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Hype and ‘Hudson Hawk’ With PM-Summer Movies

May 24, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Did Demi Moore have an actress replaced in ″Hudson Hawk″ because she thought she was too friendly with husband Bruce Willis? Was Willis’ thinning hair retouched?

These and other burning questions dogged the efforts of Tri-Star Pictures to get good press for the big budget movie, which opens today.

Critics gave the film extremely negative reviews. At a recent New York screening, reviewers hissed and booed throughout the action-comedy, behavior rarely displayed at such gatherings.

But no matter. Bad reviews will not necessarily make the film a box-office failure. Last summer’s ″Total Recall″ was panned by critics, yet the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film went on to make more than $100 million. And Willis is among the industry’s top-drawing actors.

Nevertheless, audiences who have become skeptical about ″Hudson Hawk″ might opt for ″Backdraft,″ also opening today and unencumbered by any negative pre-release publicity.

Willis says the ″Hudson Hawk″ stories - including one that his thinning hair was electronically retouched frame by frame - ″border on hatred.″

Producer Joel Silver said, ″I’ve never seen so much obsession with the backstage workings - and always so negative.″

In the film, Willis plays Eddie Hawkins, a cat burglar also known as Hudson Hawk who is drawn into a complex, modern-day heist linked to a Leonardo da Vinci alchemy machine.

The movie was shot on location in New York, Budapest, London, Rome and the Italian seaside town of Rimini. Filming was delayed by a general strike in Hungary, and the inability to shoot in the Vatican.

Willis said the movie is based on a song he co-wrote 10 years ago.

But nobody seems to want to listen to accounts of what goes on in the movie. They want gossip. ″It’s not going to be very interesting to read, ’Everything went OK,‴ said the film’s director, Michael Lehmann.

Willis and company fear the negative publicity and deluge of dirt surrounding ″Hudson Hawk″ detract from the movie itself, thus threatening the film’s prospects in the competitive summer season.

Last November, People magazine repeated allegations from the National Enquirer that ″Hudson Hawk″ co-star Marushka Detmers was replaced by Andie MacDowell because Ms. Moore worried that her husband and Ms. Detmers were too friendly.

″On this movie, you get (questions like), ’What really happened with Marushka Detmers?,‴ said Lehmann, who also directed 1989’s ″Heathers.″

″And I say, ‘She’s an actress that I cast and she got sick and we had to let her go.’ And they say, ’Well, what about that report that Demi had her fired?‴

There have been many reports, too, in publications such as Entertainment Weekly and the trade newspaper Variety about the film’s budget. Some stories say Tri-Star, owned by Sony Corp., spent up to $75 million. Silver says it’s closer to $45 million.

″It’s as though we’re being taken to task for making these big-budget movies,″ he said. ″It’s the studios who say, ‘Here is the money to make this big-budget movie.’ We’ve never put a gun to anybody’s head.″

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