Attack of the summer films

By Published on .

Bombs away.

In coming weeks, the heavy-artillery movies move into the high-profile summer marketplace. Already "The Mummy Returns" has blown the doors off the season with a $70 million opening weekend-the second-highest non-holiday weekend ever.

Now, comes more firepower. "Pearl Harbor," "Tomb Raider," "Shrek" and "Moulin Rouge" will hit the screens in coming weeks, all posed to earn big-time dollars. According to movie analysts and market-research Web site HSX (a unit of Internet game site, Hollywood Stock Exchange), all but one-"Moulin Rouge"-are on track to grab at least a $100 million box office.

For "Pearl Harbor," Walt Disney Co., the film's distributor, has been using marketing materials that pay homage to the period-including 1940's retro-recruiting posters. Other outdoor materials include wide landscape shots, including one of a boy on a ball field looking up to see war planes roaring overhead.

DreamWorks Pictures' "Shrek" is an animated send-up of popular fairy tales, and hopes to draw both kids and adults. In the TV spots, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz talk about their voice roles. The identity of these stars targets adults, said analysts. Kids, on the other hand, don't necessarily need this lure to go to an animated movie.

But the movie might need more to explain the plot. "You really need the press to help educate the reluctant consumer," said John Jacobs, former marketing chief at Destination Films.

This could also be the case with Fox Filmed Entertainment's "Moulin Rouge"-a period piece set in 1890s Paris starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor. It's a daring movie, analysts believe. Why? For one, there's a lot of singing-not a common occurrence in films these days. The ads have a sexy, mysterious feel that targets women, observers report.

Angelina Jolie stars as Lara Croft in "Tomb Raider"-a movie based on the video game character. That could be a great dual-audience draw. Marketing materials show action scenes with a woman in the lead. According to Craig Murray, president of Craig Murray Productions, a Burbank, Calif., entertainment marketing firm, "You have an empowered female and that will hopefully get young females and young males."

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