HIGH POINTS: “Mrs. Doubtfire” turned in a boffo year-end for 20th Century Fox , one of only how many exactly? holiday films to pass the $ 100 million mark. After a slow winter, the studio began to see healthy signs of B.O. life with such spring and summer films as “Hot Shots! Part Deux,””The Sandlot,””Rookie of the Year,””Robin Hood: Men in Tights” and “Rising Sun.” Fox chairman Peter Chernin chalks it up not only to the films themselves but to a “solid job” in marketing and distribution.
LOW POINTS: That darn winter, when nothing the studio released seemed to work. It started with “The Vanishing” in February and quickly fell to “Best of the Best 2,””Hear No Evil” and “Jack the Bear.” Studio execs say it was a lineup of films that just didn’t work, but it put the studio in a three- to four-month malaise as Chernin was trying to make his mark as the new studio head.
RISING STARS: Drew Barrymore, one of an ensemble in Fox’s upcoming Western girls flick “Bad Girls”; producer David Mickey Evans, who wrote and directed “The Sandlot” and has a deal on the Fox lot with partner Dale de la Torre; actor-turned-director Daniel Stern, who helmed “Rookie of the Year” and is now signed to a deal on the lot; Michael Lehmann , director on the upcoming “Airheads.”
PETER’S PHILOSOPHY: Since taking the reins at Fox at the end of ’92, Chernin has strived to make Fox a studio with a diverse slate. “I’ve wanted to see this studio doing a combination of big-budgeted movies and average-budgeted movies, and then a number of moderate films that have strong concepts,” he said. “The 1994 lineup reflects that philosophy. I think a lot of people have been anxious to categorize us as a studio that does only family films or small comedies. But we are doing a much wider and varied lineup.”
Chernin would also like to increase the studio’s annual output by three or four films — they released 14 films in 1993. “I’d actually like to up it significantly, but it’s a long and arduous process,” he said. “And while I’d like to see us producing more, I’m not convinced that 60 films a year is the number.”
OUTLOOK FOR ’94: The studio has continued to increase its development activities, almost doubling the number of deals during the last half of ’93. They expect to have a lot of material from which to choose in 1994 for following years, coming from a stable of mostly young and rising talent. The studio will also continue with the big-budget summer releases — they have two — and havea number of action, comedy and family films on tap.
WHY FOX MAY GO IN THE DIAPER BIZ: John Hughes’ big budgeter “Baby’s Day Out” is getting good advance word before its summer ’94 release. And Fox signed a development deal with kiddie-oriented Nickelodeon during ’93.