THE PUBLICIST: Production can sometimes be a bigger hit than the film itself

Anytime I watch a film I've worked on, a flood of memories comes back, good and bad. Sitting in a half-empty theater with requisite M&Ms and smuggled sandwich, I felt an entire six-month experience wash over me in 90 minutes. All those nights shooting in the rain, the tensions on set, the constantly changing schedule, the great soup at 2am, and the floods. Definitely the floods.

Anytime I watch a film I've worked on, a flood of memories comes back, good and bad. Sitting in a half-empty theater with requisite M&Ms and smuggled sandwich, I felt an entire six-month experience wash over me in 90 minutes. All those nights shooting in the rain, the tensions on set, the constantly changing schedule, the great soup at 2am, and the floods. Definitely the floods.

When a film is difficult to make, one's hopes that it becomes a big box-office hit are heightened. A $100 million domestic haul makes the ordeal seem worth it. At this point, in its fourth week of release, it appears that mark is highly unlikely for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Opening against overwhelming competition from The Pirates of the Caribbean, LXG garnered $23 million - respectable, but far from the tally required to reach that $100 mill milestone. The movie hasn't been a hit with most critics either. Some reviews have been downright scathing. One, in particular, seemed to echo what many crew members thought during production: all this to do for this? Shifting focus from the M&Ms to the crowd (if 17 people can be viewed as a crowd), I noticed they grew bored and restless about halfway through the film, and only seemed to react positively to occasional quips from the star, Sean Connery. As the only household name in the cast, it was up to him to carry the banner, which I thought he did quite admirably. I found the star to be courteous and gentlemanly during our dealings, but all was not rosy between he and the director. Friction between the two strong personalities was evident, and duly reported in an Entertainment Weekly story that broke during production. There were a lot of unhappy campers on this set, and all the bickering was noted in this unbalanced, but essentially accurate piece. As it happened on my watch, the studio held me partly responsible. Fair enough, it comes with the turf, but I couldn't help but notice that the studio had no better luck controlling the story or the outspoken Connery during the release campaign. At the premiere, Connery responded to a question regarding the director's whereabouts with, "Check the local asylum." Let's be honest: who's going to tell James Bond what to say? Not me, that's for damn sure. No one else either. "Extraordinary" film, no. "Extraordinary" experience, yes. Maybe you'll see a little of it yourself when the behind-the-scenes material is released on DVD. Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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