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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 3:46:24 PM   
DanielFullard


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From: Durham, England
Great stuff Badir
Post #: 31
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 4:02:36 PM   
Indiana Jones


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quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: Indiana Jones

One small suggestion tho' Badir, any chance of breaking them up a bit into paragraphs, they can be a bit of a bast to read and I keep losing my place.



You should've seen them BEFORE I broke up the paragraphs more!


Ahhh, sorry mate, I just checked this thread in Internet Explorer and as you say it is in paragraphs, I use Firefox and in my version it's just one massive fuck off block of text.

My apologise.


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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 4:04:35 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: Indiana Jones

quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: Indiana Jones

One small suggestion tho' Badir, any chance of breaking them up a bit into paragraphs, they can be a bit of a bast to read and I keep losing my place.



You should've seen them BEFORE I broke up the paragraphs more!


Ahhh, sorry mate, I just checked this thread in Internet Explorer and as you say it is in paragraphs, I use Firefox and in my version it's just one massive fuck off block of text.

My apologise.




Ahhh, I see - i'm with you now.

Sorry, I thought you meant my paras were too chunky!

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 4:47:40 PM   
movieman


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What about Higlander II?

Does that rate a mention here?


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Post #: 34
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 4:54:23 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: movieman

What about Higlander II?

Does that rate a mention here?




Probably not - shit as it was, I believe it did turn a profit (worldwide).

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 4:57:55 PM   
movieman


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quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: movieman
What about Highlander II?
Does that rate a mention here?

Probably not - shit as it was, I believe it did turn a profit (worldwide).


Oh well..must have been all the idiots like myself who went along and saw it thinking they would be getting something as good as the first....how wrong we were!!!!



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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 7:59:42 PM   
Jack's Rage

 

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I agree with you on North.  The critical venom spewed at it was rediculous.  And your right about Roger Ebert having a big influence on movies in the US.  He almost appeared to have some sort of vandetta with the film.

Also, Leonard Maltin is a complete fucking joke.  He has zero credibility and is the most famous of the herd of critics who miraculously did a 180 on Star Wars after it became a phenomenon. 





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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 8:14:42 PM   
UTB


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I loved North when I was younger  

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 23/2/2006 8:17:40 PM   
Kid A


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The Chronicles of Riddick was a bomb of thermonuclear proportion when you accept how much it took to make. I however, have a soft spot for the film, in fact I quite like it!!

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 12:13:05 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: Kid A

The Chronicles of Riddick was a bomb of thermonuclear proportion when you accept how much it took to make. I however, have a soft spot for the film, in fact I quite like it!!


I don't think I can do Riddick (un)justice - I haven't seen it and don't really know enough about its production.  Will they be making a third Riddick film, or have they put a cap on it now?

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 1:21:26 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: DanielFullard

quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: DanielFullard

At the start of the week I usually go through the TV guide and circle all the films I want to watch that week and since I have just got Sky movies I noticed Gigli was on there.....I am so tempted to watch and see just how bad it is


I would say if it ain't gonna cost you anything and you've got nothing else planned, then watch it.

And let me know what it's like


Will do....Its on about 12.25am on Sky Movies somenight next week.


What news of Gigli, DF?

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 1:26:38 PM   
DJ Satan


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Kid A

The Chronicles of Riddick was a bomb of thermonuclear proportion when you accept how much it took to make. I however, have a soft spot for the film, in fact I quite like it!!

I too loved Riddick. Apart from the poor nomenclature I thought it was the start to a really interesting series. Let's hope the other two miraculously get made.

And with regards to Gigli. It's really not that bad. The premise is awful to begin with but I think they produced an alright movie with the material they had. But I must admit I have a soft spot for Affleck.

Don't forget it's got Christopher Walken and Al Pacino in it. How bad can it be???


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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 1:31:57 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: DJ Satan

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kid A

The Chronicles of Riddick was a bomb of thermonuclear proportion when you accept how much it took to make. I however, have a soft spot for the film, in fact I quite like it!!

I too loved Riddick. Apart from the poor nomenclature I thought it was the start to a really interesting series. Let's hope the other two miraculously get made.

