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MGM reel unspools at ShoWest

Gleason hot for this year's titles

LAS VEGAS — Seeking to strike while “Hannibal” is hot, MGM screened a product reel Tuesday for exhibitors at ShoWest that showcased its ramped-up 2001 film slate. After the reel, the Lion offered the first full screening of upcoming comedy “Heartbreakers.”

“We were in a transitional phase in 2000. We’ve had a lot of transitions in recent years,” noted Larry Gleason, MGM’s distribution and marketing prexy. “But in 2001, we’ve already had the first $100 million movie in ‘Hannibal,’ and I have a feeling there are going to be a couple more out of this group.”

Reel used snippets of “Hannibal” as well as a dozen or more classic MGM titles including “The Wizard of Oz” and “Rocky,” to chart the company’s history and recent resurgence.

Subdued reaction

Crowd reaction to the trailers was low-key. Some oohs and aahs greeted a few of the flashier titles, including the John McTiernan-helmed “Rollerball,” Reese Witherspoon laffer “Legally Blonde” and Bruce Willis/Billy Bob Thornton caper pic “Bandits.” The screening of “Heartbreakers,” which opens wide March 23, drew consistently warm response and rippling laughs.

MGM plugged nine upcoming releases Tuesday, as well as seven films billed as “in production.” The list includes heist comedy “What’s the Worst That Can Happen?” with Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito and “Windtalkers,” a World War II drama that reunites helmer John Woo with “Face/Off” star Nicolas Cage. Listed on a program given to attendees but not included in the product reel were “Ghost World” and “Monster.”

MGM reel was the first of three skedded during ShoWest. Warner Bros. and Disney host back-to-back demos Thursday. DreamWorks and Miramax are screening individual pics and hosting parties.

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