Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Hollywood Invades Internet

By Devin D. O'Leary

AUGUST 4, 1997:  Hollywood excels at one thing. No, it's not making movies. Our West Coast brothers excel at the fine art of promoting the living hell out of themselves. How else do you explain the box office success of cruddy movies like The Lost World? Promotion, baby!

Hollywood jumps at every new chance to generate a little publicity. Not surprisingly, the movie studios took to the Internet like a duck to the Danube. Cyberspace is now littered with thousands of movie-related sites. There isn't a film hitting your local cineplex that you can't look up a Web site for. Naturally, like the vast majority of pages on the Internet, these studio-sponsored Web sites are a waste of any self-respecting surfer's time. Sure, you can probably play the lousy Men In Black Shockwave game or order up a George of the Jungle T-shirt, but can you actually glean any useful info? Doubtful.

In order to dig up some real information, we're going to have to turn to those intrepid legions of fanboys and computer nerds.

Coming Attractions (corona.bc.ca/films/) This is one of the coolest movie sites around. Corona maintains what is essentially the "movie rumor database." Recent upgrades allow this site to function in handy, easy-to-use frames. Pan down the list of soon-to-surface flicks and punch up one that grabs your interest. Want to find out the scoop on Batman 5? Dying to know if they're really going to make a movie version of Doom? Is Mel Gibson really developing a version of Fahrenheit 451 for himself? Coming Attractions gathers together all the rumors (no matter how minor) for your inspection. The folks who maintain this site also document the source of every tidbit of information--be it interview, magazine article or "secret inter-office memo." Entertainment Weekly has been known to steal some of its best material from here.

ShoWest Release Schedule (www.showest.org/release/) ShoWest is the annual convention for theater owners to check out the year's big Hollywood releases. ShoWest and NATO (the North American Theater Owners) maintain one of the best sites for upcoming release date info. Date, distributor, title, stars and director are listed in a simple, no-nonsense format. Want to know when your favorite movie is coming out? Start here.

Ain't It Cool News (www.aint-it-cool-news.com) Harry Knowles is a chubby geek who hangs out on a lot of movie sets. As a result, he garners tons of behind-the-scenes knowledge and is more than happy to share it with the world at large. Knowles' efforts have snagged a coveted alt.nerd.obsessive Award and the endorsement of Quentin Tarantino ("You're the Wolf Blitzer of the Internet!"). You're going to have to wade through the disturbing Harry Knowles wallpaper, several offers of "Ain't It Cool News" T-shirts and reams of self-congratulatory exposition to find the news, but it's here. Recently, Knowles unveiled photos of the clay sculpture to be used in the CGI model of Yoda in the new Star Wars prequel. He nabbed on-the-set shots of Michael Crichton's new film Sphere. And he reviewed the exclusive Hollywood premiere of Air Force One. It's occasionally hard to wrestle meaning from Knowles' weird boy prose ("Well Mr. Inkblot, my nickname for Rorschach who watches all. And while he was watching this washing detergent he received some calls from The Cockpit of Europe followed by the Brussels Babe."). But if you've got a little patience you can unearth some real nuggets.

The Box Office! (www.fusionpoint.com/theboxoffice/) One of the best bits of info you can dig up on the Web is accurate box office reports. This site is far and away the best. How much dough did Contact make last weekend? A clear, concise grid unloads all the info: weekend gross, weeks in release, total gross and studio. As a super bonus, all you have to do is click on the name of a film in the top 10, and you're instantly linked to that film's home page for a little glimpse of those cheesy Shockwave games and exclusive T-shirt offers I mentioned earlier.


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