2002 disappointing for D'Works, profitable for M'max

Continuing Variety’s 2001 Wrap special spotlighting The Studios …

Sony

It was a fairly dismal year at Columbia Pictures, but not a total wash for Sony Pictures Entertainment.

How’s that again?

Sony now derives almost as many pics from Revolution Studios and specialty arm Screen Gems as it does from Columbia Pictures. Col released just a dozen pics, while Revolution unspooled six and Screen Gems had five — probably a good thing, given Col’s recent B.O. drubbing.

But while Col’s 2001 slate has been blockbuster-free, it did offer a few bright spots: Both the negative pickup of Intermedia’s “The Wedding Planner” and “A Knight’s Tale” were pics with sizable profits, taking in $60 and $57 million, respectively, in domestic B.O.

Nagging questions of who’ll succeed SPE chairman John Calley, 71, were postponed for another year. Calley renewed for 18 months last fall, giving Sony Corp. of America chair Howard Stringer time to dream up new ways of enticing Joe Roth to forsake his own Revolution and take the top job.

Col chairman Amy Pascal was quick to point out that while 2001 “wasn’t the year I hoped and dreamed of,” it did show some positive signs.

The 2002 Col slate was put together, she said, “with a mandate for franchisable movies that belong to the company,” and indeed, Pascal has delivered.

These include franchise actioners like “Men in Black 2” and “Spider-Man.” Even Col’s 2002 “chick” pics are poised to rip — Michael Apted’s Jennifer Lopez starrer “Enough” provides a surfeit of ass-whupping on abusive males, and a Memorial Day weekend launch could boost it at the B.O.

Equity partner Revolution, despite a turkey in “Tomcats,” delivered mostly profitable movies like “America’s Sweethearts,” “The One” and “The Animal.”

The news was rosy, too, at Screen Gems, which, with only five films delivered $96 million in grosses.

“We’ve finally figured out what we should be, and it’s working,” said Val Van Gelder, Screen Gems exec VP of marketing, adding, “keep the overhead low and strategically target your audience.”

That they did. An underserved black middle class responded heartily to Screen Gems’ “The Brothers” and “Two Can Play That Game”; also notable was “Snatch,” making Screen Gems a plus on the corporate balance sheet.

— Claude Brodesser

SONY

Picture
Release date

Domestic B.O.*

Charlie’s Angels
2000

2.5

The 6th Day
2000

0.2

Snatch+
2000

30.2

Vertical Limit
2000

16.6

Finding Forrestor
2000

46.5

The Wedding Planner
Jan. 26

60.4

Saving Silverman
Feb. 9

19.4

The Brothers
March 23

27.5

The Tailor of Panama
March 30

13.7

Tomcats
March 30

13.6

Joe Dirt
April 11

27.1

The Forsaken
April 27

7.3

A Knight’s Tale
May 11

56.6

The Trumpet of the Swan
May 11

0.3

The Animal
June 1

57.8

Baby Boy
June 27

28.7

The Crimson Rivers
June 29

0.2

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
July 11

32.1

America’s Sweethearts
July 20

93.6

Ghosts of Mars
Aug. 24

8.7

Funny Girl (re)
Aug. 31

0.2

Two Can Play That Game
Sept. 7

22.2

The Glass House
Sept. 14

18.0

Riding in Cars With Boys
Oct. 19

29.7

The One
Nov. 2

43.3

Not Another Teen Movie
Dec. 14

Ali
Dec. 25

Black Hawk Down
Dec. 28

Total Domestic B.O.
656.4

*in millions of $
+had week Oscar qualifying run, opened

wide in 2001

2002 release schedule

Black Hawk Down (wide)
Jan. 18

The Mothman Prophecies
Jan. 25

Slackers
Feb. 1

The New Guy
Feb. 22

Panic Room
March 8

Resident Evil
March 15

The Sweetest Thing
March 29

Lone Star State of Mind
April 12

Stealing Standford
2nd quarter

Spider Man
May 3

Enough
May 24

Love and Bullet
May 31

Master of Disguise
May 31

Mr. Deeds
June 21

Men In Black 2
July 3

Stuart Little 2
July 19

Triple X
Aug. 2

National Security
Aug./Sept.

51st State
Aug. 23

24 Hours
3rd quarter

Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Fall

Half Past Dead
Fall

Swept Away
Fall

I Spy
Nov. 2

Adam Sandler’s 8 Crazy Nights
Nov. 27

Chambermaid
Dec.

Perfect Stranger
Dec.

