The film world saw real tragedy and many missed opportunities. Here are some examples of terrible waste.
1 The Uptown Disaster Famous Players balked at the cost of making the Uptown Cinema wheelchair accessible, which meant it had to close. That meant demolition to make way for another condo tower, which meant Augusto César Mejia Solis didn't get to visit his family in Costa Rica. Rubble fell in and killed him instead. What might have been a gorgeous, upgraded Uptown will now be remembered as the site of a senseless catastrophe.
2 Telefilm Canada's Commercial Film Policy In October, the hopes of the English-Canadian film industry rode on William Phillips's smart little caper movie, Foolproof. Made for $8 million, with an additional unprecedented $2 million spent on prints and advertising, it was exactly what Telefilm wants now -- a movie made and promoted to score multiplex dollars. Alliance Atlantis's Odeon Films opened Foolproof on more than 200 screens, the most ever for a Canadian film. But with no stars and no want-to-see buzz, it closed a flop. It grossed only about 5 per cent of that $10 million at the box office.
Wiebke von Carolsfeld's Marion Bridge was a more traditional Canadian film this year: small-scale, bittersweet, arty. It opened on a fraction of Foolproof's budget but earned more money per screen. Imagine what it could have done with $2 million in promotion.
Only goes to prove William Goldman's maxim that when it comes to the movie business, nobody knows anything.
3 The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions There was no greater multiplex disappointment this year than sitting through Reloaded and realizing it just wasn't going to get any better. Expectations lowered for Revolutions, but that just felt worse. The sequels' collision of mindless effects and scrambled philosophizing so betrayed the original Matrix that it felt like they were made by different filmmakers -- and I'm not talking about all those Larry Wachowski Internet rumours. Still, Reloaded and Revolutions are number three and number nine on the list of this year's top-grossing films, which only goes to prove that nobody knows anything.
4 Jane Campion Was she a victim of bad timing or her own selling skills? For years, Campion had Nicole Kidman signed up to star in her Susanna Moore adaptation, In The Cut. But Kidman dropped out of the demanding project around the time she broke up with Tom Cruise. That left us with the sight of Meg Ryan struggling to let loose in Campion's erotic thriller. Ryan's not really a let-loose kind of actor. Would Kidman's more rigorous and likely more daring performance have changed the film, and even challenged Campion to reach higher? Nobody knows anything, but it's a good bet.
5 Gigli Some people just don't get it, but what do they know? Given the opportunity to watch two global stars vomit up hilarious dialogue, talk pussy and actually moo on screen, people complained. They called Gigli a bad movie. The worst of all time. Are they crazy? There's the spectacle of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck displaying their boundless vanity. There's that old coot Al Pacino. There's J.Lo showing off her yoga body (and yoga is never a bad idea). Christopher Walken's cameo alone was worth the price of admission. What more do you people want? ****