THE MEETING SHOULD BE taking place any day now, and while its specifics won’t be reported in the press, the discussion probably will run something like this:
“The picture worked big time,” Dick Cook will say in his role as chairman of the Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group. “The trouble is, Michael Eisner wants details on ‘Pearl Harbor II.’ Didn’t any of you people think of that when you got us into this thing?”
“Don’t panic,” says Peter Schneider, chairman of Disney Studios. “We can do MacArthur’s debacle at Bataan. We can even take another pass at Iwo Jima.”
“Just as long as we stay with the basic formula,” producer Jerry Bruckheimer puts in. “No big stars. No gross participants. And everyone defers everything. That’s the Eisner way.”
“Except I think we should pay the writer this time,” Nina Jacobson, president of Buena Vista, says. “When he left without finishing the script…”
“No one noticed,” continues Cook. “You don’t need characters in a movie like this. You need young people with good bodies, and then you let marketing do the rest.”
“DIALOGUE IS A TOTAL ANACHRONISM in our pop culture,” Schneider adds. “We proved that in ‘Lion King.’ Did anyone miss dialogue, or a score for that matter?”
“I think we have to do more for the Japanese and German markets next time,” Bruckheimer contends. “Those last-minute dubs in ‘Pearl Harbor’ will make the Japanese feel happy about the war. They’ll mean millions at the box office.”
“The German market still needs help,” says Cook. “Maybe there could be a subplot — Nazi defectors turn up on Iwo Jima and turn the tide. That sort of thing.”
“I can feel the elements coming together,” observes Bruckheimer. “We don’t need characters or dialogue — we agree on that. But we still need the big action sequences. We need special effects. And we need Michael Bay. I warn you guys — he won’t defer his salary next time. He got killed in the stock market.”
“Then forget him,” says Schneider. “There’s got to be another kid out there with a hot cigarette commercial…”
“THAT REMINDS ME — we’ve got to show someone smoking in our sequel,” notes Cook. “I mean, even the guard dogs smoked during World War II and there was not one ciggie in our movie. The tobacco companies are all over me.”
“I’m still worried about synergies,” says Schneider. “We need to pull a theme park ride from the sequel. I’ve seen the mock-up of the ‘Pearl Harbor’ ride and it doesn’t cut it. American kids don’t want to climb into a boat and get the shit kicked out of them by a swarm of dive bombers.”
“Pardon my language. I mean, it’ll play big in Japan, but…”
“That’s why, if we go the Iwo Jima route, we need a fresh element,” says Bruckheimer. “We need a creature coming out of the sea. Or a celestial accident like in ‘Armageddon.’ ”
“Calm down, Jerry,” Jacobson puts in. “We can play games with history, but within limits.”
“Just give us the bare bones of a story, and marketing will do the rest,” Dick Cook repeats reassuringly.
“It always does,” Schneider says, flashing a rare smile.
And so the project is officially lodged in the development books under the code name “Pearl II.” At last report, 12 writers were assigned to it.