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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Backlot Buzz—Low-Budget Horror Films Are Big Again

Teen horror-romance movies like the newly released “Valentine” are hot at the box-office these days and the studios are cleaning up on them.

“Horror is huge again, especially with the ‘Hannibal’ sequel being released,” said Robert Buxbaum of Reel Source Inc. Valentine cost a mere $11 million to make including salaries of $1 million and $1.5 million, respectively, to two of the film’s young stars: TV’s “Angel” hunk David Boreanaz and Bond girl Denise Richards.

The other actors in the picture each got around $250,000.

“Valentine” pulled in $10 million in its opening weekend and is expected to do even better in these days before and immediately after Valentine’s Day, as the ultimate date flick. “We are projecting it to do $28 million domestically and the same abroad, not including commercial tie-ins,” said Buxbaum.

“Valentine’s” Australian director, horror wunderkind Jamie Blanks, broke into the genre with his first picture, 1998’s “Urban Legend.” Made when he was 26 for Sony Pictures and Phoenix Original Films, his freshman effort grossed $100 million worldwide. Blanks was paid around $1 million for “Valentine.”

So what’s going to be the biggest movie of 2001? If you compare budgets, it’s likely to be “Pearl Harbor,” a Touchstone Picture for Disney/Buena Vista. The film is being released on Memorial Day, May 25, with virtually no other competition that week.

Publicists for the picture say the budget is $123 million, but industry insiders are saying it is more like $200 million.

The film is already projected to do approximately $400 million in worldwide box office and, with heavily promoted toys related to the film, it could reach $1 billion.

“Women will come to see this film because their boyfriend or husband wants to see it and Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett are draws for them,” said Ryan Lipsky, independent film analyst.

The only other film with a known budget of over $200 million to be released this year is “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings” coming from New Line Cinema, but that’s a trilogy.

Will Tom Cruise’s fractured 11-year marriage to Nicole Kidman affect his work and schedule? An assistant director on Paramount’s $75 million “Vanilla Sky” said the unhappy Cruise continued his work uninterrupted on the day of the separation announcement. “He is a very private person, but he is hard at work and staying strong,” said the A.D.

Steven Spielberg, who will be directing Cruise in March in “Minority Report,” has been waiting patiently for him to finish a steady slate of films.

“Minority Report” (with an estimated $100 million budget). It is scheduled for release on Nov. 17.

Contributing reporter Anita Talbert can be reached via e-mail at anita@la.com.

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