If you want to know how seriously the Hollywood studios took the short-lived Directors Guild strike, you only have to look at the number of films they launched last month: three. That's a remarkably low figure, due almost entirely to the fact that no studio had the confidence to think that any directors would be willing to go to work during July.
The three films -- "A Fish Called Wanda," "Gorillas in the Mist" and "Sundown" -- are all shooting overseas; even with the remarkably slow July, total film production so far this year is running just about even with last year.
But if few movies were being made, last month was an exceptionally busy time for movie releases: 37 new features debuted, a figure far above the total for any other July in recent memory. There are now so many films in release -- and so many films that are holding their own at the box office -- that almost three dozen originally scheduled for summer release have been postponed. Some of the postponements are no doubt due to less-than-enthusiastic receptions within the studios; others have been moved simply because it's getting too crowded out there.
G. Gordon Liddy's Reel Life He's broken the law, he's spent time in jail, he's had a TV movie based on his life, he's been on "Miami Vice," he's written books and he's toured the country debating Timothy Leary. Now, Nixon White House staffer G. Gordon Liddy reportedly will have a major role in the feature film "Pardon for Pilman," about an extreme conservative and a flaming radical who "drop out of society" together. Liddy will play a government agent ... Costa-Gavras, the director who has specialized in topical dramas from "Z" to "Missing," is now in Canada at work on "Sundown," a film about a white supremacist group. Tom Berenger, Debra Winger and John Heard star.
The Boys' Lives Joseph Feury and Lee Grant, a husband-wife team responsible for the Oscar-winning documentary "Down and Out in America" and the Emmy-winning CBS film "Nobody's Child," have announced plans to make their first dramatic feature. Titled "Boy's Life," it's about three teen-age boys during the summer their father sells the family business; Sean Astin ("The Goonies") and Daphne Zuniga ("The Sure Thing") have already been cast. One interesting sidelight to the movie: "A Boy's Life" was the phony title Steven Spielberg used to throw snoops off track when he was shooting "E.T."
Deauville Dilemma InFrance, there's a battle going on over which critically reviled sequel gets to be the opening-night attraction at the Deauville American Film Festival. According to Cannon France, "Superman IV" was originally slated to open the 10-day festival of American films, and Cannon had even made arrangements for Christopher Reeve himself to show up for the event. But then Deauville changed its mind: The opening attraction will now be "The Living Daylights," which will have been playing to big audiences in Europe for six weeks by the time the Sept. 4-14 festival gets underway.
"Beverly Hills Cop II" is turning out to be a smash hit in the world's second-biggest film market: It's now the top draw in Japan, where it's outgrossing the first "Beverly Hills Cop" by about 50 percent ... Japan's biggest home-grown release, meanwhile, is "Rakko Monogatari," or "A Sea Otter Story." It figures to do well because last summer's big hit was "The Adventures of Chatran," about a kitten. Japanese filmmakers are also preparing two movies about dogs, one about a wild bear and his hunter and two about pandas.
Film Clips David Permut, who produced "Dragnet," plans to take another old television cop show to the big screen. This time, he's working on a spoof of "Highway Patrol," and expects to be rolling on the movie this year ... Tom and Jerry and Mr. Magoo are the latest characters who will make the transition from cartoons to feature films. Tom and Jerry's upcoming feature will be animated; Mr. Magoo's will be live action, pending casting of the myopic gent ... And while the offbeat Dennis Quaid/Ellen Barkin film "The Big Easy" has been getting plenty of favorable advance word, a recent "Robocop" audience in Los Angeles laughed uproariously when the "Big Easy" trailer first flashed the movie's title. Maybe that's because the title came immediately after a few seconds of the movie's already-famous sex scene