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[FILM] Rush Hour 2 - 2nd Highest Grossing Police-Theme Movie of All Time

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  • madchinaman
    Studio Is Staking Its Hopes on Police Lineup Sony plans to release a string of cop films this year, raising eyebrows with its big bet on a genre that hasn t
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 5, 2003
      Studio Is Staking Its Hopes on Police Lineup
      Sony plans to release a string of cop films this year, raising
      eyebrows with its big bet on a genre that hasn't spawned many
      blockbusters since the 1980s.

      By Jeff Leeds, Times Staff Writer


      Only four police-themed movies rank among the 100 all time greatest

      Beverly Hills Cop

      Rush Hour 2
      New Line

      Beverly Hills Cop 2

      Lethal Weapon 2
      Warner Bros


      To judge from its roster of upcoming films, Hollywood's hottest
      studio has seen the future. And it is wearing a badge.

      Sony Pictures Entertainment, last year's runaway leader at the movie
      box office, is staking much of its crucial summer season this year
      on an unusual convergence of police-themed pictures.

      The lineup, whether the result of strategy or an accident in film
      scheduling, represents a heavy bet on a genre that hasn't reliably
      minted blockbusters since the 1980s. It also diverges sharply from
      the effects-driven fantasies -- "Spider-Man," "Men in Black II"
      and "Stuart Little 2" -- that dominated the company's summer of 2002.

      In mid-June, Sony Corp.'s Culver City-based Columbia Pictures is
      expected to release "Hollywood Homicide," a big-budget, hip-hop
      crime comedy produced by its affiliate, Revolution Studios. The
      picture is built around star Harrison Ford and a group of rappers,
      including Master P and Kurupt.

      Columbia returns a month later with "Bad Boys 2," an action sequel
      to its 1995 surprise hit in which Will Smith and Martin Lawrence
      played a pair of Miami drug cops.

      A few weeks after that, the studio is behind the shield again, this
      time with the Los Angeles-based police drama "S.W.A.T.," starring
      Samuel L. Jackson in a role adapted from the '70s television series
      of the same name.

      Those pictures follow Columbia's planned release this month
      of "National Security," in which Martin Lawrence stars as a Los
      Angeles Police Department wannabe. (Sony's big bet for the high-
      stakes July Fourth weekend is "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle,"
      which is built not around cops but high-kicking private
      investigators played by Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu.)

      Sony's police films may prove sufficiently different to avoid
      marketing confusion, or the audience perception of blue deja vu. But
      the heavy reliance on similarly themed pictures flies in the face of
      conventional wisdom, which counsels a healthy mix on any major
      studio schedule. And it is already raising some eyebrows among film
      industry observers.

      "I don't think they thought this through. I think it just happened,"
      said Peter Sealey, a marketing consultant and adjunct professor at
      UC Berkeley.

      Sealey, who headed marketing at Columbia in the 1980s, added: "The
      odds will be that Sony can't replicate last summer again, back to
      back. Can they have a good year? Probably. Is it a risk to put three
      cop movies out? If the premise is there and the buzz is there, they
      have a shot."

      Representatives of Columbia and Revolution declined to discuss their

      The Sony film unit underwrites marketing costs and distributes for
      Revolution, which is headed by industry veteran Joe Roth. But it
      doesn't control the affiliate's movie choices.

      In another unusual cluster involving the two entities, Columbia is
      releasing four films featuring star Adam Sandler over a 12-month
      period that began in June. They include "Mr. Deeds" and "Eight Crazy
      Nights" from Columbia, and "Punch Drunk Love" and next
      summer's "Anger Management" from Revolution.

      In 2002, Sony's films collected $1.55 billion at the U.S. box
      office, 24% more than its nearest competitor, Walt Disney Co., with
      about $1.18 billion in ticket sales. Sony was powered by the success
      of "Spider-Man," a comic book fantasy that took in $403.7 million at
      the box office domestically.

      One conceivable explanation for Sony's shift toward police pictures
      is cost. Although none of the summer cop films falls in the low-
      budget category -- "Bad Boys 2," for instance, has a reported price
      tag of $75 million -- they each cost far less than the $100-million-
      plus "Spider-Man," "Men in Black II" and "Stuart Little 2."

      The poor performance of the "Stuart Little" sequel was especially
      stinging for the studio, despite its other successes. After Sony
      spent a reported $120 million to make the mouse fantasy, and an
      additional $50 million to market it, the studio saw it bring in just
      $64 million at the U.S. box office.

      Some industry insiders wonder whether the studio may be setting
      itself up for another disappointment.

      Only four police-themed pictures appear on Nielsen EDI's list of the
      100 all-time box-office hits. Those include "Lethal Weapon
      2," "Beverly Hills Cop 2," "Rush Hour 2" and the highest-grossing
      police film, Paramount's "Beverly Hills Cop," which took in $234.8
      million after its release in 1984.

      Born in the 1980s, police adventures such as the "Die Hard" series
      from News Corp. unit 20th Century Fox and the "Lethal Weapon" series
      from Warner Bros. were reliable performers.

      But more recently, men and women of the badge have found it tough
      going with big-screen audiences -- despite the popularity of cop
      shows on TV.

      Last year, for instance, AOL Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros.
      released at least five police-themed pictures (though the studio
      avoided the kind of summer cluster that Sony now faces). The best
      performer among them, "Insomnia," starring Al Pacino and Robin
      Williams, had just $67.3 million in ticket sales.

      Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracking firm Exhibitor
      Relations Co., called Sony's police lineup "a gamble," but
      added: "If the movies are good and have solid marketing behind them,
      they can all be hits. That's the bottom line."

      The police genre appears to have performed best lately when it is
      barely recognizable as such. Thus, "Minority Report," a science
      fiction thriller in which Tom Cruise played a cop far in the future
      for 20th Century Fox, collected $132 million at the box office. A
      year earlier, the sleeper hit "The Fast and the Furious" took in
      more than $144 million domestically, although the scenes of illegal
      street racing upstaged the movie's undercover police theme.

      Analysts warn that consumer attitudes may add to the risk of
      releasing more-realistic films.

      "If I had to characterize the U.S. in 2003, I'd say there's a high
      level of anxiety," Sealey said. "We're sitting here worried about
      smallpox in the shopping mall. When you have that kind of anxiety
      overhanging things, people are going to want to escape."
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