Julia Roberts and Hollywood Studios Passed on 'Blind Side'

Tuesday, 09 Mar 2010 05:37 PM

By James Hirsen

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The Left Coast Report: A Political Look at Hollywood

A Newsmax Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Julia Roberts and Hollywood Studios Passed on ‘Blind Side’
2. Sandra Bullock Wins ‘Razzie’ Too
3. Chinese Writer Files Copyright Lawsuit Over 'Avatar'
4. 'Alice in Wonderland' Breaks 'Avatar' Box-Office Record
5. 'Hurt Locker' Winners Dedicate Oscars to the Troops
 

1. Julia Roberts and Hollywood Studios Passed on ‘Blind Side’

Way before Sandra Bullock was cast as the lead in the blockbuster movie, “The Blind Side,” execs at 20th Century Fox wanted Julia Roberts to star in the film.

Roberts turned down the role. Fox reportedly wanted to alter the script and change the lead to a male.

The film is based on the true story of Leigh Anne Tuohy, a Caucasian interior decorator in Memphis who adopts a homeless African-American teen and assists the young man in achieving academic and athletic success.

He is presently a starter for the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team.

All the major Hollywood studios had taken a pass on the movie. Enter Alcon, a small independent production and finance company with a very powerful financial ally named Fred Smith, founder and CEO of Federal Express.

As a matter of fact, ever since Smith’s youngest son, Cannon, took a date with the Tuohys' daughter, Collins, Smith has been a friend of the family.

Using the FedEx connection, Alcon produced some relatively low-budget family friendly films like “My Dog Skip” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” which did fairly well at the box office.

When Bullock was approached for the starring role in “Blind Side,” her standard fee was north of $10 million and 10 percent of the gross. However, Alcon was dealing with a limited $35 million movie budget.

Following negotiations, Bullock agreed to take half her normal fee upfront and a larger piece of the box-office take.

Without Bullock in the role, it is unlikely that the film would have had the magic that it did and possibly would never have been completed. The actress will reap the rewards, though, since the movie’s staggering box-office take will actually put her take higher than her requested $25 million.

Once again Alcon exposed an underserved part of the American audience. The company marketed to communities that are not typically on Hollywood’s radar screen.

As a result, the film’s initial box-office take in major cities was relatively small. But it was phenomenal in places like Sacramento, Calif., and Plano, Texas.

Eventually, word of mouth took over and catapulted “The Blind Side” right into the big-screen stratosphere.


2. Sandra Bullock Wins ‘Razzie’ Too

Sandra Bullock didn't just break box-office records for a female lead with her “Blind Side” performance.

She snagged an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year.

Bullock was dubbed Worst Actress at the 2010 Golden Raspberry Awards for her role in “All About Steve,” a movie that she also co-produced.

She actually attended the show and accepted her Razzie in person, just like Halle Berry did in 2005 for “Catwoman.” The appreciative audience gave Bullock a rousing standing ovation.

While holding up a box of DVDs of her film, she said, “Something tells me you all didn't watch the film because I wouldn't be here if you really, really watched it and understood what I was trying to say.

"Everyone gets a copy and this is the deal I'm going to make. I will show up next year if you promise to watch the movie and really consider if it was truly the worst performance. If you're willing to watch, I'll come back next year and give back the Razzie.”

Bullock picked up a Worst Screen Couple second Razzie for her team effort in “Steve” with Bradley Cooper.

Bullock was in good Razzie company, with the Jonas Brothers sharing Worst Actor honors for the film of the same name, Billy Ray Cyrus taking the Worst Supporting Actor award for “Hannah Montana” and Sienna Miller garnering a Worst Supporting Actress Razzie for “G.I. Joe.”

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” took Worst Picture honors.


3. Chinese Writer Files Copyright Lawsuit Over 'Avatar'

After a slew of critics noted that the “Avatar” storyline closely resembles those of “Pocahontas” and “Dances with Wolves,” the film has generated a copyright lawsuit, which will be fought in the courts of China.

Science fiction writer Zhou Shaomou has filed a lawsuit with the People's Court of Beijing for copyright infringement.

Zhou claims in his suit that 80 percent of “Avatar” key elements and plot are the same as his novel, “Tale of the Blue Crows,” which was written in 1997.

Zhou’s book tells a tale about six astronauts who travel to a distant planet, which is inhabited by blue-skinned creatures. The author alleges that the alien landscape, events and characters are similar to those portrayed in “Avatar.”

Zhou wants to recover 1 billion yuan ($147 million) from “Avatar” director James Cameron.

Only $147 million?

Apparently, the writer hasn't yet heard that the movie has now surpassed Cameron's 1997 "Titanic" to become the highest-grossing film of all time.


4. 'Alice in Wonderland' Breaks 'Avatar' Box-Office Record

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson must be smiling from above.

The mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon, and photographer also did a bit of writing under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll.

The cinematic version of his story, “Alice in Wonderland,” was magical at the box-office this weekend, bringing in an estimated $116 million in North America and $94 million overseas.

The film’s opening beat out the debut of “Avatar” to become the largest 3-D premiere on record.

But “Alice” owes “Avatar” a debt of gratitude for whetting the 3-D appetite of the public and bringing the new technology to more screens.

3-D makes the cost of a ticket rise, but people are willing to pay for the experience.

Over 2,200 screens offered “Alice” in 3-D. Disney worked out a deal with IMAX that had theaters dropping “Avatar” to make room for the movie.

The film, adapted by Linda Woolverton, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp brought in a mixed audience of teens, families, and mature adults.

Get ready for a load of coming attractions where we’ll need to get out the funny glasses.


5. 'Hurt Locker' Winners Dedicate Oscars to the Troops

Words we’re unaccustomed to hearing at the Academy Awards were spoken loud and clear this time around by the writer and director of “The Hurt Locker.”

“Hurt Locker” was the big winner with six of the coveted statues — Best Picture, Director, Writer, Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Mark Boal took the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and gave a shout-out to the troops as part of his acceptance speech.

The writer spoke of being a reporter in Iraq and coming up with the idea for a story about “these men on the front lines.”

Boal dedicated the award to his father who died just a month ago. Then he said, “I would also like to thank and dedicate this to the troops — the 115,000 who are still in Iraq, the 12,000 in Afghanistan, and the more than 30,000 wounded and 4,000 who have not made it home."

The film made movie history when Kathryn Bigelow won for Best Director, the first woman to be awarded the Director Oscar.

She dedicated her award to the “women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world, and may they come home safe.”

Bigelow again acknowledged the troops when accepting the Best Picture award as part of the group of producers of the movie.

“They are there for us, and we are there for them,” she said.

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