Wednesday, September 01, 1999

September 1, 1999

Archived update from Cigarettes & Coffee, run by Greg Mariotti & CJ Wallis from 1999-2005

Roughcut Scoop/Magnolia to be trimmed and pushed up??
Editor's Note: This scoop courtesy of Rough Cut 
THE GOOD: Jeff Wells got some early poop on Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia and thus broke the code of silence around the picture. Jeff's concerns about the over-three-hour running time led to an exchange between myself and New Line's Michael DeLuca on Magnolia, with DeLuca kindly laying out the studio's position on how they handle a three-hour movie: "Here's the straight scoop: There's no pressure on Paul to cut. I don't pressure world class filmmakers. I make suggestions, Bob Shaye makes suggestions, but that's it. I flipped over the film, and all I told Paul was that if he could, he should try to keep the running time requirement for four shows a day as opposed to three in his mind while trimming. He agreed and he's been trimming on his own these past four weeks. I let Paul have his own process, and he often screens changes for me.
We totally knew what the film was going to be when we read the script. No surprises. I thought we'd end up with a three and a half hour movie and he's actually going to end up much shorter. We never thought that the commercial chances for Magnolia would be determined by running time. It's either going to connect as the greatest film ever made before the ending of a millennium, or it won't, but a half hour will not make the difference. With this kind of movie, it's the total experience of the film itself that sells the film. All we told Paul was cut the best movie you can."
In Jeff's conversation with Paul Thomas Anderson, a potential Thanksgiving release on as many as 1800 screens was brought up. New Line got killed in platform release for the underrated and underseen Living Out Loud last year, so one more exchange on the release, so I felt compelled to ask if they were going wider to avoid the past. Apparently not. DeLuca on distribution: "We're actually trying to avoid December competition (Ripley, The Green Mile, etc). There's like four three hour movies in December. So I want to either be the first or the last (a January release with a qualifying run, like we did Wag the Dog). We were always going wider than 800, [it was] just a matter of when."
And I guess it still is. There aren't many production chiefs in Hollywood who surf the Web, much less indulge those of us who work out here. Mike DeLuca is a rare bird in that way and in many others. The most remarkable one is that I don't think he's ever misled me, on or off the record. Could being honest be the future of Hollywood? Let's see. In my experience, Fox and New Line are the most willingly informative and most direct of the studios. And they do pretty well. Hmmmm...Like Cosmo suggested in Sneakers, does the power to create destruction (a big Web issue) come from "Too many secrets?" Hmmmm...
Courtesy of Roughcut by David Poland
Premiere Magazine Tidbit
Magnolia is discussed in the September 1999 Fall Movie Preview. 
The Pitch:
During one day in the San Fernando Valley, the lives of several disparate people (including Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and John C. Reilly) intersect, with tragicomic results.
The Big Picture:
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) denies the rumor that the script for his $30 million-plus follow-up runs a staggering 160 pages. "No," he says with a laugh. "It's longer." He refuses to say much else about it, however. "I feel lately as if I know everything about a movie before I see it, " he says, "and I really want the audience to discover this purely." Some of the Nights cast have returned, plus one rather prominent addition: Tom Cruise, in an un-billed role. And (get this) it was Cruise who approached Anderson. "It's like getting the phone call from the President of the United States, " Anderson says. "If he hadn't called, I just would have assumed he wasn't gettable for me." But if the first days of filming seemed like a class reunion, that feeling didn't last. "Julianne was the first one to shoot - she kind of got the baseball bat in the face," Anderson says, figuratively speaking. "It was emotionally arduous," Moore confirms, "Paul pushed me really hard - much harder than someone I didn't know would have." Macy, who plays a former quiz-show whiz kid obsessed with a male bartender, endured pain of a more physical nature. "Paul had an idea for a gag where I leave the keys on my belt chain in the door and walk away, and it's supposed to knock me ass-over-teakettle," Macy says. "He made me do it 35 times . My whole hip was black and blue by the end of the night." Perhaps Anderson was getting even. Earlier, when the director was discussing how one scene should be shot, Macy observed that the proposed angle was unflattering to him. "Oh, here it starts," Anderson roared. "One fucking nomination and suddenly... You're not a leading man; you're a character actor." Macy gibed back: "And you're a cult director who doesn't know when to stop writing."