Pumped ‘Spy Kids’ are double agents

Miramax gives 'Spy' a new small fry try

In one of the more novel release slottings in the crowded late summer, Miramax/Dimension’s “Spy Kids” is back for an encore, supported by a glitzy marketing campaign and boasting “never before seen” footage.

B.O. prospects for the “Kids” redux are modest at best. But it’s a notable move if only as a release-strategy curio.

That the Robert Rodriguez-helmed pic is getting a lavish re-release so soon after its inaugural bow is considered highly unusual. Launches of extended-cut movies are generally reserved for arty film classics, and though Disney has re-released the occasional family pic, it’s generally been years later.

One precedent does exist — Disney’s “The Lion King.” Blockbuster toon followed a June 1994 bow with a re-release in November of the same year, padding the original B.O. by 15%. Pic amassed more than $312 million domestically.

The special-edition “Kids,” which opens in more than 1,500 locations today, will battle three other wide openers this weekend, including Universal’s much-anticipated “American Pie 2.” Some suggest the sequel could double the $18.7 million bow for the 1999 original, while last week’s No. 1 pic, “Rush Hour 2” from 20th Century Fox, could drive another $30 million with even a greater than 50% drop in its soph sesh.

Elsewhere, Warner Bros.’ mostly animated “Osmosis Jones” laffer from the Farrelly brothers is also expected to pick up decent B.O. coin, tracking moderately well with young auds of both genders. And a strong soph-sesh for Disney’s G-rated “The Princess Diaries” — a solid opener last weekend — could pick “Spy’s” pockets, too.

Against such competish, handicappers place long odds on “Spy Kids” doing better than the single-digit millions most forecast for Dimension’s debuting suspenser “The Others.”

Punching up

But distrib spent less than $2 million on top of an original negative cost just north of $30 million to punch up “Kids” and mint new prints, with marketing bringing re-release costs to $5 million, execs estimated. The original version of “Spy Kids” has sleuthed out $127.6 million worldwide so far, including $106.4 million domestically since a March 30 bow that saw pic top B.O. rankings for the first of three consecutive frames.

Miramax co-topper and Dimension boss Bob Weinstein said distrib will be happy to break even with the “Kids” re-release, as it considers the move a good way of hyping the mid-September debut of “Spy Kids” on homevid.

Noting a $10 million domestic haul for the re-release pic would roughly recoup costs after exhibs’ split, Weinstein said, “I don’t think we can lose.”

It’s interesting to note that “Spy Kids 2” will begin lensing next month with the “Kids” special edition still playing in theaters. Sequel is set for release next summer.

It’s also intriguing Miramax is crossing swords with corporate cousin Disney over the youth aud. The Mouse House’s aims to keep its “Princess Diaries” in theaters through Labor Day.

Meanwhile, New Line hopes “Rush Hour 2” can avoid the precipitous drops marked by other big summer openers in its upcoming soph sesh. Things are looking good after action comedy followed its $67.4 million bow last weekend with a nearly $10 million gross on Monday.

But don’t look for Regal Cinemas to help in that quest. There’s been speculation exhib would come to New Line hat in hand to secure “Rush Hour 2” in later weeks after missing out on its boffo bow due to a film-fees flap.

Mending fences

That’s effectively what Regal did later in the run of DreamWorks’ surprise hit “Galaxy Quest” a couple of years ago after initially passing on the sci-fi spoof, but no such entreaty has been placed in this case. On the other hand, it looks like the parties will try to mend fences before the Dec. 19 release of New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

“We remain committed to resolving the difference between our two companies,” Regal chief operating officer Greg Dunn said.

Regal was miffed at New Line over distrib’s shift to a “firm terms” policy on film fees, an approach increasingly popular with distribs in which film fees are negotiated in advance of a pic’s run instead of afterwards.

“They offered us less than what they paid for the original (‘Rush Hour’),” New Line spokesman Steve Elzer said. So New Line balked, and Regal walked.

Elsewhere, U hopes “American Pie 2” comes out of the oven smoking this weekend, following a sleeper-hit perf by the original.

“The audience that loved it the first time around will go see it,” U distrib prexy Nikki Rocco said.

Young, but not too young

But that means mostly young males, Rocco acknowledged, and pic’s R-rating will limit how young a crowd this “Pie” can be served to. Theater owners have beefed up enforcement of admission policies on “R” pics since the original unspooled.

Baking costs hit $30 million this time — up from $11 million in production costs on the first “Pie” — but contrary to the initial outing, U holds all worldwide rights and could enjoy a profits pig-out. Sequel visits more than 2,900 domestic theaters beginning Friday.

“Osmosis Jones” offers a rather unique combo of animation — repping maybe three-fourths of the film — and live action. But unlike past tooner/live mixes like “Space Jam” or, more recently, “Monkeybone,” thesps don’t interact onscreen with animated characters.

Pic gets 2,305 engagements starting Friday.

“The Others,” set for more than 1,600 playdates, has been tracking stronger with older and younger femmes. Dimension execs believe part of the problem has been males’ preoccupation with “American Pie 2,” but they still hope to snag some Y chromosomes by suspenser’s Friday bow.

Several specialty pics get limited bows this weekend. And Miramax’s “Apocalypse Now Redux,” the well-reviewed expanded cut of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War classic, expands to 10 additional cities from L.A.-Gotham exclusives.

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