In Leo vs. Leo showdown, Miramax blinks
Looks like Leonardo DiCaprio won’t be competing with himself on Christmas Day after all. After a months-long game of chicken over which of Leo’s prestige pics — Miramax’s ”Gangs of New York,” or DreamWorks’ ”Catch Me if You Can” — would step off of Dec. 25 first, Miramax finally gave way Thursday and announced it would move ”Gangs” to early December, the New York Times reports.
As Entertainment Weekly reported in this week’s issue, both sides tried to stake a claim to Christmas Day around the same time this spring, though Miramax honcho Harvey Weinstein offered this summer to settle the matter with DreamWorks parter Jeffrey Katzenberg by flipping a coin. Katzenberg declined the coin toss, but last week, he and Weinstein discussed the situation during a power breakfast in New York. Speaking to the Times, Katzenberg joked that the two ate waffles and ”stayed up late telling manly stories.” Katzenberg added, ”He and I had many conversations about why releasing the movies on the same day was in none of our interests. It was an uncomfortable situation as both companies have a big investment in Leo DiCaprio.”
Miramax spokesman Matthew Hiltzik suggested to EW that there was room on Dec. 25 for both movies, saying, ”This is one of the great times of year to release films. There’s plenty of opportunity for these and other quality projects to succeed.” But the Times reports that Miramax insiders feared that ”Catch” would have been the likely winner in a box office showdown between the two films, since it’s rated PG-13, and it has crowd-pleasers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks attached, while ”Gangs” is a violent, R-rated, three-hour historical epic. Plus, the Times reports, DiCaprio wasn’t happy about having to choose which movie to promote at the expense of the other. ”Everyone talked some sense into Harvey,” a ”Gangs” insider told the Times, referring to a Miramax meeting this week. ”We said, ‘We’re not going up against their movie because they will win.”’
If it had stayed at Christmas, ”Gangs” would also have had to compete with several other high-profile Miramax releases hitting theaters around the same date, including the musical ”Chicago,” George Clooney’s ”Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” and Roberto Benigni’s ”Pinocchio,” all of which are being squeezed in before the end of the year to meet the Oscar eligibility deadline. And wherever in December ”Gangs” lands, it will still face stiff box-office competition. Dec. 6 has ”Analyze That,” Dec. 13 has ”Star Trek: Nemesis,” Dec. 18 has ”The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” and Dec. 20 has Denzel Washington’s ”Antwone Fisher.”
Of course, director Martin Scorsese still has to finish the years-in-the-making movie first. As EW reported, he recently junked Elmer Bernstein’s musical score for a new one by ”Lord of the Rings” composer Howard Shore, which won’t be ready until November. The Times reports that Scorsese was also still working on ”Gangs”’ sound mix last Friday. He told the paper, ”I was saying this morning, ‘We need to end this.”’