MGM/UA can't count on James Bond box-office profits anytime soon because Pierce Brosnan says he won't be doing a Bond movie for awhile. "I wanted to do something different," says Brosnan, who is starring in a very different spy thriller along with Jaime Lee Curtis and Geoffrey Rush in "The Tailor of Panama." The story is adapted from the novel by English author John Le Carre, called "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy." It's being produced for Sony Pictures with a budget of $50 million.

MGM/UA, which hasn't done well in the past few years, will likely have a comeback when "Hannibal," the sequel to "Silence of the Lambs" starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianna Moore, is released in 2001. Also on MGM/UA's roster for release in 2001 are "Bandits" (a Bruce Willis movie about bank robbers), and a re-do of "Rollerball."

***

"Charlie's Angels" Executive Producer Leonard Goldberg projects that his hit film, which had a production budget of $65 million, will do $200 million in worldwide box office. But Robert Buxbaum of Reel Source Inc., whose firm specializes in projecting box-office revenues, is projecting a domestic box-office gross of between $130 million and $150 million, and double that in the foreign market.

"But that won't be all," says Buxbaum. "What with tie-ins like theme parks, product placement, food chains and merchandise, the movie should make billions worldwide. Studios never publicize tie-ins."

Not all corporations have to pay big money to have their products in a movie. In the recent New Line Cinema release "Little Nicky," starring Adam Sandler, Popeye's Chicken placement was the coup de grace of all placements. Not only did Sandler request Popeye's specifically, he made it a significant part of the plot. Popeye's, which paid nothing but a few hundred pieces of chicken and the use of a New York franchise's location and uniforms, couldn't be happier with the exchange.

"The fact that Mr. Sandler wanted us to be in there was an honor," said Philip Fogleman, Popeye's director of advertising.

Unfortunately nothing could save "Little Nicky" at the box-office, which had a dismal $5 million opening weekend. This doesn't help the position of New Line production executive Michael DeLuca, who is also wrapped up in the mess of "Town and Country." That movie is way over budget at $80 million.

***

The buzz about the sequel to "Basic Instinct" is that it is currently in development hell.

David Cronenberg is being asked to direct and Sharon Stone will reprise her original role for $15 million, but no male lead has been cast. The word is that the recently separated Meg Ryan discouraged her own leading man, Russell Crowe, away from the picture as she was afraid of romantic rumors leaking from the set between him and Stone.

Contributing reporter Anita Talbert can be reached at anita@la.com.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.