WHY SUPERMAN ISN'T GOING TO FLY

Published on .

So what really forced Warner Bros. to postpone the summer '99 relaunch of the "Superman" movie franchise? Curious that Hollywood folk find the studio's stated reasons -- a bloated budget and a weak script -- hard to swallow. One theory has it that the Man of Steel's brand managers at Time Warner's D.C. Comics lobbied the studio to rethink the radical new look for the hero. Said changes included a tweaked version of the Supe's famous logo and arming the character with Batman-like weapons, very un-Superman-ish (the movie's director, Tim Burton, also directed the first two "Batman" films). Studio insiders deny D.C. was a factor, saying the decision surprised the publisher's top execs. Another theory says the movie is now slated for fall '99, with the script-and-budget woes a smoke screen to obscure Warner's real reason for the delay: fear of the Fox-distributed "Star Wars: Episode One," also due next summer. A Warner insider scoffed at that one, too, a bit bewildered why no one can believe the studio. In the land of make-believe and hype, even the appearance of honesty is cause for suspicion.

GM does not make lethal weapons

Mel Gibson tools about in the redesigned '99 GMC Sierra pickup in this summer's "Lethal Weapon IV," but GMC aborted its planned media tie-in after deciding the release was too far ahead of its launch. So sister Pontiac jumped in, agreeing to heavy media support if the flick would include its new Grand Am. Producer Joel Silver rewrote a 10-minute chase scene to feature Grand Am. Is everyone happy? No. Insiders say GM's lawyers got skittish that a Pontiac movie tie-in promo could violate GM's safe-driving policy. So Pontiac spiked the promo, though the car stays in the flick because it would cost too much to reshoot. Word is Silver and Warner are peeved with Pontiac for backing out and leaving them with no car company to hype the flick. Pontiac declined to comment, while studio and producer weren't available to respond at deadline.

Toys in store on the Web

Internet toy store eToys (www.etoys.com) picked Kalis & Savage, Pacific Palisades, edging out finalist FCB/LA for eToys' first, estimated $1 million-plus print/radio ad push starting this fall. Ads will target computer-savvy mothers ages 25 to 45. Spending next year will jump "fivefold or more . . . if all goes according to plan," says VP-mktg. Phil Polishook. eToys is bracing for competition: Toys "R" Us VP Joel Anderson says he'll launch his site in 30 days, offering 1,000 to 1,500 items ranging from preschool toys to videogames.

Back home . . . W looking

Kent Aitchison returned to his old slot as creative director at O&M, Dearborn, Mich., after a brief sabbatical at neighboring McCann. Aitchison jumped to McCann's CD slot last fall, only to see the shop lose its GMC account the week he arrived. He's been working on Buick till deciding to go back home. . . . Starwood Hotels & Resorts will look in coming months for an agency to handle W, its new business-oriented hotel chain.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Alice Z. Cuneo, Jean Halliday, Jeff Jensen and Alan Salomon.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

In this article:
Most Popular