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Hollywood Digest

By PAT NASON, UPI Hollywood Reporter   |   May 7, 2002 at 3:30 PM   |   Comments

'SPIDER-MAN' SUCCESS PUTS PRESSURE ON STUDIOS

The seats are still warm in theaters where moviegoers have given Hollywood its first $100 million movie opening -- "Spider-Man," in case you haven't heard -- but box-office analysts are already noting that studios feel pressured to repeat the feat, and not just once, but routinely.

With $114.8 million in the bank, "Spider-Man" has shown that a $100 million opening is achievable.

MGM marketing chief Bob Levin told the Los Angeles Times that the experience has changed the whole idea of how big a movie can open -- and he calls that unfortunate.

"The side effect will be increasing pressure on all of us who do these jobs to get those big weekends," said Levin.

This summer's slate features movies that already carried high expectations. Now, movies like "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," "Men in Black 2" and "Austin Powers in Goldmember" will be expected to be even more productive at the box office. When the Christmas holiday season rolls around, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" will also come into the marketplace with greater expectations.

Daily Variety editor Peter Bart reminded readers Tuesday that it isn't just about bragging rights among studio chiefs. With studios now under corporate control, the pressure to repeat profitable performances of the past will be greater than ever.

What effect that might have on the quality of films Hollywood turns out remains to be seen.

One thing we do know -- there will be two more "Spider-Man" movies and a bunch of other comic book adaptations.

Marvel Enterprises has announced that the studio has paid a seven-figure advance for a "Spider-Man" sequel due in theaters in 2004. A third "Spider-Man" movie is planned for 2006. Tobey Maguire is signed for both sequels as Peter Parker-"Spider-Man."

Four more Marvel-based movies are headed for the big screen. They are "Daredevil," starring Ben Affleck; "The Hulk," directed by Ang Lee ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"); "X2," the sequel to the 2000 hit "The X-Men"; and "Punisher," about a vigilante.

Other Marvel properties -- "Sub-Mariner," "The Fantastic Four," "Dr. Strange" and "Ghost Rider" -- are being developed at various studios. Warner Bros., which owns D.C. Comics, is working on bringing more "Batman" and "Superman" movies to the screen, as well as a Wonder Woman movie.


MATTHAU ESTATE SUES FOR BACK PAY

The estate of the late Walter Matthau has filed a $1 million lawsuit, accusing Columbia Pictures of breach of contract and fraud for allegedly failing to pay the actor about 80 percent of the money it owes him for "Cactus Flower" (1969) and "California Suite" (1978).

An attorney for Matthau said Columbia owes the estate for home video, TV licensing and foreign distribution.

Columbia's parent company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, had no comment on the lawsuit.


'SIMPSONIZING' BLINK 182

Blink 182 is adding its name to the list of recording artists who have been made fun of on "The Simpsons."

"We already did the voices for it, but it takes about a year before it comes out," singer/bassist Mark Hoppus told LAUNCH.com. "So it should be out next February."

"Bart discovers that he was a former child actor when he was a baby and that Homer spent all the money he made," said Hoppus, "so he becomes legally emancipated and he kind of like hits the road."

Bart's travels bring him into contact with Blink 182 and skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Blink 182 is currently on the Pop Disaster tour with Green Day and Jimmy Eat World.


OSBOURNE'S ATTEMPTED WHITE HOUSE DRUG DEAL?

According to a report in the New York Post, Glenn Close had a unique experience when she met Ozzy Osbourne at the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday -- when the heavy metal rocker tried to score some drugs from her.

Close ("Fatal Attraction," "101 Dalmatians") is wearing a cast on her right arm, after breaking her wrist in a riding accident. She told the paper that after Osbourne found out she was taking Percoset for the pain, "Ozzy offered to buy some off me."

Osbourne also rubbed elbows with Harrison Ford at a party after the dinner. When someone asked Ford whether he could "understand anything he said," Ford joked: "You mean the president?"


MEREDITH VIEIRA GIVES CBS HER 'FINAL ANSWER'

CBS executives will have to abandon any thoughts they might have had about hiring Meredith Vieira away from ABC to succeed Bryant Gumbel on "The Early Show" -- Vieira has signed on to stay with ABC as a co-host of "The View" and as the host of the upcoming syndicated version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

Vieira made the announcement "The View" Tuesday, telling viewers that "Millionaire" holds a personal attraction for her.

"It's the first show that my family and I sat together, all of us, to watch," she said. "So I've been in love with it as a parent."


'T3' -- BUSH IS OUT, DANES IS IN

Director Jonathan Mostow has replaced 20-year-old Sophie Bush and replaced her with 23-year-old Claire Danes as the love interest of John Connor in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines."

Mostow told Daily Variety he didn't like doing it, but Bush was just too young to play opposite Nick Stahl ("In the Bedroom").

"This was a difficult decision because Sophia is a talented and charismatic performer," said Mostow. "However, we feel, after reviewing the dailies, that her appearance and manner play younger than what we wanted for the role. We look forward to working with Sophia on future projects."

Variety said the change happened four weeks into shooting on the project.

Bush's resume highlights so far include a brief role in "National Lampoon's Van Wilder" and a turn as the queen of the 2000 Tournament of Roses.


STARS LINE UP FOR DGA HONORS

The Directors Guild of America has announced that Halle Berry, Francis Ford Coppola, Tim Robbins and Martin Scorsese will appear as presenters for its third annual DGA Honors on June 9.

Sony CEO Howard Stringer will also be a presenter.

The DGA had planned to hold the event last November, but moved it to June so guild members could participate in disaster relief campaigns following the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks.

Director Spike Lee, "60 Minutes" producer Don Hewitt and former National Endowment for the Arts chair Jane Alexander are scheduled to be honored at the gala.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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