Madonna’s Latest ‘Dare’ Tests Concert Pic Waters

Music mavens tend to prefer their icons live or on Memorex, and Madonna’s huge appeal hasn’t transferred easily to films. So Hollywood is closely monitoring Miramax’ U.S. release of Propaganda’s Madonna docu, “Truth Or Dare,” which opens in N.Y. and L.A. May 10.

Rare is the concert pic that brings home hefty b.o., but the Madonna film is more than a performance movie. Only about half an hour of the Material Girl’s 1990 concerts is showcased in living color. It’s the black & white backstage shenanigans that attract the most attention (see review, page 335).

The publicity bandwagon has already picked up such momentum that Miramax marketing chief Russell Schwartz says he’s actually trying to slow down the coverage.

“There’s so much publicity breaking on the film,” says Schwartz. “She generates headlines wherever she goes. We’re trying to control it now, spread it out. We’re not even giving people filmclips.”

Vanity Fair already ran its annual Madonna cover story, followed by New York magazine and People. Don Shewey’s Madonna interview in the gay bi-weekly. The Advocate sold out 80,000 issues in three days and wound up plastered all over the front page of the New York Daily News (the second installment is just hitting newsstands). This week Madonna graces the covers of the L.A. Times Sunday Calendar and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications; a Rolling Stone cover is upcoming.

At an April press junket in L.A., 35 writers from around the country interviewed the star and her director, 26-year-old Alek Kasheshian. Richard Corliss’ Time magazine rave, which ran a week early, said Madonna “gives great mind jobs.”

The Hollywood and New York entertainment communities are scrambling for tickets to the AIDS benefit premiere parties on May 6 and 8; that coverage, along with a major MTV promotion, will boost the opening weekend. Entertainment Tonight has already aired one feature. A “Good Morning America” two-parter runs May 9 and 10.

And the world press corps descends on Madonna at Cannes May 12 and 13, where pressagent Dennis Davidson promises the film festival’s biggest party event. “Cannes was always part of the game plan,” proclaims Miramax co-owner and showman Harvey Weinstein.

Miramax is not targeting Madonna fans so much as “people who are movie aware,” says Schwartz. “We wanted Madonna and Alek to speak to the mainstream press. The movie is a serious film, not just a pop story. It’s also important to let people know it’s fun – not heavy-handed.”

While “Truth Or Dare” is clearly nonfiction, it could boast the same crossover appeal of two films starring pop stars, Prince’s “Purple Rain” and the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.”

The R-rated pic, preceded by an R-rated trailer, widens slowly May 17. “We’re starting with 350 prints,” says Schwartz. “We don’t want strong word of mouth to come and go quickly. The film should generate enough controversy and discussion so that a lot of people will want to see it – not just the first or second week, but through a long run.”

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