And with regards to Gigli. It's really not that bad. The premise is awful to begin with but I think they produced an alright movie with the material they had. But I must admit I have a soft spot for Affleck.

Don't forget it's got Christopher Walken and Al Pacino in it. How bad can it be???



Well, if the reviews are to be believed (which, admittedly, ain't usually a reliable science for most people) then - one of the worst films ever made.

I HATE Affleck and, Out Of Sight aside, have little time for J-Lo, so I just can't bring myself to see it.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 1:41:24 PM   
DJ Satan


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From: White Vaart Lane
quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: DJ Satan


And with regards to Gigli. It's really not that bad. The premise is awful to begin with but I think they produced an alright movie with the material they had. But I must admit I have a soft spot for Affleck.

Don't forget it's got Christopher Walken and Al Pacino in it. How bad can it be???



Well, if the reviews are to be believed (which, admittedly, ain't usually a reliable science for most people) then - one of the worst films ever made.

I HATE Affleck and, Out Of Sight aside, have little time for J-Lo, so I just can't bring myself to see it.


I think the press were on a major Bennifer backlash at the time and that influenced a lot of people who saw it. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece but it definately not one of the worst films ever made.

I can see your point about J.Lo. I generally can't stand her in anything either.


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Post #: 44
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 1:45:07 PM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: DJ Satan

quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: DJ Satan


And with regards to Gigli. It's really not that bad. The premise is awful to begin with but I think they produced an alright movie with the material they had. But I must admit I have a soft spot for Affleck.

Don't forget it's got Christopher Walken and Al Pacino in it. How bad can it be???



Well, if the reviews are to be believed (which, admittedly, ain't usually a reliable science for most people) then - one of the worst films ever made.

I HATE Affleck and, Out Of Sight aside, have little time for J-Lo, so I just can't bring myself to see it.


I think the press were on a major Bennifer backlash at the time and that influenced a lot of people who saw it. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece but it definately not one of the worst films ever made.

I can see your point about J.Lo. I generally can't stand her in anything either.




....................but I love Martin Brest.

What does a man do?!?!?!?!?!?!
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Wait for channel 5 to show it.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 2:16:16 PM   
pumpkin_ghost


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Is the adventures of pluto nash there with Eddie Murphy. Is the biggest movie flop ever. It cost $100 million to make and made back about $5 million. I have seen the first 10 mins on Sky Movies and it doesnt even deserve $5 million! Its Tripe

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 2:51:10 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: pumpkin_ghost

Is the adventures of pluto nash there with Eddie Murphy. Is the biggest movie flop ever. It cost $100 million to make and made back about $5 million. I have seen the first 10 mins on Sky Movies and it doesnt even deserve $5 million! Its Tripe


I have it on my list.  I'll get round to it eventually.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 3:02:36 PM   
DanielFullard


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Nixon was a pretty darn huge flop too....any chance of having that on?

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Post #: 48
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 3:57:18 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: DanielFullard

Nixon was a pretty darn huge flop too....any chance of having that on?


Nah - can't stump up enough interest in Nixon, to be honest with you.  Sorry DF!

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 24/2/2006 3:58:47 PM   
DanielFullard


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From: Durham, England
quote:

ORIGINAL: great_badir

quote:

ORIGINAL: DanielFullard

Nixon was a pretty darn huge flop too....any chance of having that on?


Nah - can't stump up enough interest in Nixon, to be honest with you.  Sorry DF!


Fair enough

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Post #: 50
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 25/2/2006 9:36:53 AM   
Peter A. Quinn


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I must admit a fondness for the1976 version of King Kong. Until Star Wars came along, it was the first special effects film I ever saw on the big screen. I watched it again on video (countless times)in 1984, and still loved it. Then I bought it on DVD, and I still feel pretty much the same about it. The sets are great(the scene where Skull Island appears out of the fog is still a standout), Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin do the best they can, and the John Barry score really gives it atmosphere. I can see the film's faults, but I still love it. And having just seen William Friedkin's Sorcerer on DVD, I gotta say it's pretty amazing. It truly deserves a special edition release, as I'd like to know more about it. When I was in Sydney a coupla years back, it was given a special one-off screening, and Friedkin himself was there for a q&a session afterwards. I'm absolutely kickin' myself for not going. The film has a palpable sense of verisimilitude, and atmosphere you couldn't cut with a chainsaw.Great pumpin' soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, too. A truly overlooked 70's classic.

