Midway through Mel Brooks' "Spaceballs," Brooks appears as a Yoda-style guru named Yogurt who strolls past a gift shop stocked with "Spaceballs" dolls, pillowcases and T-shirts and says, "Merchandising -- where the real money from the picture is made."
That's not going to be true in Brooks' case -- he made an agreement with George Lucas not to merchandise any "Spaceballs" characters, which are similar to "Star Wars" creations. That takes care of most of the movie.
But it is an increasing trend in the movie business, which is why Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Columbia, DEG and Lorimar all had display booths at last week's International Licensing & Merchandise Conference & Exposition. Not surprisingly, Hollywood's biggest upcoming merchandise blitz may well tie in with next summer's release of "Rambo III"; already, according to Carolco Licensing, the character has brought in more than $200 million in merchandise revenues.
MGM, meanwhile, isn't licensing a specific movie -- but for the first time, the studio is planning to make money with products bearing the likeness of its studio mascot, Leo the Lion.
Still, many in attendance felt that the hottest property these days isn't from a movie, but from TV: Vanna White.
Paramount's Boffo Box Office Paramount Pictures is on another one of its hot streaks. As it seems to do once or twice a year, the studio is completely dominating the box office, this time with "Beverly Hills Cop II" and "The Untouchables."
"Cop" is still the top-grossing film in the country, but on a per-screen basis, it and everything else was clobbered last weekend by "The Untouchables," which made $10 million to "Cop's" $12.4 million while showing on fewer than half as many screens.
Together, those two films accounted for two thirds of all the money brought in by the weekend's top 10 grossing films; in fact, if you add up the total earnings of the 36 other movies whose grosses are being reported by Hollywood studios, those three dozen films fall about $4 million short of what "Cop" and "Untouchables" made. The biggest box office disappointment, by the way, was clearly the lackluster opening of "Harry and the Hendersons."
Directors' Shuffle They're into their third director on the set of "Collision Course," a De Laurentiis Entertainment Group film shooting in North Carolina with Jay Leno and Pat Morita as policemen working on a murder case. When the action comedy went into preproduction four months ago, the director was John Guillerman, who'd been behind the cameras for De Laurentiis' Christmas flop "King Kong Lives." But Guillerman left because of the ubiquitous "creative differences" before any footage was shot, turning over the reins to "Porky's" and "Turk 182" director Bob Clark.
For his part, Clark lasted through nine days of shooting before departing after a reported disagreement over the script. "Jewel of the Nile" director Lewis Teague is now in charge, and he plans to toss out all of Clark's footage and start again with the film.
Both replacement directors, incidentally, have experience with this sort of thing: Three weeks into the shooting of the disastrous Sly Stallone/Dolly Parton film "Rhinestone," Clark took over from ousted director Don Zimmerman; for 1982's "Fighting Back," Teague was brought in to replace another director, then himself replaced by a third director, then brought back on the movie when that director didn't work out.
Hot on the Trailers And the nominees are: "Cobra," "Reform School Girls" and "Howard the Duck." As you might have guessed, we're not talking about awards for filmmaking excellence here -- those three movies are among the finalists in this year's Key Art Awards, The Hollywood Reporter's annual list of the best in motion picture trailers and posters. "Reform School Girls" was a finalist for best trailer, alongside such classier entries as "The Color of Money" and "Platoon"; "Cobra" and "Howard" shared the best-poster category with "Hannah and Her Sisters," "Fringe Dwellers," "Heartbreak Ridge" and "Sid and Nancy" ... And finally, producer Pierre Spangler is planning to stage a Betty Boop look-alike contest in the near future; he's trying to cast a projected $20 million live-action film starring the venerable cartoon character.