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12 expensive and eccentric modern Hollywood movies

25 July 2016 8:02 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Ryan Lambie Jul 26, 2016

They cost millions and they’re very, very odd. We take a look at 12 expensive and eccentric Hollywood films from the past 40 years...

The risk-averse nature of filmmaking means that the world’s more maverick and outrageous writers and directors have to make do with relatively low budgets. Nicolas Winding Refn drenched the screen in all kinds of sordid, violent and startling imagery in such films as Only God Forgives and this year’s The Neon Demon, but the combined budget of those probably didn’t even match the catering budget for something like Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice.

Every so often, though, a truly bonkers film slips through the Hollywood studio system - often by accident. From horror sequels to original sci-fi adventures, here are 12 incredibly expensive and gloriously eccentric Hollywood movies from the past 40 years.

The Exorcist II (1977)

Budget: $14 million

Like most films made for purely financial reasons, »

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#SquadGoals: Our five favourite superhero squad members

21 July 2016 7:38 AM, PDT | Cineplex | See recent Cineplex news »

#SquadGoals: Our five favourite superhero squad members#SquadGoals: Our five favourite superhero squad membersAdriana Floridia7/21/2016 9:38:00 Am

Today marks the first day of San Diego Comic-Con, the biggest comic book convention there is, and the best place to live out your wildest fan fantasies.

The convention is a dream for comic book nerds, and really for anyone who enjoys popular culture. It's cool to be a nerd these days, so we're embracing our inner geek and getting ready for all of the news that is bound to come out of #Sdcc. 

In the spirit of Comic-Con, and with this year's next biggest comic book adaptation hitting the big screens in August, Suicide Squad, we've made an epic playlist at the Cineplex Store to get you hyped up on all things comic books and superheroes. Since Suicide Squad features the ultimate team of super villains, we've narrowed down our own »

- Adriana Floridia

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Dubai fest to immerse audience in Vr

21 July 2016 5:34 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

Growth of virtual reality filmmaking to be discussed at Diff.

Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) (Dec 7-14) is set to launch a virtual reality programme at its 13th edition.

The strand, titled DIFFerent Reality, will give festivalgoers the opportunity to sample Vr films spanning fiction, documentary and animation.

On the industry side, Dubai Film Market (Dfm) will give delegates chance to hear from Vr creators and experience the technology.

Diff chairman Abdulhamid Juma said: “Vr gives filmmakers a new, immersive medium - which is an exciting new direction for cinema - and our compelling and engaging line-up of Vr films push the technological boundaries of storytelling.”

Vr has had an increased presence at festivals, most recently at Sundance, Cannes and Sheffield Doc/Fest with experiences based around feature films The Martian and Maleficent and standalone documentaries such as refugee film We Wait, from Aardman Animations and the BBC.

At the Star Wars Celebration fan gathering last wekeend »

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Star Wars Celebration: young Han Solo cast; Darth Vader Vr project

18 July 2016 4:59 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

A round-up of the headlines from Star Wars Celebration including confirmation that Alden Ehrenreich will play the young Han Solo, behind the scenes footage from Rogue One and a Lucasfilm Vr project based around Darth Vader.

Lucasfilm has unveiled a raft of announcements and fresh footage at the Star Wars Celebration Europe event in London.

The annual fan gathering, which ran July 15-17 at the ExCel exhibition centre, hosted the cast and filmmakers behind Rogue One - the first standalone film in the Star Wars franchise.

British director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) screened a behind-the-scenes look at the film, set for release in December, as well as a new trailer (which has yet to be released online) that confirmed the presence of Darth Vader in the story.

Young Han Solo revealed

At the final panel of the weekend, Alden Ehrenreich was confirmed to play the young Han Solo in a Star Wars spin-off movie - casting that has »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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Star Wars Celebration at-a-glance

18 July 2016 4:59 AM, PDT | ScreenDaily | See recent ScreenDaily news »

A round-up of the headlines from Star Wars Celebration including confirmation that Alden Ehrenreich will play the young Han Solo, behind the scenes footage from Rogue One and a Lucasfilm Vr project based around Darth Vader.

