Question: With the recent success of TV's Dancing with the Stars and cult movies like Shall We Dance? (the Japanese version, not the bland American remake) and Chicago, what are the chances Hollywood will stop remaking old TV shows into movies and start making musicals again? Christopher Walken, Richard Gere and John Travolta consider themselves dancers, and there are lots of actors with theater backgrounds who can dance and sing. What are your thoughts?


Answer: My thoughts, in a nutshell, are that the blockbuster mentality guiding the major studio filmmaking process favors known quantities, like popular old TV shows, and shies away from anything that smacks of a gamble. Musicals are a gamble: Chicago (2002) did $171 million in domestic box office, but it took it eight months to do it and was no doubt helped by the six Oscars it won (out of an impressive 13 nominations). There was a flurry of talk about putting other musicals into production, but as far as I know the only significant one that actually got made was Rent, which opens in fall 2005. If it does badly, the lesson studio executives will take away is that musicals don't sell. Shall We Dance? (1997) performed well enough in the US ($9.5 million is good box office for a subtitled foreign film) to suggest that an American remake was a safe bet, but it tanked, so I don't think dance-oriented movies are looking like a sure thing either.