UNIVERSAL'S HOT PROSPECTS; COMPANY BOUNCES BACK AT BOX OFFICE AFTER STRING OF FLOPS.Byline: Dave McNary Daily News Staff Writer
The losing streak at Universal Studios has vanished.
Most of 1998 was horrific for Universal as virtually its entire motion picture schedule tanked, including promising projects like ``Primary Colors those developed from the solar beam by the prism, viz., red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet, which are reduced by some authors to three, - red, green, and violet-blue. These three are sometimes called fundamental colors.
See under Color.
See also: Color Primary ,'' ``BASEketball,'' ``Blues Brothers 2000,'' ``Meet Joe Black'' and ``Babe: Pig in the City.'' Half a dozen top executives left, including Universal Pictures Chairman Casey Silver and Universal Studios head Frank Biondi Frank J. Biondi, Jr. (born January 9, 1945) is an American businessman. He was born in New York City to Frank Biondi, Sr. and Virginia Willis. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University and an Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School. .
But Universal has turned around this spring, and long-term prospects look better than they have in several years. In the short term, it has clearly benefited from a bold marketing decision to take on ``Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace'' far more directly than any other Hollywood studio.
``Universal has really rebounded,'' noted Drew Devlin, an executive with Clark Film Buying in Buying in has several meanings. In the securities market it refers to a process by which the buyer of securities, whose seller fails to deliver the securities contracted for, can 'buy in' the securities from a third party with the defaulting seller to make good. Bozeman, Mont. ``Their upcoming schedule looks pretty strong.''
Universal's outlook seemed dim just a few weeks ago. On May 6, parent Seagram Co. announced the studio had taken a stunning $97 million loss for the quarter ended March 31 and warned it would lose about the same amount during the current quarter due to poor theatrical and ancillary performance by ``Virus,'' ``EDtv,'' ``Meet Joe Black'' and the ``Babe'' sequel.
It opened ``The Mummy'' the next day, just as anticipation over ``Phantom Menace'' crested, and stunned stun
tr.v. stunned, stun·ning, stuns
1. To daze or render senseless, by or as if by a blow.
2. To overwhelm or daze with a loud noise.
3. Hollywood by grossing a phenomenal $43.6 million on opening weekend. In retrospect, ``The Mummy'' cleaned up because everyone else had decided to avoid the Force or release niche product in the weeks leading up to the ``Phantom Menace'' release.
After 17 days, ``Mummy'' crossed the $100 million mark and analysts say it could take in another $50 million by the end of its domestic run.
Universal's move to bracket ``Phantom Menace'' with a Julia Roberts comedy, ``Notting Hill,'' may pay off even more impressively. The film, which opened Friday in 2,745 theaters with a solid buzz and strong reviews, was originally scheduled for June 18, but the studio decided in late March to move it forward three weeks.
Rather than being crushed by the ``Star Wars'' juggernaut Juggernaut, India: see Puri.
(Jagannath) huge idol of Krishna drawn through streets annually, occasionally rolling over devotees. [Hindu Rel.: EB, V: 499]
See : Destruction , ``Notting Hill'' looks like it will offer an attractive alternative for moviegoers seeking something without lightsaber duels. ``We think the audience is hungry for an excellent romantic comedy,'' said distribution head Nikki Rocco. ``This is all about counterprogramming In broadcasting, counterprogramming is the practice of offering programs to attract an audience from another station airing a major event. Television
The main events counterprogrammed are the Super Bowl and the Oscars. .''
``Notting Hill'' should take in a more-than-respectable $22 million during this weekend, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Robert Bucksbaum, president of the Reel Source forecasting service. `` `Notting Hill' is easily the best date-crowd entry we've seen all year,'' Bucksbaum said. ``The fact that Julia Roberts is the biggest draw for women is going to give it a boost, particularly in major markets.''
Devlin is even more bullish. He believes ``Notting Hill,'' in which Roberts' character falls in love with a British bookstore owner played by Hugh Grant, will succeed even outside major markets.
``I know Universal's concerned it's too sophisticated for small towns, but I think people underestimate the sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. of those markets,'' he said. ``It's a very likable lik·a·ble also like·a·ble
lika·ble·ness, like film. The fact that it's set in London won't put people off.''
Learning the hard way
Steve Cesinger, an executive with investment bank Greif & Co., said the studio's ability to pinpoint key dates in the schedule this spring is probably related to how much it suffered after its costly ``Babe: Pig in the City'' was buried by ``A Bug's Life'' and ``The Rugrats Movie'' last November.
``The studio clearly paid the price with the `Babe' scheduling fiasco,'' Cesinger said. ``It probably made them a little more careful. Studio executives have big egos; sometimes it takes a lot of cold water to make them reconsider strategy.''
The fallout from the ``Babe'' sequel led to Silver resigning on the Monday after it opened. Two weeks earlier, when ``Meet Joe Black'' opened disastrously, Biondi departed. Silver's post has remained vacant as Universal Studios President Ron Meyer Ron Meyer (born February 17, 1941) is a former college and professional football coach. He is best known for being the head coach of the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
Meyer's head coaching career began at UNLV, where he coached from 1971 to 1975. , a former agent, and Seagram chief executive Edgar Bronfman Two persons are named Edgar Bronfman (father and son). They are the son and grandson of Seagram founder Samuel Bronfman:
Help from `Patch Adams'
A month after the ``Babe'' fiasco, Universal ended a 19-picture drought dating back to 1997's ``The Lost World: Jurassic Park'' by releasing ``Patch Adams,'' which grossed $133 million. It looked like more of the same when ``Virus'' and ``EDtv'' bombed, but then Eddie Murphy's ``Life'' generated respectable business in April before ``The Mummy'' signaled Universal's losing streak was over.