Lucasfilm has unveiled a raft of announcements and fresh footage at the Star Wars Celebration Europe event in London.

The annual fan gathering, which ran July 15-17 at the ExCel exhibition centre, hosted the cast and filmmakers behind Rogue One - the first standalone film in the Star Wars franchise.

British director Gareth Edwards (Monsters, Godzilla) screened a behind-the-scenes look at the film, set for release in December, as well as a new trailer (which has yet to be released online) that confirmed the presence of Darth Vader in the story.

Young Han Solo revealed

At the final panel of the weekend, Alden Ehrenreich was confirmed to play the young Han Solo in a Star Wars spin-off movie - casting that has »

- michael.rosser@screendaily.com (Michael Rosser)

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The Week in Star Wars: Star Wars Celebration Europe Edition – Rogue One trailer and behind the scenes, Thrawn confirmed for Star Wars Rebels, Episode VIII and Han Solo updates and loads more

18 July 2016 3:30 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

It’s the post-Star Wars Celebration Edition of The Week in Star Wars, and we’ve got a lot to cover including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Episode VIII, Star Wars Rebels, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars Battlefront and more…

Right, let’s kick things off with everything from Star Wars Celebration Europe – which was held here in our country’s capital – by starting with Gareth EdwardsRogue One: A Star Wars Story. While those in attendance were treated to a new trailer (which was teased last week), those who didn’t go got this fantastic new poster and concept art, and this wonderful behind-the-scenes sizzle reel. We also got a new look at the Imperial Shoretrooper and, more importantly, Mads Mikkelsen’s Galen Erso. And during the Rogue One panel, host Gwendoline Christie presented star Felicity Jones with an action figure for her character Jyn Erso, »

- Luke Owen

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Christopher Nolan’s First Released Short Film ‘Doodlebug’: Watch His Twisted 1997 Debut

17 July 2016 3:08 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Nearly a decade before he was making movies about bats, Christopher Nolan was turning his attention to bugs. The filmmaker made a debut of sorts with 1997’s “Doodlebug,” a three-minute short filmed on 16mm and produced by his future wife and producing partner Emma Thomas, who’s worked with Nolan on each of his subsequent films.

Read More: Wes Anderson’s ‘Bottle Rocket’ Short Film: Watch the 13 Minute Clip That Launched His Career

Doodlebug” is marked by a grainy, black-and-white aesthetic that’s of a piece with the spar narrative about a man (Jeremy Theobald) trying to squash an insect in his dingy apartment. It eventually gets recursive, with the bug in question being revealed as a miniature version of the man himself; in the end, they’re both of them dwarfed by an even larger version who appears behind them.

Read More: James Cameron’s ‘Xenogenesis’: Watch the Lo-Fi, »

- Michael Nordine

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Darth Vader headlining new Star Wars Vr experience from Lucasfilm and David S. Goyer

17 July 2016 3:40 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

During yesterday’s Meet ILMxLAB: The Future of Immersive Entertainment panel at Star Wars Celebration Europe, Lucasfilm announced that it is developing a new Vr story/experience centred on the Dark Lord of the Sith himself, Darth Vader, which is being scripted by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel).

What character is so iconic that we need to know more?” said Goyer. “We can’t sleep at night and want to experience things that can’t be experienced in film, or can’t be experienced in a novel, and we came up with [Darth Vader]. We don’t even have a name for the genre of storytelling we’ve been working on. You don’t play it. You be it. You’re in it. You’re part of the story. The world I came up with, that I’m pushing, is you are ‘the visitor’ – the visitor in this story »

- Gary Collinson

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Ghostbusters: Unnecessary, But Welcome

15 July 2016 2:02 PM, PDT | TVovermind.com | See recent TVovermind.com news »

(Photo via Ghostbustershq.net) No matter what anybody involved with the film may have thought going into it, Ghostbusters – the 2016 remake, not the 1984 original – was never going to be a success: at least not the kind of success that studios are banking on when they remake a widely beloved movie with a big name cast and even bigger budget.  It wasn’t going to pull a Batman Begins by revitalizing an increasingly stale franchise.  It also wasn’t going to pull a Days of Future Past by untangling decades’ worth of hopelessly convoluted continuity.  And despite their best efforts

Ghostbusters: Unnecessary, But Welcome »

- Brian Hadsell

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Christopher Nolan rejects CGI and will use real battleships for ‘Dunkirk’

14 July 2016 4:31 AM, PDT | The Hollywood News | See recent The Hollywood News news »

Dunkirk film: Real battleships to be used on Christopher Nolan’s next film: Director decides against the use of CGI.

