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The Annual Summer Movie Binge

May 14, 1986

HOLLYWOOD (AP) _ Like coaches in the pro basketball play-offs, film companies are fine tuning strategies and shifting lineups hoping for better match-ups in the annual summer movie binge.

Paramount is opening ″Top Gun″ a week earlier. Columbia has delayed ″A Fine Mess″ from May to August. Warner Bros. is pushing ahead ″Club Paradise″ by one week.

″All studios are looking at each other’s product and figuring how to make the most of the schedule,″ said Judy Schwam, publicity vice president of Columbia Pictures. ″It’s silly to go head-to-head when you can do better in another week.

″The companies slot a film in the schedule often before it even goes into production. Later on you see other elements, and you start juggling.″

″You bring up your biggest guns in May and June and into the 4th of July,″ said Marvin Antonowsky, president of Universal Pictures marketing. ″If the pictures work, then you can play 10 weeks in the summertime. A May-June release is any producer’s dream.″

The Memorial Day weekend is usually the kickoff, said Sid Ganis, Paramount Pictures president of worldwide marketing. ″Top Gun″ was moved from May 23 to May 14.

″We made the move because of its playability,″ he said. ″Tests showed that it really works well with all four categories: young male; young female; adult male; adult female. So we’re going to get a nice week’s jump on the market.″

Tom Cruise plays a hotshot navy pilot in ″Top Gun,″ one of the summer’s action-adventure movies.

A survey of summer films from the major distributors discloses the usual amount of action-adventure, science fiction, sequels and thrillers, a large dose of comedy and surprisingly few youth movies. Too many films aimed at the young crowd bombed last summer, hence the pullback.

For the first time in several summers, Steven Spielberg will not be represented. But his sometime partner, George Lucas, returns to the marketplace as executive producer of two fantasies, ″Howard the Duck″ and ″Labyrinth.″

Besides ″Top Gun,″ other action-adventure movies include: Sylvester Stallone, ″Cobra″; Arnold Schwarzenegger, ″Raw Deal″; Kurt Russell, ″Big Trouble in Little China″; Sean Penn and Madonna, ″Shanghai Surprise″; Robert Duvall and Gary Busey, ″Let’s Get Harry″; and Walter Matthau dons eyepatch and beard for ″Polanski’s Pirates.″

Comedies include Robert Redford and Debra Winger as attorneys in ″Legal Eagles″; Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep in ″Heartburn″; Alan Alda in ″Sweet Liberty″; Rodney Dangerfield goes to college in ″Back to School″; Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal play detective buddies in ″Running Scared.″

The makers of ″Airplane″ have paired Bette Midler and Danny DeVito in ″Ruthless People.″ Robin Williams tries to restore a rundown resort in ″Club Paradise.″ Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner get scared on a ″Haunted Honeymoon.″

John Candy and Eugene Levy of ″SCTV″ team in ″Armed and Dangerous.″ Whoopi Goldberg returns to comedy in ″Jumpin’ Jack Flash.″ Michael O’Keefe and Paul Rodriguez invade Palm Beach Society in ″The Whoopee Boys.″

There are the usual sequels and remakes: ″Poltergeist II: The Other Side″; ″The Karate Kid II″; ″Aliens″; ″The Fly″; ″Friday the 13th: Part VI″; ″Texas Chainsaw Massacre II″; ″Invaders From Mars″; ″Psycho III.″

Youth films include: John Cusack, ″One Crazy Summer″; ″Out of Bounds,″ with Anthony Michael Hall; Matthew Broderick in John Hughes’ ″Ferris Bueller’s Day Off″; Olympian Mitch Gaylord in ″American Anthem.″

A high school student devises a nuclear device in ″Manhattan Project,″ and students unexpectedly take off on a shuttle flight while attending ″Spacecamp.″

Science fiction flicks show Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg protecting a lovable robot in ″Short Circuit″; David Bowie and some animated creatures in the Jim Henson-directed ″Labyrinth.″

Stephen King directs his own script, ″Maximum Overdrive,″ about a revolt of machines. High schooler Matthew Laborteaux over-achieves his lab assignment in ″Deadly Friend.″ An autistic boy spreads his arms in ″The Boy Who Could Fly.″ ″Solarbabies″ depicts a water-starved earth 1,000 years from now. A comic strip hero leaves the planet Duck World for Earth in ″Howard the Duck.″

The summer will also bring a pair of animated films, Disney’s ″The Great Mouse Detective″ and ″My Little Pony,″ based on the toys and TV series.

″The whole summer looks good,″ said Marvin Goldfarb, chief buyer for the Kansas City-based Commonwealth Theaters which has 425 screens in the Midwest and Rocky Mountains.

″I think ‘Short Circuit″ will do a ton of business; we’ve run previews in big and small towns and the reaction has been great. Alan Alda’s ‘Sweet Liberty’ should enjoy a long run, once the word-of-mouth gets around.

‴Cobra’ and ‘Top Gun’ should do tremendous business for two to four weeks, then drop off. The same with ‘Poltergeist II’ and ‘Raw Deal.’ I believe ‘Ferris Bueller’ will be around for a long time; it’s a fun picture to sit through. ‘Spacecamp’ is a good picture, but its luck will depend on what the space program means to the public now.″

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