Let America at large dream of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." Watching that old Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye movie on DVD is about as White as I want my Christmas. I'm banking on the legendary swaying of the orange and palm trees in Beverly Hills, L.A.
At multiplexes and independent theaters, it's a different story, and a different hue of which Christmas dreams are made. Motion picture exhibitors are dreaming of a Green Christmas - as in your green money at their box offices, this Christmas.
Few things in life remain the same, but this is one of them: The box office has always been about the Green, and this year, exhibitors haven't seen enough of it to warm their widescreen, capitalistic hearts.
Perhaps this disappointing box office year will go out with a bang, not a whimper. HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE has already swallowed hundreds of millions in box office green, and its end is nowhere in sight.
With almost unanimous rave reviews, WALK THE LINE has been responsible for considerable Box Office Green this holiday season. But its impressive receipts pale in comparison to GOBLET OF FIRE's. It remains to be seen if any film can match, much less exceed, POTTER'S potent box office wizardry.
Pundits believe that POTTER'S phenomenal success augers well for CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. Both are based on familiar literary properties. Both are set in a family friendly parallel world in which moviegoers can lose themselves. Will NARNIA fuel the next Blizzard of Box Office Green? The filmmakers have been helped by Christian media groups who have advance screened the movie as if this were the End of Days. Though impressive, NARNIA'S $67 million opening weekend gross on 3616 screens, clearly points to THE CHRONICLES not minting anywhere near as much Green as POTTER'S GOBLET.
Mel Brooks' THE PRODUCERS knows all about a Green Christmas. On Broadway, this musical, the Great White Way's first monster hit of the 21st Century, is enjoying its fifth Green Christmas at the St. James Theater. It's a runaway smash on London's West End, and touring companies are crisscrossing two continents. But will THE PRODUCERS' box office green translate from the stage to the screen? Broadway original stars Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprise their award-winning roles in the flick. Uma Thurman is aboard for good measure, and her talent is always stacked in a film's favor. And there's Will Farrell to boot.
After making a brief comeback via MOULIN ROUGE and CHICAGO, the motion picture musical hit the box office skids with Andrew Lloyd Webber's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (2004), and RENT is currently oozing more red ink than box office green. It may take a true Christmas Miracle for THE PRODUCERS to be enter a Green Christmas orbit.
In truth, the 800-pound gorilla in the Green Room is literally the two-ton gorilla coming to the box office on December 14. That would be Peter Jackson's KING KONG. Jackson knows about Box Office Green and Oscar Gold. He's the Academy Award-winning director of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. Need we say more? For KONG, Jackson is not only producer-director, but co-screenwriter with RINGS vets Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyens.
More than simply film-land's third go-round with the Depression-era KONG saga, Jackson's version might have been titled KING KONG VS. JURASSIC PARK. This go-round, the Big Ape tangles with a trio of T-Rexes, as well as wrestling with amorous cross-species feelings for beauty Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts). KONG is the quintessential American Beauty & the Beast story. It's still a case of "The bigger they are, the harder they fall," as Jackson's KING KONG topples once again from the Empire State Building as he did in the 1933 original. In the 1976 remake, he was downed at the World Trade Center.
Without you, it will be a Blue, Blue Christmas for Elvis. With you, lined up at America's box offices, motion picture exhibitors' Green Christmas dream will come true.
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Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.|
He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.
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