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Fox gives ‘Hoffa’ bow 70mm boost

Further positioning its upcoming holiday release “Hoffa” as a major motion picture event, 20th Century Fox has decided to go out with 75-100 70mm prints of the film to lock up a bigger number of premiere houses.

Moreover, speculation is that Fox is planning to push back the opening of the Danny DeVito-directed Jimmy Hoffa biopic from a limited run on Dec. 11 to a broad 1,000-screen release on Christmas Day specifically to capitalize on the heat of Columbia’s “A Few Good Men.”

Sources indicate that Fox is banking on Tom Cruise, the star of “Few Good Men ,” opening that movie big and consequently creating a lot of heat around co-star Jack Nicholson, who’s the star of “Hoffa” and not quite the box office draw he once was. Nicholson, who portrays the former Teamsters boss, is touted as a likely contender in best actor Oscar race.

Fox executive VP Tom Sherak skirted the issue of whether Fox was planning to move “Hoffa” off its Dec. 11 date, noting: “Release dates don’t get set in stone , we’re going to do what’s best for the movie.” Fox’s original strategy was to open “Hoffa” on 500-600 screens on that date, widening to around 1,000 on Christmas.

The movie, which was shown in rough cut to Fox’s foreign managers when they gathered here two weeks ago, will be screened for the press in early November and for exhibitors later in the month pre-Thanksgiving.

While Fox and Columbia are busy playing a cat-and-mouse game over “Hoffa” and “Few Good Men,” the two studios recently collided in the theaters when Fox’s unexpected hit “The Last of the Mohicans” sucked the life out of Columbia’s two newcomers “Mr. Saturday Night,” which opened against it Sept. 25, and “Hero,” which came out a week later. With “Mohicans,” Fox also went out with some 70mm runs, though it was only 12. Nonetheless, the choice to go 70mm with “Mohicans” paid off handsomely for Fox, with nine of those runs winding up in the top 12 grossing markets in the country for the movie. “Mohicans” has grossed $ 26 million in 13 days in release.

Sherak said, “The idea of being in 70mm normally means the bigger the theaters and that’s what we’re looking for and want to present to the public.” While he said “there’s nothing wrong with 35mm, ‘Hoffa’ is a big movie with big scope that we believe in and think is an American epic, so we’re trying to set the stage for it.”

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