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Success Of ‘George’ A Surprise To Disney

Fri., Nov. 21, 1997

It has been in release since July and it still turns up on Variety’s weekly lists of the 20 top box-office attractions. It has grossed more than $100 million and probably could play theaters well into 1998.

But Disney’s home video division is still planning to bring out “George of the Jungle” Dec. 2 on videotape (for $20) and DVD ($30). Starring Brendan Fraser as the television cartoon character, this live-action “George” took the studio by surprise, outgrossing its more costly cartoon, “Hercules,” which was supposed to be Disney’s summer biggie (“Hercules” has disappeared from most theaters, but the video won’t be out until February).

Next month’s other bargain-priced summer-surprise hit is “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” which Columbia TriStar is bringing out Dec. 9 on VHS ($15), DVD ($25) and laserdisc ($35).

The romantic comedy rejuvenated the career of Julia Roberts and it finally made a marquee name of Rupert Everett.

Jodie Foster also had her biggest hit in years with Robert Zemeckis’ adaptation of the late Carl Sagan’s science-fiction novel, “Contact,” which will be a bargain only on DVD ($25) when it’s released to the video market Dec. 16.

Men in Black

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While some people will enjoy this adventure/comedy as a kind of alien-themed “Ghostbusters,” others are already referring to is as “Men in Blah.” Will Smith portrays a New York police officer who is recruited by an ultrasecret, quasi-government agency charged with policing the many extra-terrestrials who live among us (many of whom resemble insects). Along with his supervisor, Tommy Lee Jones, Smith tries to track down a super-bug who is threatening to destroy the Earth. The special effects are impressive, even though some of the violence is apt to be too intense for young children, and Jones is the perfect straight man to play off the comic mugging of Smith (whose character is remarkably like the one he played in “Independence Day”). And the gags run fast and loose. The only real problem is that very little about the actual plot is likely to stay with you after the house lights go up. PG-13 (Reviewed by Dan Webster)



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