Short and sweet

Positive vibes for New Line lunch, pic clips

LAS VEGAS — Unspooling its 1998 product reel Wednesday at ShoWest, New Line Cinema drew the expected “oohs” and “aaahs” for Gary Ross’ “Pleasantville” and Tony Kaye’s hate-crime study “American History X.”

But the studio was clearly proudest of a new record: New Line finished its presentation, which included a full lunch and the introduction of stars along with the reel, in less than 1 hour, 45 minutes — a good hour shorter than Sony’s display on Tuesday.

“We’ve broken our own record,” chirped New Line prexy of domestic distribution Al Shapiro to the 3,000-plus exhibs after the show.

The proclamation, while amusing, touched on an issue of concern for many ShoWesters: the lengthy and sometimes boring presentations of studio material at the confab. Last year Warner Bros. held ShoWest auds captive for four hours to unveil a slate that ultimately proved a disappointment. New Line’s 1997 presentation came in at one hour, 45 minutes.

Shapiro and New Line distribution and marketing prexy Mitch Goldman were joined on the dais by a sampling of stars from their films: Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, Ice Cube, Edward Furlong, Holly Hunter, Chris Tucker, Danny DeVito and Jada Pinkett Smith.

It was an upgrade from last year’s lunch, which offered a single theme of 1960s retro-chic tied to the promotion of “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” with only Mike Myers and Elizabeth Hurley in Vegas.

As for the reel, reaction was guardedly optimistic to the clips for New Line’s “Lost in Space,” the bigscreen version of the 1960s TV series.

The pic carries a budget of some $90 million, making it New Line’s most expensive pic ever. But the studio is counting on a decent domestic B.O. as well as ancillary streams from merchandising and foreign revenue.

“Pleasantville,” which stars Allen and Daniels along with Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon, is about two teens that get trapped in the black and white world of a 1950s “Leave It to Beaver”-like show. Pic had the ShoWest aud applauding.

“American History X,” which stars Furlong and Edward Norton, looked to win the controversy award of the year with its depiction of skinheads and Nazi sympathizers in the U.S.

DeVito and Hunter both came to plug “Living Out Loud,” a low-budget Richard La Gravanese pic about an elevator operator and a posh divorcee.

Jackie Chan and Tucker’s “Rush Hour” also had the ShoWest crowd chuckling over Chan’s stunts and Tucker’s comments. Tucker and Chan filmed a special message for ShoWest in which they pleaded with exhibs to take their pic.

Other pics on the reel included Chan’s other New Line release, “Mr. Nice Guy”; the Ice Cube starrer “The Players Club”; “Woo” with Pinkett and Tommy Davidson; and the Wesley Snipes vampire-themed actioner “Blade.”

Fine Line was included as well with clips from Barbara Kopple’s Woody Allen docu “Wild Man Blues,” “The Legend of the Pianist on the Ocean” with Tim Roth, “Passion in the Desert” and the Kenneth Branagh/Helena Bonham Carter starrer “Theory of Flight.” The company also plugged John Waters’ latest project, “Pecker.”

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