Magazine article Newsweek

A Hollywood Ending

Magazine article Newsweek

A Hollywood Ending

Article excerpt

This summer was supposed to be a disaster. Instead it broke records. What went right?

HOW DESPERATE CAN YOU GET? Months ago, when Disney began beating the drums for "George of the Jungle," absolutely no one was listening-- even when publicists dressed up as gorillas and pranced through newspaper newsrooms. "We tried everything to get attention, but we never got on anyone's summer 'to see' list," says producer Jordan Kerner. Still, audiences found"George" and fen for the offbeat humor--not to mention Brendan Fraser's buff hod. Other movies got lucky, too. No one expected a bad girl and her gay buddy to steal our hearts in "My Best Friend's Wedding." "Men in Black"? Last spring it was a dark horse with little advance buzz and no merchandising. Now it's the season's biggest hit. The real news this summer was the surprises.

Back in May record-breaking marketing budgets threatened to drown out anything not hyped to the moon. With 35 movies opening nationwide, at least 10 of which cost around $100 million each, the summer looked ominous. But when confronted with an oppressive number of movies to see, Americans did a strange thing: they went. Hollywood's profit margins may be shrinking because of the big budgets. But a record number of movie tickets were sold this summer, and now a record number of movies--10--should make $100 million in the United States. Of course, it helped that studios postponed a handful of "event" pictures, turning this fan into a sort of suburb of summer. Says Universal Studios chairman Casey Silver, "If 'Titanic' had been there, it would have been a lot more crowded. …

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