The Dunkirk film continues to shoot in northern France.

The Dunkirk film will star Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Nurphy and Harry Styles.

Christopher Nolan has refused to go for all out CGI for his next film, the World War II epic that will be Dunkirk, and will use real battleships for some scenes in the film, which is now shooting.

Of course, this news shouldn’t surprise you as Nolan hasn’t really used that much CGI in most of his big Hollywood movies that kicked off with Batman Begins all of the way back in 2006.

French nautical magazine Presse Océan, is reporting that Nolan is planning to use the French T-47 Class Destroyer, Maillé-Brézé for his WWII Dunkirk film, which will be towed to Saint-Nazaire in »

- Paul Heath

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Here's How 'Deadpool' Would've Looked If Fox Had Accepted A Different Pitch

13 July 2016 8:16 AM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

Before Tim Miller's leaked VFX test for Deadpool went viral and acted as a pitch that Fox couldn't turn down, there were other people who took a crack at bringing the Merc with a Mouth to the big screen. In a chat with ComicBook.com, artist Kelton Cram (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of JusticeX-men: First Class) revealed that he'd worked on designs for a Deadpool film that would've been written and directed by Jeff Wadlow (Kick-ass 2).

Wadlow put together a pitch back in 2013. Cram revealed, during the interview, that it would've pit Deadpool against The Marauders- a super-villain team. Cram says the concept was to create "a self-made, makeshift suit made from motorcycle gear. As with most origin stories, this suit would go through a transition, eventually becoming something closer to the one he wears in the comics." Similar to what was depicted in Miller's Deadpool, as »

- Mario-Francisco Robles

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First "Ghostbusters" Reboot Reviews Are In

10 July 2016 11:05 AM, PDT | Dark Horizons | See recent Dark Horizons news »

The review embargo has lifted for Sony's "Ghostbusters" reboot and so far the reaction has been fairly consistent - a little tepid, neither gushingly good or aggressively bad. Much of the criticism isn't levelled at the cast or director, but the overall film itself with complaints of lacking any innovation and being too slavish to the original. As a result it never seems to escape its shadow.

That said, there's also been praise for some of the scares and key character moments, and the film is doing well on the aggregate review sites - 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and 67% on Metacritic at this point in time. Not great, but good scores nonetheless.

Interestingly there's a good mix of female reviewers out there tackling the topic to try and provide a more balanced perspective than we usually get with Summer tentpoles. Here's just some of the sample quotes below:

"While both funnier »

- Garth Franklin

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Bryan Cranston Likens Lionsgate’s Power Rangers Movie To The Dark Knight

6 July 2016 11:18 AM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

From Batman Begins through to The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s decorated trilogy is widely considered to be one of, if not the finest live-action interpretations of the Caped Crusader, introducing moviegoers to a completely reimagined version of Gotham city and Batman himself.

In resurrecting Saban’s Rangers for the big screen, Bryan Cranton revealed to The Huffington Post that Lionsgate is adopting a similar creative approach to Power Rangers, and the actor went on to explain why the live-action feature film is shaping up to the markedly different from Saban’s original television series.

As matter of fact, Cranston wasn’t necessarily sold on the idea of portraying Zordon in Dean Israelite’s reboot because of the show’s cartoonish tenets. But one conversation with the film’s producers and Israelite himself quickly changed that.

“I wasn’t really high on it until I talked to the producer »

- Michael Briers

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Ben Affleck Is The Most Deadly Batman

4 July 2016 12:04 PM, PDT | Dark Horizons | See recent Dark Horizons news »

Batman doesn't kill. That has been a mantra for the comic character for many years, but the various screen incarnations have often either ignored that rule (1989's "Batman") or found loopholes (2005's "Batman Begins," the "Batman: Arkham Knight" game) to get around that rule.

