Ed Driscoll

Where's Monroe Stahr When You Need Him?

Variety’s Peter Bart writes, “though everyone (including the studio chiefs) acknowledges that the business model is broken, the movies of summer ’06 have to produce record numbers or heads will roll. Last summer the insiders could complain that movie attendance was sagging. No excuses this year”.

Which means that summer blockbuster line-up will include the following:

“Mission: Impossible 3” gets little breathing room before “Poseidon” floats by, to be imminently followed by “The Da Vinci Code,” “Over the Hedge” from DreamWorks and then Fox’s “X-Men 3.” The July 4 melee begins with “Superman Returns” and ends with “Pirates of the Caribbean II.” And so it goes all summer.

Rolling out the comedies is no laugh either. On June 2 Paramount’s “Nacho Libre” bumps into Universal’s “The Break-Up” with Vince Vaughn, and “Cars” is speeding up their driveway.

Some high-profile casualties inevitably will result from this combat — the production chiefs fully understand this. Given the extraordinary costs ($150 million and up) of summer blockbusters, they know that a major flameout will impinge on the bottom line of their parent companies. They also comprehend the implications of the “Kong” conundrum: Rich talent deals have triggered big paydays for the talent, leaving only distribution fees for the studios.

As a result, several studio regimes know they’re on tenuous ground. This is a make-or-break year, which means May-through-July will be the summer from hell.

For studio moguls, the audience, or both?