One title is short, punchy and to the point, and has an enormous built-in recognition factor. The other title is long, wordy, vague and unfamiliar. But that second title won out: Paul Schrader's next movie's name has been changed from "Born in the U.S.A." to "Just Around the Corner to the Light of Day."
The filmmakers decided that writer/director Schrader's rock 'n' roll drama needed the new name because its original title was too closely identified with a Bruce Springsteen album -- even though Springsteen borrowed the title from Schrader's script to begin with. As for the new title, it doesn't sound like good box office now but maybe it will one day. "Just Around the Corner, etc." is the title of a new song written for the movie by, naturally, Bruce Springsteen. The film, starring Michael J. Fox, will be out in about a year.
Speaking of movies and rock 'n' roll, Paramount Pictures got a sizable contingent of stars from both fields to show up for a premiere party for John Hughes' "Pretty in Pink" last week -- aided, no doubt, by a film chock full of rock songs and populated with the likes of Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer. (At the party, Molly stayed upstairs, reportedly hiding the effects of her recent wisdom tooth extraction from the MTV cameras; McCarthy quietly chatted with pals; and Cryer danced the night away.) The film got mixed reviews, but almost everyone agreed it was at least nice -- which is a far better reception than the parking system got. Valets parked hundreds of cars in a block-long lot behind the Chinese Theater, and after the film partygoers had to search the lot to find their unlocked cars, all of which had the keys inside. "This is ridiculous," musician Jerry (Devo) Casale was overheard shouting as he walked through the rain looking for his car. "I'm gonna sue!"
Billy Jack is one tough hombre, but Tom Laughlin -- the guy who masterminds and stars in the Billy Jack movies -- can be as vulnerable as the rest of us. While filming a scene for "The Return of Billy Jack" in Toronto last week, Laughlin took three shots to the head from what was supposed to be a breakaway bottle; it failed to shatter correctly, and after finishing the day's shooting and two subsequent days' work, Laughlin left the film set for the hospital. Now in L.A., he's hospitalized with a fractured skull, among other ailments.
Last week, film box-office charts listed Crown International Pictures' "My Chauffeur" as the country's top moneymaking film. This week, "My Chauffeur" is nowhere to be found on the charts. What happened? What happened was that Crown reported an inflated gross last weekend, claiming a $4.7 million total when it turns out the movie actually made about $2.3 million.
Studios are usually trusted to accurately report their grosses -- especially the majors; independents are known to cheat more often -- because rival studios and exhibitors can recognize inflated figures, just as they did with Crown's reports. Crown didn't offer up a defense when the discrepancy was discovered, but this week it's not reporting "My Chauffeur" grosses at all. An educated estimate, though, is about $1.5 million -- not enough to put the movie high on the charts, even if the numbers were reported.
"Down and Out in Beverly Hills" was the big winner among last weekend's new releases, easily topping the field with $5.7 million. Runners-up were "The Color Purple," which this weekend should get an added boost from its Academy Award nominations; "Murphy's Romance," in its first week of wide release; and the widely panned Rob Lowe hockey film "Youngblood." "The Best of Times" didn't exactly run into the worst of times, but neither did it show much box-office power -- and when it comes to "Power," Sidney Lumet's political drama had even less . . . Instead of Truman Capote's "Handcarved Coffins," Michael Cimino will direct Mario Puzo's "Sicilians" as his next film. Filming starts in Italy in June . . . Columbia Pictures has been testing Walter Hill's "Crossroads" with both happy and sad endings; to nobody's surprise, the happy ending has apparently won out and will be on the film when it's released in March.