Not so the version of Batman that Ben Affleck played in Zack Snyder's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice". A new video is out from Mr. Sunday Movies which clocks up a kill count from the film's 'Ultimate Edition' disc release and it seems this Caped Crusader loves just killing the s--t out of bad guys.

In fact, Affleck's Batman directly racks up a bodycount of 21 people throughout the film, not including whomever was left in those hastily evacuated buildings that got torn to shreds in the final act. Is that a lot? Across all seven previous live-action movies and the 1966 TV show, Batman killed 45 people. »

- Garth Franklin

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9 Actors You Probably Didn’t Know Almost Played Batman

29 June 2016 6:25 PM, PDT | We Got This Covered | See recent We Got This Covered news »

We might have seen a few different versions of the likes of Spider-Man and Superman on the big screen, but Batman still holds the record for being the most portrayed superhero in cinema. From when Lewis Wilson donned a high-waisted pair of underpants in 1943’s Batman serial to Ben Affleck wearing a high-tech metal suit in this year’s Batman V Superman, ten different actors have played the Dark Knight on the silver screen to date.

But things could have been very different at each of these junctures if another actor took on the role. For instance, The Joker himself, Heath Ledger, originally auditioned for Batman in Batman Begins (he was also offered Spider-Man). Imagine if he got the part – would Christian Bale have then played the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight?

Ledger is far from the only one who missed out on donning the Caped Crusader’s tights, »

- Christian Bone

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Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy vs. The McU Captain America Trilogy

18 June 2016 6:56 PM, PDT | Cinelinx | See recent Cinelinx news »

Which is the best comic book inspired trilogy? Christopher Nolan’s revered Dark Knight trilogy has become the gold standard for turning comic book super heroes into serious art. However, the three McU Captain America films have been called the best of all the McU franchises. Both are excellent trilogies. Which is better? Let’s take a look.

When Christopher Nolan took over the Batman cinematic project, he revived a character who had been diminished in his previous film appearance (Batman and Robin) and resurrected the Bat, showing the world that comic book films could stand up with other genres in terms of artistic quality, critical praise, box office clout and franchise sustainability. He helped make comic adaptations credible. In his own words, he said, “We wanted to show things that people wouldn’t expect to see in that kind of film”. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises »

- feeds@cinelinx.com (Rob Young)

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Hell and salvation in the films of Christopher Nolan

16 June 2016 8:19 AM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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In the logical, rational films of Christopher Nolan, heroes often make a mythical journey into the land of the dead, Ryan writes...

Christopher Nolan stands in front of a chalk board, carefully scratching out a network of lines and arrows. He's attempting to describe the complex structure of Memento, his second film, which cuts between two intertwining stories - one told in a conventional order, the other told in reverse.

"Most movies present a quite comfortable universe," Nolan says, standing in front of his odd hairpin-shaped diagram, "where we're given an objective truth that we don't get in everyday life. That's one of the reasons we go to the movies."

For many, Memento was their first encounter with Nolan's style of filmmaking, which seems fixated on the precise and the concrete. He favours the use of celluloid and practical, in-camera effects. Like Stanley Kubrick before him, Nolan »

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‘Let Me Make You A Martyr’ Exclusive Trailer: Marilyn Manson Plays A Hit Man On A Mission From Mark Boone Junior

15 June 2016 1:25 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

 

Let Me Make You a Martyr” follows Larry Glass (Mark Boone Junior), an abusive father, drug dealer, and pimp who hires hit man Pope (Marilyn Manson) to kill his rebellious adopted son Drew (Niko Nicotera) and his lover and adopted sister June Glass (Sam Quartin). The film also stars Michael Potts (“Conspiracy Theory”), Slaine (“The Town”), William Lee Scott (“Pearl Harbor’), Michael Shamus Wiles (“Fight Club”), and more. Watch the exclusive new trailer above.

