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'Pirates' pins and needles - Los Angeles Times 7/8/06

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  • 'Pirates' pins and needles - Los Angeles Times 7/8/06

    Hollywood on Pins and Needles About Pirates

    By Deborah Netburn, Times Staff Writer
    July 8, 2006

    There are some high expectations riding on "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." Very high. Bigger than the first "Spiderman" high, which means that some people are expecting "Pirates" to have the highest grossing opening weekend ever. Ever! What's even stranger is that nobody in the industry or in the fan community wants to see this movie fail. Instead, an informal survey of Hollywood types reveals a trend the likes of which is rarely seen in this town: Everyone is rooting for the movie to succeed.

    Why? Well it stars Johnny Depp for one--perhaps our greatest living actor. Who doesn't want a film in which Johnny Depp plays Keith Richards as a pirate to break the bank? And all the actors from the original have returned as well as director Gore Verbinski, so the fanboys have nothing to freak out about. Plus, it would be neat if the biggest opening weekend of all time was for a film about pirates. (Pirates are cool!) But ultimately, in a town that would like to be about art but is ultimately about money there is a general belief that a successful opening for "Pirates" will prove (for a little while at least) that the box office is officially un-dead and that the movie industry lives on.

    Even Bingham Ray, former head of Focus Features, cares about how the film does this weekend. A self-professed loather of all things Hollywood, he still left us a message at a quarter-to-four New York time to say that while he's not obsessed with how "Pirates" will fare at the box office he is hoping for the best. "I just hope for everyone involved that the thing has a blowout number," he said. "That would be great. That would shut up people like [The New York Times' entertainment reporter] Sharon Waxman who keep saying 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling, the business is ending.'"

    "I'm kidding," he added as the bitterness drained from his voice. "I have some Sharon issues."

    Michael Jones, a producer at motion picture marketing company Aspect Ratio says he hopes the movie is "the biggest hit on the planet" even though he had nothing to do with the film itself. "I used to be like, oh man, that marketing campaign sucks, I hope their film tanks, but now you just hope every movie does huge because you want the business to say healthy," he said. "I'm not really going into the weekend like, 'Oh my God, 'Pirates' better do well,' but if it is a big disappointment Monday will not be a good day."

    When asked if he was going to check the numbers over the weekend Jones tried to play it cool, but failed. "If I remember I'll call for them," he said. "I'll probably call this weekend. I will I guess."

    Paul Dergarabedian, a spokesman for Exhibitor Relations, a company that tracks box office numbers has been amping up for a successful showing from "Pirates" all week. "I already have my charts prepared with the top five openings, and the single biggest days of all time because I'm confident this movie will be huge," he said.

    When asked why he thinks it matters to so many people that the film be a success Dergarabedian didn't hestitate.

    "If 'Pirates' does well it means people still want to go to the movies," he said. "…And that is good for everybody. Over all you want a lot of people to go to the theaters because that creates more moviegoing. And that's a captive audience you can market to."
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

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