It shattered Australia's opening-week box-office record. It may well become its country's biggest grossing film ever. And its star is recognized by American audiences. But that doesn't mean that the title "Crocodile Dundee" rings any bells here yet, or even that the makers of the Australian film have found anyone to release it in this country.
The action comedy -- sort of a lighter Australian version of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" -- was shot in Australia and New York, and features Paul Hogan, star of those Aussie ads in which he promises to "throw another shrimp on the barbie." In its first week, the movie was far and away the biggest film ever released down under: It made 2.1 million Australian dollars (worth about 74 cents each in American money), a full 30 percent more than "Rocky IV's" previous record.
Naturally, the next step is across the Pacific, and so the producer of "Crocodile Dundee" brought his film to Los Angeles last week to look for an American distributor; he claims it tested quite well in U.S. screenings and should be out stateside later this year.
Returning to Remakes
Paul Newman will direct a remake of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" this fall. The cast will be the same as the one that appeared in a recent Long Wharf Theater production of the play in New Haven, Conn.: Joanne Woodward, Karen Allen, Treat Williams and James Naughton . . . New World Pictures, the company that brought us the likes of "Avenging Angel" and last week's "No Retreat No Surrender," is also thinking remake: It has joined William Aldrich for a new version of the 1962 Bette Davis/Joan Crawford film "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" It makes sense that Aldrich has the rights; his father, Robert Aldrich, directed the original . . . And in another bit of family business at New World, the studio has picked up worldwide rights to "Hard Traveling," a low-budget film written and directed by Dan Bessie and based on "Bread and a Stone," a 1941 novel by Bessie's father, Alvah Bessie. There was movie industry interest in the book after its publication, but the elder Bessie couldn't make a deal for the property before he was one of the "Hollywood Ten," blacklisted in 1949 for refusing to tell the McCarthy committee whether they were Communists.
"About Last Night," the new title for the film version of David Mamet's "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," won't be released until the beginning of July. College students around the country, though, can see the film now -- while school's still in session.
They won't, however, be seeing the film that will be out in two months: Instead, Tri-Star is showing an unfinished preview print of the movie, complete with scrawled notations as to where music will be added and editing will be done. The screenings will take place at up to 200 campuses during the first three weeks in May in an attempt to stir up good word-of-mouth among what will be a crucial audience for "About Last Night." With school letting out a month before the movie actually premieres -- and with another youth-oriented July 2 release, Prince's "Under the Cherry Moon," already getting a big boost via its star's bestselling sound track -- Tri-Star figures it's worth it to send the prints out now and worry about finishing the movie later.
Leaders of the Pack
The two top-grossing films in the country last weekend probably won't keep their ranking too much longer: Richard Pryor's "Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" made just under $5 million by bringing in about $4,000 per theater, while the Judd Nelson/Ally Sheedy film "Blue City" struggled to $2.7 million and about $2,600 per screen. Those figures were enough to top the fading "Legend" and "Police Academy 3" and the surprisingly consistent "The Money Pit," but the field gets tougher soon, with seven movies opening this weekend.