||The New York Times
October 25, 2001
Hollywood Pic Parties
(NEW YORK (Variety) - Marketing anxieties are
putting a damper on the holiday season's traditionally splashy picture premieres.
In fact, many studio executives wonder whether the age of the lavish "Pearl
Harbor''-style event ended Sept. 11.
Warner Bros.' "Ocean's Eleven'' was originally set to premiere with Rat Pack fanfare
at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. But the studio has scrapped those plans, moving the
launch to L.A. Details of the screening and party have yet to be finalized.
Warners has also downsized the premiere for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.''
The picture was slated to unspool Nov. 4 in London's Leicester Square with a gala
celebration to follow. The event, still set for London, has been trimmed to a screening
plus a dinner for the cast.
New Line's "Lord of the Rings,'' meanwhile, is still scheduled for a glitzy world
premiere in London Dec. 10 at the Odeon Theater in Leicester Square. The screening will be
followed by a party at the Docklands near the Tower of London. Smaller-scale premieres in
New York and Los Angeles are to follow on Dec. 13 and Dec. 16, respectively. The Gotham
premiere may be a World Trade Center benefit.
And while scaling back may save the studios a buck or two, the downsizing might make it
more difficult for high-stakes year-end releases to get an early Oscar foothold.
The backtracking this holiday season is a far cry from the all-out promo pushes of recent
times. Last November, Universal created a winter wonderland for the "Grinch''
premiere, replete with green-carpet snowball fights and
weathermen. A few months later, Disney's "Pearl Harbor'' launch in Hawaii set a new
standard for hype and hoopla as the studio requisitioned an aircraft carrier to stage the
Now, studios are trying to be sensitive to worrying world events -- and they certainly
stand to save money at the same time.
As Universal executive VP Terry Curtin put it, "That money would often be better
spent in media, where you can target the right audience with the right message.''
Fox's "From Hell'' and Universal's Friday release "K-Pax'' are two recent
examples of a growing trend: both featured red-carpet arrivals and screenings but just