< Message edited by Peter A. Quinn -- 25/2/2006 9:38:14 AM >


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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 3/11/2006 1:00:25 PM   
great_badir


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Okay!

Well, I'm resurrecting this thread partly because I never really finished it and partly to keep my writing skills honed for the Thunderdome competition.  So here goes..........



Skidoo, Otto Preminger (1968)
 
Budget - can't be sure (see further down below), but I'm gonna say between $6-7million
Worldwide Box Office - figures never published, but low, low, low 
Subsequent takings (rentals etc) - safe to say nothing I think!


It takes two to skidoo.  Apparently.

Take one of the most highly regarded directors of the forties and fifties (Otto Preminger), America's best loved TV comedian who was also a dab hand at "proper acting" (Jackie Gleason), the father (if not god) of modern day filmic wit (Groucho Marx), and a whole host of character actors (Mickey Rooney, Austin Pendleton, Peter Lawford, Slim Pickens, George Raft), Adam West era Batman colleagues (Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Burgess Meredith) and two 60s musical icons (Frankie Avalon and Harry Nilsson).  Add a dash of right-on counter-culture references and leave to simmer for about ninety minutes.  Best served hot, with a side order of early Grateful Dead and the ramblings of flower-power casualties.  And maybe one or two of those liquid lava lamps thrown in for good measure.  Result?  Preminger's "adventure comedy" - Skidoo, perhaps the most interesting entry in this thread so far.

Distilled, Skidoo is nothing more than a mob comedy - one time San Francisco hit-man Gleason has settled down and gone straight with a wife and daughter, busying himself with his car-wash business.  As per, Gleason is called upon by God (Marx, not THE God, just a major drug baron nicknamed God) via two of Gleason's old mob colleagues, to infiltrate a futuristic high security prison (which appears to be Alcatraz, but whether it's SUPPOSED to be the rock is just one of Skidoo's many confusing mysteries) and take out his old friend 'Blue Chips' (Rooney), who's turned informer and is about to testify in court about the gang's nefarious past deeds.  So far, so predictable.  Here's where things get.......interesting.  God lives on a yacht in international waters, far away from any chance of being collared by land-locked law.  Meanwhile, Gleason's wife and daughter (involved with a no good drug addicted hippy played by John Phillip Law) attempt to make it to God's yacht so they can request that the hit be cancelled.  Flip back to Alcatraz and Gleason and his trippy cell mate (Pendleton) make a balloon out of rubbish bags and manage to escape and somehow successfully navigate their way to God's yacht (meeting up with the wife, daughter and hippy cohorts).  The Benny Hill Show on acid appears to take place, before God and Gleason's cell mate get all chummy and take the yacht's life raft to lead a happier life together, leaving the rest of the rabble tripping off their tits on LSD.  Mix in typical 60s drug mythologising (animation, random shots of people dancing, choppy music etc etc - think Roger Corman's The Trip, only less serious) and that covers Skidoo fairly well.  Oh, and the end credits are sung too, accompanied by to-camera Preminger asides like "I hope you en-choyed ze movie.  Vas de popkorrrrn to your liking?"

Along with the original some three hour long Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds free version of Bandit 3 (or Smokey IS The Bandit as it was then known, ironically also starring Gleason), Skidoo is the great lost cinematic disaster of post Studio Golden Age (TM) Hollywood.  Thought to be locked safely out of harm's way (if you'll pardon the Preminger in-joke), deep in the director's estate's vaults, it has all the makings of a latter day cult rediscovery - a Preminger comedy in bold colour, Grouch Marx's final film performance (SEE!!!! - Groucho toke on a clearly authentic spliff), hippies, LSD, both a fear of and fascination with technology and a satirical look at upper-middle class comfort.  But, being a "lost treasure" (an epithet which is, arguably, rather over generous) Skidoo has almost been forgotten as nearly four decades have passed, with only a few die hard collectors of cinematic rarities laying claim to a copy of it.  These days a film with such an eyebrow-raising pedigree would be easy to access, regardless of the quality (just look at Burn, Hollywood, Burn!, AKA An Alan Smithee Film), but Skidoo's fate was very much a short, sharp, almost immediate shock -despite its initial quality leanings with cast and crew, it's very much a film of fallen heroes, broken dreams and empty pretensions.  But what of its production?  How much did it cost?  How did it fair with the critics?  What happened to it? 

