02 February 2009

Eat, Pray It Hits #1, Love

Apparently there is trouble with the film adaptation of "Eat, Pray, Love," despite its connections to Brad Pitt (his production company) and Julia Roberts (who hopes to star). Paramount is putting it back on the shelf so someone else (Sony, perhaps?) can deal with its problems. Take it away, Deadline Hollywood Daily anonymous sources:
Paramount bigwigs decided that the pic should only cost $25M but was too hard to make cheaply because it takes place all over the world and therefore the budget would balloon to $60M with 15% of the gross out the door. As a source put it to me, "The concern is it's a 1-quadrant movie that would have to make over $150M worldwide to make money. So my question for you is: when was the last time a Julia Roberts-lead movie grossed that much? (And Oceans Eleven doesn't count.)" ... I heard Paramount's marketing department doesn't believe this is another Mamma Mia or Sex And The City and turned thumbs-down on its commercial viability. And there's thinking that 41-year-old Julia Roberts is too old to play the 31-year-old lead.
I have to disagree with the naysayers here. This film is going to make a bazillion dollars. How do I know? Because so many people have read this book, especially women, and they will turn out in droves and bring their friends who haven't read it yet. Heck, I was pretty lukewarm on it myself, but I'm very interested to see how they adapt it. I don't know if Julia Roberts is the best person for the part*, but I find her quite likeable (and I hate "Pretty Woman," a distaste which is beyond the scope of this blog). If she's going to step back into a lead role after being largely absent for the past few years, this would be a plum.

This film is going to make a bazillion dollars, and every commentator is going to repeat what was said after "Sex and the City" topped the box office last year: Who knew women buy movie tickets?! Well, this woman does. DHD's Nikki Finke does too, to her credit; she even championed "The Women" for at least attempting to market to the women-over-25 quadrant while acknowledging that the movie was no good at all (or so I've heard).

We'll see where this one goes; meanwhile, I can already think of three huge adaptations aimed at women coming out this year, "He's Just Not That Into You" (apparently a fictional take on the Greg Behrendt self-help book), "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "Julie & Julia." I will be seeing two of these.

Interestingly, the director named for the "Eat, Pray, Love" adaptation is responsible for the Augusten Burroughs adaptation "Running with Scissors," which was his debut. I'll say this much, watching the movie is way more fun than reading the book.

*Months ago I dropped the name Emily Mortimer, but while I love her, she's not quite right. I'm thinking Uma Thurman, although -- with no judgment -- neither of these actresses is 31 either. Then again, when has Hollywood ever actually tried to cast age-appropriate actors?


Elizabeth said...

The film industry knows that women see movies: hence "Hannah Montana 3D", "High School Musical 3", or, say, any romantic comedy.

The problem is, is that this film is pitching at non-teenage women, who just see many fewer movies a year than their younger counterparts. I think that's what they mean when they say it's a one-quadrant film: the older women quadrant.

(I'll admit it: most of what I know about marketing movies comes from a recent article in the New Yorker.)

A bazillion people read THE KITE RUNNER, too, but that didn't make it a blockbuster.

Ellen said...

I know not every bestseller is going to become a hit movie, but the difference between THE KITE RUNNER and EAT, PRAY, LOVE is that the latter is uplifting. I don't think it would be a stretch to spin it as (spoiler) romantic comedy. (end spoiler) Maybe it can't be a 4-quadrant movie, but I think with the right marketing it can be a 2-quadrant hit.

I read that New Yorker article too -- fascinating stuff! Didn't particularly make me want to see "New in Town," though.