Two weeks into the summer movie season, the pattern appears to be set. Two weeks ago, "Back to the Future Part III" opened to record-breaking business -- but last week its box office fell by more than 50 percent, while "Total Recall" opened big and set some new records. And with "Another 48 Hrs.," "Dick Tracy," "Robocop 2," "Days of Thunder" and "Die Hard 2" all opening in quick succession over the next month, the summer's big winner will be not the movie with the biggest opening weekend, but the one that holds on to the most business when the next blockbuster opens. At this point, "Future III" looks as if it'll fade fast, since it took the same kind of quick drop that the relatively disappointing "Future II" took last fall. "Total Recall" seems to be in good shape to hang on to, say, two-thirds of its $25.5 million opening. "Another 48 Hrs." is a question mark: It's been a long time since the 1982 original, but Eddie Murphy can draw crowds even to stuff like "Harlem Nights."
The biggest question mark, though, has to be "Dick Tracy." A week from its June 15 opening, Warren Beatty's comic strip adventure has already stirred widely divergent reactions from those who've seen it, and dramatically different box office projections as well. Everybody agrees that it looks great and that Madonna and Al Pacino are terrific, but beyond that things are split. For instance, a columnist in the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "I'm expecting its box office impact to be considerable" -- while five pages away, a colleague sniped, "Don't be surprised if 'Gremlins 2' leaves in the dust whatever other film may also happen to open on ... June 15." And the exhibitors who've seen the movie and made bids to show it in their theaters are also divided: Some have guaranteed to show it for an astonishing 20 weeks (or until early November); others are distinctly unimpressed. "It'll open big, but there's no way it'll hang on like 'Batman' did," said one exhibitor who saw it last week. "It's completely insane to pay the kind of money to show it that AMC offered."
Stars in Their Eyes
The "Dick Tracy" hype has clearly been helped by the fact that the normally press-shy Warren Beatty has submitted to a handful of interviews: Barbara Walters couldn't get him to say anything revealing, Rolling Stone ran a cover story in which the focus of the piece was how little Beatty would say, and upcoming editions of Premiere magazine and the news show "20/20" will also try to coax things out of him. But this isn't the summer's only case of a big movie with a star who doesn't want to talk. Tom Cruise, who's widely available to the press when he's promoting a serious film like "Born on the Fourth of July," can also be a bit defensive and dismissive when those interviews turn to the subject of lighter movies like "Top Gun." So now that he's promoting his "Top Gun"-style car-racing movie, "Days of Thunder," Cruise has been notably less accessible; instead, producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer -- who supply livelier quotes but less star power -- have become the movie's designated talkers. Cruise did speak to Life magazine, but was bumped off the cover in favor of a "Did Elvis commit suicide?" expose'. And he also did an interview for Rolling Stone, but only after he, his publicist and/or Simpson/Bruckheimer had vetoed the first 14 or so writers the magazine suggested.
Like its American counterparts, the Swedish ratings board appears ready to crack down -- but this battle is over a film that the Americans didn't feel deserved anything stricter than a PG-13. Standards are different in Scandinavia, where the Swedish Board of Film Censors is so nervous about any movie that deals with the martial arts that it's considered banning "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" altogether. At the very least, it appears as if the censors will ask for cuts or give the movie the strictest possible rating, which would limit it to viewers over age 15. ... In France, meanwhile, four 18-to-25-year-olds were appointed to the ratings board, and two ratings were revised. Movies that were formerly restricted to viewers 18 and over can now be seen by those 16 and over, while the 13-and-over rating has been dropped to 12 and over. The ratings commission says the new restrictions are more in line with the rate at which the average French child grows up.