Adaptation
TBA

Paul Thomas Anderson Untitled
TBA

MGM

A handful of hits in 2001, including “Hannibal” and “Legally Blonde,” produced MGM’s highest annual domestic B.O. on record. But the Lion, which has been rebuilding by fits and starts since the Frank Mancuso era ended in 1999, is still in transition.

Under CEO Alex Yemenidjian and vice chair Chris McGurk, the studio released just 12 pics in 2001, which left it especially vulnerable to disappointments, like “Bandits” and “What’s the Worst That Can Happen.”

But a series of senior management moves — hiring Sony marketing topper Bob Levin to run worldwide distribution and marketing, installing Bingham Ray as head of UA and reupping MGM Pictures prexy Michael Nathanson — set the stage for a 2002 slate that McGurk said is likely to include up to 13 UA pics and eight from MGM.

“We have the senior management team in place across the entire organization and are moving forward with our strategic agenda,” McGurk said.

That includes a revitalized UA with a wide range of first-look deals. The low-budget UA horror pic, “Jeepers Creepers” provided a model for the sort of modest success that MGM hopes will continue to be the bread and butter supporting its occasional tentpoles.

“Everybody talks about our reliance on James Bond,” said McGurk. “The good news about 2002 is we have everything that was working in 2001, but we also have a Bond film.”

— Jonathan Bing

MGM

Picture
Release date

Domestic B.O.*

The Claim
2000

0.6

Antitrust
Jan. 12

11.3

Hannibal
Feb. 9

165.1

Heartbreakers
March 23

40.3

What’s the Worst that Could Happen
June 1

32.3

Legally Blonde
July 13

96.3

Ghost World
July 20

6.1

Original Sin
Aug. 3

16.5

Jeepers Creepers
Aug. 31

37.9

Born Romantic
Sept. 28

0.02

Bandits
Oct. 12

41.2

No Man’s Land
Dec. 7

0.02

Total Domestic B.O.

447.6

*in millions of $, through Dec. 9
2002 release schedule

A Rumor of Angels
Feb. 1

Rollerball
Feb. 8

Hart’s War
March 22

No Such Thing
March 29

Deuces Wild
April 26

CQ
May 3

Igby Goes Down
May 24

Windtalkers
June 14

The Crocodile Hunter
June 28

24 Hour Party People
June 28

Barbershop
July 12

Pumpkin
July

A Guy Thing
Aug.

Dark Blue
Sept.

Assasination Tango
Fall

City of Ghosts
Fall

All or Nothing
Fall

Bulletproof Mark
4th quarter

Bond 20
Nov. 22

Killing Me Softly
TBA

DreamWorks

After winning best picture Oscars two years in a row, it was easy to believe that DreamWorks could do no wrong.

Then came 2001. Outside of monster hit “Shrek” — a favorite to win the best animated film Oscar — the slate largely failed to meet expectations.

Aside from middling B.O. from Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt starrer “The Mexican,” which took in a little over $66 million domestically, pics like F/X-heavy sci-fi comedy/suspenser “Evolution,” prison drama “The Last Castle” and Woody Allen’s “Curse of the Jade Scorpion” all underperformed.

DreamWorks co-head Walter Parkes pointed out that if 2001 seems slender by comparison to the last two; it’s because much tentpole fare was pushed to 2002. “The Time Machine” and “The Road to Perdition” will preem in March and July, respectively.

The studio this year also hired a new face but an old hand in Michael De Luca, the former New Liner who’ll both oversee the bulk of day-to-day production and free up frequent Steven Spielberg collaborators Parkes and Laurie MacDonald to produce more pics on their own. One such project will be the 2002 holiday suspenser “Catch Me If You Can,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks in an FBI cat-and-mouse game.

De Luca will also be called upon to put together three or four pics that “reflect his sensibilities,” Parkes said.

“This more or less brings DreamWorks to the levels of production that were imagined for it when it was conceived,” DreamWorks distrib prexy Jim Tharp added.

For the coming year, studio brass is optimistic: DreamWorks shares both “Perdition” and the Tom Cruise starrer “Minority Report,” which co-founder and principal Spielberg helms, with Fox. It’s also releasing the broad comedy “The Tuxedo” with Jackie Chan.

It remains to be seen what sort of movies De Luca will choose to reflect his sensibilities, which while at NL ranged from thrillers like “Seven,” to comedies like “Austin Powers,” to high-brow pics like “Magnolia.”

