Rushes

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The Independent Culture
Cannes do

CANNES' hottest ticket? Forget the films. Elizabeth Taylor's pounds 500,000 Aids bash-cum-festival kick-off last night worked stars and locals into a feeding frenzy. An expensive feeding frenzy. Taylor wanted - and got - pounds 1,500 per admission. As she says, 'It's all in a good cause'. And a lot cheaper than paying Madonna to show up and strip off (again).

Summer harvest

HOLLYWOOD'S latest crop of wannabe seasonal blockbusters may be too much of a good thing. A record 60 are due to hit screens, a 33 per cent increase on an already crowded 1992. Among the deluge are such high-priced and / or high-profile titles as Stallone's hoped for career-reviver Cliffhanger, Janet Jackson's movie debut in Poetic Justice, Super Mario Brothers, The Coneheads, Dennis the Menace, Rising Sun, erotic thriller Silver and the environmental weepie Free Willy, the story of one boy and his whale.

The fear is that surfeited audiences will stay away from pictures not featuring stars - neither Dennis nor Free Willy boasts box-office draws - and that even big-budget fare will not dally in theatres in the hope of positive word-of-mouth because of the pressure to attract instant crowds.

The films with most to gain and lose? Schwarzenegger's dollars 70m-plus The Last Action Hero, scripted, shot and cut to attract the increasingly important child audience. Hence the pic's special tie-in with MTV and the abundance of celebrity guest roles (Sharon Stone, Tori Spelling, Chevy Chase), included to signal harmless party 'fun'.

At least Action Hero enjoys Schwarzenegger's pulling power. The equally expensive Super Mario Brothers and Jurassic Park are gambling on special effects being enough to make them hits. Bob Hoskins (Mario) and Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic) provide the recognisable faces, but their true function is not to get in the way of the elaborate sets and animated stars.

Still, even if all three were to turn turkey, merchandising could see them into profit. 7-Eleven will be cross-promoting Disney's Mario with a take-home version of the villain's water-squirt gun, while Spielberg's Jurassic will be offering everything from replica velociraptors to the ubiquitous trademark T-shirt. See the movie, buy the logo, do their advertising.

Batman returns II

TIM BURTON may have said no to another Dark Knight outing but Warner Bros are proceeding with Batman: The Animated Movie, adapted from Fox TV's successful series. The story will feature a baddie by the name of Phantasm and is being readied for a Christmas 1993 release. Warner Bros claim this latest pointy-eared franchise will not clash with their other pointy-eared franchise: 'They exist in parallel universes.' As do most movie executives.

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