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‘KARATE’ SEQUEL SOOTHES CHOP TO PRODUCER’S EGO

Times Staff Writer

There haven’t been any studies on this in Psychology Today, but there is a psychological link between box-office grosses and producer euphoria.

One week, a guy is down, seemingly beaten, his ego in shreds. The next week, following the $12.7-million opening of his movie, he’s back on top, standing out on a limb pounding his chest.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Jun. 26, 1986 FOR THE RECORD
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 26, 1986 Home Edition Calendar Part 6 Page 6 Column 1 Entertainment Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Roman Polanski’s “Pirates” will be distributed this summer in the United States by Cannon Films, not the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, as reported in Wednesday’s Film Clips column.

“It feels great. I needed something to make me feel good,” said Jerry Weintraub, whose “The Karate Kid Part II” got off to a sensational opening weekend and took away some of the sting of his recent sacking by Kirk Kerkorian as head of the new United Artists.

“I had a sense that it was going to open very, very big,” Weintraub said of “Karate Kid II,” the sequel to his sleeper hit of two summers ago. “But I thought $9 million or $10 million would be fantastic.”

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The $12.7 million that “Karate Kid II” took in last weekend marked the biggest opening for a Columbia Pictures release since “Ghostbusters” and prompted Weintraub to bet a reporter $10 (roughly the price of one ticket and parking for a movie in Westwood) that his film will end up atop the summer box-office charts.

It could. Some of the pre-season favorites--"Cobra,” “Poltergeist II,” “Raw Deal,” “SpaceCamp,” “Short Circuit"--are no longer contenders, and “Top Gun,” while still the summer’s strongest continuing hit, is not on the kind of pace that normally wins the season.

“Top Gun” dropped to fourth on the weekend chart, but still did $5.8 million worth of business. After five weeks, the Tom Cruise film has taken in $63.7 million.

The No. 2 film last weekend was “Legal Eagles,” which got off to an $8-million running start despite widely mixed reviews. According to Universal Marketing President Marvin Antonowsky, “Legal Eagles’ ” per-theater average of $6,500 made it the biggest opening film of Robert Redford’s career.

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Did Redford’s popularity make “Legal Eagles” a review-proof movie?

“It isn’t review-proof,” Antonowsky said. “If everybody hated it, we would be in trouble. The reviews have been about even (negative to positive). Anyway, audiences love the picture, so it doesn’t matter.”

Overall, last weekend was huge for the film industry. As a group, the top five films last weekend earned $10 million more than the top five did the same weekend a year ago.

“It’s strictly a function of product,” Antonowsky said. “School is out and there is a lot of product out there that people want to see.”

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As impressive as the opening weekends were for “Karate Kid II” and “Legal Eagles,” the real news may have been the second-week performances of the Rodney Dangerfield comedy “Back to School” and John Hughes’ high school hooky lark “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

“Ferris Bueller” dropped only 9% from its opening weekend and was the fifth-highest-grossing film with $5.7 million.

“Back to School,” which Orion Pictures wisely pulled from its Christmas schedule six months ago to save for this less frenzied season, grossed an additional $7.8 million for the third spot on the weekend chart. In 10 days it has grossed a remarkable $22.6 million.

So, who needs respect?

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DINO D’HONOUR: Movie producer cum mogul Dino De Laurentiis will be honored with a six-night retrospective homage at the World Film Festival in Montreal this summer.

To most contemporary moviegoers, De Laurentiis’ name conjures up sweeping Panavision images from such spectacles as “Hurricane,” “King Kong” and the “Conan” films. But to the organizers of the World Film Festival, De Laurentiis is the producer of such Italian classics as “La Strada,” “Bitter Rice” and “Nights of Cabiria.”

The World Film Festival (Aug. 21-Sept. 1) will screen five De Laurentiis films, then conclude the homage with the world premiere of David Lynch’s much-anticipated “Blue Velvet.”

“Blue Velvet,” first film for Lynch since the disastrous “Dune” (another De Laurentiis spectacle), will be released Sept. 19 in the United States by the new De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.

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Serge Losique, general director of the World Film Festival, said the retrospective De Laurentiis films haven’t been selected. But a spokesman for De Laurentiis said the lineup would probably include his three big ‘50s films--"La Strada,” “Nights of Cabiria” and “War and Peace"--plus a couple of contemporary U.S. films, like “Serpico” and “Three Days of the Condor.”

Unless someone comes up with a print of “Bitter Rice,” made in 1948, it won’t make the festival. De Laurentiis has lost his.

ROMAN SAILS: Roman Polanski, a member of the International Council of the planned American Cinematheque, has donated the U.S. premiere of his $30-million “Pirates” for the Cinematheque’s summer fund-raiser.

The “Pirates” invitational premiere will be July 17 at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, after a cocktail reception for the film’s star, Walter Matthau. Its regular release, by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, follows July 18.

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The “Pirates” premiere was one of the benefits derived from attending last month’s Cannes Film Festival, said Cinematheque director Gary Essert. He and Cinematheque co-chairman Sydney Pollack met in Cannes with the newly formed International Council, a group of film people from 30 countries.

This fall, American Cinematheque will host its second tribute (the first was to the Museum of Modern Art last year), a 50th anniversary salute to Cinematheque Francais, the American center’s Parisian role model.

Essert said the still-homeless American Cinematheque will show 40 to 45 French films, from rare prints of classics to contemporary releases, which will be accompanied by French stars and directors.

The location for the Cinematheque Francais tribute hasn’t been decided, Essert said. But with Cineplex Odeon President Garth Drabinsky residing on the Cinematheque board (locally, his company owns the Beverly Cineplex, the Plitt Century theaters and the recently refurbished Fairfax and Gordon theaters), Essert is getting his sites set.

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