Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Autumn Rush Makes for Crowded Movie Theaters

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Autumn Rush Makes for Crowded Movie Theaters

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- John Grisham, Sissy Spacek, and Neil Jordan, the director of The Crying Game, may have absolutely nothing in common -- except a common fascination with Oct. 11.

The interests of Woody Harrelson, Nick Nolte, Richard Dreyfuss, Bill Murray and Gena Rowlands might be as different as night and day, but all are focused on Nov. 1.

And the followers of Oct. 25 are almost too numerous to mention.

Fall's movie season may be even more competitive than summer's. Autumn films are crowded around release dates like deer to a salt lick, with more than 120 movies set to open between Labor Day and Christmas. The majority will debut helter-skelter before the end of November.

While some movies will change their premiere dates and flee for safer ground, the fall season will nevertheless be a blood bath. A movie audience that has not grown in years cannot support so many titles, and there are bound to be some momentous bombs.

In the summer, studio executives typically try to counterprogram: When a big action movie is debuting, it makes a lot more sense to open a children's comedy or a mature drama on the same date than another action film.

The Walt Disney Co.'s Phenomenon premiered alongside Independence Day in July, but wasn't swallowed by the alien film because Phenomenon played to a largely different audience.

In the fall, there are so many movies the counterprogramming philosophy can't work. Thus, on some weekends, several movies targeted to nearly identical demographics will be introduced.

On Oct. 11, for example, three action films appealing to young males are all set to be introduced: The Chamber, Grisham's legal thriller set in death row; The Long Kiss Goodnight, in which Geena Davis plays an amnesiac slowly learning about her violent past; and Ghost in the Darkness, pairing Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer in a tale of lions and their hunters.

Since fall is typically the season for more sophisticated works, there also will be an overflow of films from quality filmmakers. …

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