Among the films which won't be winging their way soon to an airplane near you is Accidental Hero (reviewed right), in which Dustin Hoffman saves passengers from a burning plane. And the forthcoming film Alive, based on the real-life story of plane-crash victims who resort to cannibalism, seems unlikely to fare better - passengers who don't suffer serious anxiety attacks at the horribly convincing crash, may sink into queasy musings on the Spam in their in-flight dinner.
Hy Smith, the Senior Vice-President of Marketing for UIP (Alive's UK distributor), is sanguine about the probability that buyers won't be snapping up the picture: 'You can't let airline sales dictate what goes into a movie,' he says. Which is as well, since interest in it is 'nil', according to one organisation that vets movies for airlines: 'Film companies don't even bother sending us viewing tapes of something like Accidental Hero.' At the moment, studios aren't fazed at the loss of this market. Everyone is vague about the money involved but, Hy Smith reckons, 'weighed against theatrical and video, it's small. I can't believe it's more than dollars 10m - probably only dollars 1m in most cases. It's a drop in the bucket.'
Making films that feature the IRA is an equally high-risk operation, and not just because they tend to be viewed as incendiary devices. A Prayer for the Dying, in which Mickey Rourke played a repentant Republican gunman, had to be pulled from the 1987 London Film Festival when the Enniskillen bombing lent it a ghastly topicality. Observers reckon The Crying Game under-performed in Britain because of its IRA background. And Ken Loach's Hidden Agenda fell out of Channel 4's schedules when events in Warrington intervened. Loach regretted the decision: 'We felt showing the film would help people to think about why things had gone wrong in Ireland. It only seems acceptable if you make a violent film like Patriot Games about it.' If all goes well, Hidden Agenda should resurface on C4 tomorrow. And perhaps the IRA jinx will be lifted when Kevin Costner's plans to direct and star in a film about the Irish civil war leader Michael Collins finally bear fruit.Reuse content