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SUMMERTIME … 25 YEARS AGO

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, June 5, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although low-budget, independent movies can still cost as little as $20,000 to $100,000 to make today, the average Hollywood production budget (factoring in advertising costs) has been stuck at $100 million for quite a few years. And again, that’s average, meaning such a Hollywood picture needs to earn more than $200 million just to break even. And big-budget films can cost two or three times as much. But 25 years ago, movies cost quite a bit less and one that earned $100 million was a rarity, a huge blockbuster. Ah, inflation. Gotta love it. During this pandemic, as theaters remain closed and new movies are still in a holding pattern, here’s a look back at what audiences were anticipating during the summer of ’95. This story was published in the Deseret News on May 12, 1995 under the art head, ‘Summer Movies,’ and this smaller headline: ‘From superheroes to pigs to the Internet, it’ll be a season full of Hollywood Happenings.’

Cindy Crawford in her film debut!

Bruce Willis in his $15 million role!

Two live-action family movies about pigs!

One historical animated musical!

Astronauts!

Superheroes!

Ghosts!

Plus, fireballs, explosions and other things that go boom!

Yes, it's time for Batman to come out of the cave and catch some rays — it's Hollywood's summer movie season.

 

 

And despite the presence of Willis repeating his "Die Hard" character (for which he received $15 million, as opposed to the single-digit millions he commands for other films), Sean Connery as King Arthur and action pictures starring Keanu Reeves, Sylvester Stallone and Steven Seagal, we're not going to see a star-driven summer so much as an event-driven summer.

 

"Judge Dredd" isn't being sold as a Stallone vehicle. It's being sold as a high-tech science-fiction thriller.

 

"First Knight" isn't being sold as a Sean Connery film. It's being sold as a sword-and-sorcery epic.

 

"The Bridges of Madison County" isn't being sold as a Clint Eastwood or Meryl Streep picture. It's being sold as an adaptation of a best-selling novel.

This is the summer of Hollywood Happenings.

 

Romance, action, kids pictures — and this year, several movies aimed at Internet addicts who find it hard to leave the house. Cyber-temptation will arrive in the form of "Johnny Mnemonic," with Keanu Reeves; Sandra Bullock in "The Net"; "Virtuosity," starring Denzel Washington; and "Hackers," featuring Lorraine Bracco.

 

In addition to "Mnemonic," Reeves returns later in the summer in the romantic comedy "A Walk in the Clouds," supermodel Cindy Crawford makes her film debut in the thriller "Fair Game," Oscar-winner Tom Hanks returns with the true-life outer space thriller "Apollo 13" and Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan stars in the martial arts comedy "City Hunter."

 

 

 

Despite the variety of movies on the way, however, everyone has the same prediction for the summer's biggest hit — Disney's new animated feature "Pocahontas."

 

Summer, as defined by Hollywood Standard Time, is Memorial Day through Labor Day. But, as usual, a few "summer movies" are set to jump the gun. "Crimson Tide" opened in theaters this weekend, "Die Hard With a Vengeance" arrives next Friday, May 19, and Mel Gibson's swords-and-kilts adventure "Braveheart" squeaks in on Wednesday, May 24.

 

As you peruse the lineup, you may notice that no two potential blockbusters (movies that earn more than $100 million) are opening on the same day. After last summer's record earnings of $2.2 billion, which included several blockbusters and a pair of pictures that went over the $300 million mark ("The Lion King" and "Forrest Gump"), Hollywood's mindset is more than ever geared toward reaching No. 1 box-office status on a film's opening weekend.

 

And that may be necessary this year, since at least six major studio films have estimated budgets in the $70 million to $100 million range — "Batman Forever," "Judge Dredd," "Braveheart" and "First Knight." And one, Kevin Costner's "Waterworld," is said to have gone over budget to an unheard of degree — $175 million before advertising costs, making it the most expensive movie of all time. And when you consider Hollywood's profit formula these days — that a movie must earn 21/2 times its negative cost before it goes into the black — big initial earnings are crucial.

 

 

The opening dates listed below are tentative, of course, since Hollywood movers and shakers like to move their movies and shake up the schedule as much as possible.

For example, the pirate adventure "Cutthroat Island," with Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, has been bounced from summer altogether and will likely open in the fall; "Mary Reilly," with Julia Roberts in a maid's-point-of-view version of "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" (with John Malkovich as "J&H"), is said to be waiting in the wings if it is needed to fill a summer gap; and "Waterworld" (dubbed "Dances With Fishes" by Hollywood wags) has been pushed back to July 28.

EDITOR’S ENDNOTE: Obviously, the lengthy list of titles originally attached to this story — every film scheduled to open during the summer of 1995 — is not included here, but, FYI, the biggest hit of that summer was not ‘Pocahontas,’ although that was No. 3. The biggest summer hit was ‘Batman Forever,’ with ‘Apollo 13’ close behind and ‘Casper’ at No. 4. Each of those earned more than $100 million, which was at the time the blockbuster benchmark. Other summer hits were, in this order, ‘Die Hard with a Vengance,’ ‘Crimson Tide,’ ‘Waterworld,’ ‘Dangerous Minds,’ ‘Congo,’ ‘The Bridges of Madison County,’ ‘Mortal Kombat,’ ‘Nine Moths,’ ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Species,’ ‘Clueless,’ ‘Something to Talk About,’ ‘Babe,’ ‘Under Siege 2: Dark Territory,’ ‘A Walk in the Clouds’ and ‘The Net.’