Studios take big risks before summer season

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LUCK BE A LADY: The movie season is entering its crapshoot period-spring-during which studios try their luck with unusual or challenging efforts just before the big summer season.

"Enemy at the Gates" is the most highly regarded release this season since it stars two of the hottest male stars around, Jude Law and Joseph Fiennes. That star power will be needed since its subject-two soldiers, one German and one Russian, in the Battle of Stalingrad during World War II-is not a subject likely to draw big audiences. One veteran marketing executive sums up the problem in this way: "Why would an American audience root for a German or a Russian?" To cover all bases, the studio, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, is offering a variety of TV spots targeted at different audiences.

"Blow" is about how one American, played by Johnny Depp, becomes the biggest U.S. drug dealer-a difficult subject to market. However, executives believe "Blow" will get positive reviews, like "Traffic" did, and, as a result, powerful word-of-mouth marketing.

"Spy Kids" is family action comedy about a pair of kids who must rescue their spy parents. Key to the movie's success is whether it can grab 11- or 12- year olds to see the movie.

Freddie Prinze Jr. stars in his usual romantic role in "Summer Catch," this time as a boy on a small town minor-league baseball team who falls for a wealthy young woman. Unlike most other films mentioned, this film is dropping in value, according to the Hollywood Stock Exchange game stock-market barometer.

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