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COMPANY TOWN | THE BIZ / CLAUDIA ELLER

Kubrick Keeps 'em in Dark With 'Eyes Wide Shut'

September 29, 1998|CLAUDIA ELLER

"I wanted to make it for $1.28 million, and he wanted to make it for $1.32 million," says Calley. "So, we compromised, and I think made it for around $1.3 million." The film was a big hit despite being banned in some countries, grossing $41 million domestically and about $73 million overseas.

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Warner executives say the movie continues to make money theatrically worldwide and was only recently released in Italy for the first time.

Calley said the director was "not profligate or capricious," though he may spend a seemingly inordinate amount of time putting together his movies. Kubrick sometimes will shoot the same scene 40 or 50 times.

In 1967, an MGM executive reportedly asked whether "2001"--four years in the making--referred to the title of his movie or when the film would be completed. "The Shining" reportedly took 200 days to shoot.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday September 30, 1998 Home Edition Business Part D Page 5 Financial Desk 2 inches; 64 words Type of Material: Correction
Kubrick defended--Due to an editing error, the following paragraph was inadvertently left out of an article on director Stanley Kubrick published Tuesday.
Sony Pictures chief John Calley defends his friend Kubrick, saying that, while he may be frugal, he's hardly cheap: "He lives wonderfully and is generous to a fault. There's nobody more economically disposed than Stanley. He's a conservative filmmaker--efficient and concerned about costs."

"Eyes Wide Shut," which began filming at Pinewood Studios near London on Nov. 4, 1996, initially wrapped in late December 1997 but with re-shoots didn't entirely finish until this summer.

Warner executives estimate the actual shooting time to be around 11 months, which is more than double most Hollywood productions.

"Eyes Wide Shut" is Kubrick's first film in a decade following his 1987 Vietnam War movie "Full Metal Jacket," which grossed about $120 million worldwide, $46.4 million in the United States.

The psycho-sexual thriller is based on Austrian Arthur Schnitzler's 1926 German novella, "Traumnovelle" (published in England as "Rhapsody: A Dream Novel"), which explores the sexual ambivalence of a happy marriage. Collaborating on the script with Frederic Raphael, Kubrick updated the story, moving it from Freud's Vienna to modern-day New York.

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While the plots of Kubrick's movies are as secretive as his budgets (cast and crew have to sign confidentiality agreements), it's been widely reported that Cruise and his real-life wife Kidman portray married psychologists who act on their sexual fantasies and dreams, each having affairs with clients and exploring New York's sexual underworld.

Warner had originally hoped the film would wrap in time for a Christmas 1997 or early 1998 release. It was then tentatively slated for release this Christmas, then considered for spring, but a few weeks ago the studio said the film wouldn't hit theaters until July 16.

Semel said his marketing executives wanted a summer release in order to be closer to a planned August roll-out internationally.

Kubrick's painstaking style is not for everyone. A frustrated Harvey Keitel left the production after five months to shoot another movie when tensions arose between him and Kubrick. He was replaced by director-actor Sydney Pollack.

Though Kubrick's perfectionism has become legendary, most actors and studio executives in Hollywood would kill to work with him.

Born in the Bronx, where he spent much of his childhood watching movies in local film palaces, Kubrick later became a still photographer. He is widely considered one of the film industry's consummate artists.

Calley says Kubrick's reputation as a paranoid, Howard Hughes-like eccentric is completely misinformed. "He's so easy, accessible and fun, he's on top of everything and has a great sense of humor," says Calley, though he recalls that Kubrick once told him his definition of paranoia is "one who's in possession of the fact."

Semel said what he finds phenomenal about Kubrick is "he's so creative and so accomplished, and he does it at a very modest price, even though it takes longer."

That said, spendthrift Hollywood could certainly stand to take a page from Kubrick's book of budgets.

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