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Sam North - November 2002
If you start now you can fit in one novel and one movie a day.

For all the accounting skills that must exist in Hollywood - math doesn’t seem to be a strong point.
The last time I looked there were around 365 days in a year. So it may come as a surprise to you to discover that between November 1st and January 31st 2003, a period of three months, there are 110 films being released in the North American market– (a few of which are re-releases, such as 'Saturday Night Fever' and 'Singing in the Rain'.) This number actually leaves out many smaller independent films produced in Canada, Mexico and virtually all of the European, Asian, Far East releases.

Gangs of New York - Christmas violence

Die Another Day/Chicago

It is entirely sobering to see literally billions of dollars thrown at the moviegoing public in so short a period. You just know around ten movies are going to make a fortune and the rest probably be lucky to get back their catering budgets. Movies staring people like Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) or Steve Buscemi (Love in the Time of Money) or Sean Penn in (The Weight of Water) might get lucky in the cities, but there’s no guarantee that they will be successful.
What worries me, if they ever actually make one of my screenplays into a low-budget movie, I’ll be lucky to get TV stars who haven’t had much work lately and will take deferment. You know the problem with that. Most films where everyone took deferment – the audience does too.
‘We’ll catch it on DVD later’.

For every successful Toronto made ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ there’s a film like ‘Equilibrium’ starring Christian Bale and Emily Watson (who rather implausibly falls for Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love). It’s a rip-off of an old Jean-Luc Godard movie short about a world where emotion is illegal. Christian Bale and Emily Watson are just not going to draw the crowds on Dec 6th. This film is going to drown up against ‘Analyze That’ the De Niro - Billy Crystal sequel to ‘Analyze This’. (Which has an awful unfunny trailer by the by.)
(Why don’t they just do a sequel to a good movie such as Grosse Point Blank?)

So under this avalanche of movies – (you also have to make room for the electric ‘24’ starring Keifer Sutherland on Tuesdays) it’s a brutal time. You might want to skip the squeaky clean ‘Pretty Woman’ remake with J-Lo called ‘Maid in Manhattan’, or ‘Star Trek Nemesis’ unless you are a fan. For your own sanity you should skip ‘The Hot Chick’ starring Rob Schneider in a sex swap movie but that still leaves 108 to whittle down.

We already know you’ll be seeing Harry Potter 2 (Now out and great fun but those Spiders are scary, really scary. Luckily the kids have really grown into their roles and the confidence shows. It is funny and faster that HP1 and huge in Japan.) Soon we have Lord of the Rings 2, the new Bond (Nov 22nd opening with the best grossing weekend ever for a Bond movie and it's a lot of fun. Hale Berry is great and they actually use the cars this time to great effect. The Gangs of New York (opens at Christmas) , but will you be going to see yet another ‘Nicolas Nickleby’ or Polanski’s ‘The Pianist’ before then?
How about 'Solaris' with George Clooney and Natascha McElhone? Steven Soderbergh directed this remake of the slow but eerie Russian sci-fi movie. 'The Emperor's Club' looks so much like a remake of 'Dead-Poets' it doesn't seem worth parking the car for this one, let alone paying the babysitter. Wait for 'Two Weeks Notice' the new Sandra Bullock - Hugh Grant movie. Could it get any closer to a Gary Grant plot? But hey I've got the same tie as Hugh, which says something, I don't know what. Starting this week Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid star in 'Far from Heaven'. It lists George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh as Exec Producers and it's directed by Todd Haynes who does have a wicked sense or irony. It looks great but 1950's homsexual affairs? Is this box- office material and didn't 'Pleasantville' already go to this space - albiet hetrosexual matters? Many will be lining up for Brian de Palms's pretty appalling 'Femme Fatale' I should think and '8 Mile' is going to stick around.
(Avoid 'Ararat' -a well meant but very disappointing film on the Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1915.)

The choice is amazing, the subjects range from comedy to the holocaust and there is a lot of hype for the new Ray Liotta cop movie ‘Narc’ in December as well as Robert Benigni's 'Pinocchio'.

These are what you call market forces writ large.
You cannot squeeze this much entertainment into such a small pot, even if people do go the movies on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is a lot of competition for those dollars from shopping, the web, sports on TV and for a smaller group, books.

In November 3rd’s New York Times there are around 40 pages devoted to upcoming movies and another 30 to new novels and non-fiction. I suppose it has always been thus, but there is too much, way too much competition for our eyes, ears and minds at this time of year.
So here we are, talk to your bosses, ask for compassionate leave for the next two months, tell them you have Hollywood and the New York literary establishment to support. I’m sure they will be understanding.

If you start now you can fit in one novel and one movie a day. Oh yes, if you live in Vancouver and are between matinees and the late show, come on down to Clickers on Coal Harbour for live script readings this and every Monday. Showtime 8pm – don’t be late. They're reading one of mine on Dec 2nd...
Donation at the door and there’s an excellent bar.

© Sam North

Oh yes you can read my travel feature about Vancouver in November Elle Decor (New York Edition) You see why it's such a fun town to visit. Available at most magazines stores in Canada and USA

Previous Editorials:
'The city where everyone gets to live a millionaire lifestyle'
It’s SECTION 9 in the N.Y. Sunday Times
A cornucopia - October
The Kids stay in the picture- August
Hacks visits the new Museum of Glass in Tacoma- August
Hot Sweats in a Cold Read at the Anza Club- August
LIFE ON FAST FORWARD - Vancouver on speed -September
SweetSista'Shorts Carousel Theatre- Granville Island - Off Fringe
ROUNDHOUSE is celebrating its FIFTH ANNIVERSARY. - September
Arts in the Community is for real -
Time to enrol
Vancouver Film Festival Trade Show report

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