”The Perfect Storm,” the $100 million George Clooney movie based on Sebastian Junger’s best-selling nautical tale, sails into theaters this Friday. But the somber adventure story is only the first of many upcoming films based on beloved classic and contemporary books, including Victorian novelist Henry James’ ”The Golden Bowl” and Texan Cormac McCarthy’s ”All the Pretty Horses.” To give you an inside view of each movie’s box office chances, EW Online consulted Robert Bucksbaum, president of box office tracking firm Reel Source.
MOVIE ”The Perfect Storm”
CAST George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Diane Lane. Directed by Wolfgang Petersen
RELEASE DATE June 30
BOOK’S AUTHOR Sebastian Junger
SUMMARY Based on Junger’s nonfiction best-seller, ”Storm” follows six commercial fisherman who struggle to bring their boat home to Gloucester, Mass., despite the 100-foot waves of 1991’s unexpectedly harsh hurricane.
BUZZ Did we mention the 100-foot waves? Well, this blockbuster-in-waiting has enough oceanic special effects to make James Cameron jealous. Clooney and Wahlberg are pretty special, too.
FUTURE ”Titanic”-size. ”We’re predicting an opening take of $55 million,” Bucksbaum says of the holiday weekend release. ”It’s going to be huge.”
MOVIE ”All the Pretty Horses”
CAST Matt Damon, Penelope Cruz, and Sam Shepard. Directed by Billy Bob Thornton
RELEASE DATE Fall 2000
BOOK’S AUTHOR Cormac McCarthy
SUMMARY The 1992 National Book Award Winner, ”Horses” is the coming-of-age story of John Grady Cole, a young Texan who crosses the Rio Grande to find work in Mexico. He lands at an idyllic hacienda, where he falls in love with the landowner’s beautiful daughter and ends up in jail and on trial for murder.
BUZZ Sony’s betting that audiences want to see Matt Damon play a studly rancher after his gig as the effeminate psychopath Tom Ripley. It doesn’t hurt that sexy Spanish star Penélope Cruz (”All About My Mother”) is his love interest.
FUTURE Good, but don’t bet the ranch on it. ”Matt’s a big name, but audiences might think this is like ‘The Horse Whisperer,”’ says Bucksbaum. ”A touching and soft film without any real compelling elements.”
MOVIE ”Crime and Punishment in Suburbia”
CAST Ellen Barkin, Vincent Kartheisar, and Monica Keena. Directed by Rob Schmidt
RELEASE DATE Fall 2000
BOOK’S AUTHOR Feodor Dostoyevsky
SUMMARY A loose high school adaptation of this Russian epic about a man who commits premeditated murder and is then consumed by overpowering guilt.
BUZZ MGM is still fiddling with the release date of this dark, brutal drama, which will open in only a few NYC/L.A. theaters. Not exactly the raunchy lightweight fare teens seem to flock to.
FUTURE Like the novel: grim. ”It’s a hard R — that means brutal violence, substance abuse, and strong sexuality. Those themes don’t typically go over well with mainstream audiences,” Bucksbaum says. ”Besides, do kids even know who Dostoyevsky is?”
CAST Mehki Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett. Directed by Tim Blake Nelson
RELEASE DATE Fall 2000
BOOK’S AUTHOR William Shakespeare
SUMMARY Another R-rated teen adaptation. The Bard’s tragedy about Othello, the Moor of Venice whose jealousy gets the best of him, is updated as the story of Odin, a popular high school basketball star.
BUZZ A softer R than ”Crime and Punishment,” ”O” also has bigger names, a more appealing story line, and a better shot at box office success by opening nationwide.
FUTURE ‘O’-kay. ”Younger teens like to see these movies,” Bucksbaum says. ”But an R rating means they’ll have to buy tickets for other movies and then sneak in.”
MOVIE ”The Golden Bowl”
CAST Uma Thurman, Jeremy Northam, Anjelica Huston, and Nick Nolte. Directed by James Ivory
RELEASE DATE Nov. 3
BOOK’S AUTHOR Henry James
SUMMARY James’ last novel — a ”fin de siècle” account of a wealthy American widower and his daughter living in Europe, where they both marry, only to discover that their spouses are secret lovers.
BUZZ Like most Merchant-Ivory films, this period drama has an A-list cast and Miramax as its distributor. Unlike most other Merchant-Ivory films, ”Bowl” got mixed reviews at Cannes.
FUTURE As difficult to parse as James’ sentences. ”This is only opening at 10 sites in New York and L.A.” says Bucksbaum. ”That means it’ll stay in small art houses unless people start crowding the theaters.”
MOVIE ”How the Grinch Stole Christmas”
CAST Jim Carrey, Christine Baranski, and Molly Shannon. Directed by Ron Howard
RELEASE DATE Nov. 17
BOOK’S AUTHOR Dr. Seuss
SUMMARY Unless you lived in the polar ice caps growing up, you’ve read (or heard) Dr. Seuss’ 1976 classic about the greedy green-eyed Grinch who steals Whoville’s Christmas stuff but not its cheer.
BUZZ This live-action adaptation has one thing that’s sure to make it a hit: Jim Carrey as the Grinch.
FUTURE Green — as in the color of money. ”It’s a no-brainer that this will be a big hit,” Bucksbaum says.
CAST Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, and Judi Dench. Directed by Lasse Hallström
RELEASE DATE Dec. 15
BOOK’S AUTHOR Joanne Harris
SUMMARY In Harris’s semiautobiographical tale, a beautiful, mysterious woman and her daughter move to a gossipy French village and open a chocolate shop, where everyone soon learns to find their favorite treat. When the town starts breaking their Lenten vows against sweets, the local priest cries ”witch.”
BUZZ With such a stellar cast, ”Chocolat” looks like this year’s big holiday release for serious moviegoers.
FUTURE Sweet as… well, you know. ”Miramax always saves the best for last,” says Bucksbaum. ”This is definitely their big Oscar contender.”
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