By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
NBC and Dick Clark Productions could clean up the Globes but choose not to. Instead, the entire entertainment industry props up this pathetic show because it’s seen as a nightlong marketing tool. Therefore, it’s ridiculous for anyone to consider the movie categories as a window on the Oscar front-runners. So I refuse to treat these nominations with any seriousness. And if you don’t want that, then for crissakes, stop reading me ...
Clint Eastwood and his films are as much a staple during awards season as hard-to-score DVD screeners, expensive coffee-table books based on the movie contenders, and fancy hors d’oeuvres. This time around, Hollywood didn’t expect his latest, Invictus, to do more than $10M to $15M at the box office from 2,125 plays because its marketing had all the lure of a history lesson.
“I don’t feel any real heat on it, like other Clint Eastwood films,” one rival studio exec tells me. Flat tracking for the Nelson Mandela–inspired story showed zero interest from young females, and moderate interest from older females but at least decent interest and choice with males who generally flock to Eastwood efforts.
Though the story is inspirational — “audiences leave surprised and inspired,” one WB exec gushes — the studio knew that ideological perceptions might deter filmgoers even though Clint’s direction and Morgan Freeman’s/Matt Damon’s acting are, as usual, superb. Nor was selling it as a feel-good sports story an option, at least in the U.S. because it’s about rugby and the 1995 World Cup Championship. But that may help the pic overseas.
All in all, the December 12 soft $9M weekend opening was on the low end of what was expected. (Clint’s Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby both did $10M openings, and each went on to earn around $100M, respectively.)
Hey, no one is saying the movie’s not good. It’s just, how many times can you see Morgan Freeman play God? CinemaScore was an A-, with 47 percent of the audience older than 50 rating the film an A. “I’m not in a panic at all. I wish it were a little stronger out of the gate,” one WB exec tells me. “But it’ll be a slow burn. It’ll have great word of mouth and long legs through the holidays.”
Now it’s my turn to do some bad-mouthing. Why in the world has ex–Los Angeles Times errand boy Leo Wolinsky been named editor of Daily Variety (both the L.A. and N.Y. editions)? It’s bewildering. The guy knows nothing about the entertainment biz.
He was infamous for secretly helping to lure billionaire potential local buyers like Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, Richard Riordan and David Geffen into buying the paper when then-bigwig editors were fighting with Tribune Co. (I wrote several award-winning columns about this for L.A. Weekly.)
Wolinsky briefly was a seat-filler atop the L.A. Times’ entertainment and feature sections until he was let go. Nevertheless, he’ll be responsible for all Variety editorial content for the print edition. MaybeVariety needs a top editor who likes to suck up to the rich and powerful now that Peter Bart has been put out to pasture.