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COMPANY TOWN | BOX-OFFICE ANALYSIS

With Little Competition, 'Hope' Is on 'Godzilla's' Tail

June 02, 1998|RICHARD NATALE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In the shadow of Sony's "Godzilla," other studios held off their big summer action movies and offered films they hoped would find a niche.

Two of those offerings were "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," released by Universal on May 22, and Fox's "Hope Floats," a romantic drama starring Sandra Bullock.

Neither film got good reviews. But one of them looks to be a financial winner; one, a loser.

"Hope Floats" was cleverly marketed as a blue-collar love story and the first weekend box office delivered a surprising $14.2 million, coming in a close second to "Godzilla."

The film, which reportedly cost about $30 million (about a third of that to Bullock), has little competition in the month of June for the young female audience, the audience to which it's playing best. Industry sources expect "Hope Floats" to reach about $50 million in domestic box office and perhaps an equal amount overseas based on Sandra Bullock's marquee value.

At those numbers, with TV and video sales, the film would be strongly profitable for Fox.

Just as Hollywood consistently underestimates the draw of a woman's vehicle, it seems to overestimate the viability of male-oriented projects such as "Fear and Loathing," based on the hallucinogenic ruminations of Hunter S. Thompson.

The Johnny Depp film cost between $20 million and $25 million and has delivered just over $7 million in ticket sales in two weeks.

Industry sources expect the film's domestic theatrical run to net the studio no more than $5 million, which won't even cover its marketing costs.

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