Working on a script from relative rookie writer Doran William Cannon, Preminger assembled his large cast of familiar faces with apparent ease, including a nearly 80 year old Marx who was overjoyed to be playing what was effectively a law breaking dirty old man.  In interviews at the time, Marx had nothing but praise for Preminger (despite rumours that the director was treating Marx with less respect than a comedy legend of his stature commanded), the script and the experience of making the film.  A sentiment ironically echoed by the majority of the film's cast, freely admitting they were basically getting paid to muck about like school kids in front of the camera.  In fact, so involved with the film did many of them get (especially Marx and Preminger), Timothy Leary was drafted in to guide them through their first experience with modern drugs.  Even the normally difficult Gleason seemed to enjoy the overall experience, Marx's belittling at the hands of Preminger notwithstanding.  In fact, amongst the reams of history written about Skidoo (and there are a LOT), only two tales of on-set woe have ever cropped up - Faye Dunaway, at the time still under contract with Preminger, found quick fame with Bonnie & Clyde and refused to appear in the film fearing the drugs, far left political leanings and mockery of class types might damage her career, leading to something of a bitch-fest with Preminger that was eventually settled out of court (read - she probably paid him handsomely from her Bonnie earnings).  The other bit of rough water concerned the script - Preminger had already lensed half of the film when he decided it needed more jokes and drafted in several new writers, all of whom mistakenly thought they were re-writing a film in trouble.  Preminger, despotic as usual, forbade all of them to even attempt to alter the main story, plot and flow, instead demanding unrelated jokes and pratfalls be inserted into the main script - it's something of an achievement that the film didn't end up as a two plus hour failed epic!  But it WAS failed - the director and most of his cast were too old, too out of touch and too full of themselves to make anything that could be taken as seriously as most of the films Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper were making (both together and separately) at the same time.  The best way to describe Skidoo is to call it the American equivalent of that great British counter-culture disaster with similarly bizarre chasms of oddness for oddness sake - Joseph McGrath's Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr starring The Magic Christian.  

Let's talk moolah - I've searched high and low for Skidoo's monetary figures, without much luck.  Going by the talent, we have to assume a reasonably high pay out for cast alone.  Then, if we factor in the budgets for Preminger's previous three films (around $4-5million), as well as the average costs of other films shot in Frisco around the same time, a possible budget of $6-7million seems possible, maybe even likely.  So, it's safe to say that it was a reasonably A-list film and any sane thinking person would think that it was pimped around like nobody's business.  Except evidence suggests Paramount (at that time Preminger's studio of choice) were hardly bothered with it and did little to promote the film - its soundtrack was released in advance and a Nilsson penned single was released, but both were quickly withdrawn when the single went nowhere, a vague poster was drawn up and some of the cast did some minor promotion in interviews.  And that was about it.  The film simpered quietly into cinemas and was an immediate turn off for both critics and audiences - the critics hated the complete and total uncontrolled mess they saw on screen, whilst a largely youth oriented audience took umbrage at the fact that their generation's new lease of life was being both aped and enjoyed by stuffy straights who had their time in the two decades previous.  Again, I couldn't find any figures, but plenty of google searches turn up the fact that many cinemas stopped showing the film in less than a week.  Showings outside the US sound as unlikely as the film itself, and it's never been granted a US video or DVD release (unusual considering Preminger's other lost classic - Bunny Lake Is Missing - was later released to great acclaim), with scant cable airings in the 80s and the odd unsolicited VHS release in other territories (France or Italy as the most likely) being the only lifeline to the film's latter-day existence.

