CYBERIA: THE MOVIE
ScreeeeeeeeeHissss Beep. Connect 19200. Host con-tacted. Waiting for reply Welcome to Virtualwood-the only Internet service where you can learn Hollywood’s secrets to success! Today’s news byte: There are two words that can zap you into every studio’s development pipeline: In Cyberspace. Tack ’em on to any hackneyed idea and watch your E-mail flood with offers. It’s like Cyrano in cyberspace. Imagine Pinocchio in cyberspace. We’re talking The Count of Monte- Cristo in cyberspace Hollywood has gotten the computer bug, and it’s not the kind that wipes out your PowerBook. At last count, roughly 25 computer-themed films were in the works, including the three projects mentioned above (yes, they’re real productions). At least six of them will be rushed into theaters by year’s end. Movie execs haven’t been this eager to get on-line since Heidi Fleiss threatened to upload her little black book. ”Everybody’s trying to jump on computer films,” says producer Mace Neufeld, who’s preparing to shoot A Philosophical Investigation, about a serial killer who chooses his victims from a computer database. ”They want to step onto the mythical information highway. I just want to know what the speed limit is.” Among the higher-profile productions you’ll soon see:
Johnny Mnemonic (Tri-Star): A cyberpunk action story about a courier (Keanu Reeves) smuggling information that’s been downloaded into his brain. Due in May. Virtuosity (Paramount): An ex-cop (Denzel Washington) chases a killer who springs to life from a computer program. Due in August. Hackers (United Artists): Lorraine Bracco stars in this thriller about a gang of teenage computer whizzes tracking down a corporate conspiracy. It’s scheduled for a late- summer release. The Net (Columbia): In this Aug. 4 film, starlet-of-the-moment Sandra Bullock is a systems analyst whose identity is wiped out after she discovers a classified program. The Last Hacker (Touchstone): The story of teen hacker Kevin Lee Poulsen, who played so many on-line pranks that he wound up on the FBI’s wanted list. f2f (Touchstone): Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer are developing this thriller about a killer who stalks his victims on-line. A Perfect Husband: IRS Media will produce this love story about a woman and her ideal computer program. Catching Kevin (Miramax): Focusing on the hunt for alleged cybervillain Kevin Mitnick, who last month was indicted and charged with 23 counts of fraud. And that’s just the tip of the hard drive. By next summer, such movies as The Matrix, Fatal Error, Phreaking, and Cyberjack will make their way into theaters. The computer craze isn’t hard to understand. ”Moms in Iowa are chatting on America Online,” says Oren Koules, producer of The Last Hacker. ”This is not a cult; it’s part of our lives today.” As Virtuosity director Brett Leonard sees it, Hollywood is simply reflecting a societal obsession. ”Myths and cautionary tales about our relation to technology are very important,” says Leonard. ”Are we going to become machines or will the machines be an extension of us? That decision is part of a millennial change we are going through. It’s a great field to plow for dramatic ideas.” And let’s not forget those plowing for cold cash as well. ”They smell silver in them hills,” says Michael Backes, associate producer of this summer’s high-tech Congo. ”Everybody is falling all over themselves trying to get out there with something.” – Of course, if the market can bear such a glut, can it be long before a name like IBM Thinkpad 701c rolls off moviegoers’ tongues the way Brad Pitt does now? ”We sift through offers like an actor would,” says Jon Holtzman, an Apple executive who manages Macintosh product placement in films. ”We can’t keep up with the demand. Of course, we could say we won’t do any movie for less than $10 million.” Babe, modem my agent.