More than ever, the studios are elbowing each other for the best weekends to open their summer movies. Fourteen to 15 blockbusters will open in the hot months--the heaviest lineup of $100 million films in the history of Hollywood. "Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide," William Mechanic, chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment told the New York Times recently. "Practically every weekend is booked,"
The early buzz is that Lost World: Jurassic Park, set to open May 23, will be the movie to beat this season--building on the success of the first Steven Spielberg-directed megahit, Jurassic Park. Men in Black, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith, is another expected heavy-hitter. It's coming July 2. Batman and Robin, the George Clooney vehicle, is expected to do well in initial box office when it opens June 20, but then drop off quickly as other movies open.
All this makes for choppy waters for the mammoth Titanic. The $180 million disaster film, originally scheduled to open July 4, is reported to be behind schedule. Should the film be moved to July 11, it would bump up against Warner Bros.' Contact. Should it move to July 25, it would hit Columbia's Air Force One, with Harrison Ford and Glenn Close, and Warner's Mel Gibson-Julia Roberts starrer, Conspiracy Theory, head on.
In the face of the competition, some films have been removed from the summer fray altogether. Alien Resurrection, the hyped sequel starring Sigourney Weaver and Winona Ryder, has been pushed to the fall. And The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey, has been moved back from an August 8 opening to the holiday season, after theater owners panned some preview clips.