— Claude Brodesser

DREAMWORKS

Picture
Release date

Domestic B.O. *

Gladiator
2000

1.1

What Lies Beneath
2000

0.01

Almost Famous
2000

0.6

The Contender
2000

0.02

The Legend of Bagger Vance
2000

0.009

An Everlasting Piece
2000

0.02

The Mexican
March 2

66.8

Shrek
May 16

267.7

Evolution
June 8

38.3

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion
Aug. 24

7.5

The Last Castle
Oct. 19

18.2

Total Domestic B.O.
 

400.3

*in millions of $ through Jan. 1
2002 Release Schedule

Road to Perdition
spring

The Time Machine
March 8

Hollywood Ending
May 3

Spirit
May 24

The Tuxedo
June 7

Ring
Aug. 9

Old School
summer

Catch Me if You Can
holiday

Miramax

For the second year in a row, Miramax is behaving more like a studio, less like an Oscar-monger. With 26 releases and a company record of nearly $1 billion domestic gross spread across Miramax and Dimension, the one-time specialty label continued to excel commercially.

But Miramax does still covet Oscars. Watching Sony Picture Classics’ Ang Lee-helmed “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” walk off with a best director Oscar last year was no thrill for Miramax.

Shortly thereafter, the studio nabbed a batch of Asian-language pics for U.S. distribution, or to remake, and aligned itself with Gotham specialty shingle Good Machine (the company behind “Tiger”).

Miramax has also returned to its roots, actively acquiring hot indie and Euro films. It swooped in at the Sundance Film Festival to nab the buzz pic, Todd Field’s “In the Bedroom,” starring Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson, which is generating Oscar heat; it released French click “Amelie,” a likely candidate for the foreign-lingo Oscar, and it acquired foreign arthouse gems “Behind the Sun” and “Baran.”

On the Dimension side, the surprise critical and commercial winner was “The Others,” starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Spanish filmmaker Alejandro Amenabar. Pic opened quietly in early August and has steadily grown at the B.O., in the process becoming Spain’s highest-grossing pic ever.

With far fewer releases than Miramax, Dimension continues as a cash cow for the studio, succeeding in an array of genres.

The youth-oriented “Spy Kids” clicked with $113 million while slasher teen pic “Scary Movie 2” scored $71 million. With “The Others,” Dimension grabbed three of the company’s five highest-grossing pics of the year, the other two being Miramax’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary” ($71.5 million) and holdover “Chocolat” ($71.5 million in 2001).

“There’s no genre that I won’t take on,” said Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein. Though Dimension acquired the Robert Harmon pic “They,” the company shies away from acquisitions and foreign films, still Miramax’s domain.

“We have achieved the balance that we have been looking for,” said Miramax’s L.A. president Mark Gill. “Films like ‘The Closet,’ ‘With a Friend Like Harry,’ ‘Apocalypse Now Redux’ and ‘In the Bedroom’ have done insanely well.”

Despite such successes relative to their budgets, Miramax continues to pump its marketing dollars into more mainstream fare like “Bridget Jones,” “Serendipity,” “Kate & Leopold” and “The Shipping News.” Such pics represent greater risks for the studio. But that risk is one Miramax can now afford to take.

Still, the industry will be watching closely in 2002 when Miramax releases its most ambitious and expensive effort to date — the Martin Scorsese-helmed “Gangs of New York,” expected to unspool at the Cannes Intl. Film Festival and bow in the fall.

— Charles Lyons

MIRAMAX

Picture
Release date

Domestic B.O.*

Calle 54
2000

0.1

Bounce
2000

0.1

Hard Day’s Night (re)
2000

0.4

Chocolat
2000

67.3

Wes Craven Presents Dracula
2000

11.5

All the Pretty Horses
2000

6.5

Malena
2000

3

Vatel
2000

0.02

Blow Dry
March 7

0.6

Get Over It
March 9

11.6

Spy Kids
March 30

112.7

Bridget Jones’s Diary
April 13

71.5

With a Friend Like Harry
April 20

3.8

About Adam
May 9

0.2

The Closet
June 29

6.7

Everybody’s Famous!
July 3

0.1

Scary Movie 2
July 4

71.3

Apocalypse Now Redux
Aug. 3

4.6

The Others
Aug. 10

96.5

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Aug. 24

30.1

Serendipity
Oct. 5

50.3

Iron Monkey (re)
Oct. 12

14.7

My Voyage to Italy
Oct. 24

0.01

On the Line
Oct. 26

4.4

Amelie
Nov. 2

16.3

In the Bedroom
Nov. 23

2.4

Texas Rangers
Nov. 30

0.6

Baran
Dec. 7

0.04

Pinero
Dec. 13

0.04

Behind the Sun
Dec. 12

0.04

Iris
Dec. 14

0.05

Kate & Leopold
Dec. 21

22.1

The Shipping News
Dec. 25

2.8

Total Domestic B.O.

