A few more details about those controversial product-placement deals came to light this week, when the Orkin Exterminating Co. sued 20th Century Fox and the producers of "Pacific Heights" over a deal to mention Orkin in the thriller. Last January, it seems, Orkin paid the moviemakers $20,000 to be portrayed in the film; in exchange, the company says, it was promised that Orkin would be depicted in a "non-disparaging, non-denigrative" light, that some changes would be made in the script to that end, and that the movie would be rated PG-13. But now Orkin says that the movie, in addition to carrying an R rating, contains damaging references to Orkin, implying that the company can't or won't perform a competent job of extermination. The pest-control company is suing for breach of contract -- but if the moviemakers hadn't taken that 20 grand to fatten their product placement kitty, Orkin would have had to sue for libel, a much tougher case to win.
Orkin's concern, meanwhile, didn't scare away any potential customers: "Pacific Heights" had an impressive debut last weekend, handily topping "GoodFellas" and "Ghost" in both its total gross and its per-screen average. And this was on a weekend when both of the runner-up films did well: "GoodFellas" fell only by 8 percent, which is a terrific showing for a second weekend, while the indomitable "Ghost" actually saw its take increase by 7 percent over the previous week. Three other recent arrivals -- "Postcards from the Edge," "Narrow Margin" and "Death Warrant" -- suffered more substantial drops, though, and a pair of new films look to be dead in the water. The Dolph Lundgren action film "I Come in Peace," for one, couldn't even muster up $2 million at the box office, a terrible showing for the kind of movie that depends on a big opening weekend. And Peter Bogdanovich's "Texasville" was even worse, earning a disastrous $823,534 and teaching its director the same lesson that Jack Nicholson learned with "The Two Jakes": Today's moviegoers either don't remember '70s classics like "The Last Picture Show" and "Chinatown," or they don't care.
This week the Supreme Court refused to ban showings of Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ." Three Pennsylvania residents were appealing an earlier ruling in a suit they'd brought to stop the film or force its filmmakers to change the title and delete all references to Jesus Christ. The lower court had ruled that "Last Temptation" was protected by free-speech rights; without comment, the Supreme Court let that ruling stand... . Meanwhile, another film that's bound to anger some religious groups is shooting in Los Angeles. Titled "The Rapture," the movie is a literal depiction of the end of the world. Mimi Rogers stars as a woman who loses her faith and kills her daughter so the girl won't have to endure the last days; next week, in the desert near Los Angeles, first-time director Michael Tolkien is shooting scenes involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. No word on who's playing the Horsemen... . The 1984 film "Moscow on the Hudson" painted the Soviet Union in a fairly unflattering light, but that kind of approach just won't do in these days of improved U.S.-Soviet relations. So the "Moscow on the Hudson" sequel, which is now in the works, will be considerably friendlier toward the U.S.S.R. In the new film, Robin Williams's character -- who spent the first part of the original film trying to get out of Russia -- will return to his homeland to visit an old friend; while he's there, he'll fall in love with a Russian woman. Paul Mazursky, who directed the first movie, will begin shooting this one sometime next spring, after Williams finishes work on Steven Spielberg's updated Peter Pan story, "Hook"... . Danny DeVito is planning to direct a film biography of Jimmy Hoffa for 20th Century Fox next year; he's currently in discussions with Jack Nicholson about appearing in the movie... . British actor Kenneth Branagh endured repeated comparisons to Laurence Olivier when he directed and starred in a version of Shakespeare's "Henry V" last year, and now he's at it again: His next film, he says, will be a version of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." Olivier starred with Greer Garson in the 1940 film version of that novel.