HOLLYWOOD — Film biz pundits have been so obsessed with the recent headaches of DreamWorks and Paramount that the studios’ newfound love affair has pretty much gone unnoticed.
So far this summer, the two studios combined can barely manage a 6% share of business — less than one-third of the share of either Buena Vista or Universal.
Par’s total domestic B.O. gross for the year through July 27 is $388 million; DreamWorks clocks in at $228 million. (Disney leads the pack with $966 million.)
But better days may be coming for DreamWorks and Par, which are teaming on no fewer than seven projects.
The co-financed ventures include five in development:
- “Elizabethtown”: Cameron Crowe’s romantic comedy with Kirsten Dunst. Par-based Cruise/Wagner Prods. is producing and shooting could start next year.
- “Killing Pablo”: the tale of the hunt for Pablo Escobar, to be directed by Joe Carnahan (“Narc”) after he finishes “Mission: Impossible 3.”
- “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”: a remake of the Danny Kaye comedy with DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg attached to direct Jim Carrey.
- “Collateral”: Tom Cruise in a rare role as a bad guy, directed by Michael Mann, with Cruise/Wagner producing. Shooting this fall.
- “Lemony Snicket: A Series of Unfortunate Events,” with Carrey attached. After Rudin and Barry Sonnenfeld fell out last year, DreamWorks came on as a partner, co-prexies Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald became producers and Brad Silberling signed up as director. “Snicket” is due out at Christmas 2004.
Additionally, even though there’s no financial partnership, Spielberg is expected to direct the fourth version of Par’s “Indiana Jones” franchise for a 2005 tentpole release.
In addition, there are two films currently in production:
- “Stepford Wives”: a comic remake of the 1975 women’s lib-themed fantasy, with Nicole Kidman starring, Frank Oz directing and Par-based Scott Rudin producing. The film is expected to be released next year.
- “Paycheck”: sci-fier starring Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman, shooting in Vancouver under John Woo’s direction. It is due out in December.
DreamWorks and Par, which have an ongoing alliance in foreign distribution through the UIP partnership, have found success in two past pairings. The 1998 “Deep Impact” grossed $350 million worldwide, and that same summer’s “Saving Private Ryan” topped $480 million.
Par’s John Goldwyn notes his studio also has partnered with virtually every other major: Disney (“Face/Off,” “Runaway Bride”), Sony (“The Indian in the Cupboard”), Miramax (“The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Hours”), Universal (“Angela’s Ashes”) and Warner Bros. (“South Park”). DreamWorks is partnered with U on “Seabiscuit” and “The Cat in the Hat.”
DreamWorks’ lone summer entry, “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,” barely grossed $25 million. Par’s tentpole “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” landed in fourth place with $21 million in its July 25-27 bow and may not even hit $50 million domestically.
The rest of the year hasn’t been much more fun for the two studios.
DreamWorks is unlikely to match the $514 million it grossed domestically last year, while Par is on pace to fall short of last year’s $696 million. Parkes admitted earlier that 2003 would likely be a down year due to focusing on releases in ’02 and ’04.
Only three films have generated respectable biz: DreamWorks’ “Old School” at $75 million in the U.S.; Par’s “The Italian Job,” at $95 million; and Par’s “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” with $106 million.