HIGH POINTS: The studio had one of the best years in its history, with the highest-grossing motion picture of all time in “Jurassic Park.” The studio also saw profits on “Cop and a Half,””Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story,””Scent of a Woman” and “Carlito’s Way” and were expecting good things from “Beethoven’s 2nd” and “Schindler’s List.” Filmmaker relationships continue to be productive. Steven Spielberg remains the big kahuna, making both B.O. blockbusters and critically acclaimed Oscar material. The Imagine deal is cooking on high, with three films for spring of ’94. The company topped itself in terms of marketing the hill with the opening of CityWalk, the retail extravaganza that aims to be what Westwood once was.
LOW POINTS: High expectations did not bear fruit for such films as “Heart and Souls” and “Lorenzo’s Oil.” The latest Kim Basinger film, “The Real McCoy,” fell out real fast. The animated “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” failed to find big dino dollars in big brother “Jurassic Park’s” wake. The studio was targeted by a sniper in April, with nine people wounded.
RISING STARS: It was the year of screenwriter David Koepp, who not only penned “Jurassic Park” but also wrote “Carlito’s Way,””The Paper” and “The Shadow.” Director Brian Levant is also getting buzz after advance screenings on ’94’s “The Flintstones.”
WHAT WAS DIFFERENT: The studio went into 1993 pledging to cut its negative costs by 25%. They accomplished it and, according to execs, were still able to put substantial push behind “Jurassic Park.” So the same reduction will continue in 1994, with only “The Flintstones” getting a big spenders push. “We believe the 1993 philosophy worked very well and we will try to continue it in 1994,” noted MCA Motion Picture Group chair Tom Pollock.
TOM’S BIG BEEF: “The film business is not a business of market share, it’s a business of profitability,” Pollock said, commenting on the fact that Universal came in third in the market share surveys. “In 1993, we averaged over $ 35 million per release. We did close to $ 700 million with 19 films, while Disney will have done about $ 750 million on 38 to 39 films. With an average of about $ 22 million per film (for Disney), I can tell you which studio is more profitable.” Pollock says the “volume strategy” is nothing more than a myth, that it’s “silly” to think volume is the way to profitability. “You inevitably end up making too many bad films,” he said. “This is a business of hits, not of market share. If we could find more than 20 good scripts, we would make them. But we have a tough enough time just finding the 20 or so scripts.”
OUTLOOK FOR ’94: “One of the things about having a year as good as 1993 is that business always goes in cycles,” says Pollock. “A ‘Jurassic Park’ only comes along once in a decade, but we have a very good slate in front of us.”
REASONS WHY STEVEN SPIELBERG IS REALLY A FAMILY MAN: “Jurassic Park” may have been tough for little kids, but Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment will make up for it in 1994, producing three of U’s big family blockbusters –“Casper,””The Flintstones” and “Little Rascals.”
REASONS WHY ’94 MAY BE GLENN CLOSE’S YEAR: Besides starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” at the Shubert, she will also have a meaty role in the upcoming Imagine film “The Paper.” Sources say that Close dukes it out with co-star Michael Keaton in a hilarious hair-pulling fight.