In Hollywood, the new year is a time not for changes of heart but for whipping up Academy Award campaigns, counting box-office dollars and getting ready to dump movies the studios didn't quite know what to do with in 1987.
So what can moviegoers and Hollywood watchers expect this year? About what we got in last year, probably.
Studios will release sequels. "Rambo III," "Short Circuit II," "Ghoulies II," "Poltergeist III," "Fright Night 2," "Nightmare on Elm Street 4" and two special favorites: "Return of the Killer Tomatoes," a sequel to 1980's completely inept "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"; and "Return of the Living Dead, Part Two," a sequel to a movie that was designed to sound like a sequel to "Night of the Living Dead," even though it really wasn't.
Stallone, In on the Action
Sylvester Stallone will make a movie or two, collect a lot of money and find himself criticized quite often. "Rambo III" will be released, and chances are it will get terrible reviews and make lots of money. If he's lucky, his next films won't be quite as long-delayed and beleaguered as that shoot, which this week had another problem: Film employes, local contractors and Israel's version of the Red Cross, Mogen David Adom, found that checks they'd received during the Israeli production had bounced. Golan & Globus Studios, a Tel Aviv production company, blames Carolco Pictures, which is making the movie; Carolco says it left enough money in the joint Carolco/G&G account, but that was seized by the government when G&G failed to pay withholding taxes.
More Mr. Murphy
Eddie Murphy will make another movie or two, the critics will probably complain that he's squandering his talent, and his movies will make money. By a week or so into 1988, he'll have the top-grossing concert film ever, even though that movie -- "Raw" -- was soundly panned and is slipping at the box office. His next film, by the way, goes into production shortly. It's currently titled "The Quest" -- though everybody says the name will change -- with Murphy as an African prince looking for a bride in New York City.
The Norwegian Rating
Somebody or other will raise a stink about the movie ratings system, demanding a new rating or more information or better enforcement. Jack Valenti will explain that the system is fine just as it is. And when the minor fuss dies down, we can be thankful that this isn't Norway, where a new film ratings system goes into effect today. Until now, children under 7 haven't been allowed into movie theaters, and films were rated "children's fare" (which anybody 7 or older could attend), "youth fare" (anyone over 12), "adult fare" (over 16) and "very adult fare" (over 18.)
Starting today, though, the bottom age has dropped to 5, and the "youth fare" and "adult fare" categories were opened to 10- and 15-year-olds. Except that the new system applies only to movies released from today on; pictures already out are still bound by the old rules.
A Fistful of Pictures
Film studios will release a whole lot of movies, though the major studios' share of the grand total will continue to decline, and lower-budget independent movies will continue to make up far more than half the total. The major studios will release 10 to 20 movies each (in 1987 Warner Bros. led the pack with 17). Independent Cannon Films will put out far more than that if it finds the money to stay in business (and it still has about 20 unreleased movies made last year). By the end of the year, odds are that more than 500 movies will have been released. Fewer than 100 of those will turn a profit at the box office.