Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

In the Know / A LOOK AT THE WEEK AHEAD

The Second Sense: Director's Follow-Ups

November 20, 2000

Last year, director M. Night Shyamalan and actor Bruce Willis teamed up in the supernatural thriller "The Sixth Sense," which earned a fistful of Oscar nominations, including best picture and director, and became one of the year's surprise blockbusters, grossing $293.5 million in North America. Now, Shyamalan and Willis have re-teamed in a new otherworldly thriller called "Unbreakable," which debuts Wednesday. In the film, Willis portrays a father who comes to believe he has superhero powers after he miraculously survives a train wreck without a scratch when all other passengers are killed. While fans of "The Sixth Sense" eagerly await the new film, they should know that Hollywood history is replete with instances of directors who delivered critically acclaimed blockbusters but stumbled the next time out of the starting gate. Among them are Jan De Bont, who went from "Twister" ($241.7 million) to "Speed 2: Cruise Control" ($47.8 million); Andy Davis, from "The Fugitive" ($183.9 million) to "Chain Reaction" ($20.7 million); Kevin Costner, from "Dances With Wolves" ($184.2 million) to "The Postman" ($17.6 million); and Kevin Reynolds, from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" ($165.5 million) to "Rapa Nui" ($382,809). Toss in Rob Reiner ("A Few Good Men," "North"), Betty Thomas ("Doctor Doolittle," "28 Days"), Quentin Tarantino ("Pulp Fiction," "Jackie Brown") and John Singleton ("Boyz N the Hood," "Poetic Justice") and you see a pattern developing. Will Shyamalan also become a victim of great expectations? "He is sticking with the formula, and that will be to his advantage," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. "The re-teaming of the director and star also gives people a comfortable feeling. But lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place." Then there's the case of James Cameron. Rather than helm a new film, the Oscar-winning director of "Titanic" turned his talents to television, producing the Fox series "Dark Angel."

Floating the Deal to Bring 'Titanic' to TV

Speaking of "Titanic," how did a movie 20th Century Fox released end up with NBC, where it will make its broadcast television debut with a four-hour telecast this Sunday? It's a tale with more intrigue than the big ship's voyage. Concerned about the film's spiraling costs, Fox brought in Paramount as a partner to release director James Cameron's epic, and Paramount was responsible not only for overseas distribution, but also selling the television rights. So when the movie made its debut in December 1997 to about $25 million at the box office--a strong opening, but not the sort that would seemingly lead to recouping the enormous $200-million investment--Paramount quickly struck a deal with NBC, whose then-president, Don Ohlmeyer, had seen the film that weekend. NBC paid a reported $30 million for the TV rights, prompting a dispute between Paramount and Fox officials, who later felt the studio undersold the property--given its enormous popularity--by at least $30 million. ABC and CBS were also said to be irate they weren't even given a chance to bid, fueling speculation Fox might sue Paramount for botching the deal. Sources at Paramount defended themselves at the time by pointing out that the Fox network had been given first crack at buying the movie that made Leonardo DiCaprio a teen heartthrob--and bid only $20 million, one reason Paramount jumped at NBC's offer.

Marilyn Manson May Be In for a Shock

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|