News from April 23, 2001

There have been some questions as to the validity of my report Saturday about the potential delays with Steven Spielberg’s AI. My source, who I can say does not work for ILM (those people are under enough pressure as it is), stated the holdup might be caused by delays with completion of the special effects.

If one looks at this logically, it does make sense. ILM is handling the brunt if not all of the FX work for AI. On April 12th, Movie Headlines reported there were still 50 FX shots to be completed on The Mummy Returns within a five day deadline to finish. With that deadline passed, ILM now has to finish work on Pearl Harbor, currently less than five weeks from release. The next film scheduled to be released is AI. On top of those, ILM is also working on Big Trouble, Gangs of New York, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park III, Planet of the Apes and The Time Machine, in addition to the continual work on Lucas’s new Star Wars episode.

Personally, I hope to hell AI makes its release date. There are only a handful of movies I want to see this summer, and this is at the top of the list. Still, if it’s not ready, it’s not ready. Holding off a few months certainly didn’t hurt Titanic.

Not one to let sleeping dogs like, I then probed the AI chatbot from the official site (site closed).

I asked it “Will the film be delayed?” It answered “Probably not.” I asked “Are you certain the film will open on June 29th” and it replied “I don’t know whether or not I am certain the film will be released on June 29th.”

Curious as to how much this artificial intelligence knew, I asked some more questions:

Q: Who killed JFK?

A: JFK was killed by a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

Q: What is the average air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

A: I can give you the arithmetic mean or the median.

Q: What is pi?

A: PI = 3.1415926 approximately.

Q: Who won the World Series in 2001?

A: I hope to be as smart as HAL in 2001?

Q: May I momma dogface with a banana patch?

A: Not right now. Maybe later.

Q: Do you think this dress makes me look fat?

A: Yes I think this is dress makes you look fat, but I’m not completely sure.

Q: Do I have a friend in Jesus?

A: Not that I know of.

Q: Who is Stanley Kubrick?

A: He is a famous 20th century film director. Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon.

Q: Who killed Evan Chan?

A: I think the lone gunman acted alone.

Q: Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill Evan Chan?

A: I’m not certain whether I can give an accurate reply or not.

Q: One last question. Who do you like better? The Beatles or Elvis?

A: Dr. Wallace. Who told you that?

The last response was perplexing, to say the least. So I played some word association with the AI…

Q: Elvis

A: Elvis is the King, man.

Q: Pickle

A: I will mention that to my botmaster, Ed.

Q: George Lucas

A: I think of him as a Director not a Writer.

Q: George W. Bush

A: That George is some hero.

Q: Bill Clinton

A: He is the president of the USA.

Q: Martin Luther King

A: Let us change the subject.

Q: John Lennon

A: John Lennon is a cool bot developed by David Maggin.

Is this a new clue? Something preposterous? Have fun with it, AI truth seekers.


Early screen counts for new films scheduled to open this week:

The controversial French film Baise-moi (site closed), detailing the damaging sex and violence country tour by two women made to feel subservient by society, opens on one screen in San Francisco, through newcomer Film Fixx.

Something called Boys To Men opens on two screens in New York and Los Angeles.

Driven, the Sylvester Stallone/Renny Harlin collaboration that Warner Brothers does not want you to know stars Sylvester Stallone or is directed by Renny Harlin, opens on 2700+ tracks.

Sony’s Screen Gems sends The Forsaken, where Johnathan Schaeck has finally found the perfect part as a bloodsucking vampire, into 1500 haunted houses.

Merchant Ivory strike again, this time with The Golden Bowl, based on the novel by Henry James. Lions Gate, who picked this up from yet another Miramax fire sale, opens house in six castles in New York and Los Angeles.

Another mystery film, Lip Gloss Explosion, supposedly opens somewhere in the US this week on one screen.

Basic Instinct meets There’s Something About Mary in One Night At McCool’s, which attempts to convince the world all kinds of men would willingly lust after Liv Tyler. USA Films foists the film on an unsuspecting world in 2000 car washes.

Universal Focus brings out forgotten 80s video directing superstar Steve Barron’s Rat, about a Dubliner (Pete Postlethwaite) who turns into a rat, to a single pub in Boston.

New Line sends out the Warren Beatty-starrer Town and Country, which began shooting sometime around the advent of color film, into 2000+ condos.

In addition, Miramax is adding an additional 600 screens to their #1 film Bridget Jones’s Diary.


