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Weekly Alibi Summer Cinema: All Sizzle, No Fizzle

Weekly Alibi Summer Film Guide

By Devin D. O'Leary

The summer movie season officially runs from Memorial Day (May 26) to Labor Day (Sept. 1). The first official film of summer, then, was Steven Spielberg's The Lost World. That film not only ushered in a season of aliens, explosions and out-of-control budgets; it also broke every box-office record by gobbling up an astounding $100 million in its first week of release. That's a good thing, what with the average film budget topping $60 million these days. So, in the interest of helping other Hollywood filmmakers whose films may not have the raw commercial appeal of computer-generated dinosaurs, we at Weekly Alibi kindly serve up our Annual Summer Film Guide. Not only will we attempt to sort out the summer's dizzying barrage of movies, we'll also explain in detail why each and every film this summer will make $100 million in its first week of release.


What's it all about?--Batman (George Clooney), Robin (Chris O'Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) battle Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman).

Why will it make 100 mil?--It's got to. How the hell else are they gonna pay off all those megastar salaries?

HERCULES (June 27)

What's it all about?--Disney's 35th animated feature is a parody of hero worship starring that god among men, Hercules.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Lighter tone, funnier jokes and bigger name voice talent (James Woods, Charlton Heston, Danny DeVito) than recent animated efforts. Plus, some folks may mistake it for the popular TV show.


What's it all about?--Julia Roberts decides she's in love with her lifelong best friend--just as he announces his engagement to another woman.

Why will it make 100 mil?--(Note: Since it stars Julia Roberts, this is the only film ineligible to make $100 million this summer.)

FACE/OFF (June 27)

What's it all about?--Hong Kong director John Woo spins this bullet-riddled tale of an FBI agent (John Travolta) who surgically swaps faces with a terrorist (Nicolas Cage).

Why will it make 100 mil?--Because John Woo is God.

COP LAND (July 1)

What's it all about?--Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Annabella Sciorra and Cathy Moriarty star in this low-budget tale of police corruption in New Jersey.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Hell, who cares if it does. This indie film only cost $20 million to make. That's a mere half-million for every pound Stallone gained to play his doughnut-eating cop role.


What's it all about--The true story of the Stouffer brothers and the fateful 1967 cross-country trip that set the young sibs on the road to becoming America's foremost wildlife documentarians.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Kids? Animals? Why, it's practically a Disney film!


What's it all about?--Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith are the titular government agents out to kick some alien ass.

Why will it make 100 mil?--"X-Files" is in reruns and depressed fans need some outlet for their grief.

OUT TO SEA (July 2)

What's it all about?--Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau team up for the umpteenth time. Hijinks ensue.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Old people have money, too.


What's it all about?--In this effects-laden fantasy, a seven-year-old girl wishes for a fairy godmother to help out her struggling actor pop. Thanks to affirmative action, she winds up with fairy godfather Martin Short.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Fairy godfather, I'm laughin' already!

CONTACT (July 11)

What's it all about?--Carl Sagan's 1985 bestseller gets the big screen treatment with Jodie Foster as a radio astronomer who chats with ETs.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Are you kidding? Kids love Carl Sagan. It'll make billions and billions!


What's it all about?--An ad executive in the middle of a nervous breakdown (Tim Robbins) and a fast-talking carjacker (Martin Lawrence) do the Thelma & Louise thing.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Poor Marty's got a few legal expenses to take care of. Give the boy a hand, buy a ticket.

MIMIC (July 18)

What's it all about?--From Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro (Cronos) comes this gothic tale of an entomologist (Mira Sorvino) whose experiments breed a race of intelligent, shape-shifting insects in the sewers of NYC.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Scream made horror hot again, and with a script by Steven Soderberg and John Sayles, this one is hot!


What's it all about?-Jay Ward's classic cartoon about a thick-headed (literally) Tarzan clone comes to life courtesy of hunk boy Brendan Fraser.

Why will it make 100 mil?--It's got great nostalgia value and a very funny trailer, plus it swept away all the competition to snag the coveted Happy Meal promo at Mickey D's.


What's it all about?--The President's plane is taken over by terrorists.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Harrison Ford as the stoic hero, Gary Oldman as the psycho bad guy? No one's ever seen anything like it!


What's it all about?--A paranoid cabbie (Mel Gibson) tries to convince a Justice Department attorney (Julia Roberts) of his latest conspiracy theory.

Why will it make 100 mil?--(Addendum: See My Best Friend's Wedding.)


What's it all about?--A wacky, self-conscious '90s update of the old TV sitcom.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Hey, the "wacky, self-conscious thing" worked for The Brady Bunch Movie.


What's it all about?--Haunted house saga about a spaceship that mysteriously shows up after a seven-year disappearance. A crew (led by Laurence Fishburne) is sent to investigate the creepy craft.

Why will it make 100 mil?--This could be the intelligent sci-fi film people have been waiting for.


What's it all about?--In this surreal comedy, a man discovers that his entire life has been nothing more than the subject of a TV sitcom.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Two words: Jim Carrey.


What's it all about?--A desperate cop (Andy Garcia) whose son needs a bone-marrow transplant hunts down a serial killer (Michael Keaton) who is a perfect DNA match for the boy. No, really.

Why will it make 100 mil?--This summer is light on good old-fashioned thrillers.

STEEL (Aug. 8)

What's it all about?--Shaquille O'Neil stars as the little known DC comics hero--a guy with a metal suit.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Well, we gotta do something to justify this dude's ridiculous salary.


What's it all about?--Alicia Silverstone plays a neglected daughter who stages her own kidnapping and winds up falling for a lowly car thief (Benecio Del Toro).

Why will it make 100 mil?--Not only does teen queen Silverstone star in this offbeat film, she produced it!


What's it all about?--It's just a re-release of the inexplicable Patrick Swayze/Jennifer Gray dancin' singin' smasheroo.

Why will it make 100 mil?--If it does, that will guarantee a shot at the long-awaited sequel.

SPAWN(Aug. 22)

What's it all about?--Todd McFarlane's ultraviolent comic book about a soldier resurrected from the dead to fight the army of Satan has been morphed into a modestly budgeted, digital effects-laden hero/horror flick a la The Crow.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Those digital effects look hellishly good.

HOODLUM (Aug. 29)

What's it all about?--Period gangster flick about the turf war between NYC gangsters Lucky Luciano (Andy Garcia) and Dutch Schultz (Tim Roth) and Harlem kingpin Bumpy Johnson (Laurence Fishburne).

Why will it make 100 mil?--It's just like a grown up version of Mobsters (in which Christian Slater thesped the role of Lucky Luciano).


What's it all about?--Kevin Sorbo (TV's "Hercules") takes on Robert E. Howard's other sword-swinging hero.

Why will it make 100 mil?--Conan the Barbarian worked just fine for old Arnie.

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