Any good?  ......................that's a hard question to answer.  Firstly I've only seen an extremely poor quality VCD taken from a low generation VHS, which makes it hard to fully appreciate the "vision".  Also, there's far too much going on - the normally low-key Preminger goes for an everything-including-the-kitchen-sink feel and subsequently turns in something which is still largely too way ahead of its time but at the same time painfully dated and stuck in 1968.  But is it funny?  No, not really.  Is it entertaining?  Marginally, sometimes.  Could it be a cult success?  I don't think so, no.  But I can't explain why.  It just hasn't got cult blood running through its mis-shaped veins.  For those really curious, you can either catch the admittedly pretty snazzy trailer on Youtube, or download a (probably incomplete) version of the film from any number of torrent sites.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 4/11/2006 6:47:07 PM   
livila


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Obviously I've not seen this - but your description make me curious.
Even the title seems to be of an earlier age.
Was there ever an explaination of Groucho Marx's treatment by Otto Preminger?
Just a personality clash?

Very interesting. Jackie Gleason and Groucho Marx as nasty mob characters, the mind boggles.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 5/11/2006 1:35:52 AM   
Peter A. Quinn


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All right, g_b. I have a lot of love for Leonard Part 6. How about a feature on it? You know you want to.

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 5/11/2006 12:00:48 PM   
lbiu


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great thread.....I would have added Town and Country also Cuttthroat Island

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 6/11/2006 8:24:24 AM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: livila

Obviously I've not seen this - but your description make me curious.
Even the title seems to be of an earlier age.
Was there ever an explaination of Groucho Marx's treatment by Otto Preminger?
Just a personality clash?

Very interesting. Jackie Gleason and Groucho Marx as nasty mob characters, the mind boggles.


The story goes that Preminger pretty much bullied a performance out of an ageing Marx and forced him to put back on the old greasepaint 'tache, which meant that Marx had to shave off the real (grey) one he'd been sporting for several years at that point.  Gleason fought back, though apparently not for Marx's sake, but his own - the suggestion is that Gleason threatened to break Preminger's legs (or maybe it was arms........or both) if he ever treated him the same way.

But neither Marx nor Gleason are nasty characters.  In fact they're supposed to be the heroes of the piece.

I would say it's worth tracking down for a watch, but don't expect to come away thinking you've discovered some lost treasure.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Peter A. Quinn

All right, g_b. I have a lot of love for Leonard Part 6. How about a feature on it? You know you want to.


Great minds think alike, as they say.  Though I don't share your love of the Cosby crapola, I do own a shabby old ex-rental Betamax of it, so I think it more than deserves a pop.  Stay tuned........

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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 6/11/2006 9:23:55 AM   
Peter A. Quinn


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Wa-hey! Cheers, g_b. As Cosby says in that much-maligned classic,
"All right!"


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RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 6/11/2006 12:09:24 PM   
kingoftheducks


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Ah, this is one of my favourite threads on the Empire forum... recently I saw 'Ishtar' again, posted a review on here but nobody noticed... gah, so much for my efforts at getting it reappraised (it's at http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=845484)...

Great thread!  Any chance of a review of the finest black comedy in years 'Death To Smoochy'?


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(in reply to Peter A. Quinn)
Post #: 58
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 6/11/2006 1:44:15 PM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
Fairness warning - the following is only one side of the Leonard story.  Director Paul Weiland has all but removed it from his CV and I am not aware of any articles or interviews in which Weiland has explained his version of events........



Leonard Part 6, Paul Weiland (1987)

 
Budget - no one knows
Worldwide Box Office - under $5million
Subsequent takings (rentals etc) - less than an average episode of The Cosby Show.  Probably. 


Y'see, the kiiiids these days, well they listen to the raaaap music, which gives them the BRAAAIIIN damage!  With their hippin' and their hoppin' and their bippin' and their boppin'.....y'see, they don't KNOW what the JAY-AAAAZZZ is aaaall about!  Y'see, jazz is like a jello pudding.  No, actually it's more like Kodak film.  No, actually it's like the new coke - it'll be around forever, flibbah flibbah flibbah.

