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Reel World

Hollywood movie news from the week of Nov. 21

SCARE TACTICS In a move that should inject new life into a moribund franchise, Jamie Lee Curtis is planning to re-create her role as killer Michael Myers’ favorite target in Halloween 7. And she’s not exactly being dragged kicking and screaming. ”I’m really excited about it,” says the poster girl for ’80s slasher movies, who is looking forward to playing Laurie Strode as a grown up. ”I thought it would be great fun to do a 20th reunion and see what was going on with this woman.” Original writer-director John Carpenter won’t be involved, but Halloween 7 has the next best thing: hot horror scripter Kevin Williamson (Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer), who’s producing from a treatment he cooked up with Curtis. — Chris Nashawaty and Michael Sauter

WIND BAGGED The New York Times called it ”an unequivocal delight.” Variety praised its ”finesse and charm.” So why did Sony Pictures dump The Wind in the Willows with no advance publicity on just 65 screens in New York and L.A. — a tactic usually reserved for duds? The newest adaptation of the classic children’s tale seems to be eminently promotable: Directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Jones (who also plays Toad), it’s a Virtual Python reunion: Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Michael Palin all appear. But Sony made a bottom-line decision: Disney, which had controlled the British movie’s U.S. theatrical rights, traded them to Sony as part of the settlement over Sony’s claim that Disney’s Miramax didn’t have the right to use the title Scream (since it sounded too much like Sony’s 1996 thriller Screamers), but Disney hung on to Wind’s video and TV rights. ”Because of the split-rights situation, it didn’t make sense for us to spend $10-15 million to launch the movie,” says Sony distribution chief Jeff Blake. ”But given the nice reviews, we’re looking at it again to decide if there’s any upside in giving it further distribution.” The irony is that the beneficiary could ultimately be Disney, when it releases Wind on video with its new reputation as an unseen gem. — Gregg Kilday

BEAN COUNTING Bean’s phenomenal grosses (more than $130 million worldwide) have Hollywood studios looking to make a deal with star Rowan Atkinson. But Atkinson, whose film — despite its L.A. locations — was conceived and created in the U.K., just shrugs. ”They want to be in bed with you,” he says, ”but they don’t know what to do once they get there.” Atkinson says he has more creative control in England, where production companies leave him alone, unlike Hollywood, where execs often weigh in on films before they’re finished. ”Comedy by committee is rarely successful,” he says. Even Tinseltown’s biggest lure — money — holds little appeal. Says Atkinson, who reportedly made $11 million this year: ”If we were ever foolish enough to contemplate a sequel — the prospect of which horrifies me at the moment — wouldn’t it be nice to do something smaller?” With its ”$16 million, or what ever it was” budget, Bean was tiny in Hollywood terms, he says. ”But in British terms, in Full Monty terms, it’s a fortune. How much more comfortable I would be if it was $10 million, or $8 million. It gives you less guilt.”