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VARIETY: Big pix click with PGA

January 17, 2003 at 10:52 am by xoanon  - 

By DAVE MCNARY

Taking an unpredictable turn in the season’s wide-open race for feature honors, the Producers Guild of America has opted mostly for large-scale and high-grossing releases as nominees for its best picture award.

The PGA finalists for its Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year kudos are Sony’s “Adaptation,” Miramax’s “Chicago” and “Gangs of New York,” IFC’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” DreamWorks’ “Road to Perdition” and New Line’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

In voting by the org’s 1,800 members, two of the pics tied for fifth, leading to the first time that six features have been nominated.

The PGA noms are a closely watched indicator of Oscar sentiment, since the org includes a significant number of voters who are also members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Three of the five PGA nominations in 2002 also received Oscar noms, and the PGA winner has gone on to win the best picture Oscar in nine of the PGA award’s 13 years.

Those double winners are “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Dances With Wolves,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Schindler’s List,” “Forrest Gump,” “The English Patient,” “Titanic,” “American Beauty” and “Gladiator.”

But the PGA opted last year for “Moulin Rouge” while “A Beautiful Mind” took home the Oscar. Other splits came when the PGA tapped “Saving Private Ryan,” “Apollo 13” and “The Crying Game,” while the Oscar went to, respectively, “Shakespeare in Love,” “Braveheart” and “Unforgiven.”

The 2003 nominees include a pair of pics, “Two Towers” and “Greek Wedding,” that have grossed well over $200 million each domestically, while “Road to Perdition” hit $104 million and “Gangs of New York” is nearing $60 million. “Chicago” has grossed more than $17 million in limited release with exceptional per-engagemement averages, portending strong BO in coming weeks.

By contrast, “Adaptation” has remained mostly below the public radar. In its first major expansion last weekend, “Adaptation” took in $2.6 million at 560 playdates to push its cume to $9.2 million.

“We’re very glad the PGA members did not let the lack of grosses affect their voting,” said “Adaptation” producers Ed Saxon and Vincent Landay. “There are so many great films out there this year, so this is really the little movie that could.”

Critical faves ignored

PGA voters snubbed a long list of critical favorites — mostly smaller-scale releases — including Paramount’s “The Hours,” New Line’s “About Schmidt,” Focus’ “Far From Heaven” and “The Pianist,” Miramax’s “The Quiet American,” Fox Searchlight’s “Antwone Fisher,” UA’s “Nicholas Nickleby,” DreamWorks’ “Catch Me if You Can,” Universal’s “About a Boy” and Fox’s “Minority Report.”

Thursday’s announcement at the Century Plaza represented the first time the PGA unveiled its noms in a live news conference. “Greek Wedding” producer Rita Wilson and “The West Wing” star Bradley Whitford emceed.

Posted in Old Special Reports on January 17, 2003 by

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