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Moviemakers Live And Die By Box Office Stats

Fri., Aug. 8, 1997

While some may wonder why the public should be interested in the box office, filmmakers themselves live and breathe the figures estimating the weekend’s take from Friday’s numbers.

Producer Gary Lucchesi said that when his 1996 courtroom drama “Primal Fear” was released by Paramount, he knew what number the film had to gross Friday to have a successful weekend run.

“I went to bed Friday night saying to myself, ‘I need to hear $3 million-plus (for) Friday night,”’ Lucchesi said. On Saturday morning, he learned the film had hit its mark. “If I had heard $1.8 million, I knew the movie wasn’t going to work.” “Primal Fear” opened at No. 1, taking in $9.9 million in three days.

Brian Grazer, who has produced 35 films, including the Academy Award nominee “Apollo 13” and “Liar Liar,” said that even with a movie as popular as Jim Carrey’s comedy, he still frets before the box office grosses roll in.

“I sweat every movie like they are my first movie,” he said, “which it isn’t a psychologically healthy thing to do.”

The problem, Grazer said, is that with all the intense focus on box office results, filmmakers today are shoved under an uncomfortable spotlight. “If your movie doesn’t do well now,” he said, “it’s a public embarrassment.”


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