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By Devin D. O'Leary

NOVEMBER 10, 1997:  Big film news from Japan this week. An animated film called Princess Mononoke has just surpassed Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extraterrestrial to become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history. The film by director Hayao Miyazaki (known to anime fans for his exquisite work on Castle of Cagliostroand My Neighbor Totoro) has pulled in some $80.4 million in U.S. currency since opening on July 12. Some 12 million people (a tenth of Japan's population) have already seen the environmental fantasy about a young girl raised by wolves who fights off man's encroachment into nature. Miyazaki's 1988 film My Neighbor Totoroinspired a nationwide movement to create nature preserves across Japan. Princess Mononoke is expected to grace U.S. shores sometime next spring or summer. ... It was announced recently that writer/director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy) had been signed to pen the next installment in the Fletch series. Star Chevy Chase is back on board for this third installment of the popular mystery/comedy series. Sounds like a fine combo to me, but this could be a make-or-break project for Smith, whose "mainstream" projects have failed to take off of late. Smith's script for the new Superman Rebornfilm was recently scrapped by director Tim Burton. ... Speaking of Superman Reborn: Since Smith's script was dumped, initial filming has been pushed back to July. In the interim, star Nicolas Cage has agreed to star in the new thriller 8 Millimeter for director Joel Schumacher (Batman and Robin). Based on a script by Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven, The Game), the film concerns a murder in the world of porno films. Trés chic.

film section e-mail: devin@alibi.com


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