Hollywood is still talking about a recent in-house memorandum, written by Jeffrey Katzenberg, Disney production chief, and promptly leaked, that railed against runaway budgets and the blockbuster mentality. In addition, the buzzword around the studios these days is "story-driven," an adjective to describe a movie that draws an audience with its narrative rather than with the magnetism of its stars.
All of which serves as an odd climate for what may turn out to be the most expensive movie ever made. The proposed budget for Steven Spielberg's version of Michael Crichton's bestseller "Jurassic Park" is more than $60 million. The novel is a cautionary tale about an island theme park that boasts real dinosaurs created by DNA cloning. Inevitably, the animals get out and havoc results.Much of the expense of the project lies in building full-size robotic dinosaurs of various species, including the fearsome tyrannosaurus rex. Crichton, who has written and directed film adaptations of his novels (the best was "The Great Train Robbery"), is at work on the script for Spielberg. The huge budget does not include the further millions that will be spent on marketing "Jurassic Park," which is the early favorite to dominate next year's summer box office. The cost may be staggering, but Spielberg is the closest thing to a guarantee that exists in Hollywood today.
BATBUZZ: If "Jurassic Park" is to win next year's box-office championship, it will have to go up against the second installment of "Batman." The sequel to the megahit that grossed more than $400 million around the world has been the subject of so much gossip that it deserves its own rumor-control center.
However, some items about "Batman II" are definite. Michael Keaton, reprising the caped crusader, will be opposed by a pudgy new nemesis in the person of Danny DeVito as the Penguin. Tim Burton returns as director. Less certain is the return of Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale.
Still grist for the rumor mill is the inclusion of the characters of Robin and Catwoman in the sequel. Cher is being mentioned for Catwoman, and there is speculation that Robin Williams may do a turn as the Riddler.
IN BRIEF: Geoff Murphy, the Australian who directed "Young Guns II," is shooting "Free-Jack." The futuristic action film reunites him with Emilio Estevez and also stars Anthony Hopkins and Mick Jagger. Estevez is a race-car driver who crashes and wakes up 20 years into the future . . . Sylvester Stallone's new taste for comedy (the intentional variety, as opposed to "Rocky IV" and "Over the Top") will continue with "Stop or My Mother Will Shoot." He'll play a cop whose mother is visiting for Thanksgiving. The holiday is disrupted when they team up to go after a killer, whose crime they witness.