The Fourth of July may be a time to be patriotic, but producer Gary Nardino figures he can't be blamed for pulling up stakes and taking "Captive Hearts" across the border. By making the short trip from Seattle to British Columbia, Nardino says he's saving $2 million on the film, directed by British video-documentary veteran Duncan Gibbons and starring little-known Virginia Madsen ("Dune," the upcoming "Creator" with Peter O'Toole) as an independent student at a Catholic girls' school.
Payroll deductions run 40 percent in the United States but only 20 percent in Canada, Nardino says, while lower labor costs and a favorable exchange rate make it possible to bring the movie in for $7.5 million rather than the nearly $10 million it would cost to shoot in the States. There's another advantage, too: Shooting in Canada gives the apparently superstitious Nardino a chance to speed up his schedule by a day, so he won't have to wrap the movie on Friday, Sept. 13 . . .
In the age of MTV, it had to happen: In Cannon Films' "Thunder Warriors," set in Colorado 900 years after a nuclear war, a new civilization led by women worships a rock 'n' roll video. But don't go expecting to see Colorado sites such as Pike's Peak. Figuring that things will be different after the Bomb, they're shooting "Thunder Warriors" at Israel's Dead Sea . . .
There may yet be some gold left in them thar westerns, if Clint Eastwood's "Pale Rider" is any indication. It made $9.3 million last weekend, beating "Cocoon" and "Rambo" by about $2 million and giving Eastwood his third biggest opening weekend ever. With the help of the Fourth of July holiday, its first-week total might well be Eastwood's biggest ever. Of course, the real test of the genre's strength will come with the release of Lawrence Kasdan's "Silverado." It opens next week without the built-in Eastwood audience, but with some reasonably good word-of-mouth about its pacing and its quartet of lead actors: Kevin Kline, Scott Glenn, Danny Glover and Kevin Costner -- who had many women walking out of one preview screening whispering, "Who was that guy?" . . .
Columbia Pictures, which is releasing "Silverado," can rest a little easier now that "St. Elmo's Fire" has apparently ended the studio's lengthy post-"Ghostbusters" slump. Its young ensemble cast drew $6.1 million worth of business over the weekend, easily topping the fading "The Goonies" . . .
Ron Howard's "Cocoon," though, is holding its own. In its second weekend, it dropped by a negligible 7 percent and pushed its 10-day earnings over the $20 million mark. Howard's next film is "Gung Ho," a comedy about midwestern workers in an auto factory trying to adjust to the practices of their new Japanese owners. The film reunites the director with actor Michael Keaton, whose career took off after he walked away with Howard's "Night Shift" . . .
If you can translate "Ars gratia artis" from Latin to English, you're in the distinct minority, according to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. That studio has made a couple of changes in its historic logo -- changes that had gone virtually unnoticed until they caught the eye of the L.A. Times recently. The Latin motto has been dropped because MGM says nobody knows what it means (it means "art for art's sake"), along with last year's Diamond Jubilee banner noting "60 years of great entertainment" (it's now 61 years). The studio didn't, however, mess with Leo the Lion, who still starts every movie with a roar . . .
Director Peter Greenaway's last film was the odd period mystery "The Draughtsman's Contract," which won itself something of a reputation on the art-house circuit. His next movie sounds similarly offbeat: About Siamese twins who fall in love with the same woman, it's titled "Zed and Two Noughts." At least that's what it's called overseas. In the United States, the Samuel Goldwyn Co. has decided to give it a more prosaic, less colorful title. Figuring that "Zed," after all, means "Z," and a nought is a zero, it's calling the film "Zoo" . . .
And speaking of titles, it's a tossup as to which of the following has the better moniker: "Frankenstein's Great-Aunt Tillie," an English-language, Mexican-made horror movie spoof starring Donald Pleasence and dealing with a city council trying to repossess Frankenstein's castle for back taxes, or "Breakdancers From Mars," rock video director Tom Daley's spoof of alien movies.