Not long ago, the Walt Disney Studios had several specialties: full-length animated films; live-action comedies starring shaggy dogs, wacky professors and/or Kurt Russell; and reissues of its groundbreaking cartoon features from decades past. But in recent years Disney's film operation has matured and developed a batch of specialties.
For one thing, the Disney brass is now known for keeping a tight rein on every aspect of the company's films, from budgets to scripts, casting and editing (this, reportedly, is the main reason Woody Allen decided not to jump to Disney when his recent contract with Orion expired). For another thing, the studio has become adept at reviving the careers of actors and actresses who've been in slumps; beneficiaries include Richard Dreyfuss in "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," Bette Midler in "Ruthless People" and Richard Gere in "Pretty Woman." Finally, Disney is one of the best studios in town when it comes to keeping movies on the screen; from last year's "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" to "Pretty Woman," the company is better than most at preventing the dreaded second-week drop-off that many big movies encounter these days.
And if there was ever a time for Disney to exercise that third specialty, and a film that sorely needs to hang on to its audience, the time is this weekend and the film is "Dick Tracy." Certainly, Warren Beatty's comic book extravaganza opened well last weekend, easily defeating "Another 48 Hrs.," "Total Recall" and "Gremlins 2," and setting a new record for any Disney movie. But just as surely, "Dick Tracy" appears vulnerable: Not only did its $22.5 million opening weekend total not come within shouting distance of the nearly $50 million "Batman" made last year, but it trailed both "Total Recall" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" among this year's openings. ("Back to the Future Part III" also made more in its debut, but it opened over the four-day Memorial Day weekend.) If Disney can hold this weekend's drop-off to less than 25 percent, "Dick Tracy" will be in good shape; if, on the other hand, it suffers anything like the 45 percent drop that "Another 48 Hrs." took, it'll be curtains for the yellow-jacketed, much-hyped copper... .
The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, subtracted $1.25 million from Disney's totals when the trade paper reported the "Dick Tracy" grosses. That's because up to $2.5 million of the total came from midnight screenings last Thursday, where the tickets were T-shirts that sold for $10 to $20. Disney says the whole total should be considered part of the box office gross; the Reporter decided that half of the money was for the T-shirt, not the movie. And while Disney refused to break down the figures or say how many people attended the midnight screenings, estimates are that slightly more than 200,000 people attended -- and that Disney was left with as many as 400,000 unsold T-shirts... .
Wenders Documenting Wenders As if he's not busy enough directing his new film, "Till the End of the World," which is currently being shot in 17 different countries, German director Wim Wenders has decided to make a second movie simultaneously. During the shoot, Wenders says, he's also filming a "documentary," "Far Away, So Close," about the making of "End of the World." "Far Away" actually will be fictional; its main character is an angel with a video camera, who follows members of the "End of the World" crew as they make the movie. Wenders, whose movies include "Paris, Texas," also used an angel as a main character in his 1989 film "Wings of Desire." ...
DeVito's Stature And if you thought it was odd when Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger played "Twins," now a role that was originally designed for DeVito has gone to Sylvester Stallone instead. Touchstone Pictures has signed Stallone to appear in "Oscar," a comedy from director John Landis about a nouveau riche man who throws a disastrous party. DeVito reportedly brought the project to Touchstone a couple of years ago, but later dropped out; Stallone is expected to make the movie after he shoots "Dead Reckoning" for producer Joel Silver.