and Kevin Pollak; and "Other Voices," starring Stockard Channing, Peter Gallagher, Rob Morrow and Campbell Scott.
Lots of foreign films are also screened for North American distributors. In all, AFM organizers say there will be about 7,000 people attending from about 70 countries.
Most of the deal making takes place in and around the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, the market's headquarters, while the films are screened at theaters located within a few blocks of the beach. In all, about 600 screenings are scheduled on 23 screens.
Finally, something to report from ShoWest!
Stars (lots of 'em) came out at noon today to do their time at the New Line/Fine Line luncheon, hyping (what else?) upcoming New Line/Fine Line flicks. The event, held at the multimedia-readied, projection-screen-laden Paris Ballroom, featured celebs prancing down a catwalk for all to see (if you could see), sitting down at their designated tables and, then, eating!
Yes, this is what passes for excitement at a movie-theater-owners trade show. Did we mention that not one of the stars said a single word?
No, we're not complaining. We're just worried about the talents. You know, they've got egos.
Anyway, here's a rundown of the spotted celebs:
Adam Sandler: Single-handedly brought the level of formality and decorum way down with his ultra-casual attire of Adidas tee, a zipper sweater and denims. There to hype his new frat-boy comedy "Little Nicky."
Patricia Arquette: Peroxide-bleached blonde. We couldn't really catch a good look at her face because her facial skin tone and her hair sorta bled into each other under the spotlight. (Another "Little Nicky" pusher.)
Jennifer Lopez: Yes, she still makes movies. She was here for the thriller "The Cell." Well, all right, she actually wasn't here here. Lopez has got the cushiest gig out of everyone. Instead of having to actually show up at this thing in person, she was teletransmitted via video. (Must be all those court-related matters that were tying her down.)
Dennis Quaid: A member of the "Frequency" contingent (the upcoming fantasy/thriller), he was the first person to be introduced, and we didn't know which way he'd be strolling down the catwalk. So to make a long explanation short, we, um, sort of didn't really see him.
Ali Larter: Female co-star of the studio's newest Gen-Next horror flick "Final Destination," this highly touted newcomer looked like she could be any 18- to 21-year-old from anywhere.
Devon Sawa: Male version of the above. (Conveniently, also featured in "Final Destination.")
Jimmy Smits: Well, you know, it's Jimmy Smits.
Jon Seda: The real-life boxer (coming soon to a theater near you as an aspiring boxer in "Price of Glory" with Smits) was doing the old one-two uppercut, right jab dance all the way to the table.
Vince Vaughn: Lopez's "Cell" co-star looked disheveled in that "Swingers" way. Hold on, isn't he always though?
Melina Kanakaredes: Er, we looked somewhere else again. But we did catch that the "Providence" lady is going to star opposite Robert De Niro in the thriller "Fifteen Minutes."
Omar Epps: The "Love and Basketball" star looking noticeably irate.
In other ShoWest happenings:
COMING (MAIN) ATTRACTION: As promised, the studio delivered promotional footage from that fan-boy fantasy also known as "The Lord of the Rings." More of a short making-of film rather than a true trailer, the reel alternated clips from the (still-in-the-making) epic film with interviews with director Peter Jackson and actors Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. And judging from the applause, this film is certainly one to watch for in the end of 2001.
OTHER TRAILERS THAT BUZZED: "Thirteen Days," the Kevin Costner vehicle about the Cuban missile crisis and Sandler's "Little Nicky."
TRAILERS WE LIKED, REGARDLESS OF THE BUZZ: (1) "The Cell." Vaughn plays a cop, Lopez plays the serial killer he's chasing. Other than that, there's no logical way we could piece together a coherent story line from the trailer. That said, the clip was still a snazzy and stylish piece that is at once perverse and surreal; (2) "State and Main." Now we really don't know what this one's about. But an auspicious ensemble cast certainly compensates for it. The David Mamet comedy reunites P.T. Anderson crewmates Philip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy, as well as piling on Alec Baldwin and Sarah Jessica Parker.
OTHER NOTABLE SNEAKS: "Rush Hour 2" (a rearrangement of film clips from the 1998 original, save for a new voice-over and some new titles); "Bones" (an extremely minimal trailer for a horror movie that was so deliberately minimal it reminded us of another little horror flick name of, um, "The Blair Witch Something or Other"); and, "Town and Country," Warren Beatty's long, long, long delayed marital comedy, with Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.
