Terry Gilliam ran into lots of problems with Universal Pictures on his last film, "Brazil." In fact, the arguments about whether that movie was a brilliant black comedy (Gilliam's view, seconded by some critics) or a depressing mess that needed a happy ending (Universal Pictures chief Sid Sheinberg's opinion) were colorful enough to provide the grist for the recent Jack Mathews book chronicling the dispute.
Now it looks as if Gilliam is awash in troubles on his new movie, "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" -- but this time, the problems are coming from all sides.
The trouble started as soon as Gilliam and Columbia Pictures announced the project, a fantasy about an 18th-century storyteller. Producer Allan A. Buckhantz, who holds the remake rights to the 1942 German film of the same name, claims he submitted Munchausen materials to Columbia and was turned down only three months before David Puttnam, then the company's new chief, made the deal with Gilliam. Columbia said Gilliam's film is based on public-domain materials -- the books of the real-life Munchausen -- and not on the earlier film; Buckhantz is still threatening a copyright infringement lawsuit.
But in disowning any connection to the earlier movie, Columbia got in more hot water. According to Karl A. Woerner, the head of West Germany's government-owned filmmaking company, Columbia made defamatory statements about the 1942 film, labeling it "Nazi-oriented propaganda which Columbia Pictures does not wish to associate itself or be identified with." Woerner sent an angry telex to top officials at Columbia and its parent company, Coca-Cola; the studio had no comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, production on Gilliam's "Adventures of Baron Munchausen" has been shut down by the project's financial bonding company, reportedly because the movie is a week behind schedule and is now projected to cost $7 million more than its $23.5 million budget. In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times this week, Gilliam said Film Finance is trying to fire him and bring in a new director. For the moment, everybody's talking, lots of people are arguing and a few technicians are building new sets in Rome for when the movie gets rolling again. But no film is being shot.
The $7 Solution
After months of rumors that it was on its way, the $7 movie ticket has settled in in New York City. As expected, Cineplex Odeon finally led the way by jacking up prices in three of its plushest Manhattan theaters, after charging $7 for a brief time when it reopened the Carnegie Hall Cinema in June. Other theaters say they have no immediate plans to match the price. But some theaters also say that they might consider it if the $7 ticket becomes more prevalent.
Another Blow for Rourke's 'Prayer'
"A Prayer for the Dying" was disowned by its director, Mike Hodges, who says the Samuel Goldwyn Co. ruined his movie; attacked by its star, Mickey Rourke, who likewise blasted Goldwyn's meddling; panned by most of the critics; and ignored by audiences wherever it has been released. And finally, the film, in which Rourke plays a gunman in the Irish Republican Army, was withdrawn as the opening-night attraction at this week's London Film Festival. Organizers of the festival, which opened Wednesday night, pulled the film in response to Sunday's IRA bombing, which killed 11 and wounded more than 60 in Northern Ireland; though the movie takes an essentially antiterrorist stance, one festival organizer said this is "not the moment to screen a film even touching on terrorism."
Marlo Thomas will be the next television personality to try her hand at the big screen, producing and starring in the supernatural thriller "Points of Light" for 20th Century Fox. Thomas' last film was the unsuccessful "Thieves" in 1977... Andrew McCarthy joins his "Pretty in Pink" costar Molly Ringwald in "Fresh Horses," a drama about obsessive love; it began shooting this week in Ohio ... Peter Weir will direct and script "Innocent Millionaire," a romantic adventure movie set in the Caribbean and starring Tom Cruise.