Bill Cosby there.  Well, okay, so it's actually The Simpsons doing their riff on Cosby's best known character, Dr Heathcliff 'Cliff' Huxtable.  But it's a fair representation of not only the never-ending show that made him famous around the world, but also his now fifty-odd year old shtick and what makes people either love him or hate him.  By the late 80s, Cosby (along with on-screen wife Phylicia Rashad) was one of the highest paid stars on US TV, even making it as far as the Guinness Book of Records for total annual celebrity earnings.  At the top of the Huxtable wave crest, Cosby was sniffing around for a solo film project having spent his former feature film years as either second or third fiddle or foil for another comedy partner (cf. Mother, Jugs & Speed, California Suite, The Devil & Max Devlin and the three Cosby/Poitier films).  But what to do?  Fat Albert was firmly fixed in the 70s and, besides, he'd already squeezed it for all it was worth, and the Cosby Show formula was too perfect to go messing around with trying to turn it into a theatrical vehicle.  No, it was time for a new character.  Something different and even further removed from his sanguine tales-of-my-childhood stand-up than the strong upper class black characters he'd largely been playing since 1977's A Piece Of The Action (his third collaboration with Sidney Poitier).  Something that he could create himself, tackle the script and maybe even direct.  Something that would end up being the other (non-Cosby) thing he would be remembered for.  Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for - Leonard Parker.

Leonard was a basic combination of Cosby's more recent characters - rich, playboyish, highly respected, witty and with a highly paid career.  The twist comes when we discover that Leonard is an ex-CIA super spy turned restauranteur with gadgets, a white butler (which actually didn't cause the problems it might've done in 80s Reagan America had someone OTHER than Cosby been in the lead role), and an ex-wife he still hasn't got over - far from the comfortable and usually stable existence of the family Huxtable..................um...............drug addiction, teen pregnancy, crime, boyfriends the family don't approve of and long term illnesses notwithstanding.  Cosby's intention was to make a forward thinking, family friendly black Bond with laughs.  He had the basic story - Leonard, spending his days cooking up a storm in his many kitchens and moping about the ex, is re-recruited by the CIA to prevent the world being taken over and turned into vegetarians by Medusa, an evil veggie (the best idea in the whole film) with an army of trained/brainwashed animals to kill whoever gets in her way.  Amazingly, the picture was swiftly green-lit by the suits at Columbia, no doubt eager to capitalise on The Cosby Show's massive popularity both with critics and audiences alike.  The chumps!

Supposedly intending to star, write and direct, Cosby soon dropped the full writing and directing reins since his commitment to The Cosby Show didn't leave him much time to do anything else.  Instead he produced, whilst scriptwriting duties were handed over to Jonathan Reynolds (who, through his previous work with Michael Ritchie and Blake Edwards, had made a name for himself) and British ads young gun Paul Weiland was brought on as director, probably under Cosby's supervision.  With two hotshots following his lead, Cosby couldn't go wrong and started gathering cast and crew with pace. 

"First idea - let's make it fresh.  Instead of appearing desperate, why don't we make this a later part of a series and say that the earlier ones hadn't been released?"
"Why?"
"I don't know...........let's just say they were top secret and too sensitive for the nation."
"Yeah - something about national security.  He IS a CIA super spy after all!"
"Part 6.  We'll call it Leonard Part 6."
"Sub-title?"
"Nope - Leonard doesn't need a sub-title!"
"Okay.  Sticking with the fresh theme, why don't we say his ex-wife hates the very ground he walks on?  Then we can make that our secondary plot point!"
"Brilliant - Leonard can bring her back round to him by saving her from some crabs or something."
"Lobsters - we don't want any STD innuendo rolling round in there.  This IS a family film, after all."
"Lobsters, of course!  Bang-on!"
"We should have him ride an ostrich too.  Just for the shit of it."
"Cosby riding an ostrich?  You could be onto something there.  And maybe he could have a Porsche that turns into a tank.  Ooh-ooh and under-arm missiles!"
"YES!  And there needs to be a scene where he splashes aftershave on his face and then shakes it in slow motion."
"Okay.............but only if he can use raw steaks as weapons."
"Done."

Now I wasn't at any of those pre-production meetings, but I think it's safe to say that's EXACTLY how they all went.  How else would you account for the number of stupefying incredulities on display? 

