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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