‘Money Train’ Flap Won’t Stop N.Y. Filming Push

With a lineup of nine major studio films due to shoot in New York in the usually dormant month of January, Gotham is trying to assure filmmakers its cooperation won’t wane after the tragic subway token booth torchings said to be modeled on “Money Train.”

The Transit Authority, finally becoming more cooperative after years of foot-dragging, won’t use the tragic burning of a token clerk as an excuse to go back to its old habits, and city film commish Pat Scott said the city will not censor film scripts.

Though presidential aspirant Sen. Bob Dole seems to think he’s found his Willie Horton issue by targeting “Money Train’s” violence, sources involved in the pic’s formative stages said they researched swarms of true subway attacks and chose the booth torching because they were told it couldn’t happen anymore due to automatic halon extinguishing systems in booths. They didn’t realize clerks cover the sensors so they can smoke cigarettes, which makes the filmmakers about as culpable as the tobacco industry.

What’s more vexing about “Money Train” is how quickly it went from being a runaway money train to a disappointing money drain for Columbia. Early gross projections of $100 million-plus dropped to $40 million, a disaster for a film that might have cost $80 million. The failure could drive another nail in the coffin of formula buddy action movies, which, with the exception of “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” are disappointing with regularity; recent examples include “Fair Game, ” “Judge Dredd” and “Assassins.”

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