Black and White and Studio Head All Over
Hollywood studios see greenbacks in them thar flightless waterfowl
The summer’s big hit documentary isn’t about the antics of political weasels, or children at spelling bees; it’s a nature film about flightless Antarctic waterfowl. French-made March of the Penguins, a heartstring-yanking saga about emperor penguins, cost $7 million to make. It’s already earned over $10 million in North America, after making over $12 million in France. This profit ratio thrills Hollywood execs, who have learned a lesson: not that audiences love films about the natural world, or documentaries, or just good movies — no, that audiences love … penguins. “They feel a lot like an adorable version of humans,” says Mark Gill of Warner Bros., which plans to release an animated movie about a tap-dancing penguin in late 2006. Sony Pictures will come out with its own feature-length ‘toon centering on “the high-octane world of competitive penguin surfing,” while Disney has green-lighted a film described as “a Ben Affleck romantic comedy, except with penguins.” Let’s hope no penguins are harmed in the making.