The "Town and Country" clips were uncensored. And by uncensored, we specifically mean the F-bomb that co-star Garry Shandling dropped at the very end of the trailer -- a phrase that you can bet won't make it out to the public come actual release time. (At least not in trailer form.)
MORE TRAILERS!OK. By now you're probably thinking (hoping) that we've run out of trailers. Wrong.
Eleven more came our way via the Miramax shindig this evening. To make it fast and painless, the most notable sneaks included: the slasher film send-up "Scary Movie; an anachronistic adaptation of "Hamlet" with Ethan Hawke; "Boys and Girls," a teen flick with Freddie Prinze Jr.; "Birthday Girl," starring Nicole Kidman as a Russian woman with a past; and "Bounce," featuring ex-lovers Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck as lovers.
But really the coolest thing seen at the Miramax preview was the trailer for "The Yards." Mixing old-school and new-school bad boys James Caan, Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix, the film looks to be operating heavily on the generic codes of Mafia flicks.
OK, no more trailer talk. Until tomorrow.
WHERE'S HARVEY? Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein (a notable no-show at the Golden Globes and Sundance) was not the only notable MIA at tonight's Miramax shindig. There was also a total absence of Miramax stars to promote any of the Miramax films (OK, trailers) discussed above. No word on why.
WEDNESDAY'S EXPECTED STAR SIGHTINGS: The early sked-line on the Sony luncheon Wednesday reads a little something like this: Sandra Bullock, Brooke Shields, Mel Gibson, Elizabeth Shue, Chris O'Donnell, Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz and Bill Murray. Experience tells us that they'll be doing pretty much the same dog-and-pony show as the stars at today's New Line/Fine Line luncheon.
PLUGGING AWAY: For most folks at ShoWest this morning, Hollywood was not merely a click away on the Internet but right there at their breakfast table. The day's events were kicked off with a portly breakfast (scrambled eggs, bacon and potatoes) at the majestic Champagne Ballroom hosted by our very own Hollywood.com. Representing the entertainment dot.com were Hollywood.com Chairman and CEO Mitchell Rubenstein and President Laurie S. Silvers, among others. The hands-down highlight was the sneak preview of a Hollywood.com theatrical trailer titled "Easy."
Hollywood is expecting Warner Bros. and Castle Rock Entertainment's opening of "The Green Mile" to walk off with the most box office green this weekend.
The R-rated drama, written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tom Hanks, kicks off at more than 2,850 theaters.
"'Toy Story ,' if it's down in the neighborhood of 35-40%, is $16-18 million. And I think 'Green Mile' beats that based on the tracking. They're sitting there with an 18% first choice right now," one studio executive said earlier this week."
"It is high," he said of the tracking results. "Although I understand the reviews are not very good, with Tom Hanks (starring), that's $20 million-plus."
While a $20 million-plus opening is certainly very attractive, it's not spectacular. One of the factors working against a bigger first weekend for the adult appeal "Green" is that adults are busy with shopping and other things in the post-Thanksgiving weeks.
"Women are not so available (this weekend) with Christmas shopping and parties and all that," the executive observed. "But it is Tom Hanks. If anything keeps it from getting to $20 million, it's exactly that factor -- the time of the year. Last year, 'You've Got Mail' opened to something like $18 million ($18.4 million via Warner Bros. the weekend of Dec. 18-20). But you probably have more male interest in 'Green Mile' than there was in 'You've Got Mail,' which was more of a chick flick."
On the other hand, he added, "If 'Toy Story' is down only 28%, that's $20 million, too. But my gut feeling is 'Green Mile' probably edges it out, and then 'Toy Story' is somewhere around $18 million."
The Buena Vista/Disney and Pixar G-rated computer-animated blockbuster "Toy Story 2" is heading for $250 million to $300 million in domestic theaters. Directed by John Lasseter, "Toy 2" features the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Don Rickles, Jim Varney, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Annie Potts, Wayne Knight, Laurie Metcalf, Estelle Harris and R. Lee Ermey.
Third place this weekend should go to Buena Vista/Touchstone's opening of its R-rated youth-appeal comedy "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo" at about 2,000 theaters.