Read More: 19th Fantasia International Film Festival Announces 2015 Winners

Marilyn Manson is best known as the frontman of the Marilyn Manson band, whose music garnered much controversy from politicians and the public for their nihilistic lyrics, graphic imagery, and provocative statements. Manson got tied up in the aftermath of the deadly Columbine shooting when he was blamed by politicians and the media for inciting the violence with his music. Manson has appeared in many films including David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” Michael Moore’s “Bowling For Columbine,” in which he discussed the media’s interest in scapegoating rather than focusing on broader societal issues, and a recurring role on FX’s “Sons of Anarchy.”

Mark Boone Junior is best known for his role on “Sons of Anarchy,” along with his performances in Christopher Nolan’s “Memento” and “Batman Begins,” Terrence Malick’s “The Thin Red Line,” and David Fincher’s “Seven.” He will soon appear in Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation,” about Nat Turner, the leader of a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831.

Let Me Make You a Martyr” will premiere at Fantasia Film Festival in Montreal next month. Manson will be in attendance.

Read More: Marilyn Manson Confirmed As Star Of Quentin Dupieux’s Cannes Short Film ‘Wrong Cops

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Related storiesFirst Reviews: 'The Birth of a Nation' Electrifies SundanceWatch: Footage From "Sick," Unreleased Marilyn Manson Video, Directed By Eli Roth & Featuring Lana Del ReyMarilyn Manson Heads To 'Californication'; Kristin Schaal Voices 'Cloudy 2'; Cobie Smulders Finds 'Safe Haven' & Christopher Meloni Joins 'They Came Together' »

- Vikram Murthi

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15 years ago today: ‘Atlantis: The Lost Empire’ and ‘Lara Croft: Tomb Raider’ premiered

15 June 2016 11:30 AM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

15 years ago today, Disney and Angelina Jolie both gave us new movies. It was on June 15, 2001 that Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider opened in theaters. The two films topped the box office that weekend, with Lara Croft holding the top spot. The Disney Renaissance had ended, and Atlantis didn’t live up to the quality of films the House of Mouse was putting out in the ’90s like Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Atlantis didn’t get much praise from critics upon its release, and it hasn’t amassed as strong a fandom as films in the pantheon of Disney greats have. Though it does have a cult favorite status among Disney movies, and some critics praised it for being a unique departure from typical Disney animated features, with its sci-fi influences and look based on the visual style of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. Lara Croft has remained a memorable item on Angelina Jolie’s resume — it’s the movie that really established her as a Hollywood star. At the time of its release, it was the highest-grossing video game adaptation. Another movie based on the Tomb Raider game series is set to star Ex Machina actress Alicia Vikander. Other notable June 15 happenings in pop culture history: • 1960: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment premiered. • 1963: The Sound of Music closed on Broadway after 1,443 performances. • 1966: Elvis Presley movie Paradise, Hawaiian Style opened in U.S. theaters. • 1983: The fifth and final season finale of Taxi aired. • 1988: Kevin Costner’s sports rom-com movie Bill Durham was released. • 1990: Dick Tracy opened in theaters. • 1994: The Lion King started playing in Los Angeles’ El Capitan Theatre and New York’s Radio City Music Hall, ahead of a wide release later that month. • 2005: Batman Begins opened in theaters. • 2007: Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right for the final time, ending his 35-year tenure on the show. • 2008: At the 62nd Tony Awards, In the Heights (from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda) won Best Musical. »

- Emily Rome

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Warner Bros, and its disastrous movie summer of 1997

13 June 2016 2:21 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Warner Bros has struggled with its blockbusters of late. But back in summer 1997 - Batman & Robin's year - it faced not dissimilar problems.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Warner Bros, following a string of costly movies that hadn’t hit box office gold (Pan, Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., In The Heart Of The Sea), was restructuring its blockbuster movie business. Fewer films, fewer risks, more franchises, and more centering around movie universes seems to be the new approach, and the appointment of a new corporate team to oversee the Harry Potter franchise last week was one part of that.

In some ways, it marks the end of an era. Whilst it retains its relationships with key directing talent (Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan for instance), Warner Bros was, for the bulk of the 1990s in particular, the studio that the others were trying to mimic. It worked with the same stars and filmmakers time and time again, and under then-chiefs Terry Semel and Robert Daly, relationships with key talent were paramount.

Furthermore, the studio knew to leave that talent to do its job, and was also ahead of the pack in developing franchises that it could rely on to give it a string of hits.