Get Made

Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughan, who last teamed for the culturally defining Swingers, have gotten back together for Made, the touching story of two aspiring boxers who get involved with organized crime. Made is Favreau’s directorial debut, and the cast includes Famke Janssen, Peter Falk, Jonathan Silverman and the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy.

If you live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin or New York, win free tickets to a preview screening (site closed).


Goodnight, you Maniax you!

The “Million Dollar” XFL championship game was played Saturday night, as the Los Angeles Xtreme and the San Francisco Demons battled for the pride of California. Playing in the cavernous L.A. Coliseum, the Xtreme slaughtered the Demons 38-6 in front of a live crowd apparently larger than the television viewing audience, where the championship game brought in a paltry 2.5 overnight rating. NBC, whose started the league with the WWF, is rethinking its commitment to mediocrity, while WWF/XFL head honcho is looking into a strategic alliance with Raiders owner Al Davis, who knows a thing or two about screwing people over for a buck.

Coincidentally, all XFL gear is now 70% off at XFL City.

In related news, UPN will see a 400% spike in overall ratings, and not just because of the failure of the XFL. The long time WB network mainstay Buffy The Vampire Slayer is moving the sassy undead killer over to the “Trek” network. Buffy fans, showing their close affinity to Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons, proclaimed in unity “Worst Network Switch Ever.” Some bemoaned the loss of Buffy/Angel crossover episodes, conveniently forgetting their over watched tapes of the two Ally McBeal/Practice shows.

Personally, I think it’s great. I know I wouldn’t be the only one who would thrill to see the blonde dynamo kick Steve Harvey’s ass.


What’s that they say about the things success breeds?

Universal Studios, seeing the colossal profits from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that no studio accountant could hide, has purchased the North American rights to the big budget French action film Le Pacte Des Loupe (Brotherhood of the Wolf). Not that it was a hard deal to hammer out, as the film was produced by new studio owner Vivendi’s Canal Plus arm. Despite starring American box office dudster Mark Dacascos, Universal has extremely high hopes for the film, which will be released in French with subtitles through the Universal Focus arm this fall. “We’re thrilled to be releasing Brotherhood of the Wolf in the U.S.,” Mark Kristol, executive vp of Universal Pictures, stated during the acquisition announcement. “It’s a rare pleasure to find a film that has the intense adventure, mystery and scope of this truly remarkable motion picture, and we believe it will be readily embraced by American audiences.” It helps that the $31M film had an opening day gross in France that topped even Titanic and has grossed $35M in its homeland so far.

For the record, Wolf is set during the reign of Louis XV, centering on a scientist and his Iroquois blood brother who are dispatched by the king to fight a mysterious, unseen creature that is savagely killing women and children in the countryside. Is it me, or does this sound like a bad 18th century French remake of The Keepr


And the Oscar for Best Picture goes to Mick Jagger and Lorne Michaels?

I’ll give you a minute to stop laughing.

Newcomer Manhattan Pictures is close to picking up North American distribution rights to Enigma, the WW2 based drama about two young British mathematicians try to crack the Enigma Code of a German U-boat produced by Jagger and his longtime friend and SNL creator Michaels. Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott play the leads in Oscar nominee Michael Apted’s film, which was adapted from Robert Harris’ bestseller by the legendary playwright and recent Oscar winner Tom Stoppard.

Enigma premiered at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, and should be released to theatres sometime in the fall.


Would be screenwriters, take note.

Want to get your big break in Hollywoodr Get yourself a PA job on some crappy King Rat movie. Derek Guiley and David Schniederman, who met on the set of Operation Dumbo Drop working lower level set jobs, have just been signed by their former employer to write the wholly unneeded direct-to-video sequel to the wholly unneeded Parent Trap remake, based upon their screenplay for American Girl, which was purchased last year by Warner Brothers.


I hate when that happens.

As I was checking the various news site, looking for items to comment on, I saw the following…

Eminem Pleads No Concert

For a moment, I saw a world devoid of the uninteresting vocal stylings of the Real Slim Shady, hoping that Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, *N’Sync, Limp Bizkit and all the artists that have made the 2000’s the worst decade in music history disappeared along with Marshall Mathers.

Alas, I read it wrong.

Eminem Pleads No Contest in Court

Something about him beating the crap out of his wife or something.

Oh well. A man can dream.