"'Deuce Bigalow' has actually got a 12% first choice at this point," the executive said. "I think that's (a gross) somewhere in the low-to-mid-teens. I understand it's a pretty rough R, but I don't think that will keep teen-age and young-adult audiences from coming to see it." Directed by Mike Mitchell, it stars "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Rob Schneider.
MGM's "The World Is Not Enough" should wind up in fourth place with around $7 million. The PG-13-rated "World," the 19th in MGM's James Bond series, is directed by Michael Apted and stars Pierce Brosnan in his third performance as 007.
There could be a close race for fifth place. Both Universal and Beacon Pictures' R-rated action epic "End of Days" and Paramount's R-rated "Sleepy Hollow" could wind up grossing around $6 million this weekend.
Directed by Peter Hyams, "End of Days" is a supernatural thriller pitting Arnold Schwarzenegger against Satan. "Sleepy Hollow," directed by Tim Burton, stars Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci.
Universal's R-rated thriller "The Bone Collector," directed by Phillip Noyce and starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie, which finished fifth last weekend, appears likely to come in seventh this time around.
"'Bone Collector' has been hanging in there respectably, but it was down to $3.2 million last weekend and, I'm assuming, they're going to lose theaters because they're at that point now where they're just going to get crowded out of the 12-plexes and so on. It should be somewhere in the low $2 millions."
Rounding out the chart in eighth, ninth and 10th place will be three of the following four films: Warner Bros.' G-rated animated feature "Pokemon: The First Movie"; Lions Gate's R-rated irreverent comedy "Dogma," directed by Kevin Smith and starring Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Linda Fiorentino; Buena Vista/Touchstone's R-rated drama "The Insider," directed by Michael Mann and starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe; and USA Films' R-rated comedy-drama "Being John Malkovich," directed by Spike Jonze and starring John Malkovich, John Cusack, Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener.
On the specialized front, there will be considerable activity this weekend. Miramax's PG-13-rated drama "The Cider House Rules" starts exclusive runs in New York and Los Angeles. A likely Oscar and Golden Globes contender in a number of the major categories, "Cider House" was adapted to the screen by John Irving from his own novel. It was directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron and Michael Caine.
Miramax's PG-13-rated comedy-drama "Diamonds" opens in New York for a one-week Oscar qualifying run. Directed by John Asher, it stars Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd and Lauren Bacall.
Warner Bros.' R-rated comedy-drama "Liberty Heights," which opened in mid-November in New York, L.A. and Baltimore (where it takes place), goes into limited release. The studio will hold sneak previews of the critically acclaimed "Heights" the following weekend and take it wider Dec. 22. Written and directed by Barry Levinson, the film stars Adrien Brody, Ben Foster, Orlando Jones, Bebe Neuwirth and Joe Mantegna.
MGM's R-rated drama "Miss Julie" starts exclusive runs in New York and L.A. Directed by Mike Figgis, it stars Saffron Burrows, Peter Mullan and Maria Doyle Kennedy.
Fine Line's PG-13-rated drama "Tumbleweeds," playing in New York and L.A. since Nov. 24, goes into limited release in the top 15 markets. Directed by Gavin O'Connor, it stars Janet McTeer and Kimberly J. Brown.
Looking ahead to the weekend of Dec. 17-19, insiders say 20th Century Fox's "Anna and the King" is at this early point only a 5 percent first choice in tracking studies. Buena Vista/Touchstone's "Bicentennial Man" is an 8 percent first choice. Those numbers should increase as their marketing campaigns kick in, especially with television advertising.
The PG-13-rated period drama "Anna" is directed by Andy Tennant and stars Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fat. The PG-rated family comedy "Bicentennial Man" is directed by Chris Columbus and stars Robin Williams.
Also arriving in theaters Dec. 17 is Columbia's PG rated fantasy-adventure "Stuart Little." "Of course, 'Stuart Little's' very hard to judge because kids' movies just don't track well," the studio executive said.
On the other hand, Universal's R-rated bio-drama "Man On The Moon," directed by Milos Forman and starring Jim Carrey as late comedian Andy Kaufman, is already said to be showing a 9% first-choice score in tracking studies.
"You've got to figure that's (because of) Carrey," says the executive. Since "Man" doesn't land in theaters until Dec. 22, there's plenty of time for its already good score to increase and translate into a big opening weekend.