NEW LINE POWERS LUNCH

LAS VEGAS — New Line Cinema kept it short and sweet with an “Austin Powers” lunch and a solid, if not high-powered product reel at its presentation Thursday for theater owners at ShoWest ’97.

The studio brought in Mike Meyers to hype his newest pic, “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” which also supplied the 1960s theme of the luncheon, complete with TV meals in aluminum foil trays and lava lamps on the tables.

Meyers, dressed like his character in a ’60s-styled bright blue suit, ruffled shirt and horn-rimmed glasses, told the theater owners in a brittle British accent that he was giving them a “license to shag.” Flanked on either side by two go-go girls in miniskirts dancing to Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual,” Meyers explained to the crowd of 2,700: “Stewardesses, go-go girls and theater owners love to shag, baby.”

His co-star Elizabeth Hurley was on hand, decked in a pink miniskirt. New Line brass also were in attendance: chairman Bob Shaye, president and chief operating officer Michael Lynne, president of production Michael De Luca, Fine Line Features president Ruth Vitale and exec VP Jonathan Weisgal.

New Line’s reel was short on big-ticket items, but exhibs reacted well to some of the studio’s mid-budget pics, including “Austin Powers,” the sci-fi thriller “Spawn,” Alex Proyas’ “Dark City,” “One Night Stand” with Wesley Snipes under Mike Figgis’ direction, “Most Wanted” starring Keenen Ivory Wayans, and “Money Talks” with Chris Tucker and Charlie Sheen.

Perhaps the biggest reaction arose for a promo for “Freddy vs. Jason,” the long-awaited marriage of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” franchise series. Exhibs applauded and howled at the concept, which originally had been presented at the Cannes Film Festival.

Conspicuously absent from the display was a clip from “Boogie Nights,” New Line’s upcoming paean to the porn industry. Al Shapiro, exec VP of distribution, said the film wasn’t fully finished and a suitable trailer couldn’t be cut.

Trailers for Fine Line product were also well-received, including the Mercedes Ruehl pic “Roseanna’s Grave.” But a distinct hush followed the clip on “Love! Valour! Compassion!,” a pic about seven gay men in a summer house on Long Island, which has garnered good industry buzz so far. One insider hinted that the ShoWest crowd might not have been ready for the subject matter.

Breath of fresh air

After three days of long-winded, star-driven presentations — including Warner Bros.’ 3 hour and 45 minute extravaganza, exhibs said the hour and 45 minute New Line show was a breath of fresh air closing the convention. “I was impressed with the New Line lunch — the whole theme and the length,” said Mike Wiorek of Cinemastar Luxury Theaters in Oceanside.

Mitch Goldman, president of marketing and distribution, said the brief presentation with just a few stars was a calculated decision to aim for a different approach. He said overall that this year’s ShoWest was one of the biggest in his memory “in terms of star power and media.”

“It was very good for the industry,” Goldman said. “Exhibitors should be bullish about the future.”

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