TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Renita Jablonski: Well, hopefully the weekend will allow you some time relax and forget, at least for a bit, about a lot of the tough news we’re dealing with right now. Despite the slowing economy, Hollywood is still betting on a money-making summer movie season. We’re about half-way through the season, and Variety’s Stuart Levine joins us now to look the winners and the losers so far and what’s ahead. Alright, Stu — let’s start with the winners.
Stuart Levine: The big surprise I’d say for summer is Iron Man. I mean, Indiana Jones might not overtake it — Iron Man might be the biggest movie of the summer. Which, if you had said at the beginning of the summer, Iron Man would be number one and would defeat Indiana Jones, you would get very few believers at that. But it turns out to be the case.
Jablonski: I did go out to see that, but I have to say, opening up the paper last weekend, not very compelled to see anything that was on the list. What’s the rest of the summer looking like?
Levine: Well we have . . . this weekend is actually really interesting, you have the two big “W’s” going against each other. You have Wall E, which is the Pixar film, and Pixar films traditionally do huge. And then you have Wanted, which is an Angelina Jolie action movie. There’s a really good word of mouth on that. So that could be two movies that could both do well in the same weekend. So you have that, you have Dark Knight coming out, the new Batman movie, which could be really good, people want to see Heath Ledger’s last performance. You also have Hancock, the Will Smith movie. So still have a lot of good legs left for summer.
Jablonski: What’s your prediction for the way the summer movie season will end?
Levine: I think it’s gonna be up. I mean, there’s been a lot of films that people thought would not do as well as they did. I would say the big summer hit so far have been, we talked about Iron Man, but certainly Sex and the City. Incredible Hulk, the first one was kind of a disaster. You know, that one’s already done over $100 million. I mean, those are some of the smaller hits. The duds so far have been I would say Speed Racer for Warner Brothers, and Love Guru was a disaster. And the other disappointment — and it’s hard to classify it, you know, for layman’s terms as $136 million as a disappointment — but Chronicles of Narnia, the first one did nearly $300 million. Sequels of that magnitude usually do better the second time around, this did $136 [million] so far, so that’s a big disappointment. Looking back, the people at Disney said they should never have put it out in May, when you have competition like, you know, Iron Man and Indiana Jones and Sex and the City. They said it was a really bad place for it.
Jablonski: It just couldn’t fight for a spot.
Levine: And it couldn’t just fit in that area. It came out as a holiday film last time, I think that would have been a better place for it.
Jablonski: Stu Levine is managing editor at Variety. So nice to see you! Thanks for stopping by.
Levine: Thanks for having me.
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