The official summer box office tally is in, and "Ghost" is easily the season's biggest movie, earning $125 million before Labor Day, just ahead of runner-up "Total Recall's" $116.7 million. The rest of the top 10, in order: "Die Hard 2," "Dick Tracy," "Back to the Future III," "Days of Thunder," "Another 48 Hrs.," "Bird on a Wire," "Presumed Innocent" and "Arachnophobia."
As we pointed out last week, huge budgets and big expectations mean that of those films, only "Ghost" (and perhaps "Presumed Innocent") can be considered an unqualified success. "Ghost," by the way, was the only one of the top eight films that didn't make more than $15 million in its first weekend; in a way, it turned this summer's box office race into a hare-and-tortoise contest, performing steadily to top movies with bigger, flashier openings but less staying power ... And speaking of staying power, "Darkman" showed a remarkable amount of that quality last weekend: It fell from its opening weekend by a mere 5 percent, one of the smallest declines of the year. Of course, even that minuscule slip was enough to drop the film into second place; the top spot "Ghost."
"The Marrying Man," a comedy written by Neil Simon and starring Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, ought to be in post-production by now; instead it's on hiatus. With only eight days left in the shooting schedule, director Jerry Rees was hospitalized for exhaustion, and the cast and crew must wait for his recovery to finish making the movie. Insiders say Rees, who's never before directed a major motion picture, may have bitten off more than he can chew -- especially in the case of Basinger, who according to all reports has been difficult throughout the shoot. (Simon, for instance, won't return to the set because of insults from Basinger.)
In the film, Basinger plays a Vegas lounge singer who leaves her mobster boyfriend (Armand Assante, in a role that originally went to Joe Mantegna) for the already-involved Baldwin. "Her tantrums have probably cost us a couple of weeks of shooting time," says one insider, "but she's giving a great performance. When people hear her sing, they're gonna forget all about Michelle Pfeiffer."
Julia & Co.
On the set of "Flatliners," star Julia Roberts and director Joel Schumacher struck up a mutual admiration society: Afterward she said, "The man is a genius"; he said, "I absolutely and completely am in love with her"; and she admitted that on her subsequent film, "I had a really hard time at first even looking at the director, because he didn't look like Joel or sound like Joel." So Roberts has made sure that she won't have that problem on her next movie, a romantic drama to be directed by Schumacher. In the movie, "Dying Young," Roberts plays a young working-class woman who's hired to care for a wealthy older man dying of leukemia. Schumacher was supposed to be at work on a version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "The Phantom of the Opera" by now, but that project has been indefinitely postponed -- either because the stage version is still going strong (the official reason), or because of the impending divorce of Lloyd Webber and "Phantom" star Sarah Brightman (the widely rumored reason).
Tints and Titles
The science fiction comedy "Space Avenger," which is being released in a limited run today, is the first movie since "The Godfather, Part II" to use the three-strip color process that was the norm in Hollywood from the mid-'30s through the mid-'70s. Aficionados say the process, invented by the Technicolor Corp., makes for more vivid and longer-lasting color -- but in the interests of speed and cost, it fell out of favor almost two decades ago. "Space Avenger" was printed in China's Beijing Film & Video Lab, the only lab that still uses the process ... The 21st Century Film Corp. movie about Navy SEALs in the Middle East has been undergoing last-minute rewrites to reflect the current situation in the Persian Gulf, but those aren't the only changes underway on the Rob Lowe film. Originally titled "Lions of the Sea," it was retitled "Team 6" -- and now it's been retitled one more time, as "Desert Shield (S.E.A.L.s)."