However, whilst Warner Bros is having troubles now, its way of doing business was first seriously challenged by the failure of its slate in the summer of 1997. Once again, it seemed to have a line up to cherish, that others were envious of. But as film by film failed to click, every facet of Warner Bros’ blockbuster strategy suddenly came under scrutiny, and would ultimately fairly dramatically change. Just two summers later, the studio released The Matrix, and blockbuster cinema changed again.

But come the start of summer 1997? These are the movies that Warner Bros had lined up, and this is what happened…

February - National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation

Things actually had got off to a decent enough start for the studio earlier in the year, so it's worth kicking off there. It brought Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back together, for the fourth National Lampoon movie, and the first since 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Interestingly, it dropped the National Lampoon moniker in the Us, and instead released the eventual movie as Vegas Vacation. It was a belated sequel, back when belated sequels weren’t that big a thing.

The film was quickly pulled apart by reviewers, but it still just about clawed a profit. The production budget of $25m was eclipsed by the Us gross of $36m, and the movie would do comfortable business on video/DVD. Not a massive hit, then, but hardly a project that had a sense of foreboding about it.

Yet the problems were not far away.

May – Father's Day

Warner Bros had a mix of movies released in the Us in March and April 1997, including modest Wesley Snipes-headlined thriller Murder At 1600, and family flick Shiloh. But it launched its summer season with Father’s Day, an expensive packaged comedy from director Ivan Reitman, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. It had hit written all over it.

Father’s Day was one of the movies packaged by the CAA agency, and its then-head, Mike Ovitz (listed regularly by Premiere magazine in the 1990s as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, if not the most powerful man). That he brought together the stars, the director and the project, gave a studio a price tag, and the studio duly paid it. Given Warner Bros’ devotion to star talent (Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a major Warner Bros talent, was persuaded to film a cameo), it was a natural home for the film. It quickly did the deal. few questions asked.

That package, and CAA’s fees for putting it together, brought the budget for a fairly straightforward comedy to a then-staggering $85m. The problem, though, was that the film simply wasn’t very good. It’s one of those projects that looks great on paper, less great when exposed on a great big screen. Warner Bros has snapped it up, without - it seems - even properly reading the script. 

Premiere magazine quoted a Warner Bros insider back in November 1997 as saying “when [CAA] calls and says ‘we have a package, Father’s Day, with Williams and Crystal and Reitman, we say ‘great’”, adding “we don’t scrutinise the production. When we saw the movie, it took the wind out of us. We kept reshooting and enhancing, but you can’t fix something that’s bad”.

And it was bad.

The movie would prove to be the first big misfire of the summer, grossing just $35m in the Us, and not adding a fat lot more elsewhere in the world. Warner Bros’ first film of the summer was a certified flop. More would soon follow.

May - Addicted To Love

A more modestly priced project was Addicted To Love, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick. Just over a year later, Warner Bros would hit big when Meg Ryan reunited with Tom Hanks for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. But here? The film was a modest success, at best.

Directed by Griffin Dunne (making his directorial debut), and put together in partnership with Miramax, Addicted To Love was based around the Robert Palmer song of the same name. But whilst it was sold as a romcom, the muddled final cut was actually a fair bit darker. There was an underlying nastiness to some moments in the film, and when the final box office was tallied, it came in lower than the usual returns for pictures from Ryan or Broderick. Counter-programming it against the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t massively help in this instance either, especially as the Jurassic Park sequel would smash opening weekend records.

Addicted To Love ended up with $34.6m at the Us box office. It would eke out a small profit.

June - Batman & Robin

And this is when the alarm bells started to ring very, very loudly. Summer 1997 was supposed to be about a trio of sure-fire hit sequels: Batman 4, Jurassic Park 2 and Speed 2. Only one of those would ultimately bring home the box office bacon, the others being destroyed by critics, and ultimately leaving far more empty seats than anticipated in multiplexes.

Batman & Robin, it’s easy to forget, came off the back of 1995’s Joel Schumacher-steered Batman reboot, Batman Forever that year's biggest movie). It had one of the fastest-growing stars in the world in the Batsuit (George Clooney), and the McDonald’s deals were signed even before the script was typed up. You don’t need us to tell you that you could tell, something of a theme already in Warner Bros' summer of '97.