``They've had the right movies at the right time, but I think it's a little too early to draw the conclusion that Meyer and Bronfman have fixed things,'' said movie analyst Arthur Rockwell.
Hope for `American Pie'
Still, Universal's prospects for the rest of the year look decent, particularly with its next entry: a coming-of-age comedy called ``American Pie'' that is due July 9 has been termed a ``Porky's'' for the '90s and this year's ``There's Something About Mary.''
``There is a lot of positive buzz about `American Pie' being the summer's sleeper hit This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
Please help Wikipedia by adding references. See the for details.
This article has been tagged since October 2007. ,'' said Linda Bannister of Edward Jones Edward, Eddie, or Ed Jones is the name of:
The film's producer, Warren Zide, believes the buzz, asserting that ``Pie'' will tap into the massive teen and young adult crowds that throng multiplexes.
``Seven months ago, `American Pie' was going to be another teen movie, but our goal was to make people say they can really relate to it,'' he said. ``So we cast 18-year-olds to be 18. We think kids are smarter than people give them credit; we like to speak up to them rather than down to them.''
``American Pie'' looks so promising, in fact, that the studio decided this week to shift ``Bowfinger,'' an Eddie Murphy-Steve Martin comedy with significant prospects, from July 23 to Aug. 13. ``We had to get out of our own way,'' Rocco explained. ``This way, we can have three weeks at the end of summer to ourselves.''
Early buzz on ``Bowfinger'' has also been positive. ``The trailer is very funny,'' Devlin noted. ``We're hoping its more like `The Nutty Professor' than `Holy Man.' ''
Other entries with break-out potential include:
``Mystery Men,'' a comedy-fantasy due Aug. 6 with half-a-dozen wanna-be superheroes Superheroes are fictional heroes who possess abilities beyond those of normal human beings.
Superheroes may also refer to:
Stock in which there is little investor interest but that has significant potential to gain in price once its attractions are recognized. Antithesis of high flyer. ,'' Devlin said.
``Dudley Do Right,'' a family comedy that may come out in late summer with ``Mummy'' star Brendan Fraser and Sarah Jessica Parker.
``For the Love of the pGame,'' due in mid-September with Kevin Costner as a professional baseball pitcher.
``The Bone Collector,'' a Denzel Washington Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is a two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning American actor and director. He has garnered much critical acclaim for his portrayals of several real-life figures, such as Steve Biko, Malcolm X, Rubin "Hurricane" thriller in early October.
``Man on the Moon,'' due in early November with Jim Carrey “James Carrey” redirects here. For the murder conspirator, see James Carey.
James Eugene Carrey (born January 17, 1962) is a Canadian actor and comedian. as Andy Kaufman Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman (January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984) was an American entertainer, actor, and performance artist. Though many refer to him as a comedian, Kaufman did not self-identify as one. .
``End of Days,'' a high-priced supernatural thriller due in late November with Arnold Schwarzenegger Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger (German pronunciation (IPA): [ˈaɐ̯nɔlt ˈaloɪ̯s ˈʃvaɐ̯ʦənˌʔɛɡɐ] .
Bucksbaum credits the studio with reacting quickly to changing customer tastes.
``For a long time, Universal was relying on sequels and older formulas,`` he said. ``But they seem to have realized that what's driving the box office now are date-crowd movies and comedies. They turned on a dime and started producing a lot more films that have appealed to moviegoers.''
Bronfman, whose company bought control of Universal in 1995, had been criticized on Wall Street as he sought to transform Seagram's focus from beverages to entertainment. The stock has doubled in value since October, mainly due to the prospects for new distribution strategies now that Seagram has become the world's leading music company with the buyout of PolyGram.
``Most people looking at the company are more focused on music because the markets know that the movie studios can go into a slump,'' Bannister said. ``We have a buy rating on the stock because there's a lot of potential in music and new methods of distribution. So when the film studio does well, it's gravy.''
Turnaround time (1) In batch processing, the time it takes to receive finished reports after submission of documents or files for processing. In an online environment, turnaround time is the same as response time.
Universal Studios saw its high-profile films perform poorly last year except for ''Patch Adams`` but its outlook has brightened with ''The Mummy`` and this weekends's release of ``Notting Hill.''
''Blues Brothers 2000,`` February 1998, $13.7 million
''Primary Colors,`` March 1998, $38.9 million
''Out of Sight,`` June 1998, $37.5 million
''Meet Joe Black,`` November 1998, $44 million
''Babe: Pig in the City,`` November 1998, $17 million
''American Pie,`` July 9, Jason Biggs
''Mystery Men,`` Aug. 6, Ben Stiller
''Bowfinger,`` Aug. 27, Eddie Murphy Edward "Eddie" Regan Murphy (born April 3, 1961) is an Academy Award nominated, Golden Globe Award-winning American actor and comedian. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984, and has worked as a stand-up comedian.
''For Love of the Game,`` Sept. 17, Kevin Costner
2 photos, box
Photo: (1 -- color) ``Notting Hill'' starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grants, opened Friday.
(2 -- color) ``BASEketball,'' opened July 1998, earned $7 million
Box: Turnaround time (see text)