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Why Three Didn't Live Up to High Hopes

September 01, 1992|ROBERT W. WELKOS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Cool World" was a feature that combined live action and animation and concerned a cartoonist named Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), who enters a cartoon world of his own devising only to meet a sexy, voluptuous blond "doodle" named Holli Would (Kim Basinger).

The movie, which has grossed $14.1 million to date, opened July 10. It went up against Fox's "Prelude to a Kiss," a romantic comedy (which also struggled at the box office) starring Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, and TriStar's "Universal Soldier," a futuristic action-adventure film that got good box office.

"Cool World" had the star appeal of Basinger going for it, and used the same animation/live-action combination of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." But Paramount's marketing campaign didn't seem to work, despite placing a likeness of Holli Would on the Hollywood sign, which generated a rash of news stories.

The ads were a sexy come-on to readers, showing the cartoon bombshell posing seductively near a man holding a gun, while all manner of cartoon creatures frolic and sneer at their feet. "Holli Would If She Could," read the ad.

One marketing expert said Paramount, instead of presenting the film as a more wholesome, more family-oriented film like "Roger Rabbit," switched gears and decided to make the ads hip. In other words, they showed Holli with more "T-and-A."

"I think it confused people," said the source.

" 'Cool World" unfortunately did not seem to satisfy the younger audience it was aimed at," conceded Barry London, head of marketing at Paramount. "When films fall as quickly as it did, it indicates they don't have playability."

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