That said, Batman & Robin still gave Warner Bros a big opening, but in the infancy of the internet as we know it, poisonous word of mouth was already beginning to spread. The film’s negative cost Warner Bros up to $140m, before marketing and distribution costs, and it opened in the Us to a hardly-sniffy $42m of business (although that was down from previous Batman movies).

But that word of mouth still accelerated its departure from cinemas. It was then very rare for a film to make over 40% of its Us gross in its first weekend. But that’s just what Batman & Robin did, taking $107.3m in America, part of a worldwide total of $238.2m. This was the worst return for a Batman movie to date, and Warner Bros had to swiftly put the brakes on plans to get Batman Triumphant moving.

It would be eight years until Batman returned to the big screen, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Warner Bros would undergo big changes in the intervening period.

As for the immediate aftermath of Batman & Robin? Warner Bros co-chief Robert Daly would note at the end of '97 that “we’d have been better off with more action in the picture. The movie had to service too many characters”, adding that “the next Batman we do, in three years – and we have a deal with George Clooney to do it – will have one villain”.

Fortunately, Warner Bros’ one solid hit of the summer was just around the corner…

July - Contact

And breathe out.

Warner Bros bet heavily again on expensive talent here, with Robert Zemeckis bringing his adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact to the studio for his first film post-Forrest Gump. Warner Bros duly footed the $90m bill (back when that was still seen as a lot of money for a movie), a good chunk of which went to Jodie Foster. It invested heavily in special effects, and gave Zemeckis licence to make the film that he wanted.

The studio was rewarded with the most intelligent and arguably the best blockbuster of the summer. I’ve looked back at Contact in a lot more detail here, and it remains a fascinating film that’s stood the test of time (and arguably influenced Christopher Nolan’s more recent Interstellar).

Reviews were strong, it looked terrific, and the initial box office was good.

But then the problem hit. For whilst Contact was a solid hit for Warner Bros, it wasn’t a massively profitable one. Had Father’s Day and Batman & Robin shouldered the box office load there were supposed to, it perhaps wouldn’t have been a problem. But when they failed to take off, the pressure shifted to Contact.

The movie would gross $100.9m in the Us, and add another $70m overseas (this being an era were international box office rarely had the importance it has today). But once Warner Bros had paid its bills, there wasn’t a fat lot over for itself. Fortunately, the film still sells on disc and on-demand. Yet it wasn’t to be the massive hit the studio needed back in 1997.

July - One Eight Seven

From director Kevin Reynolds, the man who helmed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld, came modestly-priced drama 187, starring Samuel L Jackson (in a strong performance). Warner Bros wouldn’t have had massive box office expectations for the film (although it can't have been unaware that the inspirational teacher sub-genre was always worth a few quid), and it shared production duties on the $20m movie with Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. But still, it would have had its eye on a modest success. What it got in return was red ink.

The film’s not a bad one, and certainly worth seeking out. But poor reviews gave the film an uphill struggle from the off – smaller productions arriving mid-summer really needed critics on their side, as they arguably still do – and it opened to just $2.2m of business (the less edgy, Michelle Pfeiffer-headlined school drama Dangerous Minds had been a surprise hit not two years before).

By the time its run was done, 187 hadn’t even come close to covering its production costs, with just under $6m banked.

Warner Bros’ summer slate was running out of films. But at least it had one of its most reliable movie stars around the corner…

August - Conspiracy Theory

What could go wrong? Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were two of the biggest movie stars in the world in 1997, at a time when movie stars still equated to box office gold. Director Richard Donner, one of Warner Bros’ favourite directors, had delivered the Lethal Weapons, Maverick, Superman, The Goonies and more for the studio. Put them altogether, with Patrick Stewart (coming to wider public consciousness at the time off the back of his Star Trek: The Next Generation work) as a villain, and it should have been a big hit.

Conspiracy Theory proved to be one of the more ambitious summer blockbusters of the era. It lacks a good first act, which would be really useful in actually setting up more of what’s going on. But Gibson played an edgy cab driver who believes in deep government conspiracies, and finds himself getting closer to the truth than those around him sometimes give him credit for.