In Cosby's defence, he wasn't happy from day one.  Weiland was inexperienced with actors and large studio crews and it was immediately obvious from dailies that the film was inconsistent, confusing and slipshod at best.  Re-writes were being handed in by an increasingly frustrated Reynolds on a daily basis (the studio wanted wall to wall slapstick, Reynolds was more used to laughs through chunky dialogue) and Cosby, himself not used to pratfalls, was struggling to keep his required clownish performance on tap - the temptation to slip into a lengthy monologue about Noah must have been unbearable.  Scenes were being shot, edited and even scored before being left on the cutting room floor when it became obvious they weren't in the least bit funny or exciting, with Cosby taking it upon himself to reshoot bits and bobs that Weiland just couldn't manage.  Despite surrounding himself with firm friends (Moses Gunn, Gloria Foster, Jane Fonda), tales of an unhappy Cosby are legion, so much so it was beginning to effect other projects - I've heard that Leonard forced him to delay shooting many Cosby Show episodes and, whilst I've not been able to confirm this, there were certainly several episodes that would focus on the kids, usually Sondra and Elvin (the "two that got married and moved out" to you and me), and barely feature Cliff.

However, the film WAS finished (we have to assume over budget) and locked without too much of a delay (probably thanks to Cosby picking up the pieces whenever Weiland dropped them) and rushed out to well over 1000 screens the week before christmas (yeah - cos it's SO a christmas movie!), 1987.  Accompanying the film's release was Cosby's publicity crawl.  His contract stipulated that he had to do interviews and he had to publicise the film.......they just didn't say how.  In the weeks up to and immediately following Leonard's release, Cosby took up every chat show and interview offer which, to Columbia's mind, meant that their star was going to try and calm down the negative buzz and (later) up the film's disappointing weekend of only just over $1million.  Only problem is, they forgot what a clever cookie Cosby was.  Instead of bigging up the film and saying how great it was, he almost begged viewers and fans to save their money and avoid the film at all costs, stating that it wasn't the film he imagined making when he first had the idea and that both an inexperienced director and greedy studio were to blame.  He even accepted the three Razzies the film was awarded (albeit not on award night) and used them as a deterrent to everyone planning to see the film on the big screen and, by clever plan or luck, saved himself a nightmarish future of constant hounding about Leonard Part 6 (Weiland and Reynolds were less fortunate - Weiland was immediately demoted to British TV work and Reynolds spent the rest of the decade on Switching Channels, My Stepmother Is An Alien and The Distinguished Gentleman).  To Cosby's delight, audiences listened and the film limped away with a worldwide gross of less than $5million.  Sadly for Cosby, the home video deal had already been signed and agreed on (so usually ex-rental VHS and Beta was, for a long time, the only way you could see the film), but no one had yet hooked the TV distribution rights, which he paid for out of his own pocket, thus denying the film ever being shown on TV.  There is now a DVD available if you're REALLY curious and should you want to see the point at which Cosby's career started on its long nose-dive into Ghost Dad and The Cosby Mysteries.

Any good? 
Isn't it obvious?!?!?!?!?!?!  The most painful thing about Leonard is that had it gone down a more serious route and had Cosby done it all himself, we could instead have ended up with an 80s update of the frankly amazing Hickey & Boggs (directed by, believe it or not, that none more 70s also-ran TV star Robert Culp).

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(in reply to kingoftheducks)
Post #: 59
RE: Great Badir celebrates those Box Office bombs - 6/11/2006 1:53:40 PM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: kingoftheducks

Ah, this is one of my favourite threads on the Empire forum... recently I saw 'Ishtar' again, posted a review on here but nobody noticed... gah, so much for my efforts at getting it reappraised (it's at http://www.empireonline.com/forum/tm.asp?m=845484)...

Great thread!  Any chance of a review of the finest black comedy in years 'Death To Smoochy'?



Gah, I missed your Ishtar review.  It now says thread deleted, though.

As for Death To Smoochy - it's been bubbling away, BUT I've yet to see it and I really do want to see it before I include it here.  I've got Film4 now, so hopefully they'll show it soon.

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Post #: 60
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