612.4

*in millions

of $, through Jan. 1

2002 Release Schedule

Imposter
Jan. 4

Italian for Beginners
Jan. 18

Birthday Girl
Feb. 1

The Son’s Room
Feb. 1

Below
Feb. 8

Waking Up in Reno
Feb. 15

40 Days and 40 Nights
March 1

Stolen Summer
March 1

Undisputed
March

Full Frontal
March 8

Heaven
March 15

The Accidental Spy
Spring

Kung-Fu Soccer
April 5

A View From the Top
April 19

Zu Warriors
TBA

The Third Wheel
2nd qtr.

Prozac Nation
May 10

Cinema Paradiso (dir. Cut)
May 17

Importance of Being Earnest
May 31

Halloween: The Homecoming
Summer

Rabbit-Proof Fence
June 21

Buffalo Soldiers
July

Gangs of New York
July 12

The Warrior
July 26

The Darkness
Aug. 2

Spy Kids 2
Aug. 7

Duplex
3rd qtr.

Naqoyqatsi
Oct.

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Nov. 22

Pinocchio
Dec. 20

Chicago
Dec. 25

New Line

What a difference a day makes. On Dec. 19, all of New Line’s transgressions stood to be forgiven with the release of “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

With the release of “Ring” which had earned $155 million by the end of the year, New Line is in the unique position of having the best year in its history — even though the studio seemed to spend much of 2001 in a defensive posture.

The year began with a layoff of some 100 staffers, continued with the exit of production president Michael De Luca and marketing topper Joe Nimziki (replaced by Toby Emmerich and Russell Schwartz, respectively) and was followed by the release of the disastrous “Town and Country.”

Topping it all off was a string of underperforming movies and rumors that the studio could be shrunk to a mere label and placed under Warner Bros. Pictures.

“It was a year in transition,” New Line co-chairman/co-CEO Bob Shaye said. “There was a change in production philosophy. We want to make films as if we’re using our own money and look for complementary films to the mainstream productions that our sister company Warner Bros. is doing.”

With the flop of would-be franchises like the Snoop Dogg-starrer “Bones,” it would seem that New Line is still tinkering with that formula.

“We took some hits and had some disappointments,” said Emmerich. “I think ‘Bones’ fell a little bit too short of the mark.”

At the same time, New Line released the highly successful sequel “Rush Hour 2,” which stands as the fourth most successful film of 2001.

As for Fine Line, the division kept a low profile with just three films in release. However, division prexy Mark Ordesky had his excuses: He was the hands-on overseer for “Lord of the Rings.”

The studio is planning a 2002 slate that includes the first greenlight of the Emmerich regime, Ice Cube’s “All About the Benjamins,” as well as the continuation of five franchises: “Jason X,” “Blade 2,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” “Friday After Next” and, of course, “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

— Dana Harris

NEW LINE

Picture
Release date

Domestic B.O.*

Little Nicky
2000

0.6

Dungeons and Dragons
2000

1

Before Night Falls+
2000

4

State and Main+
2000

5.4

Thirteen Days
2000

34.3

Sugar & Spice
Jan. 26

13.3

The Invisible Circus+
Feb. 2

0.08

15 Minutes
March 9

24.4

Blow
April 9

53

Town & Country
April 27

6.7

The Anniversary Party+
June 8

4

Hedwig and the Angry Inch+
July 20

3.1

Rush Hour 2
Aug. 3

226.2

Bones
Oct. 24

7.3

Life as a House
Oct. 26

15.7

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship
Dec. 19

174.1

I Am Sam
Dec. 28

0.07

Total Domestic B.O.

573.3

*in millions of $, through Jan. 1
+Fine Line features
2002 release schedule

Storytelling+
Jan. 25

John Q
Feb. 15

All About the Benjamins
March 8

Blade 2
March 29

Invincible+
March 29

Human Nature+
April 12

The Sleeping Dictionary+
June 7

Austin Powers in Goldmember
July 26

Ripley’s Game
October

The Friday After Next
Thanksgiving

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Dec. 18

Cheaters
TBA

Run Ronnie Run
TBA

Jason X
TBA

Knockaround Guys
TBA

Simone
TBA

About Schmidt
TBA

Diablo
TBA

Unconditional Love
TBA

+Fine Line features

Read the first part of the 2001 Wraps: The Studios series, spotlighting Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Disney, and Fox.

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