Warner Bros was probably expecting another Lethal Weapon with the reunion of Gibson (who had to be persuaded to take Conspiracy Theory on) and Donner (it’s pretty much what it got with the hugely enjoyable Maverick a few years’ earlier), but instead it got a darker drama, with an uneasy central character that didn’t exactly play to the summer box office crowd.

The bigger problem, though, was that the film never quite worked as well as you might hope. Yet star power did have advantages. While no juggernaut, the film did decent business, grossing $137m worldwide off the back of an $80m budget ($40m of which was spent on the salaries for the talent before a single roll of film was loaded into a camera). That said, in the Us it knocked a genuine smash hit, Air Force One, off the top spot. Mind you in hindsight, that was probably the film that the studio wished it had made (the cockpit set of Warner Bros' own Executive Decision was repurposed for Air Force One, fact fans).

Still: Warner Bros did get Lethal Weapon 4 off Gibson and Donner a year later…

August - Free Willy 3: The Rescue

Yeah.

Warner Bros opened its third Free Willy film on the same day as Conspiracy Theory (can you imagine a studio opening two big films on the same day now), but it was clear that this was a franchise long past its best days (and its best days hardly bring back the fondest of memories).

Still, Free Willy movies were relatively modest in cost to put together, and Warner Bros presumably felt this was a simple cashpoint project. But in a year when lots of family movies did less business than expected (Disney’s Hercules, Fox’s Home Alone 3, Disney’s Mr Magoo), Free Willy 3 barely troubled the box office. It took in just over $3m in total, and Willy would not be seen on the inside of a cinema again.

August - Steel

Not much was expected from Steel, a superhero movie headlined by Shaquille O’Neal. Which was fortunate, because not much was had.

It had a mid-August release date in the Us, at a point when a mid-August release date was more of a dumping ground than anything else. And even though the budget was set at a relatively low $16m, the film – and it’s an overused time – pretty much bombed. It took $1.7m at the Us box office, and given that its appeal hinged on a major American sports star whose fame hardly transcended the globe, its international takings did not save it (it went straight to video in many territories).

It was a miserable end to what, for warner bros, had been a thoroughly miserable summer.

So what did hit big in summer 1997?

Summer 1997 was infamous for big films failing to take off in the way that had been expected – Hercules, Speed 2, and the aforementioned Warner Bros movies – but there were several bright spots. The big winner would be Barry Sonnenfeld’s light and sprightly sci-fi comedy Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Star power too helped score big hits for Harrison Ford (Air Force One), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and John Travolta (Face/Off).

This was also the summer that Nicolas Cage cemented his action movie credentials with Face/Off and Con Air. Crucially, though, the star movies that hit were the ones that veered on the side of 'good'. For the first of many years, the internet was blamed for this.

Oh, and later in the year, incidentally, Titanic would redefine just what constituted a box office hit...

What came next for Warner Bros?

In the rest of 1997, Warner Bros had a mix of projects that again enjoyed mixed fortunes. The standout was Curtis Hanson’s stunning adaptation of L.A. Confidential, that also proved to be a surprise box office success. The Devil’s Advocate didn’t do too badly either.

However, two of the studio’s key filmmakers failed to really deliver come the end of 1997. Clint Eastwood’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil failed to ignite (although many felt he was always on a hiding to nothing in trying to adapt that for the screen), and Kevin Costner’s The Postman would prove arguably the most expensive box office disappointment of the year. No wonder the studio rushed Lethal Weapon 4 into production for summer 1998. Oh, and it had The Avengers underway too (not that one), that would prove to be a 1998 disappointment.

The studio would eventually take action. The Daly-Semel management team, that had reigned for 15 years, would break up at the end of 1999, as its traditional way of doing business became less successful. The pair had already future projects that were director driven to an extent (Eyes Wide Shut), and it would still invest in movies with stars (Wild Wild West). But the immediate plan of action following the disappointment of summer 1997 – to get Batman 5 and Superman Lives made – would falter. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s The Matrix (a film that Daly and Semel struggled to get) and – crucially – 2001’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone that the studio would really get its swagger back...

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