FILM / Rushes

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As the last of the Columbus films, 1492: Conquest of Paradise (see review), docks in British cinemas, the moguls who saw the New World as the land of opportunity must be wondering what went wrong. True, the British- made Carry On Columbus is still holding its head above water in UK cinemas, despite being mauled by the critics, and 1492 is certainly a work of some merit, but the fact remains that both the heavyweight contenders - 1492 and John Glen's lamentable Christopher Columbus - went down with all hands in America. '1492 Sinks' reads a headline in this week's Variety announcing the news that Ridley Scott's visually exhilarating epic had taken a sluggish dollars 3.6m in its opening weekend, dollars 700,000 less even than Christopher Columbus (which, now nearing the end of its release, has still only accrued a total of around dollars 8m). At this rate, neither film looks likely to recoup its budget cost. So what did go wrong? Columbus himself seems to be the problem. The reputation of the great explorer has recently undergone a sea-change - the man who may have looked like a hero three years ago, is now widely considered to be the villain of the piece, paving the way for five centuries of oppression. In this light, it's perhaps not surprising that industry watchers have noted with relish that the period epic which has taken the American box-office by storm in recent weeks, occupying the top-spot on Columbus Day itself, should be The Last of the Mohicans - a film, if not about a Native American, at least about a man raised by the continent's original inhabitants.

Could this be the wave of the future? Journalists this week received the 'world's first computerised press kit', a 3 1/2 in computer diskette promoting the forthcoming UIP release Sneakers. The reason for this technological landmark, however, is not only that the film is about computer hackers. 'It's my understanding these computer diskettes would eventually cut the costs of our press kits significantly because of the paper costs, printing and collating and the weight of the mailing,' claims a UIP spokesman in the, er, printed press kit mailed out with the disc.